How to pack your car for camping

The challenge of fitting your camping gear into your vehicle gets a whole lot more difficult as your family grows. In fact, it can be downright frustrating, if not impossible, unless you have a planned approach to packing your car for camping.

With the right car for camping, the right camping setup and a well planned approach to packing your car, you will be amazed at how much your car can comfortably and safely carry while still staying within the payload limit, or the designated weight carrying capacity of the car.

The exact way in which you will pack your particular car for camping will vary depending on:
  • How many rear seat passengers you have, and therefore how much space is available in the rear passenger cabin, for safely transporting soft items like bedding and clothing
  • The size of the rear cargo area - we have packed quite a few different cars now and none of them pack our camping gear in exactly the same way

Car packing summary

While everyone might pack differently, as a guide we have outlined below a summary of how we would pack a car for camping. 

One (or no) rear passenger
Two rear passengers
Three rear passengers

Passenger cabin / rear seat

Clothing and bedding



Car roof

Main tent, poles bag, marquee or lighter screen room for extra shelter if needed

Bedding, main tent, poles bag, no marquee but lighter screen room if needed

Bedding (more hiking style), clothing, main tent, extra poles for tarpaulin shelter if needed. No marquee or screen room

Rear cargo area

Everything else

Everything else

Everything else including tarpaulin to be constructed for extra shelter if needed

Tow / hitch bar Bikes Bikes


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Futher resources

For further reading, you can also read our tips for packing your car article as well as our article on making the best use of your car storage compartments.