To start off, there are some big differences between the three most common outdoor activities: camping, hiking and backpacking. I always hear these things intermingled together but to be honest, they’re three completely separate ways to explore nature and spend time outside. Lets explore all three in greater detail, shall we?
Understanding Hiking / Backpacking / Camping
Hiking is kind of an interesting one. Certainly you can go hiking while camping but a simple ‘go for a hike,’ at least to me, means, ‘Hey, I’m going for a walk/jog on a trail.’ This could be doing 5-10 miles in a national park or doing 3 miles in the metro park by your house.
Carrying all of your gear in a backpack and hiking for several days to months on end. Backpacking is one of the most intense things you can do to your body while walking. Hauling 25% of your body weight up and down mountains sounds grueling, probably because it is.
Camping (specifically car camping)
Camping signifies that you’re heading out with gear somewhere and setting up shop. The most classical sense of camping is the traditional scene in your head where you pull up to a spot next to a lake and unload your gear. Or at least, that’s the scene played in my head.
A Bit of Michigan Background…
Isle Box is based in Michigan. If Michiganders are known for two things outside of Detroit going bankrupt and Eminem, it’s this: Lakes and Camping. Michigan has some unbelievably gorgeous sites and amazing camping. Although we boast some truly great hiking (Isle Royale, the Porcupine Mountains and Pictured Rocks come to mind…). Michigan has an unbelievable amount of rustic campsites and state forests.
Since I was born, my family has been camping. Some of the greatest times I’ve had in Michigan have happened while camping all over the state. So this brings to mind, what are some of the greatest items you can take camping with you (specifically car camping)? Below we have listed out our top 5 favorite items to take car camping, in no real order.
Our Top 5 Camping Items
Perhaps there is nothing crappier than getting to that rustic camp site in the middle of nowhere and you come to realize 2 things: man this place is beautiful and also, there’s no picnic table. If you’re like me, then when you go camping you pamper yourself because hey, at lease you don’t have to carry your stuff on your back and you have an entire car to fill. A collapsible table can fit below all of your gear and ride on the floor of the car. It’s easy to store and incredibly convenient when you’re cooking up some delicious burgers, bacon or eggs.
If I’m car camping, there is nothing I love more than bringing a nice pillow to accompany my *heavier* sleeping pad. Get me my amazing Nemo Sleeping pad and a real bed pillow… I might as well be sleeping on a memory foam bed int he middle of the woods. A pillow can also make all the difference for those nights where too many Bell’s Two Hearted Alex are consumed and you need to sleep it off before proceeding 4 hours back to your real home.
Ah yes, just what Dad use to use back in the day… the Coleman Stove. Heading out to camp? Better bring your Coleman Stove! The mighty white gas fueled Coleman Stove is a bit of a relic for many who have grown up camping. Easy to setup, easy to break down, the Coleman Camping Stove has a nice cooking surface with two burners, each coming with easy to regulate flames. It’s an outdoor cooking lover’s dream come true. It’s almost like bringing your nice kitchen stove but at about 1/30th the size and 1/20th the cost.
You know, the kind you can buy from Walmart or whatever convenience store that’s got their summer/fall retail in full swing. Easy to store in the car, the perfect collapsible chair comes equipped with a nice beer holder. I think I get a new set every season because they alway seem to break through the season or someone forgets to return them. At any rate, they are essential for camp fire story telling and late night chilling.
Although when filled expanded, the gigantic tarp makes you camping setup look a bit like a tent city or post-apocalyptic drifter scene, the giant tarp can be your best friend when the weather turns in the middle of the night and you need something to setup your table, Coleman Stove and spot to eat your pampered breakfast under. Tarps are super in-expensive and super nice way to stay dry and not let the weather get the best of your camping trip.
Outside of the 5 items above, I’m not too sure what else I would bring car camping. Aside from the food items like, eggs, burger patties, hot dogs, bread, etc, anything you typically take backpacking should get you to where you need to be. If you’re completely new to camping and looking to do it a lot more, we highly recommend getting the Seasonal Pass. This will get you items that will enhance your adventures for each season. We will be coming out with the Beginner Box in the next two weeks as well. Let us know if you’re interested!
If you have any input as to your super favorite car camping items you always bring with you, feel free to list them below! We’d love to hear what you got!