Why Trail Runners Love Car Camping


Want to know how you can save you a ton of time and money getting to the start line on race day? Sleep there! Car camping is an affordable (sometimes even free) alternative for trail runners who are looking to keep travel costs down without compromising competition.

Cost-effective accommodations

It’s no secret that there isn’t a ton of money to be made in the semi-pro/professional trail running world. Since most runners aren’t rolling in that sweet Nike sponsorship money, they usually can’t afford to splurge on ritzy hotels. Between a multitude of expensive entry fees, pricey shoe purchases, and the cost of commuting, there often isn’t a lot left in the bank for overnight accommodations. Many outdoor athletes are looking for a place to stay near the race site that won’t cost them the arm and the leg that they’ll need for the next day’s competition. Sleeping in a car is an easily accessible way to ensure sweet dreams without breaking the bank.

Ditch the tent

Eliminate the variability of tent camping with the safety and comfort that’s guaranteed when sleeping in your car. We love tent camping as much as the next dirtbag… just not the night before a big race. You never know how comfortable you may be when tent camping. Some nights, sleeping out in nature under the night sky can lead to the best sleep of your life. Other nights, you’ve got a rock wedged between C6 and C7 in your spine, mosquitos think your arms are Thanksgiving dinner, and you’re 1000% sure that’s a bear coming towards your tent and definitely not a tree swaying in the breeze. Sleeping on a Luno Signature Air Mattress in a car gives reassurance for a good night’s rest.

Comfort and ease

If you’re grinding out crazy long distances on unpaved dirt trails, luxury is probably not your top priority. Regardless, you shouldn’t have to give up relaxation for the sake of affordability. Car camping can be just as comfortable as a bed. Many of the comfort concerns that often arise at the mention of sleeping in a car can be easily remedied. Noisy neighbors can be immediately silenced with earplugs, an evening chill can be beaten by bundling up with the right layers, and a sleep mask has you covered if the sun rises before you do. Some people find they even sleep better on the road since the outdoors lacks the Internet and screen distractions that can disturb sleep cycles.

Cut out the commute

Races often start soon after the sun comes up, but an early race time can feel exceptionally brutal when you’ve got to wake up an extra hour or two early to get to the race site for warm-ups. A 6 a.m. wake up call for an 8 a.m. race time can easily turn into a 4 a.m. alarm when you’ve got to factor in a lengthy commute to the start line. Since most ideal running warm-ups don’t consist of sitting with your legs cramped in a backseat for hours, car camping is the perfect solution for getting to the racecourse fresh and well-rested. Staying near a trailhead or start line prior to a run can also help to familiarize yourself with the area before you tear it up! 

Make friends as you run farther

Sleeping in your car doesn’t need to be reserved exclusively for race days! Setting up a home base near a trailhead allows you to wake up and hit the dirt first thing in the morning or run multiple days in a row in an area that you may not have been able to explore otherwise. Additionally, there is a super fun social scene surrounding car camping for trail runners. Staying near trails is a great way to meet fellow outdoor athletes as you run with the best of them.