Every year, one million new American families start camping. If you are part of the 77 million households that already camp, have you considered levelling up the adventure and heading on a jeep camping trip?
Camping in a jeep offers tons of benefits like the ability to go off the literal beaten path but still have the safety of a vehicle. You can increase the excitement while increasing the comfort at the same time!
But it can be daunting if you have never camped with a jeep before. This guide will break down everything you need to consider and plan before your first jeep camping experience.
Prepare Your Jeep for the Adventure
The first consideration should be “buy a jeep” but if you are reading this guide, that is likely what you are considering already.
If you haven’t bought a jeep yet and are wondering which models are the best for jeep camping, the Jeep Wrangler is without a doubt the number one choice. But if you want more of a versatile jeep/SUV hybrid, go for the Jeep Renegade.
Like any motor vehicle, you should take it in for regular services and always follow up on anything you think is wrong with your car. Check your tires, in particular, before all off-road trips.
You might also need to alter your jeep depending on where you want to go. Your engine should have enough horsepower to get you through the terrain you want to traverse. But your suspension on your jeep is likely fine as it is.
Don’t kit out your jeep with essential parts that are too rare in case you break down. And huge lifts might look cool but they are a pain on regular roads and will slow you down.
Figure Out You and Your Jeep’s Limitations
Because jeep camping by nature is remote and far from civilization, you need to have some mechanical skills and tools before you go camping.
Be 100% aware of what you are and are not comfortable with on your first jeep camping trip. Push your comfort zone little by little instead of doing something dangerous. See if there is a 4×4 training class in your area.
Consider fitting your jeep out with safety extras like steel bumpers, rails, and winches. Always carry an extra tire, air compressors, tools, and fuel. You need to know how to do basic vehicle maintenance like change a tire because, depending on where you are, you might not be able to call AAA.
If that makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t stray too far off the main roads for your first trip. There is always next time.
Invest in Jeep Camping Accessories
After you make the appropriate safety considerations and decisions about your vehicle, it is time to invest in the fun stuff!
There are tons of jeep camping accessories available from specialist retailers like Left Hand Garage. You will have to exercise restraint so you don’t buy everything. Weighing down your vehicle with too much gear would be dangerous:
List of Jeep Camping Gear
All jeep campers will agree that one of the best investments you can make to your vehicle is buying a dropdown tailgate table. It’s lightweight and you know it is sturdy because it attaches to your super-strong jeep! You can choose models with slide-out cutting boards and you can fit a decent-sized camping stove on top to BBQ with ease.
Most (if not all) jeeps carry their spare tire outside the truck to save space inside. Do you know what else you don’t want inside your vehicle? Smelly trash!
Opt for a spare tire trash bag so you can keep all your food waste outside of your vehicle. You could also buy a regular spare tire bag to store all your low-cost tools and line the main compartment with a normal trash bag. Remember not to store anything expensive or essential in your spare tire bag.
Here are some other suggestions of the best jeep camping gear you can buy:
- Camping mattress that fits in the back
- Refrigerators you can tie down in your trunk
- Storage boxes made to fit inside jeeps
Roof racks are essential (for most people) to hold all your extra jeep camping gear. Or, you may prefer to install a rack to hold bicycles or surfboards if you want to combine your passion for off-roading with sports.
Invest in Regular Camping Gear
As well as jeep-specific equipment, you should have all the regular camping gear too. You might not need everything on this list, depending on your climate and where you are camping, but you have the option:
List of Essential Camping Equipment
One non-negotiable is a tent. Even if you plan on sleeping on a mattress in the back of your jeep, you will need to put the gear you store in your trunk somewhere else.
Invest in a tent that fits onto the end of your jeep to expand your living area. You will also need sleeping bags and camping pillows.
Don’t forget provisions like food and water for your jeep camping trip. If you don’t have a built-in jeep refrigerator, you might still need a cool box for some food items. Bring enough food for the length of your trip plus more for emergencies.
You will need kitchen equipment for cooking food as well as consuming it. Bring extra fuel for your camping stove, too.
If you are camping for a few days, you will likely not be able to bring enough water for the trip, so make sure you camp near a water source. Use iodine tablets or water filters so the freshwater does not make you sick. Bring a collapsible water container so you have some for cooking and cleaning, too.
Shelter, food, and water are the essentials. But consider packing the following, too:
- Insect repellent, sunblock, and first aid supplies
- Sweat-wicking hiking clothes and sturdy boots
- Fold-up camping chairs and tables
- Torches, lanterns, headlamps, or external jeep lights
- Solar-powered generator
- Things to do at night e.g. playing cards and music speakers
Most of this regular camping gear is lightweight and small, so you should have no trouble fitting it into your jeep. The extra home comforts will help you enjoy the trip more.
Choose Your Destination and Plan the Route
Next, you need to plan where you are going to camp with your jeep! Here are some of the best destinations in the USA for 4×4 and jeep camping if you need inspiration:
- Death Valley National Park, California
- Canyonlands National Park, Utah
- Alpine Loop Trail, Colorado
- Inyo National Forest, California
- Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
- Zion National Park, Utah
Some of these areas do not allow off-roading. But, many of the most scenic roads are so remote and undermaintained that only a vehicle like a jeep can traverse them. So it will still feel like you are off-roading even if you are not.
Always research the off-roading rules of any place you visit.
If you want to stay close to home and don’t know where the best jeep camping trails are, join local Facebook groups or forums so you can ask questions. Buy local topography maps so you can examine the terrain and see if you and your jeep are up for the challenge.
Even using resources like Google Earth and Google Street View can help. You will be able to see for yourself whether you will be able to drive over the terrain rather than relying on other people’s personal opinions.
You will also be able to research scenic places with freshwater supplies near you using Google, too. Stick to dirt tracks for your first jeep camping adventure. Leave climbing rocky mountains, fording rivers, and driving through thick woodland for trips number two and three.
Have Fun and Stay Safe
Braving the wilderness is a venture filled with rewards and challenges. Make sure you have adequate health insurance and vehicle insurance to cover off-road jeep camping trips.
And if you are traveling to somewhere very remote, you may not have internet access or a cell phone signal. Invest in a solar-powered GPS, compass, and/or a satellite phone so you can contact someone in case of an emergency.
On that note, you should always have a way to get in touch with others if you don’t have any mobile signal or if your phone runs out of battery. In times like these, it’s essential to pack a ham radio and know how to use it. Unlike other handheld radios, a ham radio is ideal for emergency cases since it can reach a 62-mile radius! That’s more than enough range to reach civilization if you’re deep into the woods.
Consider other survival equipment like flares, ropes, outdoor knives, and fire-making equipment.
And if you don’t have cause to use the fire-making equipment for an emergency, you can always use it to start a campfire and roast s’mores.
Jeep Camping Made Easy
There is a lot to buy, plan, and prepare before your first jeep camping trip. But once you get that first adventure under your belt, you will realize how fun and rewarding these types of off-road camping trips are.
You will never set foot in a campsite or RV park ever again when the dirt roads are calling your name.
If you want more automobile or travel tips and tricks, we have plenty more helpful articles for you to browse on our website. Check them out!