Organization is key when you’re camping out. But keeping everything in its place becomes a real challenge with all that gear. Luckily, you don’t have to succumb to campsite chaos. Instead, you can use savvy camping storage hacks to stay organized the fun way.
Our 10 camping storage hacks are:
- Use transparent bins
- Hang a clothesline
- Make bathroom kits
- Use a shoe hanger
- Bring a camp shower
- Use compression sacks
- Have a laundry bag
- Use a pop-up trashcan
- Make a magnet strip
- Use cooler racks
There are tons of ways to use these ideas to your advantage. The best methods for you will depend on your camping style, destination, and gear. Read below to discover everything you can do with these simple camping storage hacks, so you can streamline your next outdoor adventure.
Why Camping Storage Is Important
The wilderness beckons with plentiful opportunities forexploration and independence. But heading out on your own means bringing along all your own equipment, shelter, and food. Additionally, you’ll need to pack all the essentials you need for a good time.
All that stuff can add up quickly. And even if your campground is relatively civilized, you won’t have access to sprawling storage areas like you do at home. Everything you’d normally need in a kitchen has to fit inside the car, and entire bedrooms must be stuffed inside your tent.
Save Your Headspace
It takes time, effort, and headspace to pack your bags for camping. Perfecting your storage methods helps you streamline the whole process. It will be much easier to relax and focus on the camping experience when you have easy, convenient ways to stow and access your gear.
Implement an organizational plan and you’ll never have to worry about where you hid the coffee grinder or where you’re going to put wet swimsuits. You won’t fall into the trap of constantly organizing and reorganizing your stuff in a fruitless effort to keep the campsite neat. It will stay neat naturally, with minimal effort on your part.
Protection For Everyone
Storing everything neatly also protects you and the ecosystem. Remember that animals, insects, and wildlife of all shapes and sizes are drawn to your gear. By storing food and scented products securely, you’ll deter animals from approaching. This keeps interactions to a minimum and is safer for everyone.
Additionally, staying organized can help you prevent discomfort and a potentially dangerous infection. If someone gets into the poison ivy, you’ll have the calamine lotion on hand immediately. If someone is burned by the campfire or cuts their bare feet on a rock, you’ll be able to administer antibiotic cream and bandage the wound ASAP.
10 Camping Storage Hacks
1. Use Transparent Bins
Tossing everything into the trunk willy-nilly is a recipe for disaster. It will take extra time to find individual items buried in the pile, causing headaches on what should be an enjoyable and relaxing vacation. Organizing gear into bins will help you eliminate mess and stress, maximizing your time and effort for more important things.
It’s a good idea to separate your gear by rooms. The kitchen goes in one bin, the bedroom in another, and the pantry in its own separate bin. Transparent bins will allow you to see instantly what gear is where, so you won’t be stuck hauling bins out and opening them at random.
Not only will bins help you stay on top of your stuff, but they’ll also help protect your things against the elements. Hard-sided plastic containers with sealing lids will keep your gear safe from campground critters, and ensure it stays dry in case of a downpour.
Another advantage of bins is they help your at-home storage as well. You can keep stocked bins in the garage and grab them whenever you feel the call of the wild, knowing everything is safe and sound where it should be. You’ll only have to pack the perishables, and everything else will be ready.
2. Hang A Clothesline
Hanging a clothesline is a great way to ensure your stuff stays organized at the campground. While you hopefully won’t have to do any laundry in the great outdoors, you still might have wet swimsuits and towels to dry out. A clothesline hung conveniently off to the side gives you a place to hang them up without impeding your campsite’s main areas.
You don’t have to stop at wet swimsuits. If it rains during the night, you can string up your wet rainfly on the clothesline as well. When clothing gets dirty, muddy, or smelly, hanging it up will diffuse the scent and dry it out so you can stow it in a sack without worrying about mildew.
You can also hang up foodstuffs on the clothesline to ensure they stay out of reach of animals and other camp creatures who might want some of your trail mix. At the end of the trip, you can hang all the tents up to air them out, helping them stay fresh for next time.
3. Make Bathroom Kits
It can be pretty time-consuming to hunt through all your stuff in search of your bathroom supplies. Losing a toothbrush is all too easy in a roomy tent, and misplacing the soap makes for a gloopy mess inside your sleeping bag. How can you avoid all that? Make a bathroom kit!
You should pack the kit at home before you set out. Bring along only the essentials, as you probably don’t have room for a family-sized tub of body wash and a whole set of hair curlers. Even if you did have room, you don’t want to spend too much of your valuable leisure time on hygiene.
Luckily, the kit will save you precious minutes of searching. It’s a great idea to pack a bathroom kit inside of a pencil case or makeup bag, as these force you to keep things simple. You can also buy specialized bathroom bags with dividers and organizers online as well. It’s all about how much you want to invest.
For a weekend trip, all you really need is a toothbrush, toothpaste, and maybe some floss. You can create a larger kit for longer camping trips where you’ll need to shower. In this case, it’s better not to use a bag. Instead, buy a larger mesh or plastic shower pack to stow your stuff in.
4. Use A Shoe Hanger
A cheap plastic shoe hanger can work wonders for campsite organization. Choose a smaller, collapsible variety that features clear or mesh pockets to hold the shoes. It should be flexible, rolling up and stowing away easily in the car. Once you get your campsite set up, you can hang it wherever you like.
You can use the shoe hanger to organize all sorts of gear, but it works best for kitchenware. The pockets hold serving utensils, spice shakers, oil spray, condiments, and paper towels conveniently. You can hang your shoe organizer on the clothesline, a camp hook, or from a tree near the grill.
Organizing all your basic kitchen gear on a shoe rack will make cooking much easier. Rather than bend down to rummage through your kitchen bins, you’ll have access to spatulas, tongs, and spices right there in front of you. Cooking will be more enjoyable, and cleanup will be quicker as well.
5. Bring A Camp Shower
A camp shower will change your camping life. If you’ve ever gone camping for multiple days, you know how fast the kitchen gets dirty. Old food clings to pots and pans, attracting insects and animals. Dirt coats everything in a layer of grime, adding unsavory spice to otherwise delicious meals.
A camping shower gets rid of all that. Hang your camping shower away from the main cooking and eating areas, and make sure it’s filled with water. Bring along an extra set of bins, reserving one for clean dishes and one for dirty dishes. When you have a load of dirty dishes, just haul it to the shower. You can keep some soap on standby, or you can go all natural and just use water.
When you get everything set up, you’ll have a portable sink station. You don’t have to stop at dishes, either. You can use the camping shower to wash dirty clothes, stinky feet, and other things that need cleaning. It’s even better if you hang it near the clothesline for drying off wet items.
6. Use Compression Sacks
Instead of packing all your clothes in a duffel bag or suitcase, pack them in a compression sack. These bags are akin to the stuff sacks that hold your sleeping bag. They are usually made of nylon fabric and have a drawstring and straps on the sides.
You pack them full of clothes, then pull the drawstring and tighten the straps. This compresses everything inside, giving you a compact cylinder of clothing. You can easily stow it in the car and toss it in your tent when you arrive for easy setup.
Compression sacks save a ton of space, and they are a convenient way to separate everyone’s gear. Buy different colors for each member of your group so you never get them mixed up. If you have kids, you can let them try to compact the sack as much as they can — this is a fun pastime, but you might have to help them squeeze the last bits of air out of the bag.
7. Have A Laundry Bag
Everyone who has ever been camping knows with each passing hour, the aroma of unwashed socks and dirty clothes continues to permeate tents and sleeping bags. It’s unlikely you’ll ever completely solve this problem, but you can mitigate it by separating your dirty laundry and storing it in a dedicated laundry bag.
Bringing a laundry bag is especially important if you’re planning to camp out for multiple days. This way, everyone will have a dedicated space to stow dirty items, so they won’t be left strewn about, getting even dirtier and stinking up the campsite.
A word to the wise: Don’t hang your laundry bag in the middle of your campsite. Instead, head off into the woods and hang it downwind of the main camping area. That way you won’t have to smell it when you’re cooking, playing games, or just hanging around.
8. Use A Pop-Up Trashcan
Trash storage is even more important than laundry storage. If you’ve ever been camping before, you know we humans tend to generate an incredible amount of garbage. From food wrappers to plastic bags and everything in between, we can muck up a place fast. This is unsightly, unsanitary, and unpleasant.
You want a relaxing vacation surrounded by nature, not having to worry about trash. Bringing a pop-up trashcan is the perfect way to stow garbage away without compromising on space. These convenient cans collapse in on themselves when they aren’t in use, but they pop right back up again into a three-dimensional shape when you need them.
Simply set up your trashcan and leave it near the center of camp for the best results. A sturdy can will function much better than a plastic garbage bag hung up on a tree, because it won’t break and spill your trash out for all the world to see and smell.
A pop-up garbage pail will also deter insects and critters more than an open bag, especially if you spring for a heavier-duty option. Choose one with hard plastic siding and a lid for the best results. This will minimize smells and maximize protection, helping you keep trash out of sight and out of mind.
9. Make A Magnet Strip
Think about all the metal you have. Knives, carabiners, and other small pieces of gear are often made of magnetic material. You can use this to your advantage by buying or making a magnet strip to hang at the site. You’ll be able to stick your gear to it easily, without worrying about putting it away.
A magnet strip can be as simple as a long piece of magnet glued or nailed to a wooden board and hung on a tree. Alternatively, you can go all-out and make a larger board with separated areas and mount it inside your trunk or hatchback.
What you choose to do will depend largely on how much magnetic gear you have. If all your kitchen knives are magnetic, having a big board to stick them on will save you space and time. Hanging them high is safer than leaving them in an accessible place, where smaller hands could accidentally get ahold of them.
10. Use Cooler Racks
Coolers can get messy when they aren’t organized properly. If you’re not careful, you’ll find all your cold food and drinks floating in a pile of half-melted ice. Veggies will wilt, packaged meats will get saturated, and you’ll be left with a bad taste in your mouth — in everysense of the expression.
Luckily, you can solve this problem with a pile of unassuming cooler racks. Much like the locker racks of your high school days, cooler racks stack on top of one another and provide separation between the layers of food. Put your ice on the bottom, then layer a rack between it and the food so nothing gets freezer burned or soggy.
As you go higher in the cooler, you can add more layers of racks, or different sizes, depending on what you’re bringing. This will help you stay organized and keep food fresher for longer. When you’ve eaten everything on one layer, you can collapse the racks and stow them away under your car seats to save on space.
How To Organize Your Camping Gear
Setting up your campsite can be easy and fun when you know how to organize properly, but what about storing your gear at home? You’ll need some organizational savvy for this as well. If you stow your gear correctly, you won’t have to spend days packing for your trip.
With a properly put-together camping corner, you’ll have everything you need in one place. You’ll maximize space in your home and in your head, and you won’t be in danger of forgetting important gear in a rush to head out the door. All your things will be neat, clean, and ready whenever you are.
Keep A Separate Kitchen
One of the best ways to stay organized is to keep your camping kitchen separate from your home kitchen. The first thing you should do is buy separate cookware. Camping cookware is used hard. It gets dirty, scratched, dropped, and scraped. It’s subjected to lots of wear, tear, and open flames.
You don’t want to bring the good set of pots and pans with you, either, because camping can ruin them. Instead, buy cheaper cookware and store it in your clear plastic kitchen bin. When you’re going camping, you can just head into the garage and grab the whole bin. It’s also a good idea to keep a separate dry food bin for spices, cans, and othernon-perishables.
If you’re sure an item won’t go bad, it will be perfectly safe to keep it in a bin. You won’t have to worry about forgetting a crucial element, because you’ll already know it’s all there. When you get back home from your trip, you can haul the bin out of the car and give everything inside a thorough washing. Then just toss it back in and move on.
Make Gear Go-Bins
It’s all too tempting to arrive back home and throw your gear in a closet to lie in a heap until you need it again. But this will mean you’ll have to sort through a disorganized pile of gear next time you want to go camping. That’s a lot of work, and it can be a deterrent to go camping at all.
Furthermore, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll forget something. You’ll be distracted by packing up, and something important will slip your mind and may ruin your camping experience. To avoid that, make gear go-bins from your transparent plastic storage bins.
Things like your tent, sleeping bag, and flashlights can all live happily ever after in their own bin. Separate out the bins by functionality, making one for cooking, one for shelter, etc. These will be like your secret agent go-bags, except instead of cool spy gadgets you have cool camping gear.
Keep things organized within the bins as well, utilizing all the space in a way that works. Of course, this will depend on your organizational skills and your specific pieces of gear. But trusty methods like storing cutlery in a pencil case or toilet paper in a coffee can will work for anyone.
Implement A Protocol
It’s a smart move to implement a camping protocol for when you arrive back home. You’ll have a lot of things to unpack and store, especially if you’re part of a large family. It’s important to take the time to do this correctly, so everything is ready when you need it again.
Your protocol should include washing all the clothes, sleeping bags, towels, and other fabrics that have been used. This might take some time, but it’s a real treat not to worry about grimy gear when you’re ready for your next adventure.
Furthermore, be sure to restock all your supplies so you have enough for next time. This means refilling spice containers, tossing an extra roll of toilet paper in the bathroom bin, and changing out the batteries on flashlights you know are running low.
Ultimately, the exact protocol is up to you. If you’re going solo, you’ll have to do everything yourself. But if you’re part of a family, it’s nice to assign specific tasks to each person. Having the kids take on one job and the parents take on others will help teach the little ones responsibility and independence, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
Car Camping Storage Tips
Car camping is its own special breed of fun. Whether you’re sleeping in the back or plan on setting up a separate tent outside, it quickly gets cramped in the vehicle and you’ll need to do some maneuvering to get to that storage sweet spot you really want.
The good news is, everything you learned about binning, separating, and storing items throughout this article still applies when you’re car camping. However, there are a few additional things you can do to make your car camping experience as organized as possible.
First thing’s first: You’ll need to get a trunk organizer. This will make packing so much easier. Go for the mesh bag variety that hangs behind the headrest of your backseats, as this will leave the most room for expansion and compression when you put your bins in the back.
The trunk organizer acts as a grab-and-go station for those little things you often need. You can keep your bathroom kit in it as well as spare shoes, a snack, or whatever else you may want to pick up in a hurry. Remember to designate a specific place for each item and put it back where it belongs within the organizer.
Compacting Is Key
Car camping doesn’t leave much room for error. While you’ll have much more storage space than you would toting everything to the campground in a backpack, you still have to fit the family in the vehicle. To ensure you have enough room for everyone, you should compact your gear as much as possible.
Using compression sacks for clothes and sleeping bags is especially important here. You can fit in so much more when you compress down your fabrics, and separate compression bags for everyone helps keep individual clothes organized.
To maximize your car space, consider mounting a cargo rack on top of your vehicle for extra storage. Be on the lookout for gear swaps you can make as well. For example, instead of purchasing a regular set of cookware, get a nesting one. This will save you space in your kitchen bin for much-needed utensils and cutlery.
Make An Inventory
Sometimes we think we’re going to need a particular item, but we don’t end up using it for camping. Things like a panini press or board games always seem like such a good idea, but they’re just not practical once you get into the wilderness and are forced to live with limited space.
At the end of your camping trip, reflect on it to determine which items you used the most and which ones you left to gather dust in the trunk. Write them down and pin the list next to your gear, so you remember not to take those things next time. Not only will this save you space, but it will also save you time packing.
Additionally, see what sort of things you can make at camp. There’s no need to bring along designated marshmallow roasting poles when you can just use some sticks you find at the campsite. Likewise, you can probably switch your portable camping heater for a regular campfire, and leave your folding table at home in favor of the campground picnic area.
Staying organized will help you have the best camping trip possible. If you follow these hacks to minimize stress and maximize enjoyment, storage will be the last thing on your mind. And that’s a good thing! Now that you know how to stow all your gear properly, you’re ready to start packing for the camping adventure you deserve.