Car camping is travelling by car (usually a 4WD or SUV) and carrying all necessary equipment. This style of travelling is common in Australia with its large distances. Some tow a caravan, trailer or carry large amounts of equipment on the roof.
There is a folk-lore story in Australian travelling circles about one bloke who wanted to carry his four-burner gas barbecue for a 5,000 kilometre trip from Brisbane down the Birdsville Track to Adelaide and back.
However, it is possible to travel long distances towing nothing, with no equipment on the roof and still be able to see out the rear window.
Lightweight Hiking Principles When Travelling By Car
Light weight hiking stoves, self-inflating mattresses, compact torches are just some hiking equipment that cut down the amount of stuff carried in the car.
Each person should only have one bag for clothes. Food should be in one box, as should all those bits and pieces, such as lights, cooking equipment, cutlery.
A lightweight hiking stove running on shellite or gas canisters will suffice. With planning it is possible to turn out wholesome meals on a single burner. Lightweight, dehydrated food, such as couscous, can be supplemented with foods purchased with the credit card along the road.
Lights must be compact and efficient. With high powered LEDs, there are numerous types of torches that provide good light and pack small.
The tent must comfortably accommodate all members of the travelling party, and be quick to erect. Fold up chairs and tables fit easily in the car.
Keeping Food Cold
A fridge is a necessity and usually doesnt need to be running while driving. A compressor fridge running off the car battery is the optimum set-up. However, for a gas and electric powered fridge that doesnt run well off the car battery, a frozen water container will keep things cool during the days travel; even if stopped for a few nights without access to power or gas.
At most camping grounds, a powered site can be used. Or the fridge can be run on gas. Items needed cold for the next days travel can be cooled overnight.
It is usually possible to find a freezer in the campground kitchen to re-freeze the water container for the next days travel.
Packing The Car To Reduce Space
Most 4WDs or SUVs have many nooks and crannies where bits and pieces can be stuffed. The 4WD recovery strap, spare fanbelts and radiator hoses can be strapped in the spare wheel. These items are light and are may not be required at all on a trip.
Carrying Water In A Car
Carrying water is a necessity on all long trips. Without a watertank fitted to the car, water will need to be carried inside. Light-weight hiking principles can be adopted by using water bladders, available from most hiking shops. When at camp, handy straps allow these hiking bladders to be easily hung from a branch or the roof racks.
Bladders are malleable so they can be stuffed amongst the bits and pieces. As the water runs out it becomes even easy to fit in the car; not like a solid water container that takes a definite amount of space whether it is full or not.
So it is possible to travel long distances in the car with the family and camping gear. Nothing needs to be towed behind or piled on the roof and it is possible to see out the back window when packed. All it takes is a bit of forethought, planning and a clever application of lightweight hiking principles.