If you’ve ever camped with children (or disorganized adults), you probably know how frustrating it is to lose track of your belongings while camping. You tear up your entire campsite looking for the matches or that sock that you hung out to dry, and suddenly everything is everywhere! If you take the time to give everything a place, you won’t regret it. Here are 21 camping storage ideas to make your camping trip go off without a hitch.
1. Bring a trashcan
The last thing you want is your trash mixed in with all your other items. Consider buying one specially made for camping that zips up to deter those pesky, unwanted guests. A popular one is Coghlans Pop-Up Trash Can. It folds flat for storage but maintains its shape when it’s popped up. For just $16, you really can’t beat it.
2. Use compression sacks (and label them!)
For years, I denied myself the luxury of a cheap compression sack. I figured, who needs it? I’m mostly car camping anyway so I have plenty of space. I was wrong. There is nothing worse than digging through piles of everyone’s clothes trying to find your own. Compression sacks keep us organized. I label the tops of the bags, so we always know who owns the content of the bag. This also makes sure that my kids remain responsible for their belongings. Or as responsible as kids will be, anyway. These Sea to Summit Compression Sacks come in several colors and sizes, making them a strong choice.
3. Keep toilet paper inside of a coffee can
Yes, I’m serious. It will keep your toilet paper dry and clean. And you want that. I promise.
4. Pack your cooler using locker racks
Do you remember middle school when you got your first locker and you were so excited to decorate it and make it look awesome? No? Just me? Anyway, those locker racks and organizers fit nicely inside of coolers and will help you separate your food items from melting ice. Just put the ice on the bottom of the cooler, under the racks, and the food on top. If you want to avoid melting ice at all, you can use large ice packs, blocks of dry ice, or even water frozen in bottles. You will also need less ice to keep your food fresh if you freeze the food before traveling.
5. Use see-through plastic storage bins to organize your items
Double down on this organization by labeling the bins and creating a laminated master list of what items should be in each bin. This will make sure that when you are packing up, you don’t leave anything behind. Your laminated master list can be checked off using a dry erase marker, sprayed down, and wiped away to be reused on your next camping trip. It also helps you stay organized and prepared for your next camping trip. Dedicate those bins to camping and camping only. If you need an item in the bin for something non-camping related, buy another one. This way you always have your camping items ready for that spur of the moment weekender.
6. Use plastic drawer organizers if you are car camping
These drawer organizers are almost better than storage bins if you use them correctly. You can set up two or three in the back of an SUV or minivan and camp out of the car, leaving your campsite cleaner and more organized. Cover the tops of them with a firm surface or a towel to create a cohesive surface space that can also be used for storage.
7. Use an old baby wipes container to store plastic bags
I camp with tiny humans, and that means that there are diapers. Plastic bags to store them in keep everything smelling nice. You can also use plastic bags to store messy items that you are bringing into the tent, like shoes (although really, do yourself a favor and don’t bring your shoes in the tent if you can help it).
8. Invest in a Tidy Tent
If you haven’t heard of a Tidy Tent, listen up. This is an outdoor storage unit that is big enough to hold a couple of bicycles (or whatever else you need to store). I think it is worth the money to keep your belongings clean and dry and safe from the elements while you are camping. It is a great alternative to car camping if you are going to have to walk or bike further out from where your car is parked.
9. Use a shoe organizer for your kitchen gear
Shoe organizers can be hung up virtually anywhere and have nice spacious pockets for all your needs. You can fit all of your silverware in one pocket, for example, and you still have plenty more to work with for things like sponges, mild soaps, paper towels, utensils, shampoos, deodorants, and more.
10. Hang a clothesline and use it for wet clothes and snacks
Snacks? Yes, I said snacks. Clip your opened chip bags up there to keep the creepy crawlers out. You can get a clothesline and the clothespins from the dollar store. Cha-ching!
11. Invest in a portable, tall tool box with several layers
These toolboxes often have wheels for easy toting. They unfold into layered drawers and they are water resistant, making them ideal to store your camping items. I find they are most useful as a makeshift dresser or for kitchen utensil and cookware storage. This Trolley Toolbox will work well to hold a few pots and pans, plus all your silverware and spices.
12. Buy or create a tent mesh “loft” like this one to hold your gear
Keep your tent floor open and available for sleeping by hanging your gear overhead. You can buy one of these Roof Top Tent Gear Lofts, or you can DIY it, with a durable fabric or mesh and some connectors.
13. Store cracked eggs in mason jars to prevent breakage
Don’t bring the carton of eggs with you. It’s not worth it. Instead, decide how many you will need, and break them into mason jars for easy scrambled eggs. Just shake and dump into your skillet when you’re ready. You can also use mason jars to store other foods, such as pancake mixes or soup mixes.
14. Store bread in a Tupperware container
Nobody likes smashed bread. Use a large Tupperware container or a sturdy bread box to store bread products and keep them intact.
15. Repurpose a plastic pencil box to store your roasting forks so they don’t poke all your items, collect dirt, or leave a marshmallow mess everywhere
This camping hack from Amy Coleman and Lets Camp S’More is a personal favorite of mine. You can find the DIY guide here.