Camping is a traditional pastime that continually holds its popularity amongst various generations of individuals to this day. Whether “roughing it” or “glamping”, outdoor enthusiasts across the globe find themselves unplugging from technology and immersing themselves in all that nature has to offer. Camping fly fishing trips are becoming increasingly popular amongst anglers throughout the fly fishing community. Setting up camp in your vehicle offers a minimal and efficient take on this adventurous lifestyle. Camping is also an up-and-coming winter activity that requires more planning and preparation than meets the eye. This list includes a range of necessary gear essentials that will make your winter car camping and fly fishing trips more enjoyable.

An Insulated Sleeping Bag

Having a well-insulated sleeping bag with an appropriate lower limit temperature rating is crucial for winter car camping. Here are a few highly-rated winter sleeping bags according to

Marmot Ironwood 20 Mummy Lightweight Sleeping Bag

Marmot Ironwood 20

The Marmot Ironwood 20 sleeping bag features a 650 fill power down insulation with a water-resistant Down Defender. This allows users to comfortably sleep in temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The featured ground-level side seams create a more thermally efficient experience leading to optimum body warmth. With a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars, the Marmot Ironwood 20 is an excellent choice for the winter car camping experience.

Coleman North Rim 0 Degree Sleeping Bag

Coleman North Rim

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The Coleman North Rim 0 Degree Sleeping Bag is an insulated mummy-style sleeping bag at a convenient price point. This sleeping bag features a quilted construction with an insulated foot box and Thermolock draft tube used to retain heat and body warmth. The semi-sculpted hood system tightens snug to the user’s head creating a warm and toasty experience. The mummy-style quilted construction provides a temperature rating of 0 degrees Fahrenheit keeping users warm at all times. Rated as an best-selling winter sleeping bag, the Coleman North Rim is a consumer-friendly option when selecting the perfect camping sleeping bag.

Inflatable Sleeping Pad / Air Mattress

When camping out of your vehicle, space may be limited but comfort is necessary for getting a good night’s rest. Depending on the type of vehicle, air mattresses may be feasible but in most cases, compact sleeping pads are more efficient. Here are a few sleeping pads that will provide comfort while car camping in frigid temperatures.

L.L.Bean Pathfinder Sleeping Pad

L.L. Bean Pad

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The L.L.Bean Pathfinder Sleeping Pad provides a lightweight design that will fit perfectly in any type of vehicle. The self-inflating sleeping pad insulates users while providing a 2 inch pocket of cushioning which protects from any objects that may lead to discomfort. The advanced construction of abrasion-resistant polyester and non-slip fabric material ensures that your sleeping bag will be held in place while snoozing through the night. With a 5 star rating, the simplicity and usefulness allow this sleeping pad to double as the perfect car mattress.

Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest


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Staying warm while our bodies are sedentary is the ultimate goal when it comes to winter car camping. The light and durable structure of this sleeping pad allows for ease of transport and will comfortably fit in any automobile type. This pad will provide car campers with ample warmth due to the patent-pending Thermacapture design which redirects heat back to your body. The peak/pocket design traps heat and increases comfort for campers on those frigid evenings. Rated 4.3 out of 5 stars, the Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest sleeping pad should definitely be considered by winter car campers.

Wool Base Layers

Along with a high-quality winter coat, beanie hat, gloves, and socks, it is essential to pack cold-weather base layers for various temperature ranges. Merino Wool is a premium material capable of trapping heat during the coldest months of the year. 

Smartwool Merino Base Layers


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Constructed with merino wool, Smartwool base layers are available in tops and bottoms for both men and women. This material provides an advantage when it comes to breathable warmth, moving sweat from the body, odor control, and next to skin comfort in cold weather conditions. With many brands using merino wool, the Smartwool Company ensures the production of high-quality base layers suitable for anyone who loves and spends time in the outdoors.

Dehydrated and Nutrient-Rich Foods

While it is nice to cook up hot dogs and hamburgers over the fire, it is often more practical to pack lightly. Quick and easy nutrient-rich foods are perfect when camping out of your vehicle. Listed below are a few options that will provide you with the sustenance needed while subject to the elements.

Mountain House Freeze Dried Meals

Dehydrated Foods

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While freeze-dried food may not sound very appetizing, Mountain House has developed the perfect just-add-water meals for camping, fishing, backpacking, etc. The meals are fully cooked and provide the same taste and feel of a home-cooked meal straight from the kitchen. All that is needed is the addition of hot water to the pouch and in 10 minutes, you have the perfect stream-side delicacy.

Nutrient-Rich Foods

Along with hearty camp meals, it is crucial to fuel your body with nutrient-rich foods to sustain your energy levels for longer periods of time. When preparing for a winter car camping trip, products such as granola bars and trail mixes are perfect energy boosters. Brands such as Kind, Clif, and Luna make highly nutritious and protein-rich products perfect for all outdoor excursions.

Hot Hands

Hot Hands Hand Warmers

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No matter the winter outdoor activity, your extremities always seem to be the first body parts affected by the elements. One of the most crucial pieces of gear we all should have when winter car camping is a pack of Hot Hands hand and foot warmers. The easy to use air-activated hand and foot warmers provide warmth for hours on end. Simply crack open the pack and put them in your pocket or shoe and your set. These small packs of heat come in clutch when venturing out to your favorite stream during the cold winter months.

Additional Handy Car Camping Accessories: 



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Very beneficial for keeping hydrated while camping in remote locations with ample water sources. The award-winning outdoor tool is known for eliminating 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and 99.9% of waterborne parasites. Lifestraw is a must-have necessity for any outdoor excursion.



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This small propane cooker will come in handy when heating water or even cooking canned and various other food products streamside. The versatility of this cooking system boils water in just over two minutes. The JetBoil will definitely make car camping trips much more enjoyable.

Camping Utensils and/or Cookware

GSI Outdoors Kitchen Kit

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Perfect if larger meals are part of your agenda when winter car camping. The GSI Outdoors Destination Kitchen Kit includes all of the tools needed for a gourmet meal in the woods.

Kan Jam

Kan Jam

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No matter when or where you are camping, there is always downtime for relaxing and having fun with friends. Kan Jam is a portable lawn game perfect for playing with your buddies while chilling back at the campsite. 

Portable Corn-Hole

Corn Hole

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Storming the world with popularity, corn hole is the perfect streamside lawn game to enjoy when the fish aren’t biting.

Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity

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Urban legend says, 8 good laughs a day will increase your life span. Why not add some humor to your car camping trip by playing a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity with your friends around the campfire.

Your Fly Tying Vise

Fly Tying Vise

It never fails, our flies always seem to fall victim to trees, rocks, and sticks while fishing our favorite streams. Your fly tying vise is a tool fly fisherman should always have during car camping trips.

Bio-degradable Toilet Tissue

Camp Toilet Paper

Nobody wants to be stuck cleaning up after themselves with dirty leaves or poison ivy. Bio-degradable toilet tissue is crucial for when duty calls.

Pair each of these winter car camping gear essentials with your fly fishing gear, and you will be set for an excellent weekend of good times and tight lines.

Written by Grant Michaels

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