For the past few years, our little family has loaded up our Mazda CX-5 and made the trek west to spend time with old friends near L.A. We make a 10-ish-day road trip out of it—in part to keep our toddler happy in the car—stopping at various sightseeing destinations along the way, including Zion National Park, Arches, and Joshua Tree. 

This year, we opted for an especially adventurous take: Camping at Jalama Beach outside of Santa Barabara. Here’s what we brought along with us to keep the stoke alive.

Igloo BMX 25 QT Cooler and CamelBak Carry Cap 64 oz Bottle

A cooler is a must-have item for any road trip, especially one where a time bomb (i.e., a toddler) sits in the backseat. The BMX 25 QT Cooler was a perfect option because it fits conveniently in the backseat’s middle seat where we could grab a LaCroix from the front and our little guy could snag a carrot snack from his car seat. The reinforced base and kick plates add an additional touch of ruggedness that not only serves a purpose, it looks cool too. $70 | igloocoolers.com

When camping, we always keep a jerry can on hand for water, but there was no way we were hauling that thing all the way down to water’s edge. The Carry Cap was a convenient solution for hydration bottle refills away from camp. The Carry Cap could also double as a party-size cold-storage vessel for margaritas—you know, hypothetically. $37 | CamelBak.com

GCI Master Cook Station

We’ve found that the campsite picnic table is never big enough for all the ingredients, beverages, cooking supplies and heating equipment—and then it’s a pain to shuffle everything around when we’re ready to eat. So we loved having the Master Cook Station as a second staging area. With an extended aluminum countertop, multiple side tables, a lantern pole and a collapsible sink, this little number has it all, including the, well, you know. $142 | GCIOutoor.com

MSR Alpine Deluxe Kitchen Set

The Alpine Deluxe Kitchen set has everything necessary for backcountry cooking—and it all fits in a handy zippered case. The spoon, spatula and strainer/grater components are great, but my favorite tool is hands-down the 4.5″ Santoku-styled knife and accompanying folding cutting board. $55 | msrgear.com

Primus Salt & Pepper Mill

Ok, ok. I know these are totally a luxury item, but it’s always fun to add a little glamp to your camp, especially when the ounces don’t matter. We thoroughly impressed our fellow campers with these. In fact, they may have made their way onto our kitchen table now that we’re back home.  $23 | Primus.us

Therm-a-Rest Uno Chair

I’m always surprised how much space camping gear takes up in the car—especially camp chairs. Bringing the Uno along was a big help. This low-profile chair has a 21-inch seat-back height, reconfigures into a mini side table, and when you’re done, packs into a disk-shaped container small enough to slip into a backpack.  $90 | Thermarest.com

Fjällräven Totepack No. 2

Not only does this tote look rad, it’s made with Fjall’s 1000 HeavyDuty Eco fabric, so it can withstand wear-and-tear from sand and dirt. We used it to haul beach toys between camp and the seashore. Now that I’m home (and have finally de-sanded it), it’s become my go-to work bag. $175 | Fjallraven.com

Coalatree Puffy Kachula Adventure Blanket

Looking for the quiver-of-one blanket: Check out the Puffy Kachula, which morphs into a blanket, pillow, cold weather poncho or sleep sack. I loved it as an extra layer at night plus a cozy leg-covering for a cold stroller run. $109 | coalatree.com

Backcountry Rockport Seawool Flannel Shirt

Turns out, even the beach can be cold in November. The Rockport was a cozy covering when the wind picked up. And it’s only fitting to wear seawool, which is made from recycled oyster shells, at the beach. $100 | backcountry.com

Title Nine Manresa Collection

I would live in this set-up if a jogger-plus-hoodie combo was socially acceptable in all situations. Made from a polyester/lyocell blend, the Manresa kit is perfect for a long day outdoors—and I also wore them to bed when temps dipped below 40 degrees Fahrenheit!  Hoodie/$89, Joggers/$89 | TitleNine.com

Stanley Even-Heat Camp Pro Cookset

If Emeril hung out in the backcountry, I’m pretty sure this would be his go-to stove set up. Complete with a stock pot, sauce pan, frying pan, plus vented/drain lids and a cutting board, this set up works well when you have more than one cook in the kitchen. Bonus: All the components nest into the stock pot and everything is dishwasher safe. Bam! $55 | Stanley-pmi.com

Smelly Proof Heavy Duty Storage Bags

When camping, any extra food usually gets tossed for the simple reason that we don’t have a place to store it. Enter Smelly Proof. These reusable storage bags are liquid, moisture, puncture, and of course, odor resistant. In fact, the brand claims they contain odors so well that a grizzly will walk right past unawares! Available in a range of sizes. $13 for five 8.5”x10” | smellyproof.com