How To Pack Your Car To Be Adventure-Ready

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How To Pack Your Car For An Adventure

Summertime calls for spontaneous camping trips, last minute hikes, and countless river trips. Weekends become prime time real estate for adventures—it’s mandatory to fit in as many as possible! Luckily there are ways to maximize time spent out having fun as opposed to stumbling over packing lists or remembering what to bring along. Ready to get the most out of your weekend adventures this summer? Follow this guide to pack your car for an adventure and be ready to leave the road at a moment’s notice.

Pack A Rubbermaid Box

Rubbermaid boxes are an ideal solution to having all of your gear necessities in one place. Purchase a large one at any big-box retailer and make sure it has a lid—you’ll want that for stackability. Use your Tetris skills to layer up the goods ahead of time, while you have the mental clarity to run through the list of items you’ll need. Here are some ideas for how to pack your car for an adventure.

Car Camping

  • Tent/poles
  • Rain fly
  • Ground tarp
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Camp stove
  • First aid kit
  • Sunblock/bug spray
  • Duct tape
  • Camp chairs
  • Cooking utensils
  • Pocket knife

River Trip (Excluding Raft Equipment)

  • Personal floatation device (PFD)
  • Pump
  • Repair kit
  • First aid kit
  • Dry bag
  • River shoes/booties
  • Sunglass straps
  • Splash gear
  • Wool thermal layers

Build A Staple Food List

Creating a go-to food list is crucial to cutting down on time spent preparing for a last-minute trip. If you’re already familiar with your staples, it’s a snap to throw them all in a box (or run through the aisles at the grocery store). In fact, if you stick with dry or dehydrated foods, you can even keep them stored in a box together, just like your gear box. Simply add fresh fruit before your trip. Of course, you must take into consideration how many days you’ll be gone, so make sure your list is customizable. In order to properly pack your car for an adventure, check out our food list.


  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Peanut butter
  • Oatmeal packets


  • Trail mix
  • Granola
  • Dry soup mixes
  • Flavored rice/risotto packets


  • Tinned meats
  • Pasta sauce
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Instant coffee
  • Spices

Know Your Layers

Any true outdoorsman has a pretty clear idea of what layers he or she will need in any given situation. Take stock of what you’ve got ahead of time so it’s easier to pack on the fly. Keep in mind that summertime weather varies in different climates, so take your geography into consideration when packing. Here is a great example of what layers to bring camping in a temperate desert climate.


  • Wool undergarments
  • Swimsuit
  • Quick-dry shirt/shorts


  • Thin wool baselayers
  • Wool socks
  • Long sleeve cotton t-shirt
  • Fleece half-zip sweater
  • Puffy jacket (just in case!)

Mandy Burkholder is a travel, adventure, and outdoor writer who honed her craft in the foothills of the La Plata Mountains of Southwest Colorado. After a stint in the Swiss Alps, she now resides in Tennessee. Follow her on twitter — @mandyburkhold3r

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