Sleeping In A Car vs Tent

Last updated and verified on February 24th, 2023

A few people sleep in their car, while others prefer tents to relax after a long road trip or while camping. But what’s an important distinction between camping in the car or the tent? As an experienced camper, I’ll share my experience with you.

It is usually relaxing to sleep in a vehicle and tent within a comfortable and safe setting, as well as with the largest group of relatives or acquaintances. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t camp on your own or with a couple.

There are a variety of essentials that you should consider when planning an adventure that involves sleeping in a tent or in a car. The specific items you bring should be in accordance with the journey you’re taking and also factors like the weather difficulties in duration, cost, and distance must be taken into consideration.

Essentials For Sleeping In Your Car or Tent

A tent-camping experience isn’t any different than sleeping in the vehicle. These are the essentials in the context of your trip.

They’re all alike and essential items for those who plan to stay in a car or in a tent.

There are a few tools to guide you to guide you to the area you’ve chosen for your stay or camp. A compass, map, the altimeter GPS gadget, personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite messenger can be useful to give you exact locations and coordinates.

If you are you are camping in open spaces without electricity it is essential to have a headlamp in the evening to put things on the spot, cook or bathing. Additional batteries for your headlamp are essential to have in case it gets out of battery. It is also possible to opt for an rechargeable camping lantern such as the ones we examined here.

A first aid kit that is equipped with adhesive bandages in various sizes, gauze pads disinfecting ointment for the skin, over-the-counter pain medicine pen and paper Nitrile glove and insect repellent for feet is essential to your health care. It is recommended to replenish the kit with fresh medical products in the first few days on your travels. It is also important to examine the expiry dates on every item in the first aid kit when they are replenished. 

There’s a good possibility that you’ll require either a knife or a pair of scissors to slice things up during food preparation, and in an emergency situation where sharp tools can be useful. An emergency knife would be suggested since it’s versatile.

Portable stoves and lighters can be carried. It is necessary to ignite an open fire if it is cold and cold, and the stove can be used to make a quick dinner to eat for the evening. It is also possible to avoid making meals by buying with prepared meals that can be stored in a cooler or hot pot (and beverages and food items that are not perishable (Burgers and sandwiches, milk, and water) at home.

The right bedding and clothing must be packed in your backpack. When you are deciding on what bedding and clothes you’ll have to bring it is important to think about the number of people that will be traveling with you in the vehicle and tent. Also, consider the climate of the place you’ll be in , as well as the amount of time that you have set aside for your journey. If you’re planning to go on a hike or camping trip you may find it exhilarating and cause you to desire more time than you planned to do before. The extra clothes are an essential things to pack.

Comparison of Sleeping In A Car vs Tent

There are a few things to take into consideration while sleeping inside a vehicle contrasted to the tent. In this article, we will look at sleeping in a car and a tent side-by-side.

Setting Up Your Car or Tent

If you are planning to use a tent as your shelter, you’ll must be aware regarding the various types of tents and the best way to set them up. A level and secure is ideal to ensure the durability that your tent will enjoy.

The direction in which winds and light come from is also an important factor to make sure your tent doesn’t collapse during the night.

Based on the option of an automobile, you’ll require an overnight parking spot. If you’re wondering, Can you sleep in your car in National parks? In many states, you will require an authorization if the park permits parking as well as the fees that are applicable.

In the majority of National parks (in USA) I know that they have designated camping areas, and therefore it is not permitted to camp and sleep anywhere. For instance, in Grand Canyon National Park, there is Mather Campground where one is permitted to stay in their tent or car. This is mostly due to security reasons.

The most important thing to bear in mind is that you should not park near to where people are walking so as not to disturb anyone. Also, you must display all permits required.

If you are someone who wants to take pleasure in both camping with tents and cars, you could put a quality roof tent on the back of your vehicle.

Control of Weight

Tents are simple to manage and work with in moving from one area to the next. You just need to put it up and take it back when needed. The amount of time needed to setting up is also very small. When you are driving, you must be sure your car can transport and hold all equipment.

It is also important to make sure the car’s battery is fully charged to allow it to begin without any hassle. If not, you could end up stuck in the forest without assistance with the jump-starting process. Camping in the forest or in the mountainous terrain also require you to have a car with a strong engine with a four-wheel drive to get around.

Efficiency In Cost

It is not a good idea to postpone your trip simply because you are unable to buy a tent or you don’t own the funds to purchase a car. There’s a cheaper and less expensive option to hire for your needs.

You can also hire cars from a rental company or from a friend. But, the expense for renting a tent far less expensive than renting a vehicle. The dangers of owning an automobile are dangerous as it is likely to be damaged by rough terrains based on the location you choose or even cause an accident that could cost the equivalent of a pound to fix.

Tents are less risky associated with it and is less likely to be damaged. Repairs to a tent can be handled. But, the majority times it is necessary to have a vehicle for transporting the tent as well as the camping equipment to the camping spot.


Cars do not have adequate ventilation when all windows are shut, and it is difficult for people to rest in. It is advised to leave your windows slightly open to let air circulate. But it’s also dangerous when you’re located in a place where wild animals are present.

But, it’s impossible to die inside a vehicle if the vents for air conditioning aren’t shut. A car is constructed in the way that lets air flow from the outside. But, make sure you don’t put your car in a location that releases carbon monoxide gases.

Be sure that your exhaust pipe isn’t blocked because the harmful gasses from exhaust can make them way into your vehicle. There have been reports of victims who died in their cars because of a blocked exhaust pipes as well as carbon monoxide.

Tents are constructed to allow the air to circulate throughout. They’re also warm and comfy for sleeping in. The cars don’t have enough room to lie in any direction.

Lighting, Sunshine & Rain

The experience of sleeping in a car isn’t easy as the sun’s rays are shining. The car is not very effective in preventing sun’s rays from entering the glass. Tents provide a certain amount of light-protection due to the sun-resistant materials they are made of. The majority of tents are made of waterproof fabrics that are

  • Polyester
  • Nylon
  • Polyethylene
  • UV-Tex 5
  • Canvas (and poly-canvas)
  • Cuben fiber
  • Gore-Tex
  • Vapex


Automobiles already have seats that can be used to sleep on , if they are placed in a way. It is not necessary to bring an additional mattress. But, for the best relaxation, we recommend these car camping mattresses particularly for couples. All you require are blankets with insulation as well as camping cushions.

In a tent , a mattress is necessary, and it should be inclusive of beddings that keep you warm. If you don’t, your night will be miserable. It’s a night of shifting and turning until morning arrives. Security and warmth are essential to enjoy your night.

Entertainment & Devices

Tents aren’t equipped with electrical outlets or cables to charge gadgets. Mobile phones and other electrical devices must be charged prior to any issues when you set up your entertainment. Cars are helpful in this respect as it allows you to enjoy movies using tiny LCD screens, play music and even charge your mobile. Cars have lights, whereas tents require to be erected with light bulbs.

Hygiene & Privacy

If you’re sleeping in your car, it is essential to carry enough to change your clothes and toiletries to avoid the hassle of searching for water to bathe to ensure your hygiene.

It isn’t possible to shower in a car, but it is simple to set up a pop-up shower tent, or a temporary bathroom to take advantage of privacy and shower whenever you need to. We have an special guide to showering during car camping.

Final Thoughts

It is evident that there are certain differences when sleeping in a car compared to sleeping in a tent. Both camping in a vehicle and a tent offer pros and cons that you should consider when you are camping, taking an adventure, on a hike and picnicking, or if you want to sleep in a car or tent in the absence of an apartment.

These factors will assist you in making a choice that is appropriate and specific to your needs , with consideration in the amount of individuals that will be accompanying you. The more people in the group, the higher the cost of there is money involved.

But, as you can see that when you compare sleeping in a tent vs a car the needs are identical. It is therefore essential to weigh all other elements against one’s personal preference.

If one is unable to choose between sleeping in a car as well as a tent, then they may put up a tent with a roof on their vehicle and enjoy the best of the two worlds.

I hope that this article will be beneficial to you and provides the right information about sleeping in your car vs a tent.

Written by Den Kyle, verified, and edited by David Myer.

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David Boyd
David Boyd

I love travelling, experiencing other cultures, eating copious amounts of food and checking out the nearest surf spot.

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