Kitchen Gear for SUV Camping

When I’m overnighting in my SUV camper, I setup my camp kitchen under the canopy attached to my car for ease of access – and to stay dry when it’s raining.

My kitchen setup

Since it’s often dark and rainy on winter camping trips, I like to cook under the canopy attached to my car (see my post about the Kelty Sideroads Car Canopy) instead of using campground picnic tables. It’s easier to keep everything needed at mealtime closer to my vehicle, and I can leave some of my setup outside overnight instead of needing to store it in my vehicle.

SUV camp kitchen gear

Setting up my camp kitchen in a u-shape allows me to keep everything within reach. And there’s still enough space to be able to open the car doors with all of the kitchen gear under the canopy.


REI Camp Prep Table

REI Co-op Camp Prep Table: This sturdy table features heat-resistant aluminum slats on the top surface, and each leg is independently adjustable for creating a stable base on uneven ground.

View at REI


Stanley Adventure Cooler

Stanley Adventure CoolerA hard-sided insulated cooler is a must on every camping trip. This cooler holds 30 quarts and keeps food cold for multi-day trips, while the locking lid keeps raccoons (common at campgrounds) from accessing my food. Instead of ice, I use two large Yeti ice packs to keep food cool without the mess.

View at Stanley

Camp Chair

REI Flexlite Camp Dreamer Chair

REI Flexlite Camp Dreamer Chair: A typical camp chair doesn’t work well for cooking in my SUV kitchen setup due to the armrests that get in the way when cooking. I like the comfort of this chair, which has more flexibility in movement and a shape that cradles your body. Two slot pockets on the sides are handy for holding small items like phones or car keys.

View at REI

Additional kitchen gear items

  • Reliance Aqua-TainerThis water containier holds 4 gallons of water and has a spigot for easy use at camp.
  • outdoor rug: Using a waterproof rug under the canopy can help to keep things clean and dry.

What’s in my camp kitchen bin

Since space is at a premium when camping in my car, I try to keep everything organized in bins – with one dedicated to kitchen gear. I set this bin on the ground next to my chair so I can reach everything I need while cooking.

SUV camp kitchen binkitchen gear for SUV camping

Shown in the photo above, top left to right:

  • enamelware plateA plate is nice to have for eating salads, burritos, or anything else that doesn’t work in a bowl.
  • collapsible bowlThe Sea-to-Summit collapsible bowl is good for eating oatmeal, soups or stews and doesn’t take up much space in a kitchen bin.
  • small pot and skillet (part of a set of camping pots) A small skillet is always good to have on hand for cooking.
  • neoprene lunch bagFrom Built Gourmet, this lunch bag is good for keeping snacks within easy reach on long drives. It also is handy for carrying lunch to the beach.
  • ceramic mugCoffee and tea taste better in this Nova Ceramics mug, and eliminates the need for single-use cups. This mug comes with a silicone lid and heat band, and since it doesn’t have a handle, it fits in car cup holders.
  • lightweight, quick-dry towels: Strong, lightweight and fast drying, these Lite Load towels are great for drying dishes or wiping down wet gear.
  • hand soap
  • tea kettle (no longer available, but this MSR tea kettle is similar) A tea kettle is handing for boiling water – for coffee or tea, or for heating water to wash dishes.
  • backpacking stoveThe Jetboil Minimo backpacking stove works great when cooking for one person, plus it’s fast and more fuel efficient than larger camp stoves.
  • lantern: For lighting while cooking, this rechargeable UCO lantern hangs from the canopy via a loop on the bottom (no longer available, but this model is similar)
  • travel water bottleThe CamelBak Chute Mag Renew 32 oz. water bottle has a magnetic leakproof lid, perfect for staying hydrated on trips.
  • insulated water bottleThe Kleen Kanteen wide double-insulated water bottle keeps drinks super hot for a long time, even in frigid temps.
  • vinyl tablecloth
  • pot supportThe Jetboil pot support fits on top of the Minimo stove and provides the ability to cook with any type of pan or skillet.
  • fuel canister
  • plastic bags, small trash bags, twist ties
  • salt and pepper
  • collapsible sink with dish soap and sponge/scrubber: The SOS Flat Pack collapsible sink is just the right size for doing dishes at camp.
  • plastic mess kit with cutting board
  • plastic bin with utensils, including a knife, scissors, whisk, spatula, pot scraper, bag closures
  • nesting plastic food containers: These Human Gear food containers are great for holding sauces and other ingredients used when cooking at camp, and the interlocking design makes them easy to grab from a cooler.
  • plastic bin for holding everything

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