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How To Keep Your Campsite Organized

Tips And Tricks To Control The Chaos

A lot of gear goes into a camping trip, even if it’s just for a weekend. You’re basically packing up home to take to a new location and keeping all of that organized can seem daunting. Having a campsite that mirrors the cleanliness and organization of your home can save you time and even keep you safer—especially in bear country. Luckily, there are a few tips, tricks, and general guidelines you can follow that can make packing and camping simpler, and help you enjoy your time in the great outdoors. 

Advance Preparation

Getting your camping gear organized at home will make staying that way while camping a lot easier. Instead of haphazardly throwing your gear into the back of the car, pack strategically and give everything a designated container. Clear totes work great because you can see what is inside without having to rummage around. 

When packing your totes, organize each one by the “rooms” of your campground. For example, one tote can be for all of your kitchen gear. This includes your plates, cups, silverware, pans, coffee mugs, bowls, dish towels, and anything else you’ll use to whip up a delicious meal in the wild. Another tote can store non-perishable food. Having one that latches can be especially helpful in keeping rodents out. 

If you’re camping with your family, you can use another tote for everyone’s sleeping bags, pads, extra blankets, and pillows. Check out this list while you’re loading everything up to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

Once you have your totes packed, stack them into your car first. Then fill in the gaps with the rest of the gear you’ll need. This helps to keep your load stable as you bump down forest service roads or drive through winding mountain passes to get to your campsite.

Tip: Save time with a camping grab-bag always packed and ready to go with everything you’ll need for an overnighter. Whatever doesn’t fit (like your down sleeping bag, which should be stored with space to expand) can be notated on an index card so you know exactly what to grab last-minute.

Use Storage–And Gear–Intentionally

The less stuff you have along with you on your camping trip, the easier it will be to stay organized. The best part—you don’t have to compromise on gear if you don’t want to. Instead, be intentional about the gear that you do bring. Multi-use items are your best friend. For example, you can use your cooking pot as a bowl or tap into backpacking items like the Sea to Summit Delta Spork + Knife.

You can also be intentional with how you pack your gear. Repurpose old coffee tins to hold (and keep dry) toilet paper and use small containers for spices and liquids you don’t need much of (like creamer for your morning coffee). Not only will packing this way save you a lot of space, but it can also help keep waste to a minimum. It gives those smaller items that often manage to disappear a designated spot, so they’re always there when you need them.

Tip: If you have the space, bring along two coolers. One for drinks and one for food. The drinks cooler will get opened a lot more frequently, and if your food is separate, it can stay colder longer.

Give Gear A Home

To keep your campsite organized throughout your entire trip, everything needs to have a designated home. Most importantly, everything needs to always be put back in its designated place. Staying mindful from day one can help make sure that everyone in your group can find what they need when they need it.

Tip: Stuff sacks or totes are your friends. Use one to hold dirty laundry to help keep your clothing orderly and contained.

Utilize All Your Space

Even when car camping, you’re not going to have too many surfaces to work with. Once the picnic tabletop is full, you won’t have many more options to set something down. A quick fix? String up a clothesline to hang up extra jackets or any wet clothing. You can even take it one step further and hang a repurposed hanging shoe rack to store quick-grabs like bug sprays and sunscreens. 

There are also some spaces around camp that can easily be overlooked—but can be a real game-changer when utilized. One example is your tent pockets. They’re a great place to store a headlamp or flashlight so you can more easily get up when nature calls in the middle of the night.

A Clean Camp Is A Happy Camp

Cean camps are less attractive to the local wildlife and can help keep mice, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, or bears from getting into your things. If all the food scraps from dinner and extra groceries find their way back to the trash and coolers, respectively, squirrels won’t be able to have their nighttime buffet. 

Have everyone remove shoes before getting in the tent, and sweep it out periodically. Not only will a clean tent feel more like home, but it can also reduce friction from sand on the floor of the tent and help to extend its life.

Another easy way to keep your camp clean and tidy is through a designated trash bag. Once it gets full (or before you go to sleep or leave your site for a day trip), take the trash to the campsite dumpsters to keep critters away. If this trash bag is easily accessible for everyone in your crew, it can also help keep everyone stay accountable for their waste.

A dish and handwashing station will make kitchen cleanup and general hygiene a lot easier around camp as well. Using something like a Sea to Summit Kitchen Sink means you can keep aquatic-damaging detergents out of streams or lakes and streamline your camp cleanups.

Tip: Add homey touches to help make your campsite welcoming and cozy. An indoor/outdoor rug or sand mat in front of the tent or extra lights can make a world of difference.

Optimize For Adventure

Have grab bags packed ahead of time and ready to go for day trips. Whether you’re hiking or biking, fishing or canoeing, having your gear ready to go ahead makes leaving camp a lot less of a hassle. Your day pack is also a great place for some loose odds and ends that may not otherwise have an obvious home. These can include a first-aid kit, headlamp, water bottles or bladders, and a poop kit (a trowel, toilet paper, and zip locks for dirty toilet paper). 

Before you head out on your day trip, you’ll want to make sure your campsite is properly packed up. You’ll be able to spend more time on the trail and less time packing up if you and your crew have been able to stay mindful and keep all of your things in their totes. Latch everything up, lock up what you need to in cars, and be bear aware if required by storing temptations in a Bear Valut BV500 Bear Resistant Food Canister.

Rachel Jorgensen is a freelance writer based in Michigan, but doesn’t stay put for long. She’s lived in three countries, four states, and is always after the next adventure. When settled, you’ll find her climbing, skiing, or trail running with Scuba, her Thai rescue dog. Follow along @rjorgie