Gear I Use on My SUV Camping Adventures

This is a collection of the gear I use on my trips. Note that this page contains Amazon affiliate links. If you have a question about anything here—or about something I’ve forgotten to list here—send me a note on the Contact page or leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

I don’t always take all of the gear listed here on every trip. I draw gear from this list as needed for the particular trip I’m going on.

If you’re looking for gear to organize your car camping adventures, check out my online store.

(This page is a work in progress. Last updated December 26, 2017.)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Car and Car Stuff

  • 2011 Toyota RAV4 – I have the base model of this RAV4. It has 4WD, which can be turned off and on at speeds under 25 miles per hour (it doesn’t work at speeds above that). It has about 97,000 miles on it. Under normal driving conditions, I get ~31 MPG highway (at 55 or 60 MPH) and ~26 MPG in the city. My average over monthlong trips is 23 or 24 MPG because I spend more time idling and driving slowly on rough roads. The car itself is not mechanically modified in any way.
  • Floor mats – I use these floor mats that were made specifically for my make and model of RAV4. I have the tan ones because they match the interior of my car.
  • Cargo area mat – I have a large clear mat protecting the floor the cargo area between the rear seats and back door. It is similar in material to the clear mats with poky underside that you put under a chair in a home office. Here it is on AutoAnything.
  • Steering wheel cover – I use a Wheelskins leather steering wheel cover. This thing was kind of a pain to put on the steering wheel, but I love it, and it hasn’t budged in a few years now.
  • Ice scraper and brush – I live in Utah. We get snow and ice here. I use a generic ice scraper with built-in brush that I probably got from Walmart. It’s similar to this one.
  • Window deflectors – I use AVS Ventvisor Window Deflectors. This lets me roll the windows down a few inches when I’m sleeping inside without worrying about rain getting in.
  • Atlases – I have Benchmark state atlases for several of the states I frequent. These are essential for finding things to see and finding BLM and national forest lands to camp on. I made an atlas sleeve pocket that holds two atlases.
  • Seat cover – I have a durable, waterproof seat cover on the driver’s seat. It’s great for protecting the seat from sweat, dirt, food crumbs, spills, wet shorts, etc. The one I have is made to protect seats from a dog, but I don’t have a dog and still love it.
  • Tire pressure gauge – I use this electronic one.
  • Owner’s manual, important documents, etc.

Sleeping Stuff

  • Sleeping bags – I have and use three sleeping bags. One is a ~35 degree down mummy bag that I bought in Nepal. One is a ~45 degree synthetic quilt-style bag that I made myself. And one is a 55-degree summer sleeping bag that I made out of a $20 down throw from Costco. When I’m camping in very cold temperatures (in the 20s and below), I use two sleeping bags together. Unless it’s really cold, I use my sleeping bags draped over me as blankets. I find this to be more comfortable than being cocooned inside them.
  • Mattress – For a long time I used the REI Co-op Camp Bed 3.5. I have absolutely zero complains about this pad other than that it’s expensive. After my girlfriend’s roommate’s dog destroyed it (long story), I wanted a cheaper replacement from Amazon.
  • Mattress cover – I use a rectangular cotton sleeping bag liner as a sheet to go over my mattress. I bought it in Nepal, but this one on Amazon looks similar.
  • Sheet – As stated above, I usually drape my sleeping bags on top of me. I’d rather have soft cotton touching my skin than the slick nylon of the sleeping bags, so I usually use a regular twin-sized sheet between me and the sleeping bags.
  • Pillows – I use 3 different pillows. Why so many? Because they’re small (all are travel-sized), and I like to lay in bed and have my head propped up when I watch things on my tablet.
  • Balaclava – When it’s very cold, I sleep with a thin balaclava (ski mask) over my head and face. I may also sleep with a beanie on over the balaclava.
  • Window screens – I use Bug Screeners to keep the bugs out.
  • Curtains and window coverings This video shows how I made curtains and the other window coverings that I use. Since that video, I’ve also made and been using Reflectix window coverings.
  • Fans – I have a battery-powered fan and a USB-powered fan to keep me cool in warmer weather, and both work well.

Cooking and Eating

Note: A lot of this stuff is shown in my camp kitchen video.

  • Cooler – I have a Coleman 52 Qt. Extreme Cooler. It’s amazing. It was $40, and I consider it the poor man’s Yeti. With 2 blocks of ice in it, it’ll keep food cold for 4+ days in my car 90- to 100-degree weather. In cooler temps, it’ll keep food cold for 6+ days.
  • Cooler rack – I didn’t like how all of my food got wet after being in the cooler for a couple of days, so I took 1/2″ PVC and made a little rack for the food to sit on to keep it up out of the water.
  • Hanging table – I use the Kamchatka Gear Hanging Table Kit.
  • Small fold-up tableThis little table is very compact and is great for a side table, a prep table, or a stand-alone table when I don’t feel like using the hanging table.
  • Homemade utensil roll – I like using disposable utensils, and this little tool roll keeps all of them separated from each other.
  • 1 pink plastic plate
  • Collapsible bowl
  • Large (5 quart) frying pan/pot with lidThis thing is awesome. It’s big enough to use a as a frying pan for anything but deep enough to use a as a pot for boiling pasta.
  • Bungee cord to keep the pan’s lid on
  • Strainer/colander– I use a cheap one from Walmart
  • Spice shakers – I have two of these.
  • Mini funnel – The one I have was a little yellow $2 from the camping section at Walmart
  • Single-egg mini frying pan
  • Silicone pot holder
  • Folding wind screen – My stove doesn’t have a good built-in windscreen, so I use this one. I might get a second so that I’d be able to completely encircle the stove.
  • Large Utensil Bag – I use this to sort my larger utensils.
  • Utensils
    • 1 large kitchen knife
    • 2 small kitchen knives
    • Metal spoon, fork, and butter knife
    • Long-handled spoon
    • Spatula
    • Pot scraper
    • Potato/vegetable peeler
    • can opener
  • Cutting mat/board – I use these thin, flat plastic ones.
  • Small backpacking pot setThis is a small backpacking pot with handle, lid, and two insulated cups. It’s great for just boiling water or heating up a can of soup.
  • Pocket backpacking stove – A great little stove if, again, all you’re doing is boiling water or heating up a can of soup.
  • Dual-fuel stoveThis thing is awesome. It runs on both butane and propane fuel canisters.
  • Fuel canisters – On longer (a week or more) trips, I usually have two propane canisters and a butane fuel canister with me.
  • Water jugs and bottles – I have 3 or 4 1-gallon water jugs, several 1-liter bottles, and a 4-gallon jug.

Other Camp Gear

  • Camp chairThis chair is $15, is very comfortable, and packs up to be super small. What’s not to like?
  • Hammock – I got a cheap little nylon hammock at a local outdoors store, but if I were to get one online, I’d probably go for one of these. A hammock is so great for lounging around in warmer weather.
  • Hammock straps – To hang the hammock from trees, I use these cam buckle tie downs and a couple of climbing carabiners.
  • Awning/tarpHere is a video I made of my awning/tarp setup.
  • Solar lantern – I have and use this solar lantern. It’s great! I made a video review of it here.
  • Inflatable solar lantern – I also have an inflatable solar lantern that doesn’t really seem to be sold in many places anymore. It’s great because it packs up small and has more brightness settings than the above lantern. If I were to get a new one, it’d probably be this one.
  • Headlamp – I’ve used a lot of headlamps over the years, and the one I’ve settled on is the Black Diamond ReVolt. I love that it can be charged via USB but also uses standard AAA batteries.
  • Pee bottle – I use a Nalgene bottle when I’m inside my SUV and don’t want to leave to pee because it’s too cold outside.
  • Toilet – I’ve gone through many camp toilet iterations throughout the years and have ultimately made what I believe to be the most compact camp toilet out there. I hope to be able to release it for sale sometime in 2018. Stay tuned.
  • Bag of toilet stuff – This bag contains hand sanitizer, toilet paper, plastic bags, and a plastic bottle full of kitty litter.
  • Shower – I’ve used a DIY sprayer shower in the past (similar to this) but didn’t love it. It took up too much space when not in use, and I didn’t like that I had to use one hand to operate it while using the other to wash myself. I now use this solar shower in conjunction with a shower pole (see next item).
  • Shower pole – The problem with the solar shower I use is that I need to get it high up off the ground. Plopping it on top of my car isn’t enough. When there are trees around, I can easily just sling the shower around a tree branch. But when I camp in the desert or other places without trees, this presents a problem. To solve it I use a long pole as shown in this video. The pole itself is a telescoping pole for painting or dusting, and it was less than $15 at Home Depot.
  • Privacy tent – I use this little pop-up tent to shower and poop in.
  • Tent stakes – I have a little bag with ~20 tent stakes in it
  • Trowel

Storage and Organization

  • Rear shelf –I have a shelf in the back of my SUV. I can put my legs under the shelf when I’m sleeping in the vehicle but still make use of the storage space on top of the shelf. I used to use this, which is made specifically for my RAV4, with a piece of plywood attached to the top. I’ve since made my own shelf out of 1×2 lumber and plastic bins, and you can see it in this video.
  • Headrest pocket – I use this.
  • Grab handle pocket – I use this.
  • Between-the-seats pocket – This will eventually be for sale on Kamchatka Gear but currently is not.
  • Ceiling cargo net hammock – This will also eventually be for sale on Kamchatka Gear.
  • Visor bag – Ditto.
  • Door handle pocket 1 – I made these and probably will not be selling them, but they’re great.
  • Door handle pocket 2 – See above.
  • Two clear plastic bins – I use one of these large plastic bins for my kitchen supplies (see this video of the bin in use). The other I use for extra storage on long trips. You can see how both of these bins fit in the back of my car in this photo I posted to Instagram.
  • Large black bins – Instead of the two clear plastic bins above, I used to use a couple of large black plastic tool bins (the previous versions of these) and then put one of them on top of the shelf when it was bed time. (You can see the two bins in this picture.

Clothing

For any trip of a week or more, I’ll pack roughly the following and do laundry in a laundromat once a week:

  • 6 shirts
  • 6 sets of underwear
  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 4 hiking t-shirts
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 2 pairs of hiking pants
  • 1 or 2 long-sleeve hiking shirts, depending on the weather – These are cheap synthetic shirts that I get for $10 to $15 at Ross.
  • Shorts
  • Swimsuit
  • Sun hat
  • Visor
  • Warm clothes
    • Warm beanie, balaclava, and/or Buff knockoff
    • Puffy down jacket – It’s a Montbell down jacket, but I’ve had it for several years and don’t remember which model it is.
    • Fleece jacket for around camp
    • Fleece jacket for hiking
    • Wind/rain jacket
    • Gloves
    • Warm socks
  • Footwear
    • Normal shoes
    • Hiking shoes
    • Flip flops
    • Slip-on shoes
    • Strap-on sandals

Toiletries

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Earplugs
  • Sleep eye mask thing
  • Spray bottle – I use this as a water source for brushing my teeth.
  • Glasses
  • Contact lenses, lens case, saline solution
  • Sunglasses – I usually have a few pairs of these. One is a high-quality pair for very sunny and high-elevation activities in the mountains, and the other two are cheap pairs I pick up for $5 each from a place like Ross.
  • Small bottle of shampoo
  • Bar soap in plastic soap holder
  • Biodegradable soap – I use a small bottle of this stuff.
  • Hair brush
  • Mirror – I got a small mirror and attached a magnet to the back of it so that I can stick it to the side of my car.
  • Beard trimmer – I use this one. I also use it to cut my hair myself, though I never do that while on trips.
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Tick remover
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tissues
  • Chafe cream
  • Tums
  • Eye drops
  • Mini bottle of Fabreze
  • Vitamins

Emergency Stuff

  • First aid kit
  • Road flares and triangles
  • Brightly colored safety vest
  • Fix-a-Flat can
  • Heavy duty zip ties
  • Tire traction mats – I bought these ones from Amazon because they were cheap and relatively compact.
  • Hatchet – I have this one from Estwing.
  • Basic tool kit
    • Hammer
    • Couple different types of pliers
    • Crescent wrench
    • Screwdrivers
    • Rasp/file
  • Matches and lighters
  • Plastic poncho
  • Hand saw
  • Small shovel
  • Bungee cords
  • Work gloves
  • Small shovel
  • Small plastic comb – Great for removing cactus balls.
  • Emergency blanket
  • Jumper cables

And then there’s some emergency stuff I want to get but but don’t yet have:

Hiking and Backpacking Gear

I’m into ultralight backpacking, and my gear here reflects that.

  • Footwear – I use lightweight, non-waterproof trail running shoes as hiking shoes. Specifically, I’m on my third or fourth pair of La Sportiva Wildcats. I dislike waterproof shoes for hiking.
  • Backpacks and bags – I have several packs and backpacks that I use for different purposes:
    • Large backpack with aluminum frame –While this backpack (Osprey Exos 58) isn’t quite ultralight, it’s relatively lightweight and is the most comfortable backpack I’ve ever used for heavier loads.
    • Homemade backpack – I made my own backpack for shorter (2–3 day) backpacking trips. It is very minimal, has no frame, and is extremely lightweight (6 to 12 ounces, depending on which accessories I have on it).
    • Daypack – This is the backpack I use for all of my one-day hikes. It’s my favorite day pack I’ve ever used.
  • Tent –I have a Tarptent Contrail. It’s no longer being made; the ProTrail is the updated/current version.
  • Tarp – It’s a 6×9 ultralight sil-nylon tarp that I bought off of eBay. I sometimes use this in conjunction with my bivy sacks. Here is a similar one that is you can buy.
  • Bug bivy sack – I made this bivy sack entirely out of no-see-um mosquito netting. It’s awesome and very lightweight.
  • Waterproof bivy sack – I made this waterproof/breathable bivy sack. I slip it over the bug bivy when I’m expecting rain/snow or strong winds.
  • Sleeping bags – See “Sleeping bags”  under the Sleeping Stuff section near the top of this page. When possible, I like to use my homemade red sleeping bag/quilt on my backpacking adventures because it’s lightweight.
  • Sleeping pad – I use the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite sleeping pad. It’s lightweight and comfortable but also loud when you roll around on it and very expensive. Worth it, though.
  • Ground sheet – I use this super lightweight plastic as a ground sheet under my bivy sacks.
  • Umbrella – Yes, sometimes I use an umbrella while I’m hiking. I hike fast and and a warm-blooded person, so wearing a rain jacket in the rain means that I end up soaked from sweat. Using this umbrella and this technique means that I can use an umbrella without actually having to hold it.
  • Camp chair – I bought this and cut off the pieces that allow you to use it with a sleeping pad. This creates a very light and not super comfortable (but comfortable enough!) chair that you can use all by itself.
  • Trekking poles – I use Black Diamond trekking poles. The ones I have aren’t made anymore (I’ve had them for nearly 10 years now), but these are the closest equivalent that’s still being made.
  • Water bottles – I use 1-liter Smart Water bottles. They’re cheap, very light, and slip in and out of my backpacks’ water bottle pockets easily.
  • Emergency kit

Camera Gear

  • Camera –I currently use a Canon PowerShot SX610 HS camera. In the past I’ve used a Nikon Coolpix S7000. I prefer the Canon because it has much better sound. I prefer these types of cameras because of their small size but long zoom, which is great for taking photos and videos of wildlife, which I see a lot of. I have 5 or 6 batteries for the Canon camera. Unlike the Nikon, it can’t charge via USB, which is really the only gripe I have about the Canon. I use the Nikon as a backup camera.
  • DIY wind muff – Because I’m usually outside in wide open, windy places, I needed a wind muff to take away the worst of the wind noise on my camera. I made my own out of poster putty and faux fur. Works great! Google “DIY microphone wind muff” for several variations on this theme.
  • Phone – When the batteries in my cameras die, or when I’m in a restaurant or other public place and am trying to look inconspicuous, I use the camera on my phone. I currently have a Moto G5+ with this case. I prefer Android to iOS because of the customizability of Android. I bought this particular phone because when I bought it (fall 2017), I felt it was the best sub-$300 Android phone. I love it. I use Straight Talk as my provider, which uses the AT&T network.
  • Fake GoPro (aka the FauxPro) – I use the Akaso EK7000 for first-person footage and whenever I’m on a lake or river. The quality isn’t amazing, but for the price, it’s hard to beat.
  • FauxPro accessories – I have various accessories and mounts for the FauxPro, including a head mount, chest mount, clamp mount, waterproof housing, floating handle, spare batteries, etc.
  • SD cards – I have a ton of SD cards, and I use this little thing to organize them.
  • Tripods
    • Big tripod
    • Very small tripod – This thing is almost always on my camera and is the main tripod I use.
    • Bendy tripod – I’ve gone through probably 6 or 8 of these over the years. They’re awesome until they break. And they always break. I don’t buy them anymore for that reason.

Computer Stuff

  • Laptop – I have a 2011 13″ Macbook Air. It’s by far the best computer I’ve ever owned. While I prefer Android to iOS, I prefer MacOS to Windows. I’ve found MacOS to be much more reliable and less likely to crash or get messed up. At home, I put the laptop on a large cardboard box to raise it up to eye level and use an Apple bluetooth keyboard that I bought in Bangkok and a wireless Logitech mouse (the one I have isn’t made anymore, but this one is close enough) that I also bought in Bangkok. These peripherals aren’t necessarily the best out there (although I do love the keyboard because it feels exactly the same as my laptop keyboard), but they’re what I have and use.
  • Laptop case – I’ve had this case since I bought my laptop in 2011, and it’s not being made anymore.
  • Video editing software – I have a $20/month subscription to Adobe Premiere Pro. I taught myself how to use it by watching YouTube videos.
  • Hard drives – I have a couple of different hard drives and larger-capacity USB sticks to back up the photos and video footage from my camera.
  • Other software – Here’s some of the main software I use on my laptop:
    • Microsoft Word – I do basically all of my writing in Word.
    • Adobe Photoshop – Photo editing
    • Adobe Illustrator – Vector image creation and editing
    • Adobe InDesign – I use this to create and format books for print and for the PDF format.
    • Day One – Journaling software
    • Dropbox
    • PhotoScape X – Great individual and bulk image editing software that is much more accessible than Photoshop.
    • Helium – A little floating picture-in-picture video window that can be moved around the screen. When I’m doing more mindless computer work, I have a video playing in the little Helium window.

Other Electronics

  • InverterThis is a great little inverter that has served me well for years.
  • Extension cord
  • USB battery packs – I have three of these to charge my phone, tablet, headlamp, etc.: a 6000 mAh one by Jackery, a 16000 mAh one by Anker (it’s not made anymore, but this one is close), and a 2000 mAh one by AmazonBasics that is no longer made (but this one is close).
  • Outlet multiplier thing
  • USB hubThis 4-port USB charger is great.
  • Headphones
  • Tablet – I have an older generation Fire tablet from Amazon. I use it to watch movies and TV shows that I’ve downloaded (a perk of being an Amazon Prime member). This video explains more about how I use my tablet.
  • Tablet case
  • Screen wipes
  • Wireless hotspot thing – I have an older model that apparently isn’t being made anymore, but this is the current model. The one I have works with the Verizon network. I don’t know if any of the current models work on the Verizon network.
  • Watch

Kayaking Gear

I’m a recreational kayaker and enjoy taking my kayak onto lakes and slow-moving rivers. This gear listed here is basically the cheapest stuff I could find, but it works great for me. Here’s a video of most of my kayaking gear.

  • Kayak – I have a Pelican Trailblazer 100 kayak. I got it on sale for $177 at Dick’s Sporting Goods. It was literally the cheapest kayak I could find.
  • Paddle – It was the cheapest (~$20) kayak paddle at Walmart.
  • Life jacket – It was the cheapest PFD at Walmart that wasn’t one of those orange $5 ones.
  • Pool noodle – I cut a 12″ section from a $1 or $2 Walmart pool noodle and use it to pad the edge of the boat when I carry it on my shoulder.
  • Paddle holder – The CASCADE CREEK Yakclip Paddle Clip is great because it’s non-permanent.
  • Cockpit cover – I use this one (size 7.0) when I take my kayak with me on multi-day road trips.
  • Roof rack kayak holdersThese are the cheapest ones I could find, and they work great.
  • Ratchet strap – The roof rack kayak holders came with a couple of tie-down straps, but I use a ratchet strap to make sure the kayak stays on there really well. It was a few dollars at Walmart.
  • Cable lock – I use this lock to lock the kayak to my roof rack.
  • Packraft – I made a packraft. It’s super lightweight and is great for taking with me on hikes. You can see it in action in this video or this video.
  • Packraft pump
  • Packraft paddle

Rock Climbing Gear

I’ve been a rock climber for about 20 years. Though I don’t climb as much these days as I used to (and I have waaaaaay less climbing gear now than I used to), climbing is still a huge part of who I am, and I still love doing it more than just about anything else in the world. At this point I’ve also gotten rid of my winter mountaineering gear and ice climbing gear and my crash pad. I won’t get into extreme detail of all of my climbing gear here, but here’s an overview:

  • CamsBlack Diamond Camalots are the gold standard of camming devices and are my favorite cams. I have about a set and a half of these. I also have some older Wild Country Zeros and Forged Friends and a Metolius Master Cam.
  • Nuts – I have about a set and a half of Black Diamond Stoppers.
  • Carabiners and quickdraws – I have a wide mix of quickdraws and carabiners that I’ve accumulated over the years. I prefer Black Diamond draws and biners.
  • Harness – I have a Black Diamond harness, but I’m not particularly attached to it. I don’t think Black Diamond makes the best softgoods.
  • Shoes – I’m a La Sportiva shoe guy. They fit my feet better than any other climbing shoe brand.
  • Ropes – These days I get 70m non-dry ropes that are around 10mm in diameter. Ropes are expensive and are not interesting to me, so I buy the cheapest 10mm x 70m rope that I can find online.
  • Belay devices – I have a first-gen Grigri (it’s not being sold anymore, but here’s the second generation one) and a Petzl Reverso.
  • Other stuff Helmet, slings, chalk bag, etc.

Everything Else

  • Binoculars – I bought some cheap ones from Walmart for $10 or $15, and they do the job.
  • Aquaclip – I take this thing on shorts walks where I don’t need to carry a backpack but still want to carry a water bottle hands-free.
  • Various knives – A SOG Seal Pup, a Victorinox Classic on my keychain, a Victorinox Tinker, and a Smith & Wesson knife that I don’t know the name of (but it’s similar to this one).
  • Pens
  • Duct tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Sewing kit
  • Lots of metal clips

Got a question? Ask it in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Gear I Use on My SUV Camping Adventures”

    1. Do you have a grab handle above the driver’s door? I know a fair amount of SUVs are missing that one, and you’ll need it for the attic hammock thing. I’ve thought about making a triangle-shaped one for cars with just the three grab handles…

    1. I think I prefer the clear ones. They’re more manageable to move around, and I like having a bit of separation that the two distinct bins gives. It’s easier to find things. But the black ones were nice because they’re sturdy enough to sit on.

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