Maybe you’ve flown to far-off states, foreign countries and separate continents to visit standout beaches, rugged mountain ranges, or other cultures that have simply perfected, say, certain baked delicacies. Sure, those experiences stand out, but sometimes you can stack up equally memorable moments piled into a friend’s car for a road-trip just a few hours from home.
Hitting the open road for unknown adventures yields the impromptu overlook for a magnificent sunset, a passing trailhead recommendation, or an emergency pitstop off the highway at the perfect burger joint.
When you need to get out fast with less of an itinerary and more of an appetite for the unexpected, a road trip is the best answer. Whatever the ultimate destination—the campsite, the ski hill, the ocean swell, the concert festival or the smallmouth bass—a few select gear items can help you make the most of the journey. Pack light and pack smart to stay warm, fed, dry (and within your budget). It’ll help keep the tank full and the opportunities open for new adventures down the road.
Raise the Roof
One of your top priorities should be your car’s top. Get roof storage situated. There is no bigger road-trip buzzkill than having wet, dirty gear or simply too much clutter inside the vehicle. Roof racks provide the foundation for taking along most additional adventure goods. They keep icy skis or snowboards out of the dry car. And by opening interior space, they allow you to recline seats to make a bed (without a fishing reel wedged into your back), and help you immediately organize.
Of course, you can go big with a rooftop tent, but those are more for committed overlanding trips. They also occupy the premium storage space on your roof (where a rooftop box can do wonders by instantly boosting your gear-hauling abilities). For more simple road trips, find out what crossbar works with the factory roof- or siderails on your vehicle. If you’re traveling with surf- or paddleboards (even snowboards/skis) look into a set of roof rack pads to protect them. And if you have odd-sized gear, look into a cargo net. A lock isn’t a bad idea either.
On every trip, there’s one person whose stuff is strewn about the car. There are granola bar wrappers on the floor. They lost one flip flop. Their clothes are everywhere and the zipper on their bag is broken, with contents spilling out everywhere.
Don’t be that person. Stay organized with a good bag. This doesn’t have to be a complicated backpacking rig. Just get yourself a quality duffel or backpack. It should be fitted and comfortable if you wind up with it on your back all day. Your bag should have multiple compartments to keep your sweaty shirt or wet bathing suit separated from your clean clothes. A water bottle sleeve is great. There should be pockets where smaller items live permanently like headphones, snacks, sunglasses, pens, a multi-tool, sunblock and travel-sized toothpaste.