storage bins that are clear bin with camping gear inside and storage bags in a living room

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Essential Camping Organization Ideas for Every Adventurer

With our experience in living full-time in an overland box truck, we’ve become pretty good at camping organization and storage ideas, fully grasping the importance of efficient organization in small spaces.

In the world of camping, where even the most seasoned outdoor buffs are put to the test, staying organized and nailing those camping storage ideas is key.

With some clever camping storage hacks up your sleeve, you’ll have a spot for everything, making your camping trips a whole lot easier.

Let’s face it diving into the great outdoors gets way more fun when you’ve got some cool camping organization hacks and storage tricks to keep all your gear neat and easy to grab.

4 Steps For How To Organize Your Camping Gear

No matter if you’re pitching a tent, car camping, arriving in an RV, just starting out with camping, seeking van organization tips, or, like us, living full-time in an overland box truck, figuring out the best way to organize your gear is always somewhat challenging.

Below are the camp organization hacks and techniques we use to help us keep everything in order, from managing camping food and gear to organizing clothes and sleeping bags, and even setting up an efficient overland kitchen. These strategies guarantee everything is exactly where it should be, right when we need it.

1. Lay Out All Camping Gear

By laying out all the camping gear you’ll be able to get an idea of exactly what items you have and what you might still need to get.

When you’ve got all your stuff spread out in front of you, it’s easy to check if everything’s clean, in good shape, and ready to go. Plus, you can quickly figure out what needs fixing or replacing.

2. Sort Camping Gear Into Specific Categories

Organizing your camping gear into categories is a game-changer for any type of camping.

It makes finding and using your equipment a breeze, optimizes how you use space, and speeds up both setting up and packing up.

This approach ensures your gear is organized and easy to access, making your camping adventures smoother and more enjoyable.

3. Use Clear Stackable Storage Bins and Color-Coded Dry Bags For Organization

Clear stackable bins and color-coded dry bags are great for keeping your stuff organized and easy to spot. The bins make the most of tight spaces by stacking up, and the color-coded bags make it a breeze to quickly find the gear you need.

4. Efficiently Pack and Prepare Gear for Transport

Efficient packing is your secret sauce for a stress-free camping trip! It means squeezing in everything you need without playing Tetris.

You’ll protect your gear on the go, breeze through loading, and kick off your adventure without the usual packing panic.

How To Categorize Your Camping Gear For Optimal Camp Organization

Organizing your camping gear into well thought out categories makes packing a lot faster and finding what you need on your trip much easier.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of categories to consider.

  1. Tents and Sleeping Gear
  2. Cooking and Kitchen Camping Gear
  3. Food Storage
    • Perishable Items
    • Non-Perishable Items:
  4. Clothing
  5. Hygiene and Health
  6. Recreational Gear and Large Items
  7. Essential Camping Equipment

When you sort your gear into categories, packing turns into a breeze and running your campsite becomes a whole lot smoother.

1. Camping Storage Ideas And Organization For Tents and Sleeping Gear

This category covers everything you need for a comfy night sleep and shelter from the weather, like your tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillows, and any tarps or hammocks.

We recommend a big clear bin for storing your your tent and sleeping gear.

Tips For Organizing And Storing Tents And Sleeping Gear

  1. Compression Bags for Sleeping Bags: Utilize compression sacks for your sleeping bags.
  2. Strategic Folding of Tents, Tarps And Hammocks: Master folding your tent and tarps to save space. Stash them in their bags with poles and stakes. Tarps should be flat squares. Hammocks? Compress or fold them neatly, keeping ropes and straps together.
  3. Rolling Sleeping Pads: If using pads, roll them tightly and secure them with straps or bungee cords.
  4. Pillow Cases with Multiple Uses: Instead of packing separate pillows, use pillow cases that can be filled with clothes or other soft items to serve as pillows.
  5. Utilizing Empty Spaces Once the larger items are packed in your storage bin, use the nooks and crannies around them for smaller items. For example, stuff a rolled-up hammock or tarp in the spaces around a tent bag.

Specific Tent Camping Organization Ideas

  1. Place a small, foldable mat or rug at the entrance of your tent to keep the dirt out.
  2. Hang a multi-purpose organizer from the tent ceiling, these organizers can hold lightweight items such as clothing, small gear, and personal items, keeping them off the tent floor.
  3. Use carabiners or S-hooks to hang items like lanterns, hats, or small bags on loops inside the tent.
  4. Designate each corner of the tent for specific items (e.g., one corner for shoes and boots, another for water bottles and hydration packs). You can use small, collapsible bins or fabric cubes to keep things tidy.

🔥 Pro Tip 🔥

One of our top tent storage ideas is to pack the rain fly in the compression bag first. This way, on clear and dry days, you can avoid unpacking both items and then having to re-stuff the rainfly because it’s not needed.

2. Camping Organization Ideas For Cooking And Kitchen Camping Gear

Group together your stove, pots, pans, utensils, and other cooking equipment.

Remember essentials like a portable coffee maker, collapsible sink, or grill if they’re in your camping kitchen setup.

But remember, don’t go overboard with the cooking equipment; keeping it minimal not only reduces your load but also makes meal preparation easier.

Tips For Camping Kitchen Organization Hacks

We prefer utilizing small clear containers for storing kitchen utensils, which are then neatly placed inside a larger clear bin. This larger bin also accommodates plates, pots and pans, coffee maker and a cooking stove.

  1. Collapsible And Nesting Kitchen ItemsCollapsible bowls, cups, and kettles squish down to almost flat, freeing up space for more camping must-haves. Also, try nesting pots and pans – they’re a space-saving camping gear hack.
  2. Use Tools That Are Multi-Purpose– Imagine swapping out a separate spoon, fork, and knife for one compact spork that does all these functions.
  3. Use Magnetic Strips– I’ve found magnetic strips are one of my favorite camping kitchen organization ideas. Just slap your metal gear onto these strips, and you’ve got instant, visible access. Say goodbye to rummaging through bins for a can opener or a knife.
  4. Pegboards for Tools and Utensils– You get to decide where each hook goes, arranging your space just the way it suits you. Hang your pots, pans, and even those awkwardly shaped items.
  5. String a Clothesline- I drape damp towels, laundry, or swimwear across it at camp, keeping items off the ground.
  6. Use A Hanging Shoe Organizer– Tuck in your utensils, first aid stuff, and little tools into its pockets, and voilà – you’ve got all your essentials in sight and ready to go.
  7. Keep Your Campsite Clean And Organized- Include, zip locks, trash bags, plastic bags, biodegradable soap, and quick-dry towels for keeping your campsite clean.

If you’re looking for some of the best cooking accessories for your tent camping adventure or interested in what we use for full-time living in our overland truck be sure to check out some of our favorite kitchen accessories.

We are all about keeping things simple and light for camping but one thing we almost never leave behind is our Dutch oven. Despite being bulky and heavy, the versatility it brings to cooking various camping dishes is unbeatable.

Check out some of our favorite dutch oven camping recipes.

🔥 Pro Tip 🔥

Small carabiners or S-hooks can be used to hang items like shoes, coats, or hanging shoe organizers

3. Camping Organization Ideas For Food Storage

When packing food for camping, it’s all about being savvy. Ditch bulky packaging and unnecessary wrappers whenever possible.

Before heading to the campsite, take some time for meal prep or mix your camping cocktails. You can prepare foil packet recipes, or check out our top no-cooking camping meal ideas.

Chop, marinate, or pre-cook ingredients in advance to make cooking at the campsite a breeze.

Camping Organization Ideas for Non-Perishable Foods

Foodstuffs in donation box for volunteer.

Store snacks, grains, canned goods, hot chocolate packets, tuna packets, olive oil and other dry foods in stackable bins.

  1. Use Airtight Containers Or Ziploc Bags: Airtight containers keep your items fresh, while ziploc bags save space and are perfect for portioning larger quantities of food into meal-sized packs.
  2. Stackable Bins or Boxes: Opt for stackable bins to maximize space. They can be labeled for easy identification and organized based on meal types or food categories.
  3. Spice Containers: Small, individual containers or a compact spice rack can be used for seasonings and spices.
  4. Bear-Proof Containers for Safe Food Storage– Opt for bear-proof containers that seal in scents and protect your meals from wildlife intrusions.

🔥 Pro Tip🔥

Keep some non-perishable items in your camping food storage box; it’s like having a camping pantry ready to go for your next camping trip. Keeping items such as tuna or chicken packets, hot chocolate, canned beans, olives, or a jar of pasta sauce on hand gives you plenty of options to mix up your meals while camping.

Camping Organization Ideas for Perishable Foods

Frozen food in the freezer. Frozen vegetables, soup, ready meals in the freezer

When it comes to packing perishable food for camping, a little strategy goes a long way. You want your food to stay cool, fresh, and neatly organized, so you’re not digging through a messy cooler with melted ice.

Here are some things to consider when we’re organizing your perishable camping foods.

  1. High-Quality Cooler or Portable Refrigerator: Invest in a good cooler or a portable fridge to maintain a consistent cool temperature.
  2. Ice Packs or Freezer Blocks: Use ice packs or freezer blocks instead of loose ice to keep your cooler organized and to prevent water from accumulating as ice melts.
  3. Airtight and Leak-Proof Containers: Store perishable foods in airtight and leak-proof containers to keep them fresh and to prevent spills inside the cooler.
  4. Use An Egg Case (Or A Jar Like Us!)– An egg case keeps your eggs safe unbroken and accessible. Or you might try our method of cracking and beating your eggs, then storing them in a bottle or jar before leaving. This way, you just pour what you need into the pan each morning.
  5. Efficient Packing Order: Pack items that you’ll use last at the bottom and the ones you’ll need first on top.
  6. Regularly Drain Water: If using ice, drain water from the cooler regularly to keep food from getting soggy and to keep the cooler cold.

🔥 Pro Tip 🔥

A full cooler retains cold better than a half-empty one, so pack it to maximize space and chill time. Ice packs are my go-to over loose ice; they don’t create a pool of water and are reusable.

Now that you have our best tips for camping kitchen storage ideas be sure to check out the best overland cooking setup this is great for anyone who’s looking to set up the best camping kitchen or organize camping gear for their camping kitchen.

4. Camping Organization Ideas For Clothing

Getting your clothes sorted out for camping is a big deal for staying comfy and making life easier.

So, here’s the lowdown on some of our favorite camping storage ideas for clothes

  1. Compression Bags: Use compression bags for bulky items like jackets and sweaters. They save space and keep your clothing compact and manageable.
  2. Packing Cubes: Packing cubes are a great camping storage idea for clothes. You can organize clothing by type or by day, making it easier to find what you need without going through everything.
  3. Footwear Organization: Store shoes and boots in dedicated bags or a shoe bin to keep dirt and mud contained.
  4. Laundry Bag: Bring a laundry bag to keep dirty clothes separate from clean ones. New to doing laundry on the road? Be sure to check out our best tips for doing laundry on the road.
  5. Roll Clothing: Since you don’t have the luxury of space, rolling your clothes will help you maximize what space you have.
  6. Labeling System: If sharing a storage space with others, consider labeling cubes or bags with names to avoid confusion.

For efficient clothes storage while living full time on the road I highly recommend using vacuum bags for seasonal clothes. We use these bags to significantly reduce the bulk of our winter gear, such as jackets, and sweaters.

5. Camping Organization And Storage Ideas For Hygiene And Health

Even though you’re camping, you’re still going to need some bathroom stuff and toiletries to maintain hygiene and comfort during your outdoor adventure.

Here’s what should be included in your camping storage ideas for hygiene and health:

  1. Waterproof Toiletry Bags: Use waterproof bags or containers to store toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, medications, and deodorant.
  2. Compact Shower Caddy: If you plan to use campsite shower facilities, a portable shower caddy can be helpful to carry and organize your shower items.
  3. Hand Sanitizer and Wet Wipes: Pack plenty of hand sanitizer and wet wipes for quick cleaning, especially when water is scarce.
  4. Sun Protection: Include sun protection items such as sunscreen, lip balm with SPF, and aloe vera gel or after-sun lotion.
  5. Insect Repellent: Store insect repellent sprays or creams in an easily reachable spot. Consider including treatments for insect bites.
  6. Towel Storage: Use quick-dry towels that can be rolled. Store them in a breathable mesh bag to allow them to dry and prevent mildew.
  7. Toilet Paper and Personal Hygiene Products: Store toilet paper in a waterproof bag or container. Also include any other personal hygiene products.
  8. Environmentally Friendly Soap: Choose biodegradable soap for showering or washing dishes to minimize environmental impact.
  9. Waste Disposal Bags: Have designated bags for disposing of personal hygiene waste responsibly.

6. Camping Storage Ideas For Recreational Equipment, Family Activities, And Dogs

SUP confident woman swimsuit standing with a paddle on the surfboard, legs

This is one of the most space demanding categories to pack for. Paddleboards, bikes and sports equipment add a lot of fun to your camping trip but storage can become difficult.

  1. Outdoor Games and Equipment: Items like frisbees, footballs, fishing gear, campfire games an cornhole. Store these in durable, easy-to-carry bags or bins.
  2. Hiking Gear: If hiking is part of your plan, include storage for hiking poles, and backpacks. Use carabiners or straps to attach poles to the outside of backpacks to save space.
  3. Water Activities Equipment: For water activities, include inflatable kayaks, paddleboards, and life jackets, We’ve discovered that the first two, given their size, can be stored in rooftop cargo boxes or side storage boxes. Additionally, we find it convenient to use cam straps to secure life jackets to both SUPs and kayaks.
  4. Bicycles and Helmets: If biking is on your agenda, consider bike racks for your vehicle or camper. Store helmets in netted bags or attached to the bike rack to save space.
  5. Dog Toys and Supplies- Much like how you keep your camping gear organized, it’s important to do the same for your pet’s supplies. Having a dedicated storage bag for your pet’s supplies will ensure they’re there when you need them.

Now, while I’m all about keeping things streamlined when camping, you might appreciate some of our favorite camping accessories to enhance your experience.

These accessories are not just about adding comfort; they’re about making life on the road more efficient and enjoyable

🔥 Pro Tip 🔥

Consider loads bars for your kayaks, a rooftop cargo carrier for your car, or one of our favorite bike racks to conveniently transfer some of these larger items.

7. Organizing Essential Camping Gear

When it comes to organizing your essential camping gear, you’ll notice that many of these items fall into miscellaneous, safety, navigation and utility camping supplies.

This is a trickier category to nail down because it varies depending on the type of camping you’re planning to do!

This covers a range of items, including navigation tools, emergency supplies, tools, first aid, and shovels, along with anything else that fulfills your basic camping needs.

It’s all about identifying and organizing these pieces to streamline your packing and ensure you have everything you need for a successful adventure.

  1. First aid kit: A first aid kit should be easily accessible and include bandages, antiseptic wipes, tape, scissors, tweezers, pain relievers, allergy medications, insect sting relief, and any personal medications.
  2. Fire Starters: I recommend placing waterproof matches, lighters, and fire starters in a small Ziploc bag and then storing them within a compact storage bin.
  3. Multi-Tool or Swiss Army Knife: A versatile multi-tool or Swiss Army Knife can be indispensable in various emergency situations.
  4. GPS Device and Compass: Even if you plan to use a smartphone or GPS unit, include a traditional compass as a backup for navigation.
  5. Sturdy Rope, Paracord and Duct Tape : Great for many situations, including setting up emergency shelters and gear repairs. Duct tape is particularly great for quick fixes and can serve as a temporary solution for a wide range of issues.
  6. Solar Power Bank: A solar power bank for charging essential devices like cell phones or GPS units when other power sources are unavailable.
  7. Shovel Mounts: For larger tools like a shovel, use external mounts on your vehicle or camper. This not only frees up internal space but also avoids bringing dirt and debris inside.
  8. Headlamps and Lanterns: Store flashlights, headlamps, lanterns, and extra batteries in a dedicated, easily accessible compartment or bin.
  9. Maps and Guidebooks: Waterproof containers or zip-lock bags are ideal for storing physical maps and guidebooks. This keeps them protected from the elements and easily accessible.
  10. Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or Satellite Messenger: If venturing into remote areas, a PLB or satellite messenger should be part of your gear. Store it in a protective, waterproof case and in a location where it can be quickly accessed.
  11. Fire Extinguisher: For larger campsites or RV camping, include a small fire extinguisher. It should be stored in a stable, upright position and be easily accessible.

General Camping Gear Storage Hacks

  • Use a gear checklist before you head out and when you’re packing up to come home; it’s a game-changer for not forgetting anything.
  • Invest in large, durable plastic bins with a secure lid.
  • Label the bin with a list of its contents for quick identification.
  • Use dividers or smaller containers within the bin for organization.
  • Place heavier or bulkier items at the bottom for stability.
  • Keep frequently used items near the top for easy access.

Car Camping Organization Ideas And Tips

Getting your car ready for a camping trip involves a strategy that considers both space and easy access to your gear.

While the basics are similar to what we’ve talked about earlier, planning becomes a bit more involved when you’re heading out on a multi-destination camping adventure.

Start By Getting Your Car Ready For A Long Drive

First things first, you can’t get anywhere if you’re car isn’t functioning properly or you run into car problems in route.

So, get that oil change, check your tires, and don’t forget to pack jumper cables, a small portable air compressor, and a basic toolkit for added peace of mind.

🔥 Pro Tip 🔥

It’s always a good idea to stash a spare key in a sneaky spot just in case you need it while camping.

Packing Your Camping Vehicle

  1. Prepping your vehicle for a camping trip means rearranging the interior for maximum storage. Lay down the back seats if possible, to create a flat storage area.
  2. Start by placing the heaviest items at the bottom and as close to the center of the vehicle as possible to maintain a balanced weight distribution
  3. Think about the sequence of your trip and pack accordingly; a cooler with food for the evening should not be buried underneath sleeping bags meant for nighttime.

Storage Hacks For Car Camping Organization

  • Maximize every nook and cranny for space-saving camping. Use soft bags instead of a bunch of camping bins as they can conform to the shape of the car, creating more room for additional storage.
  • Soft items, like clothing and blankets, can be stuffed into compression sacks to both save space and serve as padding around more delicate gear.
  • Flat, clear bins can slide under seats for efficient space management and to hold items like maps, flashlights, or snacks.
  • A car seat organizer can serve as the ideal car camping organizer, offering multiple pockets and compartments to keep essential items within easy reach during your camping trip.

Next, consider utilizing storage solutions that maximize the available space. Roof racks or rooftop cargo boxes are excellent for bulky items like kayaks or larger camping gear.

Additionally, keep frequently needed items like snacks, road trip foods, water, and GPS devices within easy reach in the cabin of your car.

Small Camping Organization Ideas

In small camping setups where space is tight, it’s all about compact, multi-use items.

Most of our tips will sound familiar, but here’s a quick list of our favorite small camping organization ideas.

  1. Use Color-Coded Dry Bags or Packing Cubes
  2. Multi-Functional Gear
  3. Compact, Collapsible Equipment
  4. Utilize Vertical Space with a Hanging Organizer
  5. Invest in a Lightweight, Compact Table and Chair Set

What is the Best Camping Bin, Camping Box or Camping Gear Storage Container?

Our preferred choice is large plastic bins with secure, tight-fitting lids. These bins offer several advantages that enhance our camping experience:

  1. Visibility: Clear plastic bins are at the top of our list because they allow us to see the contents from the outside. .
  2. Protection: The tight-fitting lids provide excellent protection against moisture, dust, and insects.
  3. Durability: Plastic bins are sturdy and durable, capable of withstanding the rigors of outdoor adventures. They can handle rough handling, stacking, and exposure to various weather conditions.
  4. Ease of Handling: The handles on these bins make them easy to carry, load, and unload from our vehicle or campsite. They’re designed for practicality.
outside nomad jill wheeler author bio
Written by Jill Wheeler

Hi there! I’m Jill, a full-time travel blogger and passionate adventurer. I left the 9-to-5 grind to embrace the nomadic travel lifestyle and have never looked back. I love immersing myself in diverse cultures, and through my stories, photos, and tips, I hope to inspire others to embark on their own adventures. When I’m not exploring the world, you’ll find me skiing, mountain biking, or tasting the culture of breathtaking locations.

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