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Tis the season for camping…in your car!


By Blair Qualey

With the winter now firmly in the rearview mirror and summer just around the bend, many residents of our beautiful country are gearing up to hit the road and enjoy the beautiful outdoors!

Of course, rugged week-long hikes into the backcountry aren’t for everyone, and many folks prefer the ease and comfort of a Canadian classic: car camping! But with so many options available when it comes to the right vehicle, the right gear and how to choose what’s best for you, it doesn’t need to be an intimidating hobby to jump into.

Let’s start with the most important ingredient in this adventure: choosing the right vehicle. First things first, make sure you choose a car, truck or SUV that offers all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive options if your idea of car camping includes navigating forestry roads.

Another detail to factor in is range and fuel-efficiency. You don’t want to find yourself running on empty after a beautiful weekend in the mountains. It’s also important to choose a vehicle that offers ample space for sleeping and storing essential gear — if you’re going to be camping inside your vehicle, you don’t want to be cramped in small quarters. The internet is your friend in this regard, as there are plenty of “Best Cars for Camping” lists to check out — research is key for any adventure.

Picking the right vehicle is only half the battle, as you’ll need somewhere to relax in comfort once you arrive! Preparing your camping vehicle for the journey begins with clearing out the backseat or trunk area and transforming it into a cozy sleeping space. Equipping it with sleeping pads, blankets and pillows ensures a restful night’s sleep, and packing essential camping supplies such as a portable stove, cooler, chairs and other gear can enhance the comfort level and ensure an enjoyable and relaxing adventure.

Once you arrive, a decent awning that can be attached to your vehicle is another must, to keep you warm, dry and safe from the sun. Gear Junkie has a fantastic list that covers a variety of options for different vehicles, price ranges and comfort levels. Other optional gear that can really improve your car camping experience includes tent attachments for your vehicle, window shades for privacy and temperature control, mosquito netting, inflatable car mattresses for comfortable sleeping arrangements and the right sleeping bag for variable temperatures.

And don’t forget to research campsites that allow car camping, and pay close attention to any rules or regulations set by the site to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience – especially as it relates to public safety, wildfire conditions and advisories.

With the right vehicle, proper gear, preparation and a spirit of adventure, car camping offers adventure-seekers an easier and more convenient approach to creating memorable journeys through Canada’s wilderness. Car camping combines the freedom of the open road with the beauty of the country’s natural landscapes, offering a unique and rewarding outdoor adventure. Whether exploring during the warm summer months or braving the winter chill, with proper planning and preparation, car campers can enjoy all that our beautiful country has to offer while experiencing the comforts of home on wheels.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at