Tonight, Octave and I are headed out for what will probably be our last road trip of the summer together. After a one-week trip across the State of Washington, we're headed to Eastern Oregon until the end of the week (I am FINALLY going to see the Painted Hills!).
For the past year and a half, we've been hitting the roads of most of the 13 Western States with Charlie, a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser Octave refurbished when we first moved to Oregon.
After many car-camping adventures, I think I pretty much nailed the whole packing thing and can confidently share our checklist with you.
Some of the products mentioned are really Charlie-specific (tent, shower), but for the most part, this is a simple packing-list for a road trip, big or small (I'm actually planning a car-camping trip to the coast with my little car in 2-weeks).
I hope you'll find this packing-list useful and that it will inspire you to hit the road - no matter the size of your car (remember our trip to Iceland?).
Lately, I've been bringing the pillows and duvet we have at home instead of our camping gear.
- Fridge or this cooler
- Stove & Stands or a WindBurner Stove
- Propane Cylinder for the Stove or Fuel for the WindBurner Stove
- Lighter + Waterproof Matches
- Wooden spoon
- Metal spatula
- Mugs, Bowls, Plates
- Knife, Fork, Spoon or a Spork or a Hobo Knife
- Stainless Steel Boxes (to store leftovers)
- Kitchen Towels and Napkins
We go grocery shopping the day before our trip and store everything we shop in bulk in... Ziploc bags. While this seems wasteful, it is actually the best solution for us so far. While we'd love to bring Mason Jars on trips, the roads and paths we use with the Land Cruiser can be VERY bumpy. Ziploc bags are reusable, lightweight, sealable (we've all seen the videos or bears breaking into cars).
- Dish soap in a GoToob + Dish sponge + Dish towel
Filter your washing up water with the colander and throw whatever remains in it in a cathole (more on that in the bathroom section).
- Garbage bag
Even though we aim to produce no waste, we always carry a trash bag with us, at least to pick up the trash left by previous campers.
When we feel lazy or when we're in a rush, we'll stop by a coffee shop in town in the morning and get a caffeinated drink to go.
- Shower (or this portable shower)
- Flip-Flops (to shower in the dirt)
- Toothpaste (DIY: coconut oil, baking soda and peppermint essential oil mixed together)
- Solid Shampoo
- Dry Shampoo (DIY: arrowroot and cocoa powder)
- Microfiber towel (I personally love my microfiber robe)
- Washcloth (for the times when it's way too cold to take a shower but you still want to feel clean)
- Toilet paper
- Shovel (check out this article to learn how to dig a cathole)
I also recently started using a GoToob filled with water as my travel bidet!
- First aid kit
- Mosquito Repellent
- Bear Spray
- Bear Can
Chose the right product according to the region you visit. Are you in bear country? In a humid area? Etc.
- Solar Generator Kit
- Charger cables (phone, etc.)
- USB port cigarette adapter
- Lantern + Carabiner
- Camping Chairs
- String lights
- Binoculars (I love observing wildlife from a distance right before the sun sets and as we're getting ready to go to bed)
You can make your campsite as comfy and pretty as you want it to be. It just depends on how much space you have in your vehicle.
- Paper Maps (always useful, you do not want to rely on electronics only)
- Satellite Communicator (only if you travel to remote areas)
- Washington Discover Pass
For access to Washington state parks & other state recreation lands in Washington.
- America the Beautiful
For access to all National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands in the USA.
- Northwest Forest Pass (day use)
For access to all Forest Service operated recreation sites in Washington and Oregon where a day use fee is required (unless you already have the America the Beautiful pass).
- Oregon State Park Permit (day-use)
If you're camping at a state park, you don't need a day-use parking permit. Just display your current state park camping receipt on your dashboard.
I have to admit that it takes a while to process all this information. So don't forget to check a map as you plan your trip, to know which areas you'll be covering, and don't hesitate to check out the state website or stop by the first ranger station on your itinerary. We've always had the best experience there and met the most knowledgeable people about the regions we visited!
Getting all this equipment is not cheap. I'm aware of it, believe me! As Octave uses this rig for his filming business, it made sense for him to outfit it with the best gear. And this is pretty much the only way we travel now (except when we go visit our families in Europe), so it's an investment made for many, many trips to come.
After this initial investment, all our holidays cost us is food & gas. (and the occasional treat).
Spending time in nature is the best way to disconnect, recharge your batteries, get away from the daily hustle. And it's so much fun to "play house" in a different way, where your only preoccupation is to be safe and warm.
Camping on public land is free, you guys! Get a good map and hit the road.
So load up your car (or beg a motorized friend to go on an adventure with you) and hit the road, you won't regret it.
Be safe, protect your land, and report back! I want to know all about your camping adventures!
Pictures by Octave Zangs for Conscious by Chloé.