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Car Camping: What to Pack // Guest Writer: Keaton Hudson

It’s the weekend. You had a long week in the office and you want to get away. Everyone’s over-romanticized Instagrams of Big Sur are getting the adventure enthusiast inside you psyched, and you don’t have the time to luxuriously travel the world—yet you still want to do something. If you’re like most of us, you own a car and odds are there is some neat and reachable backcountry near your home. A beautiful and easy way to unplug is to hop in the car and camp.
(Photo: Tasha Rivard)
 
I’m writing from Santa Barbara, and one of our favorite local spots is the San Rafael backcountry; the Figueroa wilderness is an hour drive up the 154. Head to Nira or Davy Brown Campground for a convenient (and jaw-droppingly gorgeous) car camping experience, and the trailheads into the backcountry are right at your doorstep. Trust us, the drive alone is worth it.
Rather hit the coastline? Check out El Cap or Refugio or your own beachfront real estate. But make sure to book a site in advance, as they tend to fill up quickly in the summer months.
 
Don’t know what to pack your stuff in? Our weekender duffle was made for that. Have a weekender already, but still don’t know what to pack? We’re here to help. 
 
(Photo: Ren Reed) 
At minimum, you need food, water, and a place to sleep. If it’s just one or two of you, lay the seats in the back of your car down. If that doesn’t work for you, try pitching a tent. Or two. For some added comfort to your camping experience, don’t leave home without some sort of seat. REI makes great camping chairs at a good price. 
(Photo: Kyle Sparks)
 
Bring a baseball mitt, frisbee, or your favorite deck of cards for fireside fun once you lose the sun. If you’re musically inclined, or have a friend who is, bring an instrument along. A headlamp is practically a must… it’s tough to navigate your way around in the dark. Petzl makes an assortment of great lights at varying price points. Pick the one that’s right for you and you’ll never camp without one again.
You can likely get by without a pillow, but do not forget a sleeping bag. Unless it’s a warm summer night in Arizona, you’ll have a fitful night of sleep.
 
It doesn’t have to be posh. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. But it’s remarkable what just a night out in the woods, away from the traffic, the spreadsheets, and the water cooler can do for the soul. What are you doing this weekend? Pick a spot an hour away, save money on airfare, and go spend some time in nature.

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