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Car camping guide: essential sleeping gear

My husband called me executive sleeper because I can fall asleep anywhere, from a king size hotel Bed To the middle of the woods. But my best night’s sleep was while in our car camping Convertible ProMaster camper truck. It’s a testament to how comfortable we’ve made sleeping arrangements within the truck’s 60-square-foot space.

When planning our construction, we decided to make the loft bed a permanent fixture. We’ve spent a few luxuries – a memory foam top cover and night lights – that ensure ultimate comfort while living on the road. Forget roughing it: Unless I bring my gear on a hike out into the countryside, I definitely bring feather pillows to camp.

Here, I’ve collected products that help me pick up some things and feel comfortable enough to take on whatever adventure we had planned for the next day. These examined items will work on any type of vehicle, whether you’re spending the night in a trick pickup, truck bed, or hatchback.

Horse pillow Courtesy Image

Horse pillow

Not everyone wants to risk heating their lovely pillows from home. In this case, consider the Hest Memory Foam Pillow. The soft, dirt-resistant cover is removable and washable, so you can prevent the campfire odor from sticking. It’s also a great option when space is tight: You can fill it up to the size of a loaf of bread. And no matter how many times you store it away, it’s just as high as the day you bought it.

[$79; hest.com]

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Kelty Galactic Down Blanket
Kelty Galactic Down Blanket Courtesy Image

Kelty Galactic Down Blanket

As someone who loves to spread out, I tend to feel the limitations in sleeping bags. Kelty’s huge 550m blanket keeps me warm and cozy and is great for cuddling in the car. The 50 denier polyester wrap and lining is as soft as silk, but also strong enough to withstand occasional snags. When squeezed into a bag of things, it’s the size of a rugby ball.

[$100; kelty.com]

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Luno Air Mattress 2.0.1 Update
Luno Air Mattress 2.0.1 Update Courtesy Image

Luno Air Mattress 2.0.1 Update

If your weekend whip is also your everyday commuter, it probably doesn’t have a built-in bed. The Luno Double Inflatable Air Mattress is the perfect solution for in car camping – check out MJ’s A full review is here. It’s the perfect size for the backs of over 1,800 different car models, and it’s outfitted with two inflatable blocks that you can fill behind the front seats to create a flat sleeping surface. It also works for solo camping: Deflate one of the air chambers to turn it into a single mattress.

[$280; lunolife.com]

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NiteIze Radiant Rechargeable Micro Lantern car camping
NiteIze Radiant Rechargeable Micro Lantern Courtesy Image

NiteIze Radiant Rechargeable Micro Lantern

When I have to wake up in the middle of the night, I don’t like to find my way. This rechargeable lantern has been a godsend – it’s bright enough to guide me without waking my husband. It has excellent battery life (I’ve only had to charge it once since getting it last spring), and if you don’t have roof hooks in your car, it’s small enough to store in a cup holder or sweatshirt pocket.

[$20; niteize.com]

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Tifa Amber Mok
Tifa Amber Mook Courtesy Image

Tifa Amber Mook

Are you even a fanlever if you don’t own these slippers? Seriously, my husband and I have identical husbands. Once the sun is down and it’s cold, I put it down to protect my feet from the truck’s cold vinyl flooring. The rubberized outsole provides good traction in dirt, and the ripstop cushioned outer and super plush microfiber upper. It’s also easy to throw it into the laundry when it’s dusty or starts to smell bad.

[$75; teva.com]

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Hot pillow cover Ignik
Hot pillow cover Ignik Courtesy Image

Hot pillow cover Ignik

We spent the night in Jackson Hole one February when the temperatures fell to the negatives, and I dreamed of something like this. When connected to a 12v power source, it heats up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit; Place it over a sleeping pillow or mattress for instant warmth. There is a short version and a file Long copy for another $ 10.

[From $80; ignik.com]

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Portable Power Station Goal Zero Yeti 150
Portable Power Station Goal Zero Yeti 150 Courtesy Image

Portable Power Station Goal Zero Yeti 150

An external power bank is a great way to keep your devices charged while camping in your car (it will prevent you from draining your car battery). There is a lot to choose from, but I especially like GoalZero products. At 12 pounds, the Yeti 150 is the smallest in the series, but still has enough juice to power tablets, small laptops, and even the Ignik board cover above. It is also compatible with other accessories of the brand, such as solar panels and LED lights. Just make sure to charge it at home before heading to camp.

[$200; goalzero.com]

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Car and camping window reflectors
Necessary materials for reflective window shades Courtesy Image

Reflective window shades

For a penny, you can find companies that make the perfect window awnings to fit your car – or you can just crack and cut your car yourself. I recommend the bumpy road. It’s easy: just trace your window onto butcher paper, transfer this shape to mirrored insulation, and cut it out. These panels will block out the sun and repel heat when it’s hot, and when it’s cold, they help to trap warmth inside your car and create a sense of privacy. We have two for our truck: one for the windshield and one for the rear window.

[$20 for a 24-inch by 10-foot roll; amazon.com]

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Written by Joseph

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