Planning a car-camping adventure can be daunting for anyone, but perhaps more so for a wheelchair user. The prospect of deviating from a reliable home routine for cooking, sleeping, and bathing can evoke a laundry list of concerns, but the rewards of camping are many: sojourning with nature, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying a certain chocolaty-marshmallowy confection, to name a few. Lots of gear exists to help wheelchair users minimize common car-camping challenges, such as navigating uneven terrain or pitching a shelter, and get straight to enjoying time in the great outdoors.
It is somewhat surprising that with approximately 8.7 million Americans using a mobility device such as a wheelchair, walker, or cane in their daily lives, no single online store or brick-and-mortar outlet serves as a hub for adaptive outdoor recreation equipment. Sportaid comes close, but is by no means comprehensive. That said, you can find a number of products at traditional outdoor shops and medical-supply companies that enhance a wheelchair user’s camping experience and facilitate independence.
For the sake of clarity, “wheelchair user” is used in this guide to encompass a diverse population, including: people with paraplegia or quadriplegia; people with neuromuscular disorders or congenital disorders; and amputees. Recognizing that each of these groups has its own unique set of needs, this guide focuses on general, customizable tips for a successful overnight jaunt. Whether you’re new to camping or just getting back into the activity after an injury or medical diagnosis, consider this a starting point for assembling your car-camping quiver. And a special note: We’d love—even more than usual—to hear your thoughts on this guide. Is it useful? Did we get anything especially wrong or right? What else would you like to see when it comes to adaptive outdoor products? Leave us a comment in the discussion section below (or if you’d prefer, we’ll happily take any feedback or tweets as well).