The Best Cold Weather 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.

Best Winter Car Camping Gear

BioLite FirePit

BioLite FirePit - Wood Charcoal Burning Camping Firepit

BioLite FirePit – Wood Charcoal Burning Camping Firepit

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 BioLite’s flagship product. 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!

BioLite FirePit Outdoor Smokeless Fire Pit and Grill

  • A smokeless wood-burning FirePit that can go from spark-to-fire in less than 30 seconds, cook your meals, and give you a front-row seat to everything going on inside your fire. Burn charcoal or wood for a hibachi-style grilling experience.
  • Airflow system has 4 fan speeds to control the intensity of your flames. Control fan intensity from the FirePit’s powerpack or from the free BioLite Energy App for Android and iOS
  • 10,400 mAh rechargeable battery powerpack with USB outputs for charging your devices
  • Enjoy the feeling of a 360-degree floating fire with the FirePit’s X-Ray Mesh and up to 24 hour burn time
  • Can be utilized as a smokeless grill, or for BBQ, or just as an outdoor fire pit. It’s perfect on the go, or in the backyard.

Last updated: 2019-02-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

LEDLenser Flashlight

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.

LEDLenser MT10 Flashlight

LEDLenser MT10 Flashlight

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.

Ledlenser – MT10 Rechargeable Handheld Flashlight, High Power LED, 1000 Lumens, Lanyard and Sheath, Outdoor Series, Backpacking, Hiking, Camping

  • 1000 LUMENS STRONG: A powerful, high-performance flashlight built for the outdoors; Smart Light Technology features three programmable light functions (Power, Low Power, and Defense Strobe).
  • LONG-LASTING AND RECHARGEABLE: Provides 192 hours of light on a single charge; Quick recharge to 80% in 4 hours; USB charger for convenient powering up.
  • RAPID FOCUS: For seamless, crystal clear focusing on objects far and near; Patented Advanced Focus System provides optimal light transmission.
  • SMART FEATURES: Transportation lock prevents light from being turned on accidentally; Charge and battery indicator; Temperature Control System for maximum LED beam output.
  • 5-YEAR GUARANTEE: We take pride in the craftsmanship of our products – if your purchase has a defect in material or workmanship we’ll repair or replace it, at our discretion, with one of equal or greater value.

Last updated: 2019-02-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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.

Outdoor Vitals StormLOFT Down MummyPod Sleeping Bag

Outdoor Vitals StormLOFT Down MummyPod Sleeping Bag

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.

Outdoor Vitals Summit 0°F Premium Down Sleeping Bag, Certified Down, Ultralight, Compact, Free Compression Bag (Black)

  • NEW STORMLOFT DOWN INSULATION – UPDATED 2017: Certified 800+ fill power down both responsibly sourced and DWR treated. This means guaranteed quality down that is more resistant to moisture!
  • LIGHTEST WEIGHT MATERIALS: featuring our lightest weight fabrics and highest quality down. Just imagine the warmth when temperatures drop without packing more weight or bulk!
  • GRID BAFFLE DESIGN: the spacious grid baffle design locks the down into key places adding more down where you need it to optimize warmth!
  • SMALL IN YOUR PACK: not only will your back thank you for choosing premium ultralight materials, but these materials also compress smaller taking up less space in your backpack!
  • LIMITED LIFETIME WARRANTY: Here at Outdoor Vitals we believe you should get the high quality products you deserve. After you purchase, follow the simple instructions to activate your Lifetime Warranty!

Last updated: 2019-02-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Somewear Global Hotspot

Somewear Global Hotspot and Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

Somewear Global Hotspot and Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

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?

Also, if you’re a travel or outdoor photographer, check out our picks for the best travel photography accessories of 2019 (so far …)!

The post The Best Cold Weather Gear to Up Your Car Camping Game This Winter appeared first on Vagabondish.

Up Your Car Camping Game with These 10 Clever Gadgets

Between last year and this spring, we’ve spent a lot of time using our Toyota 4Runner as a base of operations for car camping. We’ve learned a lot about what works, what doesn’t, and what makes our lives a whole lot easier on the road.

From better campsite cooking to clever car maintenance to cellphone-free communication in the backcountry, here are some of our favorite gadgets to seriously up your car camping game.

Best Gadgets for Car Camping

Tapplock one Smart Padlock

Tapplock one - Smart Fingerprint Padlock

Tapplock one – Smart Fingerprint Padlock

The traditional padlock could hardly be considered a sexy “gadget.” But, Tapplock is reinventing the classic security piece with a sleek, tech-forward approach. The Tapplock one is a clever, ultra-convenient device for locking up your goods while at camp or en route to your overnight spot. Use it anywhere you would use a standard keyed lock or combination lock — to secure your roof cargo box or your bikes/kayaks/etc. to their respective racks.

The padlock’s state-of-the-art capacitive fingerprint sensor allows you to access your items in under a second and features unbreakable durability. The Tapplock smartphone app can also be used to open the lock and give temporary, remote access to others (if you happen to be renting your house out on Airbnb, for example, while you’re traveling).

Coleman Extreme Cooler

Coleman 55-Quart Heavy-Duty Super Cooler (blue)

Coleman 55-Quart Heavy-Duty Super Cooler

When you’re car camping for days on end (without access to “luxuries” like electricity), keeping your refrigerate-able food cold is a challenge. Thankfully, there’s help in the form of an extreme cooler. Bait coolers have long been a thing for fishermen in the know. But, many outdoor companies have started marketing the same coolers as “extreme coolers” to the masses.

The Coleman 55-Quart Heavy-Duty Super Cooler definitely does the trick. To be sure, this is a big beast. It offers more than enough cold storage for one car-camping couple for an entire week. Plus, with proper ice maintenance (yes, that’s a thing), it’ll keep your Zima, bacon, and brats cold for up to six days even when outside temps hover around 90°F.

ICEMULE BOSS Cooler

ICEMULE BOSS Backpack Cooler

ICEMULE BOSS Backpack Cooler

Two coolers? Yep. Here’s why: we found that we always had plenty of stuff to keep refrigerator cold like bacon, meat, eggs, milk, and the like. But, things like sodas and beer were just fine to keep only chilled. For car camping, we pack a separate smaller cooler for things like this because it allows us to save space in our main cooler.

The ICEMULE BOSS is, well, the boss for our chilled goods. It’s portable, has great ice retention, and loads and unloads super easy. Plus, the backpack format means it’s easy to pack a gourmet lunch complete with ice-cold booze, ice cream, and even a couple of cheesecakes into the backcountry.

Coleman Roadtrip 285 Portable Propane Grill

Coleman Roadtrip 285 Portable Propane Grill

Coleman Roadtrip 285 Portable Propane Grill

One of our favorite things about car camping is campfire cooking. We love finding new recipes, then figuring out how the hell to make them over an open flame. Coleman had us covered there as well with the aptly named Coleman Roadtrip 285 Portable Stand-up Propane Grill. It features 20,000 BTUs of grilling power and a 285-square-inch cooking area which is more than enough for the two of us plus a few friends. It’s ultra-compact and lightweight but opens wide to include two side tables for utensils and other essentials while you’re cooking. Plus, the matchless, push-button ignition feels like a luxury at our campsite.

Swiss Diamond XD Nonstick Deep Square Grill Pan

Swiss Diamond XD Nonstick Deep Square Grill Pan

Swiss Diamond XD Nonstick Deep Square Grill Pan

Of course, having a great cooking surface to cook on is no good without a great pan to cook your food in. We pared down our camp kitchen substantially so that our entire kit fit in just two medium-sized crates. One pan that works with almost any food and any situation is the nonstick cookware from Swiss Diamond. The XD Nonstick Deep Square Grill Pan is a great, all-purpose pan that does the job. From cooking eggs to fried potatoes to casseroles, it works for just about any meal. Plus, the XD nonstick coating is super slick and easy to clean which, for car campers, is almost more important than how well it cooks.

FIXD Automotive Adapter

FIXD Diagnostic Sensor App

FIXD Diagnostic Sensor App

One of the most important components of car-camping is — wait for it — your car. Or truck or SUV. But, it’s easy to overlook the maintenance of your vehicle when your focused on buying the right cooler and making sure your grill has enough propane.

The FIXD diagnostic sensor does all the heavy lifting in this department, even if you don’t know your carburetors from your carbohydrates. It’s a tiny, matchbook-sized device that plugs into an outlet standard on most cars made after 1996. Just click it into place, sync it to your smartphone, and it’ll keep tabs on all your vehicle’s systems and sensors. Funky smells, cylinder misfires, car overheating — whatever the problem, FIXD can give you the low-down. The free mobile app provides an easy-to-read, user-friendly readout that anyone — even those with zero automotive know-how — can understand.

Motorola T600 Talkabout 2-way Radio

Motorola Talkabout T600 Two-Way Radio

The most interesting and adventurous places to explore are almost always the most remote. We often find ourselves in areas without a whiff of cell service. The solution: a decent two-way radio set. The Motorola T605 Talkabout bundle is super affordable (can be had for under $100) and it offers a staggering 35-mile range. Plus, it boasts a waterproof construction and a water-activated flashlight.

Sustain Supply Emergency Pack

Sustain Supply Comfort4 Emergency Backpack

Sustain Supply Comfort4 Emergency Backpack

In the same way that two-way radios allow you to stay in touch in remote areas, a proper emergency pack allows you to stay prepared for almost any situation. Sustain Supply offers all-in-one bug-out style bags pre-packed with everything you might need in an emergency. Their flagship Comfort4 (above) provides everything four people could need to survive 72 hours off the grid. In addition to the obvious essentials (like food and water), there is a survival knife, LED lanterns, emergency space blankets, bath wipes, a portable stove … the list goes on. It’s the perfect solution for anyone looking to stay prepared on an adventurous road trip — especially one that might take far, far off the beaten path. If the Comfort4 seems like overkill, opt for one of Sustain’s more compact solutions like the Comfort2 ($199) or the Essential2 (just $99).

Weatherman Umbrella

Weatherman Umbrella (orange)

Weatherman Umbrella

Some people are “umbrella people”. Others just say, “The hell with it … if I get wet, I get wet.” I tend to fall into the latter camp. But, we saw a lot of rain on our recent East Coast road trip. Eventually, Kelsey had enough. We learned that, if you’re planning to spend long periods of time outdoors, an umbrella is a good backup plan.

The Weatherman Umbrella is basically the umbrella to end all umbrellas. It’s lightweight, yet sturdy enough to hold up to 55-mph winds. Plus, it’s wide enough to shield you and a few friends from rain, hail, locust swarms, whatever. The lifetime warranty means it’ll likely be the last umbrella you’ll ever need to buy. And the built-in Bluetooth tracker means you’ll never lose — or leave home — without it.

Coleman 4-Person Dark Room Tent with Screen Room

Coleman 4-Person Dark Room Tent with Screen Room

Coleman 4-Person Dark Room Tent with Screen Room

More Coleman gear? What can we say? They make great, affordable camping gear.

We love the “camping in the car” aspect of car camping. But, sometimes it’s nice to get a little fresh air or have a separate space to use as your “living room.” For that, a second tent is never a bad idea, especially if you’re planning to camp out in one spot for an extended period of time.

Coleman’s 4-Person Dark Room Tent with Screen Room is just the trick. What we love about this tent over many others is the Dark Room technology. It blocks out 90% of sunlight, so you can sleep late or take an afternoon, post-hike nap in peace. That same lining also helps to keep the tent’s interior cool. The screen room adds a bit of bug-free lounge space and the WeatherTec system keeps the rain out in all but the nastiest conditions. Plus, you can score one for well under $200.

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