Guide to Transporting Kayak Using a Car

Who would not fall in love with a kayak? Many people find themselves in this situation. There is something about feeling the sun on your skin, being so close to the water and paddling on your adventures in unfamiliar areas.

Does that interest you? Now, your search for the kayak for you. You did your assignment and found the one to take home and realize how you get it to your home? So, you call a friend with a pickup truck to have your kayak back.

You start to Google and think of buying the right accessories to strap your kayak properly not to blow it in your car.

Just like you, these were my worries too. I need to learn a lot before I get some clues to transport the kayaks I purchased.

In this post, I will guide you on how you can transport your kayak carrier without a roof rack.

Here are the things you’ll need:

  • Pool Noodles
  • Ratchet Straps

Note: Be careful about doing the whole process. There are chances you might damage your car paint if you’re not careful.

1) Put the Noodles on Your Car

Make sure you get the heavy-duty noodles. Once you got them, place them across your car’s roof. You should put each on near the front, in the middle, and near the back. You can use extra padding, but three is already enough.

You might notice that the noodles are longer than your car’s width. If this happens, cut them to its size.  For more security, you can thread a strap through each noodle and secure them inside your car.

2)  Lift Your Kayak to Your Car

Doing this would be easier with the help of another person. Through this, one of you can grab the bow of the kayak while the other can grab the stern to lift it. It’s better if your kayak is facing the right way up with the hull on the noodles.

You might find a more curved hull convenient. Just make sure you place it upside down on the roof of your car to make it more stable.

Once your kayak is on the top of the noodles, you can lift any part of it to readjust the noodles and parallel them with each other. The kayak should be positioned perpendicular to the noodles. This is to ensure that the stern or bow is facing the direction your car will be going.

 3) Secure Kayak with Straps

You should own two sets of either spring-loaded straps or a ratchet. Then, the front and back doors of your car should be open. Put the strap over the body to secure the center portion of your kayak. Get the two strap ends and have them meet inside your car through the front doors.

Time to Strap!

Twist and tighten them so that it’s a snug fit. Remember to keep the buckle on the outside near your kayak so that it’s easy to tighten. The twisted straps will lessen the loud noise created from the wind while you’re driving.

You should repeat this with the second strap being secured through your car’s back doors. Don’t tighten the straps too much as it can damage your kayak’s hull or your car’s roof. If you’re traveling to cooler temperatures, note that straps are easy to loosen up.

4) Tie-Down The Bow And Stern

For extra security and safety, it’s a good idea to tie down the bow and stern of your kayak when you’re on the road.  You can do this with ratchet or spring-loaded straps. It’s the same as those you’ve just secured your yak with.

Thread those straps through the front and back toggles or carry handles. Then, with the use of a carabiner or a hook, secure each one with this to a tie-down spot underneath your car. This can also work well if you have a tow bar on the back as a place to secure your strap.

You should have built-in tow points underneath the front of your car. These will work well in attaching the front straps.


I hope that at the end of this post, you realize that you don’t have to spend a fortune to transport your kayak wherever you need to go. Remember that safety is important. So, make sure your kayak is safe and secure at the top of your car before you travel.

Did you find this inexpensive alternative to a roof rack helpful to you? I hope you try this next time you find yourself transporting a kayak using your car.

How to Setup a Car Camping Kitchen

Whether you’re new to open-flame cooking or you’re a seasoned campsite cook, DIY car camping kitchen can transform your camping experience completely.

Doing a car camping kitchen can be challenging, but it can also be a blast if you’re prepared, and you have all the essential gear.

From a car camping kitchen set up to clean, this post covers the must-have cooking equipment you need for an efficient car camping kitchen. You’ll also find some tips to stay organized, along with a few easy and fun camping recipes.

How to Choose Right Car Camping Kitchen Equipment?

The type of cooking equipment you need will depend on your style of camping.

Are you camping alone, with kids, or a large group? Are you able to park your car near to the campsite? Are you heading to a remote area?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start with the basic essentials listed below and add them as necessary.

This car camping kitchen setup is ideal for RVers, car campers, and those who enjoy a few extra creature comforts.

What is the Basic DIY Car Camping Kitchen Setup?

The primary necessities for this car camping kitchen setup include pots and pans, a small foldable table, a sturdy cooler, and essential dinnerware and utensils.

Depending on what you plan to cook, you might want to include extra items like a grill gate, a cutting board, a large knife, and a coffee maker.

However, consider having a camping stove if you don’t feel comfortable cooking over an open flame. Camping stoves are mostly gas-powered. They are available in a range of sizes which make them ideal if you’re car camping.

On the other hand, cast iron is must-have cookware for outdoor cooking. It can be used with high heat. Because it’s very versatile, you can create gourmet campfire meals here too. There’s no need to settle for only white bread and hotdogs.

Essential DIY Car Camping Kitchen Checklist.

Outdoor cooking is easy when you have the right gear. For a gourmet camping experience, here’s a list of the essential tools and equipment you need to have.

The bare essentials:

  • Campfire cooking grill
  • Cast iron skillet
  • Cutlery
  • Cutting board
  • Folding camp table
  • Large kitchen knife
  • Pots and pans
  • Utensils, cups, and dishware

Add these items on as needed:


  • Camping stove and fuel
  • Coffee maker
  • Dutch oven
  • Marshmallow roasting forks
  • Spatula
  • Spoon

Cooking tools and accessories:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Can opener
  • Charcoal and charcoal lighter fluid
  • Cooking spray
  • Firepit
  • Firewood
  • Ice
  • Lantern or headlamp
  • Lighter/matches
  • Potholders
  • Table cloth


  • Dish soap
  • Paper Towels
  • Plastic Freezer Bags
  • Scouring pad
  • Trash bags
  • Washbasins
  • Water containers

How to Keep Your DIY Car Camping Kitchen Organized?

With enough preparation and planning, you can create an easy-to-use car camping kitchen that will make campfire cooking quick and convenient.

Here are some hacks to ensure your car camping kitchen is efficient and organized.


When packing your gear, use totes or stackable plastic bins that will fit comfortably in the back of your car. Not only these are durable and weather-resistant, but these also ensure your items are organized and accessible.

If you don’t have space for large bins, another great option is the reusable bags. Try to organize each bag by meal. For example, you have a breakfast bag with everything you need for breakfast – apart from other items that need to be stored in the cooler).

Picnic caddies and portable cutlery organizers can help reduce clutter and keep everything in one place.

If you’re still looking for another way to keep your camp kitchen essentials organized and mobile, then you need a plastic toolbox. You will simply fill the compartments, and you’re good to go.

At the Campsite

Use a plastic shoe organizer to keep things organized at your campsite. The various pockets are perfect for storing everything from meal prep tools and utensils to cleaning essentials.

Be sure to use separate ice coolers for food and beverages. In the food cooler, you can create a barrier between food using cooling racks and melting ice. You simply pack ice at the bottom of the ice cooler and line it with cooling racks and placing food on top.

Don’t forget a basin for clean-up.

How to Set Up Your DIY Car Camping Kitchen?

If you’re in a stable campground, you can set up your kitchen on a picnic table easily.

If you’re using a table, choose an area that has a level ground away from your tent, trees, and bushes.

When using the table, set one side for the meal prep and the other for cooking if you’re using a camp stove.

Keep the coolers, cookware, and kitchen gear under the table. Using the second table, separate the area for clean-up and washing the dishes. You can also bring a portable car camping kitchen which has extra spaces for all your cooking supplies and accessories.

How to Keep Animals Away from Your Campsite?

Store your food in air-tight containers. This will keep the raccoons and other animals and insects at bay.

When you’re cooking, make sure that your location is at least 100 yards from your tent.

Also, keep your campsite spotless. Pick up all the uneaten or spilled food and wash the dishes and utensils immediately after use.

Dispose of all your food wrappers and trash in odor-proof bags and take it to the nearest waste area. Lastly, don’t leave your food unattended. Remember to lock your food in a car at night whenever you leave the campsite.

3 Easy and Delicious Campfire Recipes

Once your car camping kitchen set up and ready to go, it’s now time to put all that gear to use. Here are some delicious campfire recipes everyone will love.

1. Campfire Chili Cheese Fries

What you’ll need:

  • A small package of frozen french fries
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can of chili
  • Aluminum foil
  • Cooking spray


  • With the use of cooking spray, spray one side of aluminum foil.
  • Put the frozen fries in the middle of the sheet. Fold to enclose.
  • Cook the fries for about 15 to 20 minutes over the campfire until they’re cooked.
  • Spread the cheese and chili over the fries.
  • Close the foil again and cook until the cheese has melted and chili is hot.
  • Remove and let cool slightly.

2. S’mores Dip

What you’ll need:

  • 1 bag marshmallows
  • 4 chocolate bars
  • Graham crackers for dipping
  • Aluminum foil
  • Iron skillet


  • Break the chocolate bars into pieces and put them at the bottom of the skillet.
  • Place a layer of marshmallows over the chocolate.
  • Use the aluminum foil to cover the skillet and place over the fire, away from direct flames. The chocolate should melt in roughly 5-10 minutes. Be sure not to leave it on too long.
  • Serve when melted thoroughly.

3. Campfire Nachos

What you’ll need:

  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheese
  • Nacho cheese or cheese dip
  • Iron skillet
  • Camp grill


  • Put the chips in an iron skillet and layer with cheese dip or nacho cheese
  • Cover all ingredients with shredded cheese and cook over the campfire until the cheese melted.
  • Remove from the fire. Then, top with green onions, salsa, and sour cream.

List of Car Camping Gear You Can’t Live Without

There’s fun in car camping! And when we say fun, we mean that it doesn’t require tons of up-front costs. Personally, I don’t want to buy the most expensive car camping gear with all the features. I found these intimidating. I like to start car camping small and ease my way into making it as my hobby. I better have a car camping gear list with me.

In efforts to keep my adventure simple, I wanted to put together a car camping gear list of all the things I think are super helpful. I’m also budget-conscious. So, you can count on me on not recommending a car camping gear list that isn’t good or helpful.

1.      Cast Iron Camping Cookware

Choosing a pan can be complicated because there are different types of camping. Also, different people who camp have different needs. But since we’re talking about car camping here, we choose cast iron as the best. Here are the following reasons why cast iron is in the car camping gear list.

  • Durability. It can withstand open fire for long.
  • Versatility. This can be used for a variety of dishes without bringing other pans from home.
  • Long-Lasting. This does not require early replacement.
  • Nonstick. Washing dishes is simple and easy with the type of coating this pan has.

2.      Backpacking Stove

One of the essentials in the car camping gear list is a backpacking stove. A good backpacking stove I can recommend is the Alpertie backpacking stove. It’s a small stove that folds out to a 7 to 8-inch diameter and works well for a 10” cast iron stove. It weighs 8 ounces in the case. It works well for car camping, even if it’s heavier than a more expensive backpacking stove.

3.      Camping Tent

Your home is your castle. When you are camping, your tent is your home, so it should be one in your car camping gear list. There are hundreds of tents to choose from, so it can be quite overwhelming to choose from. 

For me, the $40-$50 is the ideal price range you want to spend on a tent. By the way, this is a 2-person tent. Any less than $50 might be substandard already. You can get a decent 2-person tent with necessary features such as 

  • Guylines
  • Vents
  • Rainfly
  • Waterproofed seams

In this price range, you are taking more of a gamble on longevity and quality. This may be fine for you if you are only planning on going camping with yourself or with a partner once or twice a year.

The price range of $40 to $50 of tents is not going to cut it for extreme cold weather and for frequent use. A tent should be able to handle chilly, but not snowy conditions. Moreover, tents in this range will be heavier than more expensive tents that sleep the same amount of people. This is not necessary for car camping, but for backpacking, every gram counts.

Coleman Dome Tent is the most popular tent in this price range. 

You can assume to get an okay 2-person tent for this price range. It is recommended if you are just getting into a car camping. Other tent options fit more people for $50. However, the quality might be compromised. You should be skeptical about that.

4.      Camping Rain Gear

Camping Rain Gear is our fourth must-have in the car camping gear list. One brand you can enjoy wearing is the Columbia Watertight II Jacket. This jacket can be your most valuable accessory! Why? It’s because it can keep you dry and warm from wind and rain.

This rain gear jacket has no durability issues. It has vents and zip-seal pockets too.

5.      Camping Clothing

I’m not going to talk about how to be stylish when doing car camping. However, I can give you advice on how some clothing can be incredibly useful to you. Here, I’ll share with you some nice-to-haves essentials.

Thermals: Your Essential for Cold Weather

Even for chilly weather, thermal underwear can make a much more pleasant experience. The best type of thermals for each scenario is a long discussion, as there are a lot. Assessing your needs is the key to that research. The looser fit and the heavier of the thermals are, the more air is trapped inside of it, which captures more heat.

Form-fitting thermals won’t retain as much heat by themselves, but layered with extra warm clothing will create air pockets between those layers, which will keep you warm.

Here is a sample of the sample thermal set you can wear comfortably.

My Thermal Bottom

My Thermal Top

With this set, you can able to hang out in 50 degrees Fahrenheit. You can still feel a little warm even when the temperature rises up to 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

There are other options for warmer thermals, but this set can keep you comfortable outside. These can also wick away sweat, which is essential to keeping warm.

6.      Headlamp

There are many types of Headlamps. However, all of them perform a unified function – To light up your way. One of the favorites that I suggest you own one is the Supfire headlamp. Here are the reasons why I like the Supfire headlamp and why you should include it in your car camping gear list.


This is my favorite part of the Supfire headlamp. Most LED headlamps are using AAA batteries. It is not really a bad thing anyway, but it’s another thing to pack and consider when you’re going camping.

It’s best to store your batteries outside of your headlamp, because most of the time, headlamps will drain your batteries. If you leave your headlamp along for a long time, then when you go to use it, the batteries are empty and you have to replace them.

The Supfire headlamp has a micro USB charging port, which you can use to charge your headlamp. Though the battery may die by itself if you don’t use the headlamp for a long time, you can simply recharge it directly instead of disposing of 3 more AAA batteries. This can actually last for at least 3 hours of light without needing a charge.

Different Light Modes

The Supfire headlamp has a variety of light modes that come in handy while doing car camping. It has has a very bright white light mode, a dimmer white light mode, and a flashing red light mode.

Another interesting mode of this one is the temperature sensor mode. This turns the headlamp on or off if you wave your hand in front of the headlamp. When you are working with people around your campground, it’s discourteous to shine your headlamp in people’s faces. You can switch the light on and off easily by waving your hand in front of your face to prevent blinding people. How cool is it?

7.      Coal Chimney Starter

This is a simple device where you put kindling into the bottom of the chimney. After 15 to 20 minutes of dumping coal and a bit more newspaper to get the coals going, you should be burning them all ready to start cooking. Having this in your car camping gear list is incredibly valuable, most especially if you are planning on cooking in the firepit.

This is a commodity, so it doesn’t matter which one you will buy. Here is the link to some of the well-rated coal chimney starter on Amazon.

Here are some quick tips:

Make sure that you don’t start burning the paper when you have food out. The ashes can get everywhere and will scatter into your food.

Make sure you have enough airflow. Pack the paper in tight enough so that you can lift the chimney while you’re lighting it to get as much air in as possible to get a quick light.

8.      Battery-Powered Fan

Having a battery-powered fan in your car camping gear list can make the heat bearable. It’s worth it if you are car camping in hot weather. Choose a fan that can be recharged and doesn’t need huge D batteries.

When thinking of the size, choose the bigger one as it can move more air. Others can be contented with a 10 inches fan as it is portable but can still cool enough to sleep in hot weather.

9.      4-Liter Gravity Water Filter

This filter comes with two reservoirs. The first one is made for the dirty water, while the other is for the filtered water. The dirty water is held above the clean water reservoir, and gravity does the rest of the filtering process.

With this gravity filter, the process of filtering water is faster and easier. You can simply fill up the dirty reservoir after getting a clean reservoir-full of water, and then filter the dirty reservoir again when you need it. It’s super convenient.

10. Cottonelle Wipes

This is not a gadget in this car camping gear list, but I feel it needs to be mentioned here. These wipes are fantastic for car camping. This is essential most, especially when you can’t wash your body, especially in the sensitive regions.

They’re great also for cleaning your hands and for going to the body most especially when you’re faced with toilets without toilet paper. Just make sure to dispose of them properly.

There’s fun in car camping! And when we say fun, we mean that it doesn’t require tons of up-front costs. Personally, I don’t want to buy the most expensive car camping gear with all the features. I found these intimidating. I like to start car camping small and ease my way into making it as my hobby. I better have a car camping gear list with me.

In efforts to keep my adventure simple, I wanted to put together a car camping gear list of all the things I think are super helpful. I’m also budget-conscious. So, you can count on me on not recommending a car camping gear list that isn’t good or helpful.

Here’s How You Can Go Camping in Your Car.

Many Americans hit the road and go for the great outdoors each summer. They take their cellphones away, sit on the beach chairs under a meter of battery-powered Led light, and toast their marshmallows. These people are called campers. In this article, I will teach you how to do camping in your car.

How to Find Campers?

Campers are easy to identify. When you seem a full-packed car filled with sleeping bags, inflatable bed, fishing equipment, tents, coolers, grills, and battery-powered Led lights driving down the road, you’ve found the campers.

Campers pack much stuff. The problem here is that with all this stuff you need to have, you sometimes have to carry it from your car to your campsite. So, if your parking lot is distant to your campsite, then you might have to work up to haul your stuff from here to there.

But if you’re not that keen on hauling off you gears around and still want to experience nature, you can try camping in your

What is Camping in Your Car?

Camping in your car is like a driveway camping. You pull up to your preferred parking spot, set your tent next to your car, put your grill next to it, and enjoy nature.

In short, you can pack as many stuff as you want, you don’t have to carry those things around because everything is in your car already. You just enjoy nature.

The advantage of camping in your car is that you can simply park, pitch, and relax. At times, you can get up from your beach chair and stretch your legs once in a while. But, for the most part, you’ll just park, pitch, and relax.

However, the downside of camping in your car is that your neighbors are very close, so you need to use your inside voice every time. If you have kids, it’s more challenging.

Once you get the hang of camping in your car, you’ll appreciate it as a peaceful way to vacation. It’s relatively affordable, accessible, and a great way to relax in the crisp and open air. To ensure you don’t forget any essentials, you need to prepare well. This will make your trip fun and safe.

Here are some of the tips when camping in your car to get you well on your way.

Before You Pack Your Things

Before you head to the door on your next camping in your car trip, you need to prepare and perform a few tasks first. When you do car camping in your car, expect to isolate yourself from civilization. This means you need to prepare well, including bringing food, shelter, and medical supplies you might need on your trip.

1. Choose Your Destination

Pick your few favorite destinations and make your travel plans there. Having more than one option is a good idea if ever something unexpected happens, and you have to change plans.

If your choice is a popular destination, it might need a reservation, so you need to schedule that in advance.

If luxuries, such as a toiler or shower, are a need, make sure the campground you plan to go has them. However, keep in mind that it’s less likely a remote campground will have these extra amenities.

Tip: You can visit to check the campsite availability and make reservations to the popular camping in your car destinations in the US and Canada.

2. Choose the Time of Year

Deciding on when you leave is essential to how you plan, especially if you’re heading to the mountains. In these places, weather conditions change often. The roads are usually closed during winter, as there are potentially hazardous road conditions at this time.

While, during the summer, wildfires are common. This also leads to shutting down the main roads.

Tip: Keep the important contact information with you in a notebook, so you have it handy at all times. Make sure that you have the phone numbers of the park you’re visiting, the local forestry service, and local transportation agencies.

3. Check Your Vehicle for Maintenance

Car maintenance is important, especially for longer trips.

Here are the things you need to check first before camping in your car.

Change Oil

You should have your oil changed every 5,000 miles before starting a longer trip.

Flush Cooling System

Avoid having your car overheat by having your cooling system flushed.

Check Your Tires

Your car adds an extra weight when you put the essential gear on it. So, to avoid flats, make sure your tires have enough tread and pressure.

Are you planning on a vacation soon? Do you know the current condition of your car before going on a trip? If you aren’t sure about these, you can contact a mechanic to perform a thorough inspection of your car.

4. Bring Your Pets

If you have plans of bringing a pet, contact the local authorities first in the campground to know if they allow it. Also, taking your pet to the vet is a must before leaving. Make sure they are healthy and immunized. Plan your pet’s food, treats, and water for the entire trip. Pack also a leash and collar, toys and bedding, bags to pick up waste, and medication.

It would also help to bring your pet’s medical records and vaccination reports when you’re past state lines.

What to Pack When Camping in Your Car?

Camping in your car allows you to take whatever you want to make your vacation as comfortable and as luxurious as possible.

1. Lots of Water

Water is the most essential of all. You need lots of it. Though your camp may be near a lake or river, you can’t be sure if the water there is clean. So the option could be bringing your own water or purchase a water filter.

2. Food and Cooking Equipment

It’s always best to plan for your necessities, even if you’re a minimalist camper. This will ensure that you have enough food and that you won’t have much waste. Some of the staples that are easy to cook and prepare for dinner are hotdogs, hamburgers, and chili.

To learn some great camping in your car recipes, you may visit to help you decide.

Some of the more important cooking equipment you can bring include:


These include a wooden spoon, spatula, tongs, and tableware. Store them in a big plastic box to keep them organized.


Are you planning to cook a barbecue? If so, you’ll need charcoal, gas, and a camping stove. You may also need a lighter and a newspaper to light up a fire.

Prep Equipment

This includes a knife, cutting board, vegetable peeler, plates, cups, mugs, bowls, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and paper towels.

Cooking Equipment

This includes skillet, a saute pan, a pot for boiling water, skewers for hotdogs and marshmallows, and a cup for coffee or other hot drinks.


It’s best to have a cooler for meat and another one for another else. This option is recommended when you have a lot of perishable foods. Also, change the ice every other day and wrap meats to avoid cross-contamination.

On the other cooler, fill it with fruits, vegetables, milk, drinks, eggs, cheese, butter, and other fresh ingredients. Dry goods like bread, tea, coffee, cocoa, salt, pepper, cooking oil, and spices can be stored inside the heavy-duty box. Keep all the food in your car for safety purposes.

3. Choose Your Tent

You need an excellent tent to serve as protection from different elements. Your tent should be waterproof and has an ideal dimension for you.

Tip: Consider some indoor activities you can do inside the tent most, especially when it rains. You can also bring some good books to read during those circumstances.

4. Pack Sleeping Bags

Don’t underestimate the weather at night. It can get cold in higher elevations even during summer. Make sure that the sleeping bags are stored in a dry place. You can also consider purchasing affordable foam pads for added warmth and comfort.

5. Prepare a First Aid Kit

You should have medicines on hand no matter how much time you will spend on camping in your car. Make sure you have anti-itch cream, bandage, gauze, pain killers, q-tips, tape, tweezers, etc.

6. Bring Toiletries

Bring a travel-sized soap, bug spray, deodorant, sunscreen, toothbrush, and toothpaste.

7. Light

Light is essential to find your way around at night. SO make sure you have a flashlight, lantern, or headlamp with you.

8. Pack Plenty of Clothes

Make sure you have the essentials first: a hat, sunglasses, gloves, shirts, underwear, jeans, socks, and a jacket. When it’s summer, bring light clothes and swimwear when camping in your car.

Don’t forget to bring your comfortable shoes and rain gear too just in case it rains.

9. Get at Least One Map

You’ll be more confident in your surroundings for hiking if you a map in hand. This will allow you to navigate a few options once you arrived at the place.

10. Pack the Necessary Tools

Packing a few tools can help you with different tasks during the trip.

Keep it simple: A Swiss army knife, few screwdrivers, and a hatchet should provide all of the tools you need.

Tip: You can gather wood scraps for a fire much easier with the use of hatchet. You can hammer these in tent pegs.  Don’t forget to cover the blade most, especially if you have children. Keep them away from your other personal things inside the car.

General Camping in Your Car Safety Tips

Added to the preparation, you also need to observe the campground rules you’re going to. You can find the rules on the campground’s website.

1. Follow the Campground Rules

The campground personnel implements the rules and regulations to keep the campers safe. This includes telling the campers to be respectful around and avoiding disruptive actions just like yelling and playing loud music.

They also note the campers to keep an eye of their children, especially those close to wilderness areas and with swimming locations.

2. Take Care Around Animals

Another area of concern when camping in your car is the wild animals around.

Camping in your car with access to wild animals have special trash bins. This deters animals from entering areas with people. However, if your campground doesn’t have trash bins, take your trash with you.

Don’t leave your food out as this can attract animals. Keep your food items in a sealed container or inside your car. Don’t even attempt to feed the animals as it encourages them to make contact with people.

Take Away

Make sure that you prepare everything you need when camping in your car. Without proper preparation, expect to spend a long, cold, and lonely few days at the campground.

For a safe and fun time camping in your car, make sure you have enough food, shelter, and other things you need. You should also follow any rules and regulations to ensure your safety when camping in your car. This keeps potentially dangerous encounters with any wild animals to a minimum.

The Best Ice Chest Coolers for Use in the Car

Do you feel like going off to work with a little lunch box in hand? If yes, then it’s time for you to discover a new way to make your lunch more enjoyable. You may also be looking for a perfect ice chest cooler for yourself, your child, or a day trip to the beach.

Ice chest coolers are perfect for taking much more than just lunch along with you.

In this article, I will share with you the things you need to look for in an ice chest cooler. I will also include some of the best ice chest coolers available and learn to consider purchasing one for you.

What to Look for in an Ice Chest Cooler

From keeping your beverages chilled throughout your road trip or to housing your frozen foods from a grocery store, a quality ice chest cooler is a necessity. Various situations call for an ice chest cooler, but not all can meet the same demands. The features you need to have in your ice chest cooler will depend on your activities. There are ample options to choose from. But, finding the right ice chest cooler for your needs can be simple if you know what to look for.

So, before you run to the store or search online for the best ice chest cooler for your car, ask yourself first with this question: What do you intend to use your ice chest cooler for?

Understanding the purpose of purchasing an ice chest cooler can help you decide the insulation level you need and hone in on your budget.

1.      Durability

When you are thinking of what ice chest cooler to use, consider how much punishment it will take. If it will just cozily in the bed of your vehicle for only a few hours, then you won’t have have to search for tough exterior surface. You can opt for softshell coolers instead, which is easy to carry and efficient in these situations.

However, if you will use on extended trips or use your ice chest cooler on a boat, then you need those that are made of harder plastic or metal. This would be pricier but will give you the high-level durability you need.

Another thing to consider also is if you want to use it for another purpose. For example, you want to eat on it or sit on it. In these cases, consider those that have reversibility tops and more hardened surfaces.

2.      Insulation

The purpose of your ice chest cooler is to keep food and beverages cool. So, naturally, you should consider your ice chest cooler’s insulation capabilities when making a purchase. For ice retention, opt for hard-shell coolers than softshell counterparts because there is more insulating material designed to this.

Softshell ice chest coolers may work well too, but it is recommended to use hard-shell coolers to keep the food fresh and beverages cold for a more extended period. You may want to consider investing in a high-end cooler for a better ice retention rate.

Another tip here is, look at the ice chest cooler’s lid and ensure it has sufficient insulation. The lid will take much heat when your cooler is sitting outside. So, having a thick layer between the top, elements, and the ice can make better cooling capabilities.

3.      Size

The size of your ice chest cooler should be determined by how much food and drink you try to keep cool and how much space you have available for the cooler.

Most ice chest cooler is measured by how many cans it can carry. Ice chest coolers measuring 25 quarts or less are great for overnight trips and can house for small groups. If your trip is for an extended excursion, you will need larger ice chest coolers than 75 quarts in size.

When it comes to size decision, you also need to factor room for ice or ice packs. The good rule of thumb here is that one part ice is to be used for every two parts of food or beverage. Moreover, larger coolers will require more space. If you own a small car, opt for small ones.

4.      Materials

When it comes to a cooler’s construction, there are a few material options available. Softshell coolers made from fabric are ideal for events calling for little food or drink or short trips. This type of ice chest cooler is lightweight and straightforward. It also features additional pockets on the exterior to store extra snacks.

On the other hand, hard-shell ice chest coolers are made from metal or plastic. These materials allow for thicker insulation. This keeps items cold longer. While these are way better than softshell ice chest coolers, you have to plan for space.

5.      Portability

It’s fantastic to have an ice chest cooler with both excellent durability and insulation. However, this type cannot do much when you can’t transport it to different places. So, when you plan to buy this, consider the design and how that will affect portability.

Smaller ice chest coolers offer single-handle design while larger ice chest coolers offer side handles or ropes that can be carried by two persons. Other ice chest coolers have built-in wheels, like a suitcase, for easy transport.

What Makes a Good Ice Chest Cooler for Your Car?

Soft-Sided Ice Chest Cooler

This type of cooler is sized small enough to handle by one person comfortably. They have soft sides and a shoulder strap for easy transport. Some may also have a top handle or have an insulated backpack cooler.

Soft-sided ice chest coolers stay closed by using a zipper. On the other hand, hard-sided personal coolers have a plastic locking lid. These types can keep your items cold for a day or two. In most cases, these may hold ice for up to 5 days. When it comes to the best small ice chest coolers, you see that there are several different styles, material, and ice retention capabilities.

Most of these ice chest coolers are available in different colors for you to choose from. Each ice chest cooler manufacturer add their own unique designs and touches to the cooler.

Ice chest coolers can be used for a car ride, trips to the grocery store, or a trip to the beach.

Soft-sided ice chest coolers may look small but are expandable. So, you can expect that this can also hold more. However, if you are not a fan of soft-sided ice chest coolers, there are other plastic personal coolers you can use.

Ice Packs or Regular Ice for Ice Chest Coolers?

Ice packs?

People who use ice chest coolers use this for personal lunch or a day trip. Since most are using these coolers for daily lunches, most use ice packs. Using ice packs in your ice chest coolers will keep internal temperatures cool enough to enjoy your food. Most importantly, it will not cause your food to become waterlogged. When compared to using ice only, where it can potentially melt or ruin your sandwich.

Most of the affordable soft-sided ice chest coolers cannot hold water. When ice melts inside, water could go through the seams of the bag. However, when you opt for higher-end cooler bags like Yeti Hopper or Polar bag, they can hold the ice melt enough as they are water-tight.

Top 10 Ice Chest Coolers for Cars

1.      Coleman FlipLid 6 Personal Ice Chest Cooler

Coleman FlipLid Personal Ice Chest Cooler
Reversible, easy to use personal ice chest you can keep in your car.

This small ice chest cooler can hold up to 6 cans of soda or beer. It has a comfortable handle for you to hold onto and a wide bottom for stability. The FlipLid top sets it apart from other ice chest coolers because of its reversibility. You can use it as a serving tray and also includes molded can holders. With these, you can now eat worry-free wherever you are.

2.      Rubbermaid 10Qt Personal Ice Chest Cooler

Rubbermaid 10Qt Personal Ice Chest Cooler
This cooler can hold up to 12 cans with ice! Keep your food and drinks cold even on a hot summer day!

This is one of the best ice chest coolers that can hold as much as 12 cans with ice. Thanks to its superior thermal retention, it can keep your food and drinks cold.

It also has a durable and swingable handle on top. It is easy to clean and is resistant to stain and odors. You can choose from red and blue colors. It is probably one of the most popular and cheapest choices for the small best ice chest coolers.

3.     Igloo 14.8Qt Playmate Ice Chest Cooler

Igloo 14.8 Quart Playmate Cooler with Industrial Diamond Plate Exterior Design
Has a patented tent-shaped lid so you can lift it easily and prevent spills.

This ice chest cooler has an industrial diamond plate exterior look. It has a tent-shaped locking lid that can help prevent spills. Since it’s produced by Boss, which is one of the well-known longstanding ice chest coolers on the market, you can ensure its durability and damage resistance from impacts.

You can also open this toward either side to access it easily. Plus, the handle is comfortable to hold. The overall look of this ice chest cooker makes this a go-to lunch of men.

4.   Coleman 16QT Personal Wheeled Ice Chest Cooler

Coleman 16QT Personal Wheeled Ice Chest Cooler
This cooler has wheels so you can transport it easily from your car to wherever you need it.

Ice chest cooler can become too heavy if it’s loaded with cans of beer or soda along with ice. If this prevents you from getting a small best cooler with wheels, then you should consider Coleman’s wheeled ice chest cooler. It is taller than most personal ice chest coolers. It can hold a two-liter bottle upright.

Among the ice chest coolers with wheels, this one is one of the smallest but can hold 22 cans and ice.  This ice chest cooler ensures it rolls smoothly and has the extendable handle to make it comfortable at any height.

5.      Stanley Adventure Ice Chest Cooler

Stanley Adventure Ice Chest Cooler
* Leak resistant gasket. Locks in cold * Adjustable tie down. Secures Stanley vacuum bottle/mug * Durable construction + Flat top. Doubles as a seat * 2.5x the foam of typical cooler. Keeps cold 36% longer

Any working dad or husband will appreciate this manly cooler. The company provides a lifetime warranty for this product. This adventure ice chest cooler has double-wall insulation and offers leak resistance.

It is also slightly larger than most personal ice chest coolers as it can hold 21 cans, making it suitable for days worth of drinks. Lastly, this is one of the fewer smaller coolers that can double as a seat.

6.      Wagan Powered Personal Ice Chest Cooler

Wagan Powered Personal Cooler and Warmer
* You can cool and warm food in this cooler, helping you save money on food when traveling for long distances. * You can plug it in to your car. No need for messy ice or ice packs. Internal dimensions: 12

For a good reason, this cooler is slightly different from the rest of the ice chest coolers listed in this post. Yes, this is because it needs to plug into a 12-volt source to cool and warm contents. Hence, this personal ice chest cooler is great for long hauls.

During summer, this powered ice chest cooler can maintain internal temperature for longer periods if it is plugged in. Moreover, when its winter, this versatile ice chest cooler is great for transporting food or a warm cup of coffee or soup.

The Wagan Powered personal ice chest cooler has 7 liters capability. It features built-in cup holders and a padded shoulder strap. It can also maintain at 35 to 40 degrees on cool mode and 140 degrees on warming mode. This is definitely a perfect ice chest cooler for your car or truck.

7.      Coleman 24 Hour Ice Chest Cooler

Coleman 24 Hour Ice Chest Cooler
This cooler can hold up to 30 cans and lock in the cold for 24 hours!

This Coleman 24-hour ice chest cooler is capable of holding up to 30 cans and keeping them cool for 24 hours. The front of this cooler has a pouch for dry goods. Transporting this cooler is convenient and handsfree too, thanks to its padded strap.

Aside from these features, this cooler also has an antimicrobial liner. It resists mildew and odor. It’s the perfect ice chest cooler for anyone who tends to forget ice packs or food inside.

8.      eBags Crew Ice Chest Cooler

eBags Crew Ice Chest Cooler
eBags is a popular online seller of backpacks and luggage. But, surprisingly, they also do well with their Crew Ice chest cooler!

The eBag crew ice chest cooler may seem new to some. But, as a matter of fact, this ice chest cooler is one of the most popular packing cube manufacturers. It’s the perfect cooler for traveling. It has several compartments for the storage of dry and wet goods.

The bottom part of it is the “cold section” and offers 6-sides insulation. When looked on the outside, you can see multiple bottle storage compartments. On top of it is a zippered dry storage area.

The back slip pouch is one of the most unique features of the Crew Cooler. This allows for a rolling suitcase handle to slip through. You can ensure that it can be carried securely on top of the rolling suitcase.

9.      Igloo Max Cold Lunch Box Ice Chest Cooler

Igloo Max Cold Lunch Box Ice Chest Cooler
Igloo is a well-known brand of coolers, and you can't go wrong with this cold lunch box cooler.

The Igloo Max Cold ice chest cooler is the most traditional “lunch box looking cooler.” Even if this offers a leak-resistant look, you still need to use ice packs with this cooler. This is to ensure that seams will not become damp.  It also boasts its anti-microbial liner and ergonomic look of the handle on the exterior.

10.      Everest Lunch Bag

Everest Lunch Bag
A simple, affordable lunch bag to help you carry food in your car.

Are you a simple type of person? Then, this Everest ice chest cooler is for you. This is one of the most affordable ice chest coolers. This already has a sizeable insulated area, but they add extra storage area to make it more practical. At only $10, you can already have the most economical ice chest cooler in your car.

Your ice chest cooler in the car can take on many roles in your life. It can keep up your foods and beverages chilled while you’re enjoying the outdoors. So, on your next road trip, weekend barbecue chillout, game day tailgate, or fishing excursion, make sure you have an ice chest cooler with you!