The Virtual Kampers share their epic car camping checklist years of camping in their Mini Cooper.

Before Lucas and I bought the RV and began full-time travel, we car camped nearly every summer for a decade with our beautiful blue Mini Cooper.

Now, if you’ve been in a Mini Cooper before, you know there is a limited amount of space. Every adventure to a campground required we pack meticulously.

Car Camping Checklist: Camp with a mini cooper

Our Blue Mini! We do miss it sometimes.

To say we played Tetris every single trip is an understatement. Each nook and cranny of the back seat and boot had something tucked into it. Of course, we still see through the back window, but floor space and seat space were all fair game.

The question is: How did we manage it?

Well, we came up with a car camping checklist to pack only the necessities as well as a few luxuries thrown in. It worked though, we never felt like we left anything at home.

So, we’d like to share our epic list with you, and you help shave some years off your own trial-and-error process.

Basic Camping Supplies

Car Camping Checklist: Campsite set up
All the necessary supplies. You will need these on every trip no matter what!

  • Cell Phone
  • Sleeping bag
  • Mat for under Sleeping Bag
  • Tent
  • Tent Footprint/Tarp
  • Mallet/Rock to hammer in tent stakes
  • Lighter
  • Fire Starter (tinder + firewood)
  • Aquatainer
  • Pocket knife
  • Duct Tape
  • Trash Bags
  • Paper towels
  • Twine/Rope
  • Clothes for cool nights and warm days.
  • Hiking Boots
  • Head Lamp for evenings (1 per person)
  • Lantern
  • Rain Gear
  • First Aid Items: band-aids, neosporin, athletic bandage, ibuprofen/acetaminophen, anti-diarrheal medication, antihistamines, moleskin (for blisters), tweezers, safety pin, sleeping pills, ear plugs, sanitary wipes, women’s articles and hand sanitizer! Strip these down to minimal packaging and store everything in a small ziploc bag.

Camp Cooking Supplies

Car Camping Checklist: Cooking Supplies


Whether over a campfire or a propane cooking stove, add these to your car camping checklist for whenever you’re down for a campsite cookout:

  • Cooler
  • Utensil Pack: cooking utensils and silverware to eat with
  • Chopping Knife
  • Stove
  • Propane
  • Pots and Pans/Camp cooking set
  • Foil
  • Dish Cleaning Kit: biodegradable soap and a sponge/scrubber
  • Ziplock Bags – a place to store pre-cooked items as well as leftovers!
  • Water bottles (1/person)
  • Ready to eat food and cooking ingredients: Eggs, bacon, steak, etc. Write down every meal.
  • Seasonings for cooking (salt, pepper, etc.)

Toiletries and Clothing

You may not need all of the items listed below. Certain items are only necessary if you have access to a shower:

  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste + Brush
  • Hair Brush
  • Hair Ties
  • Sunglasses
  • Chapstick
  • Sunscreen
  • Septic Safe Toilet Paper – You never know if the park toilet might run out of TP!
  • Bug Spray
  • Camp (quick dry) Towel
  • A pair of sandals for walking around the campsite

Car Camping Luxuries

Car Camping Checklist: Lucas in a Hammock

Sometimes you just want to camp in style! Add these items to your camp supply list for the most comfortable and stress-free experience.

That’s It for Our Car Camping Checklist!

Lucas and I use this list in a flexible manner: Sometimes we only brought the basics. Other times, we wanted all of the luxuries!

We hope this checklist comes in handy next time you need to play camp supply Tetris in your car. In fact, we’ve created a printable to help out next time you take a camping trip.

Click here to download your Car Camping Checklist

And if you need more help planning your next camping trip, check out our favorite websites for finding the best campsite!

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Before the RV, Lucas and I were avid car campers. We'd pack everything into our Mini Cooper and hit the road! With such a small space, we had to keep our camping checklist to a bare minimum. So, we're sharing with you our camping necessities for a car camping vacation. Click through to get our list! Printable included.
Can you image car camping with a Mini Cooper? While it sounds tricky, that's exactly what Lucas and I used to do. We are our car camping checklist with the bare necessities for camping -- including a few luxuries. Click through to get our list: printable included!