The Best Car Camping, Cooking and Storage Products That We Don't Make
There are many great outdoor and vehicle related products that we have personal experience with and many more that our customers rave about. Here's a list of some items recommended by us or our customers. Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning we get a small commission if you buy through our link. It's a great way to support Air Down Gear Up outside all the products we manufacture. We won't recommend anything just for a commission, though. We recommend these items because we think they can improve your experience.
For a more in depth take on all this stuff, scroll down past the list.
Our Favorite: Megamat Duo
Sizes: Check the dimensions of your car against the Exped dimensions, but our simple advice: For Land Cruisers and Sequoias go for the LW+. 4Runner, Lexus GX and FJ Cruiser, Duo M
Andy's Gear: Renogy Rigid 100W
This panel has lived on top of my personal LX470 for years. It's survived some nasty hailstorms, 30k miles of driving in all conditions and still provides a good foundation of additional power for a dual battery setup. This fits within the factory roof rails on the 100 series Land Cruiser beautifully and required only a couple pieces of aluminum angle to create a simple and robust mount.
Andy's Gear: ARB 50 quart
This ARB fridge is simple and the design has been around a long time. I bought an LX470 in 2020 with a used one of these thrown into the car purchase. It was already beat up before I got my hands on it and even after adding years of my own use and haphazardly leaving it running 24/7 for about 9 months straight at times, it works wonderfully. There are more advanced fridges out there today, but I can't skip this recommendation because it's just been so reliable.
Up and Comer: EcoFlow Glacier
This is what happens when a modern tech company builds a portable fridge. We've seen EcoFlow rocket into the market with some of the largest power systems available for your home and camper. Now they've released this fridge which we're excited about. On board battery, USB-C charger powerful enough to charge laptops, ice maker built in and a display that shows much more than a 2 digit temperature. We'll update this as we get personal experience with this, but it's one of the more exciting items on this list for us after seeing so many customer builds with EcoFlow products lately.
Budget Friendly: ICECO VL35
Under $600 as of this writing for a great looking fridge / freezer. We continue to hear great feedback from our customer base on ICECO VL series freezers. It makes a great option for those looking to keep the fridge investment well under the other big names.
Maintains sleeping platform for two: Dometic CD30
One question we get asked a lot: How can I sleep two people in my SUV and maintain a powered fridge? The answer: Utilize this drawer-style fridge under your Air Down Gear Up system and have the best of both worlds!
Cooking Gear :
Small Stove: Jet Boil Flash
This is the classic jetboil stove and the one we find to be most versatile when you need something simple. Used primarily for boiling water, this simple stove offers great heat modulation and a pot adapter, making it useful for a wide variety of tasks.
Large Stove: GSI Pinnacle Pro
This award winning stove captures our recommended spot for a few reasons: It's a high performing stove with excellent heat control and usable space. Most importantly it's incredibly thin profile is useful in overlanding applications where every inch counts!
Cook Set: GSI Pinnacle Camper
GSI on our list again with another top quality product. We have personally found this nesting set of pots, pans, cups, etc to be the best out there. It's hard to beat the amount of cookware you get in such a small package, and everything is top quality.
Simple, Budget Friendly: Jackery 500
This power station allows simple plug and play power without breaking the bank. We have found power to be sufficient to run a fridge for 2-3 days, making it more than enough for a common weekend trip. This can of course be combined with a solar panel if you'll be at camp longer than that!
The Best: EcoFlow Delta 2 Max
If you desire effectively unlimited power while on you vehicle based adventure, this battery system is what you need. We have seen customers use this to simultaneously power fridges, microwaves, air conditioners and more. If you are looking for a premium plug and play, integrated power solution, this is worth the price.
MUST HAVE Canopy: Ez Up 10 x10 Canopy
I can not overstate how valuable this piece of equipment is! I haven't been on a camping trip, long day trip or simple backyard outing without this piece of gera coming out. This has saved many rainy camping trips from being ruined!
Responsible Fire Pit: Snowpeak Fire and Grill
Use Responsibly! The ubiquitous campfire seems to be harder and harder to guarantee in an era of regular firebans, but if you are in an area that you can LEGALLY have a campfire and there is not a forest-service approved fire pit available, this collapsible fire pit is an awesome tool to have! Keeping the fire off the ground prevent sterilizing the ground, provides great ventilation (good by smoke!) and the removable grill provides a great surface for cooking directly on.
When it comes to car camping, having a comfortable sleeping setup is essential for a good night's rest. One of the key components of a cozy sleep system is a high-quality sleeping pad.
Types of Sleeping Pads
There are several types of sleeping pads to consider when shopping for your car camping adventure:
Inflatable Sleeping Pads: These pads are lightweight and compact, making them ideal for car camping. They are typically made from durable materials and can be inflated using a pump or by blowing into a valve. Inflatable sleeping pads provide excellent insulation and cushioning, ensuring a comfortable night's sleep.
Self-Inflating Sleeping Pads: These pads combine the convenience of an inflatable pad with the added comfort of a foam core. They have a valve that allows air to enter the pad, which then expands and self-inflates. Self-inflating sleeping pads are known for their excellent insulation and comfort.
Foam Sleeping Pads: Foam sleeping pads are lightweight, durable, and provide good insulation. They are made from closed-cell foam, which offers excellent cushioning and insulation properties. Foam sleeping pads are a popular choice for car campers due to their affordability and reliability.
Choosing the Right Sleeping Pad
When selecting a sleeping pad for car camping, there are a few factors to consider:
Insulation: Look for a sleeping pad with good insulation properties to keep you warm during chilly nights. Inflatable and self-inflating pads often provide better insulation than foam pads.
Comfort: Consider the thickness and cushioning of the sleeping pad. Thicker pads generally offer more comfort, but they may also be bulkier and heavier to carry and store.
Size: Measure the width between the walls of your car at the cargo area right above the wheel wells. That's roughly the max width you want for an ADGU system. You can go slimmer, but not much wider. If you want maximum sleep space, go as wide as you can. If you sleep "slim" (think mummy) then a slimmer pad can leave some bedside flat space available which is good for setting a cup or mug or any other item you might want by your side when sleeping.
Whether you're driving outside the city for a quick day trip or doing an epic 9 month overland trip in South America, having some electricity independent from your car's battery is a huge benefit. My personal favorite use for power is a fridge (which we'll discuss next), but it's also helpful for small things like a flashlight or cell phone charger. The list for potential uses is endless.
There are two categories here. Portable all in one and Permanent Dual Battery Setups. Portable solutions are becoming more popular as lithium ion options emerge that offer superior performance and a smaller package suitable for storage in the cabin - all with an ever-decreasing price as lithium batteries become more and more ubiquitous. However, for serious power usage you may still want that traditional permanent dual battery setup.
Charge methods: Solar and alternator. Solar panels can be small and flexible or very large and rigid. The rigid panels will be more reliable and durable, but small flexible panels allow you to unpackage a panel and make power in minutes. Using your alternator to charge the battery is easy if you use the vehicle's existing ignition-switched power outlets, but beware that the capacity of these circuits tends to be low so charge time won't be impressive.
Fridges and Freezers
Ice cream after a hike? Yup. It's possible. Cold drinks with no melting ice to worry about? Definitely. Dairy, produce, meat and veggies all chilled just like at home? Sure thing. This is often one of the most enjoyable additions to a car camping setup, but it can also eat up space, so let's talk options.
Small and Compact: Dometic CD30. There are other small drawer fridges out there, but the most common option is the CD30 from Dometic. It fits perfectly in our Land Cruiser, Sequoia and 4Runner/GX systems right where a drawer would normally live. We offer an optional tray system for the Land Cruisers, but you can also just place the fridge in the drawer cavity and strap it in place. This fridge is bare bones. No display screen. No temperature reading. No power LED. Just a cool box in a compact package.
Medium, Large, and Enormous: Traditional overland fridges are numerous. ARB, Dometic, Iceco, National Luna, Engel, and others. Newcomers like EcoFlow, Renogy, Anker, BougeRV are also available and have some intriguing features.