How to Shower When Car Camping?

How to Shower When Car Camping?

Occasionally, outdoor activities require an early start. Near a trailhead, sleeping in your car can be an efficient and flexible alternative to tent camping, particularly if you’re trying to save time on setup or there’s no space for tents. Additionally, spending the night in your vehicle can provide additional protection from the elements.

Here are some tips and tricks for making your next car trip more comfortable, organized, and enjoyable. We discuss where to park, what to pack, inventive enhancements, and more. Follow Leave No Trace principles and common sense safety practices while car camping; never sleep in a vehicle with the engine running.

What is Car Camping?

Two widely accepted definitions of car camping exist. The most commonly accepted definition of car camping is camping at a location accessible by car. Some people believe that car camping means sleeping in your vehicle. There is a widespread misconception that sleeping in a car is more comfortable and secure than sleeping in a tent.

People are unaware that a quality tent is waterproof and can withstand moderate to heavy rain. A quality sleeping bag and pad provide warmth down to 0°F and are more comfortable than sleeping in a car. When car camping, you pack all of your camping gear into your vehicle, drive to your campsite, and pitch your tent in a designated area.

Some also use the terms “base camping” and “tent camping” to describe car camping. The beauty of car camping is that your tent site is easily accessible. Since your tent site is so close to your vehicle, there is no reason to economize on “luxury” camping items.

If you’re backpacking to a campsite, you probably don’t want to bring along a cast-iron dutch oven, a 10-pound tent, and a propane stove. All of these options are available when car camping and can make the experience more enjoyable for novice campers.

Where Should You Go? 

Consider the level of convenience you require. Are picnic tables and restrooms required? You will want to stay at a developed campground. Typically, advance reservations are required.

Reserve America handles reservations for the majority of federal and state campgrounds. In the majority of national parks, reservations must be made directly with the National Park Service. HipCamp has recently compiled an impressive database of camping opportunities on private lands, primarily in the western United States. If you want to go glamping in California, you should start there.

Using one of the aforementioned tools is as simple as booking a hotel room. Moreover, you can typically enter the campground’s name into Google Maps and navigate there as you would a hotel. They are wonderful ways to enjoy a relaxing weekend under the stars, but in a developed campground, you will be surrounded by other people. Additionally, in a campground, you cannot have your dog off-leash.

What Weather Will You Be Camping In?

If you intend to camp in a variety of climates, you will require a greater variety of equipment. If you are unprepared for unexpected weather while car camping, you always have the option to pack up and wait it out in your vehicle.

Normal summer camping (60 degrees or higher) requires no special equipment. However, if you intend to camp in cold weather, research is required.

Here are some helpful guides for cold weather camping gear:

  1. The Best Winter Tents
  2. The Most Effective Cold-Weather Sleeping Bags
  3. Winter Hiking Boots
  4. Gear for cold-weather camping

What Do You Need to Bring? 

Let’s go over the fundamentals and identify the cheapest way to get there, as well as upgrade options that could make the trip more comfortable.


  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pillow


  • a raincoat
  • Swimwear
  • Hiking boots
  • Sandals
  • Long underwear
  • Warm blankets
  • Hat

Camp Kitchen:

  • Stove
  • Fuel
  • Lighter
  • Firewood
  • Water
  • ice chest with food
  • Plates, bowls, cups & utensils


  • Games
  • Books
  • Hammocks
  • Instruments


  • First aid kit
  • Sun protection
  • Map & compass


  • Headlamp
  • Extra batteries


  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Individual wipes
  • Medications

For more experienced campers, one of the challenges of car camping is letting go of their backpacking mentality. Backpacking requires carrying everything you need on your back, so minimizing space and weight is essential.

However, car camping does not require you to rough it. It is acceptable to bring items, but it is important to note that ultralight backpacking gear is not ideal for camping. Why not be luxurious and bring an additional pillow? Your vehicle is doing all the work.

6 Where To Go On Your Car Camping Trip

Set up your campsite

After securing a location that permits overnight parking and camping, set up camp in a shaded, flat area. When it is time to unload the vehicle, do not crowd nearby campers who are spending the night. Check out our camping essentials checklist for an overview of what to pack, including items such as a folding table, camp chairs, and a camp stove that can create a more comfortable camping environment. And if you’ve never camped before, our Camping for Beginners article covers the fundamentals.

Sleep with your head toward the front of the car

Obviously, flat areas are preferred, but they are not always accessible on winding Forest Service roads or in remote areas. Position the car so that your head is above your feet if you find yourself at an angle. Sleeping with your head toward the front of the car will also give you more elbow room, as the wheel wells in the back of most vehicles take up valuable space. Still in want of ease? Check out these camping hacks from members and staff of REI Co-op.

Keep your electronics charged

Keeping electronic devices charged while traveling can be difficult. While you can charge devices while the vehicle is running, you are out of luck overnight. Utilize a dashboard-mounted solar panel or a portable power source to keep your phone, tablet, camera, and any other battery-operated device operational for the duration of your journey. Not certain which option is best? Learn how to select solar chargers and portable power sources.

Open a window enough to ventilate

Breathing all night in a vehicle will cause windows to fog and collect moisture in undesirable places. Ventilation is crucial. Open your sunroof or a window just enough to prevent animals or people from entering.

Cut a piece of inexpensive mesh 2 to 3 inches wider than the opening. As a result of stuffing the edges around the space to keep out insects, there is no moisture. Before retiring for the evening, endeavor to dry wet clothing as thoroughly as possible. Keep a squeegee in your car for cleaning windows in the morning, just in case.

Build your own shower

After a long hike or bike ride, a warm shower feels incredible. Take that feeling with you on the road by constructing your own camp shower. Want additional camping advice? From How to Set Up a Tent to How to Build a Campfire, our Expert Advice articles provide a wealth of information on a variety of subjects.

Bring a headlamp or hang lanterns

Getting comfortable for the evening does not mean you are immediately ready for bed. Hang lanterns or headlamps from the car’s handle to illuminate the interior so you can read, organize, or cuddle with your adventure dog. Additional reasons to bring a headlamp while driving It can aid in illuminating the path when nature calls in the middle of the night or when hiking at dawn or dusk.

Is Camping Safe and Responsible?

COVID-19 Even as states issue confusing and frequently contradictory advice on reviving the economy, the number of deaths continues to rise. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us, as ordinary citizens, to take every precaution to prevent the disease’s spread.

Minimize contact with potential infection vectors, such as gas stations and grocery stores, and practice appropriate social distancing techniques. If you are camping with individuals who are not part of your own quarantine program, masks may help prevent the spread of the virus within your group.

Remember that not only your own health is at stake. It pertains to the health of vulnerable populations and the nation as a whole. Responsibly camp.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How to Shower? When Car Camping

Why is it known as “car camping”?

The most commonly accepted definition of car camping is camping at a location accessible by car. Some people believe that car camping means sleeping in your vehicle. There is a widespread misconception that sleeping in a car is more comfortable and secure than sleeping in a tent.

What is a tent for car camping?

Car camping entails loading all of your camping gear into your car, driving to your campsite, and erecting your tent on a designated tent pad. This experience can also be referred to as “base camping,” although it does not take place a few thousand feet below Mount Everest.

Should you sleep in your vehicle?

Car camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and have an adventure, whether you’re a novice or an experienced camper. Car camping facilitates access to nature and allows for more room for error than backcountry camping. It is enjoyable, accessible, and great family activity.

Is camping in a car safe?

Campgrounds and public lands are typically safer than parking lots and truck stops when car camping. Truck stops are frequented by numerous individuals, and their parking lots are frequently crowded and dim. Truck stops offer less solitude than campgrounds and public lands.

Can you sleep in a vehicle with the engine turned off?

According to the Ministry of Health, sleeping in a car is never a good idea, regardless of whether the windows are up or down, due to the carbon monoxide (CO) gas buildup in the “closed air circulation” created by the car cabin.

How do you keep your camping vehicle warm?

Install a thick reflective sun shield in your front windshield and cut insets from Reflectix wrap (available at most hardware stores) for your other windows to retain heat. Insert the window inserts before retiring for the evening. Winter camping in your vehicle requires window insulation.

Can I sleep in my vehicle while camping?

Bottom Line. At many campgrounds, sleeping in a car or van is permitted, but you must plan ahead to ensure you have a place to stay when you arrive. Typically, campgrounds require a fee and reservations.

Can I sleep in the car with the air conditioner on?

Response furnished by. While it’s understandable to want to use the air conditioner during a road trip through the Southwest, studies indicate that sleeping in a car with the air conditioner running can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. This can result in hospitalization or even death.

Car camping is warmer than tent camping.

A car is the best option. The R-value of the material beneath you is greater than that of any camping pad, and even with the windows cracked and heat loss through the glass, the interior remains significantly warmer than the exterior.

What temperature makes sleeping in a car impossible?

Below -30 degrees, sleeping in is unwise and should not be attempted.

Must the window be cracked when sleeping in the car?

You do not need to crack the window while sleeping in your vehicle. Not only does air circulate continuously, but there is typically sufficient air to sustain a person for an extended period of time.

How much warmer is the interior compared to the exterior?

In the first thirty minutes, the average rate of temperature increase is greater than one degree per minute. On a 90-degree day, if you park and enter a store for 30 minutes, you will return to a vehicle that is over 120 degrees. After one hour, the average automobile is 43 degrees hotter than the surrounding air.

Why you shouldn’t sleep in your car?

If you leave your car’s engine running while you sleep, carbon monoxide-containing exhaust fumes could enter the vehicle. Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless, and odorless poisonous gas emitted by the exhaust system that can rapidly accumulate in enclosed spaces.

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