Outbound Collective logo

11 Car Camping Essentials for Fall

How to stay comfy when the nights get cool.

By: Sara Sheehy + Save to a List

I love camping in the fall. Apart from squeezing in the last bits of summer-like fun before the snow arrives, here in Idaho, there's a little more of everything in the fall: more campsites to choose from, more solitude, more leaves crunching underfoot, and more hours of the night sky to stargaze.

There isn't much difference between camping in the fall and camping in the summer...with the notable exception of making sure you stay warm and comfortable during the chilly nights.

Here are a handful of essentials to not leave home without this fall.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 mtnGLO Tent

Big Agnes is my go-to tent brand for lightweight, sturdy, and comfortable tents. This free-standing, ultralight Copper Spur tent is designed for two people (or one person and your favorite furry friend). It features a lightbar on the ceiling to illuminate the interior — perfect for a game of cards on a rainy night or for reading before bed.

NEMO Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad

When it comes to sleeping outside in the fall, an insulated sleeping pad is a must. This NEMO Tensor sleeping pad provides insulation of 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit so that you don't feel the chill seeping into your bones from the ground below. It also comes in a long and wide version, which helps to keep all of your body parts warm.

Big Agnes Mystic UL 15

A cold night's sleep the shortest path to swearing off fall camping forever. Don't let this happen to you! Stay warm in a sleeping bag rated to 15 degrees or cooler. Big Agnes' Mystic UL 15 is full of 850 fill-power DownTek insulation to keep you warm even if it gets a little damp outside. Snuggle in!

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow

Throw a compressible pillow in your trunk and never wake up with a crick-neck again. This fun Therm-a-Rest pillow packs down to one-fifth of its size and fluffs up immediately when unpacked to provide a comfortable place to lay your head. It's great on airplanes, too.

Yeti Trailhead Dog Bed

Let's not forget the furry members of your camping trip! Trust me, if your dog isn't comfortable, you're going to know about it. Yeti's Trailhead Dog Bed is made up of two parts: a Home Base and a removable Travel Pad. Put them together for ultra-cush digs for your pup, or just pull out the Travel Pad for a slimmed-down bed that fits nicely in your tent.

Arc'Teryx Cerium LT Hoody

Stave off the chill when the sun goes down with a lightweight down jacket. I love the slim cut and warm hood on the Arc'Teryx Cerium LT  Hoody (available for both men and women). Just be sure to keep any nylon-shell jackets away from a campfire's flying embers.

Primus Stove Set 1.3L

If you're anything like me, putting together the camp kitchen is one of your least-favorite parts of getting ready for a trip. Enter the Primus Stove set. This set includes two pots, a heat-exchanger, an integrated wind guard, a potholder, a piezo ignitor, and a lid with a strainer. An Outbound reviewer loved this setup because it heats evenly...no more burnt pancakes. 

Yeti Boomer 4 Dog Bowl

Leave your glass and ceramic dog bowls at home and bring a Yeti Boomer 4 dog bowl, instead. Super rugged with a non-slip bottom, this double-wall, non-insulated steel bowl holds up to four cups of dog food or water. It's also dishwasher safe, so you don't have to mess with cleaning it by hand.

Helinox Table One Hard Top

Pull out your chairs and pop up this table and you're set to work, play cards, or watch the sunset with a bottle of wine. This table will surprise you at how sturdy it actually is, and it packs down small so you really have no excuse not to throw it in your trunk. 

Helinox Sunset Chair

While we love their Chair Zero for backpacking trips, car camping allows for more luxury. The Sunset Chair packs down small, but gives you a little extra space off the ground and comfort in the seat for long afternoons lounging with friends. And the height is perfect to match with the Table One Hard Top.

Petzl Bindi Headlamp

Perfect for keeping in your car, the Bindi is bright, ultralight, and rechargeable. Wear it around all evening or take it on morning hikes, you'll forget it's on, but you'll be glad you have it. 


Ready for some fall camping? Check out of 25 of America's Best Campsites.

Cover photo by Sara Sheehy

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!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


A Full Guide to Running

The Outbound Collective

Car Camping Tips for Beginners

Adriana Garcia

Review: Sierra Designs Women’s Tepona Wind Jacket

Bethany Stivers

The Chaco Z/1 Classic Sandal needs to be in your go-to beach gear list.

Shea Donavan

Review: Darn Tough Hiking Socks

Ben Dawson