Below we gathered the ultimate list of camping storage tips.
Organization is key to having a successful camping trip. If your gear is cluttered, then it’ll be much harder to have a good time. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to make gear storage more efficient.
Here are some ways you can store your gear easily:
- Use expedition-style duffel bags for clothes
- Get a tent gear loft
- Bring nesting tupperware
- Utilize storage tubs and similar items
- Get a backpack with a top lid
- Keep your emergency kit separate
- Back lightly and smartly
- Organize stuff by type
- Color code
There’s a lot to dive into with the ideas above and more, so I’m going to get into it in depth below. Hopefully, some of these ideas and tips will help you organize your trip.
13 Camping Storage Tips To Optimize Your Storage Systems
The tips below will make your trip easier, so take note of them, and be mindful when you’re packing. Organization is key to making this easier on yourself, so keep these tips in mind before you decide what storage products you can use to put them into action.
#1. Keep Your Emergency Kit Separate
You need fast access to your emergency kit at all times. Hopefully, nothing bad happens on your trip that warrants its use. However, you still need it to be accessible!
Don’t pack it in the middle of a duffel or put it in a storage box. Keep it in a large coat pocket, in a small backpack, or right on top of everything in your most-used duffel bag.
Make sure everyone on the trip knows where the emergency kit is, and never let it get lost.
#2. Keep A Separate Bathroom Bag
Keeping your bathroom bag separate is also a good call. A little bag with extra toilet paper, unscented wipes, and unscented soaps should be easily accessible to everyone.
Consider putting the emergency kit and bathroom bag in the same place, as they’re both incredibly important.
Having a small backpack to keep them in would be good—consider a backpack like this one, as it’s not very large, so it’ll be easy to differentiate from your larger packs.
#3. Keep Scented Stuff Together
This one is more of a storage safety tip than an efficiency tip, but you should keep all your scented items together. Keep food all in one container, and keep scented toiletries all in one container.
Ideally, these containers will be scent-proof and air-tight, as that will give you the best chance of avoiding attacks from wildlife.
Keep these things a few feet away from the rest of your gear, as that will lessen the chances of bears tearing up all your luggage if they do manage to get into your scented items.
#4. Organize Stuff By Type
Keeping similar items together is the key to organization.
Keep clothes in one bag, and put your hiking gear in another. Have a small bag for your fire lighting gear, and so on.
Make sure everyone knows where all the vital stuff is, and don’t let it get mixed in with the wrong bag. It’s annoying to be looking for a bowl and discover it’s mixed in with your dog’s bowls or your hiking boots.
#5. Get A Kitchen Organizing Table
If you plan on going on long trips where you’ll be doing a lot of cooking, then it’s worth your while getting a kitchen organizing table, or camp chef table.
This is a table that provides a surface for you to prepare food and place a portable grill, and inside there’s space for bags full of cooking gear and food.
This Camp Chef Sherpa Camp Table is a good example of the type of thing that would be useful. It has everything I described above along with telescoping legs and a storage bag that works as a cooler.
It’s a real, solid investment for someone who likes to keep their food prep organized and efficient while camping.
#6. Color Code
Color coding is another age-old organizing hack.
The premise is simple. Mark your food storage bin with an X in blue paint, then put a red X on your sleep gear storage bin, and so on. Note this on your cheat sheet so everyone can easily differentiate the items.
Color coding duffel bags is also a good idea, especially if you have kids. Give each kid their own duffel in a different color, and there’ll be no mix-ups!
#7. Keep A Cheat Sheet
Knowing where your stuff is should be on your mind while traveling with a lot of camping gear. That’s why keeping a cheat sheet will come in useful.
Write down what items are in which bags, and refer to it when you’re packing, unpacking, and repacking to go home. Make sure everyone on the trip has a copy so they can easily find what they need throughout your trip.
#8. Vacuum Packing Is Your Friend
If you need to condense your gear, then look into vacuum storage bags. Many are sold with a pump that lets you suck the air out of the bag without a vacuum. Of course, if you don’t mind extra gear, then a handheld vacuum can help you, too.
You can use vacuum bags to store blankets, clothes, sleeping bags, and anything easy to compress that takes up a lot of space. With these items compressed, that space could be better used for other gear.
I once had five storage bins full of easily compressed items. I got some vacuum storage bags and discovered I could fit everything into only three storage bins when those bags were in use.
#9. Bring Trash Bags For Emergencies
Sometimes you won’t be able to pack your gear as tightly and neatly when you’re going home. You might be in a rush, or maybe you’re just tired and unable to make everything fit.
Trash bags are useful here. You can put the excess gear in a trash bag and haul it to the car that way.
You should always bring trash bags on your trip regardless, as not all campsites have proper trash disposal facilities. Having a bag to put your trash in and take home with you will ensure you leave yoru campsite clean.
#10. Get A Tent With A Vestibule
Tent vestibules are made for storing your wet gear, dirty shoes, and sometimes your luggage. A vestibule is a little extra space on one side of your tent made for this purpose.
Getting a tent with a vestibule is a good call, as you can store your duffel bags of clothes and essentials there, and they won’t clutter up your sleeping and living space.
#11. Get An Extra Tent
If you like the vestibule idea but you’d like all your gear to be stored safely, then bringing along a whole extra tent to store it in could work.
There are lots of inexpensive budget tents you can use for this. I recommend this Coleman tent, as it’s large enough for gear and won’t break the bank.
If you already have tarps at home, then consider a tarp setup instead. String up a tarp near your tent, and pile all your gear under it if you want to protect it further.
Ensure your campsite is large enough for two tents or a tent and a tarp setup, though, as it won’t always be.
#12. Have a “Carry On”
Since most of your stuff will be stored in the big storage items, suitcases, and duffels, consider having a “carry on” bag as you might have on an airplane.
Pack your personal items, spare socks and underwear, your snacks and water, and other things like this into your carry-on bag.
#13. Keep It Light
Although there are lots of storage solutions for large amounts of gear, you should still try to pack as lightly as possible.
Make a checklist of your essentials before your trip, then evaluate it. Is there something you could reasonably live without for a few days? Then it may not be essential.
You should also try to bring lighter versions of everything you do need. Look into ultralight camping gear, and see how much of it you think would help you make your trip easier.
17 Camping Storage Ideas To Keep Your Tent Uncluttered
A lot of these storage ideas will work best for car campers, as car campers will have the most gear to bring. However, some also apply to backpackers, and there’s one in here for RV campers, too.
These ideas should give you some insight into different ways you can pack and bring your gear along on your camping trips, while implementing the organization tips from earlier.
#1. Expedition Size Duffel Bags
For car campers, I recommend utilizing expedition-size duffel bags. These work well for bringing clothes, blankets, towels, and other cloth items you can easily fold up and stuff into a bag.
However, folding isn’t the most efficient way to go about packing a duffel. It’s rolling. If you roll your clothes, then you can fit more things into your bag. Stuffing socks and rolled-up underwear into your shoes inside the bag helps, too.
This is the perfect way to stuff as many clothes as possible into your bag for extended trips, and it’s great for trips in the cold, too. As you’ll know if you’ve read my article on cold weather camping tips, it’s good to layer up when it’s chilly out.
You can also place personal items like phones, battery charging packs, and other things like this into the duffel. It’s a good way to keep your things safe and easily accessible.
The clothes make a nice cushion for them, and keeping them on the top of the clothes means you’ll always know where your small personal items are.
For car campers, a clothesline comes in handy becomes you can string it up between two trees and hang your duffel bags from it. This ensures the duffels won’t end up cluttering your tent.
Of course, you always have the option of keeping your bags in your car, but a clothesline will keep your gear closer to you. You often have to walk up to 100 feet to your car, and that can be a chore, especially in some weather.
If you can’t purchase a clothesline, a sturdy fishing line works well as an alternative.
Backpackers should consider a fishing line or a clothesline, too. You can hang some gear near your site when you stop for the night.
Hanging clothes to dry and air out is a good idea, especially if it was a wet day. It’s not the best idea to put wet clothes in your pack without trying to dry them out a little first.
#3. Tent Gear Loft
For car campers, a tent gear loft can revolutionize your camping experience.
A tent gear loft is like a little net that hangs close to the ceiling of your tent. They work better in wall/cabin tents, and using them in large tents is best, too.
These nets are sturdy enough to hold backpacks, duffels, sleeping bags, blankets, and so on. They’re perfect for making sure your gear stays close by without cluttering up the floor.
You can also utilize these if you want to convert a sleeping space into a living space during the day. Stuff as much of your sleep gear up there as you can, and you’ll have room to walk around and do your daily activities.
#4. Mini Nalgene Containers
Nalgene containers can become a car camper and backpacker’s best friend.
There are bottles you can use for water, and some, like this one, glow in the dark. It’s perfect for your nighttime cool beverages, and it’s a very small bottle that you can pretty much fit in your pocket.
Other containers are fantastic because they come as mini kits, and you can use them to bring lots of different substances with you.
You could bring things like shampoo and conditioner samples, mouthwash, medicine, and other hygiene products in the mini kit if you desire. The bottles are leak proof, and you won’t have to bring your full-size items on the trip.
Lastly, you can bring a few of these impact-resistant, leak-proof storage jars for snack items you want to bring on your trips. It’s a sure way to keep food safe.
#5. Nesting Tupperware
For car campers and backpackers, if Nalgene containers aren’t for you, then you can’t go wrong with nesting Tupperware to transport food. It can be used for snacks, meals, ingredients, and more.
You can also use Tupperware to store tech like phones and battery packs, as they’re leak-proof. Therefore, your tech will be safe from rain and other harsh weather conditions.
Once your Tupperware is empty (you’ve eaten the food or you’re carrying your devices in your pocket) it can easily slot together, nesting, and me smaller to store.
It’s also a good alternative to bringing plates and bowls. You can store it nested, take it out to eat with, then put it back in its nesting state to store it again when you’re done.
#6. Bowls With Lids
Do you prefer more traditional things to eat out of? Then consider bowls with lids. These work great for campers of all types, as they’re lightweight, and they’re often collapsable when empty.
You can use them to carry food you plan on heating up later, and they’re great if you want to have half a meal now and half later. You can carry them safely throughout the day with your food stored inside, and you’ll have no mishaps.
#7. Shoe Organizer
You might be familiar with shoe organizers like these. You typically hang them on the back of a door, on a rail in the closet, or wherever there’s space. Then you can use the pockets to store your shoes.
Or if you’re me, you use them for whatever needs to be stored and can’t be stored elsewhere. And that’s how you can use them in camping.
These are a great storage device for car campers who have nowhere else to store their personal belongings. Although some tents come with pockets for things like phones and keys and eyeglasses, some don’t. So hang one of these in your tent instead.
They’re also great for keeping your kitchen gear easily accessible.
If you want to use them for actual shoe storage, you can do that, too. They’re particularly good for wet shoes if you get one with net pockets like this.
String it up on fishing wire or a clothesline, and you can dry out wet shoes all in one place.
#8. Milk Crates
Milk crates are fantastic for storing boxed and canned food for car campers. They’re easy to carry, easy to come by, and not very heavy unless you have something in them.
You can also pack them full of other types of luggage, but due to the gaps, they’re not very secure. They’d be good for carrying folded up blankets, but don’t put anything too breakable or valuable in them.
#9. Army Style Trunk
Army-style trunks are what you can use if you’re looking for something super secure. They’re best for car campers, as they can get quite heavy.
You can store almost anything in these, from clothes to food to vital camping gear that you can’t live without on your trip. And as they’re large, you can add some dividers to help section up your things.
Dividers can be bought online, or you can make them yourself using cardboard, a piece of wood, or whatever you have on hand to cram between different types of gear in the trunk.
#10. Storage Tubs
Storage tubs can be very large or quite small, and the large ones are a great way to store a lot of gear in one place. You can stuff a bunch of sleeping bags and pads into them, you can fill them with clothes, or you can neatly store your kitchen gear in them.
If you’re going for a hike later, you can load a tub with your backpacks so you don’t have to carry them individually from the car to the tent.
The possibilities are endless, and everything you store will be secure with a lid that usually clicks on.
These tubs can become quite heavy, so car campers will get the best use out of them. You can keep them outside your tent, as they’re waterproof, then just grab what you need by stepping outside the door.
Some even come with wheels and handles to make transportation easier. Getting one with these features is a good call if it’s a long walk from the car to the campsite; here’s one I recommend.
#11. Action Packers
Lots of campers all over the internet recommend action packers, and I’m inclined to agree. Action packers are highly secure, easy to carry, and come in different sizes. They’re perfect for gear storage on long trips, and they can be kept safely in or out of your tent.
These are also highly stackable, so you can have a big pile of them outside your tent if there’s a ton of gear you need to store. This is more common for people going on long car camping trips.
#12. Tote Boxes
Tote boxes are another useful, liftable, large, stackable option for car campers. They’re heavy-duty, so they can really take a beating if the weather or other conditions are unfavorable.
One great thing about tote boxes is that they’re airtight, so you can store food and other scented items in them without attracting bears.
And if you want to know more on the topic “are tents safe from bears?” then feel free to read my article on it.
There are two types of Rubbermaid you might hear about that are useful for camping. One is the food storage containers with vented lids, and it’s a good idea to bring these if you want to let hot food cool down without having the lids fully open.
The vented lids will let air get to your food, but there won’t be enough space for bugs to get into it if you leave it unattended for a few minutes.
Then you have the large storage container type of Rubbermaid, and these can work well as tote boxes, action packers, storage tubs, and other large box-like items for storing gear.
In fact, several of the items linked above are Rubbermaid brand. So you can easily look for Rubbermaid anything and find tons of helpful camping products.
It’s all about preference, really, and using what you already have on hand is good, too. If you have a Rubbermaid storage bin or food containers, then by all means, use them for camping.
Both types are best for car campers, as even the food storage containers may be too heavy for backpackers.
#14. Plastic Drawer Units
Plastic drawer units are a storage and organization solution in one for car campers. They’re like storage tubs, but they’re broken up into individual drawers in a unit. This will let you store different items separately.
If you love organization or have a plastic drawer unit in your home already, then go ahead and grab one for your camping trip.
#15. Waterproof Suitcases
Waterproof suitcases are classic. They’re typical suitcases with plastic shells, and they’re great if each person wants their own luggage when heading on your car camping trip.
You can pull them behind you on long walks to the campsite, and you can safely store them outside in the rain. You can even stack them sometimes if they’re perfectly flat on top.
If you have waterproof luggage in your home already, then you can use those for camping, too.
#16. Backpack With Top Lid
Backpacks with top lips work well for car campers and backpackers alike.
There are two types you may come across. One type has a top lid that’s just a flap of fabric that works as extra protection for your gear. The other type has a top lid that’s its own little space to pack stuff in.
This space can be used for your vital items like your map, compass, phone, emergency kit, snacks, drink, and more. The rest of your items can be stored in the rest of your backpack.
#17. Cabinets Under Furniture
Finally, here’s a tip for all of you who love camping in an RV but can’t quite get used to the cramped nature. Utilize the underside of your furniture!
Many people who live in RVs and tiny homes have storage areas under the bed, chairs, and sofas. Some even have extra storage under their cabinets in the kitchen area of their RV.
Installing these under-furniture cabinets will require a little DIY know-how or an investment in an RV that already has them, but it can be worth it if you plan on living in your RV for weeks at a time.
I hope these storage solutions and tips helped you figure out how best to pack for your camping trip. The main thing to do is figure out which storage solutions work best for you, then implement the tips to make it all more efficient.
These tips work especially well for long trips with lots of gear, but you can apply them on a smaller scale when needed, too.
Have bags and storage tubs and your other chosen storage solutions in various sizes, so you can mix and match depending on the length of your trip.