A few years ago I had a conversation with a colleague about camping. I was deep and happily into some aspect of how I masterfully mastered the elements, when he suddenly interjected…


“Oh, you’re talking about car camping.”


By the way he said it, putting the emphasis on “car,” he was obviously trying to suggest that car camping was something less than the genuine article, like processed cheese, kosher-style pickles, or butter-like topping.


I never asked, but presumed he was into a type of camping that entailed spearing fish, portaging across provinces, constructing a shelter from moose dung, and, most importantly, much hardship.


Having just returned from another family car camping trip, l still wonder if this fellow ever truly understood the unique challenges facing the modern, car-camper enthusiast. Such as…

• When you pack for car camping, you must take as much as your vehicle will bear, and not a can of peaches less. This means you pack the big bags and boxes first, and if there are still big bags and boxes left, you take the stuff out of them, and “fill in” as best you can, treating the rear cargo area like it was one big suitcase.

• This makes it hard to find the flashlight 12 hours later when you’re setting up camp at midnight.

• And when you finally get the hatch to close, with one of those body checks, you tend to stare at the hatch for few seconds, to see if will pop back open or if you’ve distorted some bodywork.

• After camping for several days, you will also be required to stare at the water in the bottom of the food cooler. Some of this “cooler juice” will surely have come from melting ice, but what else is in there? You will have to assess cooler safety on the fly, and without the aid of any laboratory equipment.

• Campgrounds frequented by car camping types almost always have washroom and shower facilities. But if there are females in your party you will have to be prepared to endure many thorough discussions about the cleanliness of said facilities.