There are tons of camping ideas that make outdoor adventures more fun. But how about making your trip more efficient and less messy? Camping storage both during and after the trip is limited, so it’s important to think through what goes where and why.
It’s also helpful to take a few extra steps to make sure everything stays fresh and bug-free for your next trip. Have you ever opened up your tent box to find it moldy and missing pieces? Poorly stored camp gear smells funky, deteriorates quickly, and becomes virtually unusable much faster than properly stored equipment.
Do you know what it’s like to go to bed after a campfire and trip over clutter on your way back to the tent? Unorganized campsites are messy and create more work than necessary.
These camping ideas and hacks will help keep everything in good shape before, during, and after your trip.
1. Purchase extra things that are for camping only.
This tip is a major time saver when it comes to packing. If you go camping more than a couple of times a year, it’s ideal to have items like utensils and paper plates already packed. Instead of running around the house and borrowing essentials, create a “trip-ready” tote well in advance with a list of contents. When your next trip rolls around, a good chunk of the packing will already be complete.
Some items you might want to include in your tote:
- Coffee mugs
- Paper products
- Hand soap
2. Use clear bins for storing camping gear.
When packing for a camping trip, it can be tempting to throw everything inside a duffle bag and call it a day. Instead, pack all your gear inside clear stackable bins that will fit comfortably in the back of your car. Plastic containers are weather-resistant, durable, and will help you keep everything organized.
Save your duffle bags for clothing and personal items only.
3. Give each child their own duffle bag.
If children are coming along, give each child a different color duffle bag. Let them bring along a few choice belongings. Remind them to return their belongings to their duffle bag at the end of each day. This way, you don’t have to keep track of children’s items on top of everything else.
4. Pack intentionally to save space and time.
Space is at a premium when camping, so it’s essential to be mindful about what you bring. You want to be comfortable at the campsite, but you also don’t necessarily need an excess of clothing and bulky items you won’t use.
Streamline your trip by considering the following:
- For clothing, roll it instead of fold it. This technique makes clothing easier to find, and it saves a ton of space.
- As you load the car, make sure items like the tent, flashlights, and necessary toiletries like bug repellant and sunscreen are easily accessible.
- Create an inventory for packing instead of mindlessly throwing items inside a suitcase.
- Make note of items that you don’t use when you are on a camping trip. Cross these items off your inventory for next time to save space.
5. Make room for lots of food and kitchen items.
The best way to stay organized while camping is to make sure everything has a spot and that everyone at camp knows to put things back where they belong. One of the hardest areas to keep tidy is the camp kitchen because it contains a lot of miscellaneous items.
Here are some camping ideas to help with food prep:
- Use a plastic shoe organizer or fabric tool belt to organize utensils, dish rags, and everything else you’ll need to prepare a meal.
- Have two different coolers, one for food and one for drinks.
- For the food cooler, create a barrier between melting ice and food using cooling racks. To do this, pack ice at the bottom of the cooler then line with cooling racks and place food on top.
6. Repurpose household items at the campsite.
There are many ways you can make your life easier while camping by using what you already have in the house.
Here are some camping hacks that will save you time and money:
- Keep toilet paper in an old coffee can so it doesn’t get wet or dropped on the ground.
- Hang up a roll of paper towels using a wire clothes hanger.
- Use an old ketchup bottle for pre-mixed pancake batter.
- Keep dry snacks in old Coffee-mate containers.
7. Dry your tent before storing it.
If weather permits, set up your tent when you arrive home and let it dry completely. If you put your tent into storage while it’s still wet, be prepared to deal with mold, mildew, and rot.
Once the tent is dry, clean away any dirt or sand. Do the same for the tent stakes and poles. It may seem silly to rigorously clean equipment meant to be outside — but doing so ensures you won’t track mud, dust or bugs inside your storage space. A clean, well-kept tent also makes sure your next camping adventure gets off to a fresh start.
8. Air out sleeping bags and blankets.
Shake sleeping bags to release loose items from the inside folds. Next, air out each bag after a camping trip by placing it on a hanger or laying it flat. Try not to hang the sleeping bag in direct sunlight, as UV rays can damage the nylon. Cotton blankets can be hung in direct sunlight because the light will act as a disinfectant.
Machine-washing your sleeping bag is preferable — but only in a front-loading machine.
9. Add towels to the dryer with your sleeping bag.
A good tip for drying your sleeping bag is to place terry-cloth towels and two tennis balls inside the dryer. The cloth minimizes static electricity and speeds up drying time, while the tennis balls fluff the fill.
Once the sleeping bag is dry and repacked inside its sack, remember to remove the bag and shake it out from time to time. Keeping a sleeping bag inside a bag for extended intervals can alter the insulation.
10. Remove batteries from electronic devices.
For less problematic camping storage, always remove batteries from any flashlights, headlamps, GPS devices, or other electronic equipment before placing the items in storage. Taking this extra step ensures that you won’t have to deal with corrosion or leakage.
Store batteries in a sealed plastic bag that you keep close to the camping equipment. For more specific advice, read our guide on how to store all types of batteries.
11. Keep cookware in resealable bags.
Always scrub and clean pots, pans, utensils and camp stoves before placing them into plastic resealable bags. A good cleaning upon returning home rids your gear of stray food drippings and crumbs that could attract insects and bacteria, while the plastic bags ensure no grime or dust infiltrates your cookery.
12. Store camping items in a cool, dry place.
Storing all camping items together in one spot is ideal. Make sure the storage space you choose is cool, dry, and away from any direct UV light. If space in your home is limited, consider renting a self storage unit — even if it’s small, it will keep all of your gear safe, dry, and out of your way.
Camping storage is usually at a minimum, so it helps to get creative with items you already own. Having specific systems in place while camping will give you more time to enjoy the great outdoors. We hope you have a great trip!