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9 Pieces of road trip gear perfect for year-round adventure

What's on your road trip gear list?

By: Erica Zazo + Save to a List

Road tripping is — without a doubt — my favorite way to travel. I’ve driven 1,300 miles cross-country to move from Detroit to Austin, Texas for my first job out of college, traveled with my wife to the northern tip of Michigan’s Upper Penninsula for our honeymoon road trip, and planned numerous drives to campgrounds, small towns, and festivals all over the Midwest.

I’m a big believer that you don’t need the fanciest car (shout-out to my new-to-me 2014 Ford Escape) or tons of expensive gear to make a road trip a memorable and successful adventure. With a reliable set of wheels and a packing list that suits your travel needs, road trips can be one of the most fulfilling and exciting ways to explore near and far.

Here are my most-recommended pieces of gear to make your next road trip an epic one.

EcoFlow RIVER 2 Portable Power Station

I love road trips because I find I’m able to completely unplug from my phone and constant distractions on my computer while driving. That said, I also love that I can bring along any and all luxuries (big or small) on the road with me. One of those key luxuries includes a reliable power source.

The EcoFlow RIVER 2 is a super-quick-charging battery pack that’s as portable as it is powerful. Its AC outlet charges electronics from 0-100% in an hour. I’m also a fan of its ability to switch it into X-Boost mode, which increases its output from 300W up to 600W, to run even larger appliances like an electric skillet or coffee maker.

MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights

Ambiance and adventure make a perfect pair. That’s why the Luci Solar String Lights by MPOWERD are an awesome piece of bonus gear to bring with you on a road trip. The 18-foot-long light cord has 10 warm LED nodes that will shine up to 20 hours on a single charge. Its super compact design allows you to wrap up the cord around the base of the unit for easy packing and storage.

You can drape these lights over your tent door, hang them outside on your vacation rental’s patio, or bring them with you to the beach at sunset to set the mood after sundown. I also love that these lights are rechargeable by both USB or its built-in solar panel.

Photo by Emmanuel Maceda

Kelty Car-Go-Box

Ever found yourself frustrated after digging through heaps of bags and gear in your trunk to find that thing you know you packed? Yeah, me too. Many times, actually. Kelty designed its Car-Go-Box to help prevent this very common scenario.

The multi-container car organizer includes three color-coded and collapsible zip-top pods that fit snugly into a reinforced folding case and make it super easy to pack and keep your car (and gear) organized. The removable pods are great for packing and organizing odds-and-ends gear like kitchenware, camping accessories, and jackets and shoes inside the storage pods in your house before transferring them to your car.

NEMO Fillo King Pillow

Everyone deserves a comfortable car nap — especially on a long-haul road trip when resting up for your next driving shift. The NEMO Fillo King is a super comfortable and lightweight camping pillow that can also double as a car pillow.

Built with internal foam cushion and an adjustable internal air sack, this pillow can be inflated to your exact liking. Road trippers love this pillow for extra lumbar support behind their back too.

Helinox Chair Zero High-Back

Even though there’s a lot of sitting involved on a road trip, I always like to bring a compact camping chair for those times I find myself at an amazing picnic or resting spot on the journey. I mean, you really can’t beat a pit stop at a mountain-surrounded lake or a mid-day lunch break on a remote beach.

This chair is one of Helinox’s most comfortable and lightest weight. At just 16-inches-long in its stuff sack and weighing in at only 1 lb 8 oz, the Chair Zero High-Back takes up hardly any room. Its high-back design gives you more support than their standard Chair Zero model and can hold up to 265 lbs of weight thanks to its aluminum alloy frame.

Kuju Coffee

Road tripping requires a strong cup of coffee (or two) on the journey — well, for me at least. The problem is, I’m not a fan of stale gas station coffee or overly bitter dark roast that’s standard at most Airbnbs and hotels.

My perfect workaround is packing some Kuju single-serve pour over packets for on-the-go craft coffee. These “pocket pour overs” are super easy to use; Fold out the wings on the packaging and put it on your mug. Pour hot water over the top, and let the coffee steep through the filter until your desired fill level. Kuju sells all kinds of varieties and roasts of coffee, from their super flavorful single-origin Ethiopia to their top-selling Angels Landing light roast. Pro tip: Also consider packing a JetBoil Flash or MSR PocketRocket and a propane canister for quick hot water whenever you want it. Or, stop at a gas station and use their hot water spigot often found on the coffee machines.

Photo by Marco Bicca

Sea to Summit Tanami Down Comforter

The Tanami down blanket by Sea to Summit is one of my all-time favorites for camping and road tripping. I love getting cozy in the passenger seat with this blanket or throwing it on top of me and my wife for an extra layer of warmth when camping inside the back of our SUV.

Because this comforter is insulated with 750+ fill-power down, it’s super lofty (meaning it traps heat better than other synthetic or lower fill-power down) and super packable. The Tanami is also treated with a PFC-free durable water repellent (DWR) finish and its down is Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified, which means the feathers were sourced in a more ethical and sustainable fashion.

The Zeus Portable Jump Starter

Running into car problems in the middle of nowhere is every road tripper’s worst nightmare. While The Zeus can’t help you with an unexpected flat, it can help you if your car needs a jump when there’s no one around. This portable jump starter, which doubles as a USB battery pack, doesn’t require another vehicle to use it. Just hook up the jumper cables to your engine to recharge any gasoline and diesel engine up to 8.0L.

Uncharted Supply Co. also makes a variety of survival and preparedness kits, like the First Aid Plus kit and the bigger SEVENTY2 Survival System. Especially if you’re driving in remote places or extreme elements, these pre-packed safety kits are great to have on hand for worst-case scenarios.

Outbound Collective PRO Membership

Stoked on future road trip adventures? Well, if you’re a big fan of The Outbound Collective’s helpful and insightful adventure content like I am, you should check out a PRO Membership.

The Outbound Collective PRO Membership gives you access to its offline maps and road trip and route planning features in the app. The $4.99/month or $29.99/year membership practically pays for itself with the time and energy you’ll save planning routes and tracking stops along your trip. Not to mention the local insight and knowledge you’ll gain too. Another huge perk to the membership is that it comes with priority access to events, product launches, and exclusive deals with Outbound Collective partners.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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