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Is there a worse way to start a camping trip than having to unload the entire car just to get the tent someone decided to pack on the bottom? And when you’ve finally gotten the tent up and you want to relax with a cup of coffee, you realize you have no idea where the kitchen items are?

Bad organization won’t ruin a camping trip, but it can get it off to a bad start. Effective packing and organization will make your trip smoother, easier, and, yes, more enjoyable.

Read our guide for tips and tricks to effectively organize your camping gear.

Tips And Tricks To Organize Camping Gear

Gather Your Camping Gear

The first step of organizing your camping gear is to get it all together. It helps if you already have a list of what items you like to take. Don’t have a list? Start one now! There are plenty of camping supply lists available online that you can use as a starting point.

With all your gear gathered, you can think logically about organizing. This is also a chance to see what might be missing from your camping gear.

Clean And Check Your Camping Gear

Cleaning your camping gear is something you need to do before and after every camping trip. It might seem like a waste of time, but no one wants to drive to the campsite only to discover the sleeping bags have gone moldy.

Clean things when you return from a trip for an easier time packing, and check all your gear before packing to avoid a nasty surprise on your next camping trip.

Divide Your Camping Gear Into Categories

Before you start any packing, you want to organize your items into different categories. The categories will make it easier to pack effectively, and easier to spot if you’re leaving anything behind.

The exact categories you use will depend on the size of your group, where and when you’re camping, and the type of camping you intend to do. However, some general categories to consider are:

  • Kitchen gear
  • Dry foods
  • Cold foods
  • Sleeping gear
  • Toiletries and hygiene
  • Clothing
  • Activities and entertainment
  • Personal items
  • Shelter

Divide the items into these categories. It helps to categorize as you do the cleans and checks, so you can work through everything logically.

Cull Anything Not Needed

Now for the hard bit: get rid of anything you don’t really need. As you pack, really consider if the item is necessary, or if it’s only being taken “just in case”. While a few just in case items are okay, too many will weigh you down, and take up space that could be used better.

If it helps, put things into “yes”, “maybe”, and “no” piles. The “no” pile will be automatically rejected. The “maybe” pile should be kept small, and consist of items that you will only take if there’s room. You want to remove the excess now, rather than struggle to get rid of unnecessary items from the bottom of the pile.

Remember, once you’ve finished packing, if you think you have the space, you can always add any items removed by the cull.

Use The Storage Boxes System

Use The Storage Boxes System

Storage boxes are the best way to organize your camping gear. They’re sturdy, stackable, and sealable — ideal for camping. Clear storage boxes are excellent for kitchen items and food in particular, but you really can keep everything in them.

If you find your packing tends to result in lots of duffle bags rolling around the car, keep them together and improve your organization by using a storage box!

Because storage boxes provide a firm surface, they’re excellent for stacking. Use smaller boxes within the boxes to keep things upright.

Label Everything

Labels really are your best friend when it comes to camping organization. Labeling the storage boxes as you fill them will prevent wasted time digging through everything, trying to find where exactly you put the plates.

Label what each storage box is being used for, and try to present a general overview of exactly what’s in each box. You don’t need a detailed inventory, just enough that when you ask “where are the spoons?”, you can figure out the answer pretty quickly.

Keep The Essentials Close To Hand

One trick to good organization is about understanding exactly what items you need, and when you’ll need them. Some things, such as a flashlight, should be kept out of the storage boxes, and close to hand. Phone, wallet, and general toiletries should also be easy to access.

The same is true when packing the storage boxes. Consider what items you’ll want to get hold of quickly, and what probably won’t be needed for a couple of hours.

Finish With The Things You’ll Need First

At this point, you should have everything you need packed into boxes and bags, with the occasional loose essential. Now it’s time to load up your vehicle.

The very last thing you put in your car should be the thing you want to remove first. This is likely to be your tent or shelter. By placing this on top, you can immediately settle in at the campground. Your tent is also something you’re unlikely to want crushed under heavy storage boxes!

Think Before You Pack

When you’re at step one, with all your gear laid out in front of you, organizing it all seems like an intimidating task. Don’t rush into it, and just start shoving food and toiletries into bags. It’s much better to take your time, make sure you’ve got all the essentials, and think about the order you’ll need things.

If you’re happy with how you have your camping gear organized, make a note of everything you did! Take photos and write down what you’ve packed, so you can replicate it for your next trip.

Final Thoughts

Camping trips should be about having fun and exploring the great outdoors, not struggling to unpack a car shoved full of random gear. Get organized by planning ahead, working logically, and making the most of the clear storage box!

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