If you’re new to Jeeping or new to car camping/overlanding, you might think that you need to take out a second or third mortgage on your life to afford to do both properly. With Taj Mahal-like roof-top palaces, er, tents, and thousands of bolt-on brackets and racks to hold any camping widget imaginable to the outside of your Jeep, it might seem like you have to be related to a Trump to go Jeep camping. If you’ve got the dough, you can invest in expensive coolers and freezers that can make late night camp ice cream a reality or go all out dropping $50k on a go-anywhere full Jeep-to-off-road-camper conversion.
When it comes to modern car camping or overlanding, the sky is the limit on what you can spend, but the truth is you don’t have to spend much. Much like with that shiny new four-door Hemi-powered JK verses a $2,000 beater Jeep you don’t have to have all the most expensive parts to have a good time. In reality, you don’t have to have all the hottest new stuff to have fun or even be comfortable while camping and Jeeping. We’ve been camping in and out of Jeeps since we could walk, and since we are well known cheapskates, we can show you how to have as much fun as that guy with a ton of debt under his pressed kakis, fishing vest, and pit helmet, all without breaking the bank.
If you’re down with minimalist Jeep camping, here is a pretty good setup. A tarp, pillows, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad (or a stack of soft branches under the tarp) can all make for a unique camping experience. There is nothing better than sleeping under the stars. Just make your bed on one side of the tarp, and if a rainstorm pops up during the night, just pull the other side of the tarp over you like a blanket. Make sure you don’t make your bed in a drainage area, and don’t worry about bugs and snakes much -- they are there but won’t want to mess with you. Don’t do this in areas where bears are common, especially if you spill food on yourself while eating or like storing snacks in your pockets or sleeping bag. Want extra comfort? Toss in an extra pillow, blanket, or extra large sleeping pad. That’s the beauty of car camping: space.