14 Items You Should Always Have In Your Car: Hammocker’s Edition

After graduating college several years ago, I loaded up all my worldly possessions, hit the road and moved to Colorado.

I found stable housing, but never completely unloaded my vehicle, because on the drive from southern Texas to southwest Colorado, I discovered the value of hoarding an absurd amount of gear in your car.

I keep a trash box full of kitchen spices in the floorboard of my car.

I keep a sleeping bag and solar powered lights tucked into a bottom hatch in the back. I keep a headlamp hanging from the rear-view mirror.

Woman throwing a bag into a car.

Though it looks disastrous (and concerns my parents), my vehicular gear hoard has saved me countless times and actually serves as a great bug-out bag for emergency situations.

Though I may be located near the extreme side of the spectrum, pushing MRE’s out of my passenger seat so friends can sit down, there are a few necessity articles that I believe everyone should keep by their side, hammock included.

Throw these in your car and thank me later:

items to bring on car camping

Puffy Jacket

I recommend puffy jackets because they are lightweight, comfortable and pack down into a small package.

They double as pillows in a pinch and are designed for harsh environments.

Inflatable Pillow

Just because these are so small and awesome, an inflatable pillow is just a nice thing to have.

Avoid those weird u-shaped pillows intended for airplanes (that don’t actually work) and carry something small and comfortable like the Cocoon hyperlight.

It fits in a purse, briefcase or obviously, car console.

First Aid Kit

First aid kit close-up.

In 8 years of carrying a first aid kit, I only had to use it once, for a band-aid on a river trip.

But I consider that a good thing.

You won’t need it often, hopefully, but you’ll be really thankful you have it when you do.

Hammock And Tree Straps

Hang height for a hammock.

An extremely lightweight instant shelter, a hammock is a versatile piece of equipment that is great for both emergencies and parties.

Going on a spontaneous camping trip?

No problem. Hammock camp!

Vehicle broken down and waiting on repairs?

No problem. Hammock nap!

Meeting friends for lunch at the park?

Hammock snack!

And in case of emergency, the nylon material can make for durable cordage.

Sleeping Bag Or Blanket 

No matter the season, some sort of bedding material is important to have. I’ve slept in the back compartment of way too many vehicles in my life, road tripping across the states.

If you only own one sleeping bag and don’t want to keep it in your car, grab your favorite blanket instead.

Cooking Spices

My most frequently used car gear!

Visiting friends, family or a new location and you want your favorite spice? No problem.

I keep garlic powder, salt, pepper, chili flakes, sriracha and Italian seasonings in my car at all times.

People make fun of me when they find it, weirdly packed in a trash box (because it works), but they never complain when I fix a bland camp meal.

Water Bottles

Two water bottles in a car.

I once took my car for a service and the attendant gave me a stern talking to for keeping giant gallon jugs of water in my back compartment.

If they burst, he said, I could have done some sort of damage that by now I don’t remember.

Now, I just keep smaller sturdier water bottles in the back, just in case.

Headlamp Or Flashlight

Hang your headlamp from the rear view window and show people that you’re a cool outdoors cat who knows that light is important in dark situations.

Keep spare batteries in the console because it never hurts to have those either.

Trash Bag 

Trash bags are versatile; you can use it as a poncho in the rain, a bag for supplies, rope, floatation device or, you know, a trash bag.

Change Of Clothes

This is great if you’re always on the go. Make it a comfy pair that can double as pajamas.

After a night out, I’ve shamelessly changed out of suit and high heels plenty of times.

“Let me just go home and change,” will never stop me from curling up on a friend’s couch for spontaneous movie night.

Trail Mix And Beef Jerky

Trail mix in a bowl.

Durable snacks with a long shelf life are always nice to have.

If you want something fancier than what the local gas station will provide, stock your own healthy snacks and never feel greasy-icky on a road trip again.

Eating Utensils

Just ask for a second pair of plastic utensils next time you go to a drive-thru.

Throw it in your center console and forget about it until the perfect opportunity arises.

Hand Sanitizer 

Because the world is gross and we need to disinfect ourselves, keep a to-go bottle of hand sanitizer.

It’s also a great thing to throw on your backpack, in your purse or briefcase.

A Pair Of Work Gloves

And because I grew up on a farm, I know the value of a good pair of work gloves.

Maybe you’ll never need them, but you’ll definitely be glad to have them if you ever do.

About the Author

After spending 5 years testing gear, meeting people and exploring his home state of Colorado with his wife, Andrej realized something about the outdoor industry. Mostly, that it was complicated. Andrej set out to create no-nonsense gear that was just as easy to use as it was reliable. He recruited a team of wilderness professionals and educators and hit the drawing board. The result was simple gear that you could trust, with specs you understood. Now he’s inspiring others to get out there and explore, by giving them the confidence to trust both themselves and the gear they use.

  • Dean says:

    Nice article, I keep several bits In My car too here in the UK! I like the colours of your hammocks, and not too bright, perfect for wild camping and keeping a low profile!

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