One of the great joys of summer entails hitting the road. The venerable tradition of the fly-fishing road trip even predates personal vehicles – in the late 1800s, anglers would hop onto railroad cars and head north into the trout camps of Maine, Michigan, and Canada.
Today, savvy road-tripping anglers make camps alongside some of the country’s finest trout waters. By enjoying quick, comfortable car camps along wild rivers, anglers can explore a plethora of new water during their summer breaks, moving from one campsite to the next whenever the fishing slows down. But to get the most out the experience, camping anglers must plan ahead to ensure they have the gear needed to make camp comfortable, without being burdened with an overabundance of unnecessary accessories.
The core of a car camping kit comes down to the essentials. One place to splurge is on a sizeable tent. Look for a shelter with enough headroom to stand up in so it’s easy to change clothes. A little extra room is also greatly appreciated if stormy weather forces campers to spend more time inside. Most campers need only a simple cookset – an efficient stove, a single mid-size pot, and a frying pan are all that’s really needed. Another essential item is a quality cooler. The longer that cooler holds ice, the longer you can stay out there without returning to resupply. A comfortable folding chair can make an otherwise austere experience into a luxurious outing. And of course, a few extra add-ons and accessories should be included to personalize your fish camp.
With that in mind, we’ve sorted through the plethora of available new gear and found the ideal camp set-up for today’s car-camping anglers.
Kelty Sequoia 4 Tent
While many road-trippers press small backpacking tents into service during the car-based adventures, that is not the most comfortable choice. Residing in larger, roomier tents is one of the core benefits of car camping and Kelty offers a great option in their new Sequoia 4 Tent. This cabin-style tent offers a peak height of 6’6” so even tall campers can stand upright to dress. The steep walls ensure the entire 7’4” by 8’2” floor is usable. That means up to four campers can stretch out to sleep, though the tent is ideally enjoyed by two individuals who like to stretch out and move freely. A full-coverage fly provides excellent storm protection, and huge mesh panels allow great ventilation, even when the fly is securely in place. $350 | Buy Now
MSR Windburner Stove System Combo
Big multi-burner stoves have become the norm for general car-camping. But since angling campers tend to be more mobile, changing camp locations frequently as they seek out new fishing experiences, a lighter, more portable cooking system is called for. Enter the MSR Windburner Stove System Combo. This cooker system includes an efficient burner that uses standard butane canisters. The burner works in conjunction with the Windburner cookware – a heat capture ring on the bottom of the included large sauce pot and skillet link to the burner for highly efficient cooking. The system components all nest together for compact storage and the entire cook system weighs just 1-pound 14-ounces. $260 | Buy Now
RovR RollR 60
Like other roto-molded ice chests, the RovR RollR 60 cooler holds ice for multiple days, but at a price: that roto-molded insulation is heavy! Unlike other premium coolers, RovR addresses the weight issue by mounting wheels and a pull-handle on the cooler body. This means that car camping anglers can keep their perishables safe for up to 10 days, and the easy portability means they can change camps repeatedly during that time without breaking their backs lifting and toting their weighty cooler. Beyond the wheels, the RovR RollR 60 offers some other features well suited to traveling anglers. A lift-out bin keeps items separate from the ice (and water) while letting them enjoy the chill of the cooler’s interior – perfect for keeping egg cartons dry and secure. A pop-up storage bin atop the cooler can be used to hold other gear as you roll the cooler from car to camp kitchen. And a clip-on cutting board and can holders make the RollR a central prep station in that kitchen. $399 | Buy Now
Trxstle’s Convertible Rod Carry (CRC) System
Trxstle’s Convertible Rod Carry (CRC) system addresses a multitude of rod storage needs for anglers. When fully extended, the CRC mounts to any car roof rack and is stable enough to hold firm at highway speeds and on rough washboard gravel roads. When collapsed, the CRC can be fitted with a shoulder strap, so it can be toted through airports and stored in overhead bins onboard the planes. To save space at home, the CRC can be stored fully collapsed, at half-length, or fully expanded. The CRC features an aluminum housing with four locking sections. The carrier can hold two rods up to 10-feet long when fully extended. A two-piece rod can be broken down and slipped into the CRC when it is set at half-length, and four-piece rods fit inside when fully collapsed. Removable shoulder straps clip on for easy transport while traveling. Inside the solid aluminum frame, a pair of thick latex sleeves cradle the rods. These sleeves are wide enough to hold four rod sections securely in the collapsed state, but as the CRC is extended, the latex sleeve stretches out, and as it does, the internal diameter shrinks, sizing down to tighten around the single piece of a put-together rod, creating secure, safe storage during road-trips. $299 | Buy Now
GCI RoadTrip Rocker
The more time spent in the river, the more a comfortable camp chair is appreciated at the end of the day. So, it’s worth splurging on something that’s maybe a little bulky, but incredibly comfortable. That’s the GCI RoadTrip Rocker. Unlike traditional rocking chairs that sport curved ‘rocker’ bases, the base of the GCI RoadTrip Rocker sits flat on the ground for incredible stability, even in rough dirt camps. The rocking action comes from spring-loaded cylinders on the legs – the front legs only make contact with the ground to prevent tipping if the chair is rocked too far forward. The chair collapses into a slim carrying bag about 44 inches long. $60 | Buy Now
WeBoost Drive 4G-X
As much as everyone wants to escape into the wild when heading out to fish-camp, having the ability to take a call while in camp can sometimes delay the return to the real world. But the wilder the river, the less likely that it will be sporting good cell service. The addition of a WeBoost Drive, though, can kick up the power of enough a faint single bar of service. The WeBoost Drive 4G reportedly works with all services, though we were only able to test it on the Verizon network. There, it worked well in kicking up our connectivity while road tripping through remote parts of eastern Montana. We enjoyed 4G cell service for hours driving up dirt roads. We then disconnected the WeBoost – promptly losing service – and drove back the same routes. It took until we were back on main highways before we got good service back. The set-up is easy, though finding efficient ways to route the cables for the exterior and interior antennae can take time to keep them safely (and attractively) out of the way. $480 | Buy Now