The Best Gear to Up Your Car Camping Game This Winter
Camping is awesome, car camping is awesome. And, while challenging, car camping in the dead of winter can be just as awesome, assuming you have the right gear. Packing the best winter car camping gear can make spending long nights in the back of your car or SUV not only tolerable but actually comfortable. Here are four of my latest, must-have recommendations.
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Best Winter Car Camping Gear
There’s nothing better after a long day of hiking than relaxing around a blazing campfire. This is 100 times truer in the dead of winter. BioLite’s FirePit is the perfect campfire companion for car campers.
There’s a lot to love about this clever, Swiss-Army-style gadget. First off, the fact that it runs on both wood and charcoal make it incredibly versatile so, no matter where you find yourself, you’re virtually guaranteed access to a proper campfire. Even with the FirePit at full blaze, patented airflow technology keeps it well stoked and smoke-free. You can even control the size of the flames manually or via a free Bluetooth-enabled smartphone app. The mesh design means you have a 360-degree view of your fiery handiwork. That it can double as a hibachi-style grill makes it all the better!
Of course, being surrounded by nature’s splendor does you no good if you can’t actually see it. It goes without saying that a proper headlamp is a must-pack for any camping trip. And a legit backup flashlight (“torch” for our U.K. friends) is every bit as important. It’s ideal for those tasks where directional lighting is critical.
For this, I’ve started packing LEDLenser’s MT10. It’s compact, puts out 1,000 lumens, is USB rechargeable, and features three illumination settings plus a strobe mode. Simple and straightforward. Because it’s manufactured under a subsidiary of the legendary Leatherman brand, it’s also durable as hell. For a beefier option, the LEDLenser MT18 pushes 3,000 lumens in case, ya know, you get really lost.
Outdoor Vitals Sleeping Bag
The old adage of why you should buy a decent mattress (“Because you’ll spend almost one-third of your life on it!”) is just as true for your sleeping bag. I never, ever scrimp on my bedding. When I’m car camping, I appreciate the luxury of being able to pack a little more to make my nights more enjoyable.
I’ve been loving Outdoor Vitals’ ultralight camp gear. Their StormLOFT Down MummyPod Sleeping Bag is everything you might need in a four-season sleeping bag. Most importantly, the 800 fill power hydrophobic down in the 15°F variety is good for all but the absolute coldest of nights (although Outdoor Vitals offers a 0°F alternative). Not only is it warm, but super soft and comfortable to boot.
I love the versatility of using it either as a traditional mummy sleeping bag or as an insulator for my camp hammock. And the YKK anti-snag zipper means you’ll never damage the sleeping bag or need to fumble with opening/closing it in the middle of the night because of a stuck zipper.
Somewear Global Hotspot
I’ve been toying with the idea of a personal locator beacon (PLB) for a while now. Frankly, I’ve always shied away from PLBs because they’re typically expensive and often require pricey, long-term monthly/annual contracts. But, I was intrigued by Somewear.
While the unit itself is a not-unsubstantial investment at USD $349, they promise the most affordable Iridium data plans on the market. So, that takes some of the sting out of the initial purchase price. Plus, it offers global two-way texting, location sharing, weather updates, and SOS emergency services all with the touch of a few buttons. The device integrates with iOS and Android devices through a smartphone app that’s dead-simple to use. For a seamless, out-of-the-box experience, it doesn’t get much easier.
What are your recommendations for the best winter car camping gear?