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Let’s talk all about car camping organization! Once upon a time, I lived out of my car by choice so I could save some money on rent, and travel more. I learned very quickly that being organized with your camping gear will make things so much easier.
Not only does organization help you find things when you’re camping, but it also makes it easier to pack for a camping trip.
If you feel overwhelmed by what gear to pack for camping and how to stay organized, take a deep breath and read on!
Car Camping Gear
When it comes to car camping gear, everyone is probably going to have a different list based on their family size, personal needs, and comfort level.
This post is really focused on car camping organization, so I’m going to show you what categories of camp gear I pack, but keep in mind that you might want to tweak it depending on your personal needs.
When I’m packing for a car camping trip, there are 4 main categories of things that I need to remember to bring:
1) Kitchen Gear
This includes things like my stove, propane, a water jug, and other camp cooking equipment. For a full breakdown of my car camping kitchen essentials, check out this blog post.
This includes planning out camping meals and snacks, and packing the necessary ingredients in my pantry bin (more on this below) or the cooler.
3) Shelter and Sleeping
This category of gear is all about the things that you need to create shelter, warmth, and comfort when you sleep. For me, this would include things like a tent, my sleeping pad, sleeping bags and blankets, and a lantern or headlamp for when it gets dark.
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4) Personal Items
The last category is all about my personal items like clothing, jackets, toiletries, and maybe even some camp games, a book, or a journal.
My personal items such as clothes and toiletries, are all packed within one duffel bag so I that I always know where to find my jacket and toothbrush.
Now let’s talk about camping organization hacks!
Now that you see the big picture of what I pack camping, below we’re going to dive deep into the bin storage system that I use.
This will save you so much time and stress when packing!
Car Camping Organization
I don’t just throw everything randomly into the car.
Instead, the kitchen gear and pantry items are organized into bins.
When packing for a camping trip, I place the bins in the car first, and then organize everything else around it so that things don’t shift as I drive.
I’ve talked about the bin system in some of my other camping hacks videos, but here I wanted to dive deeper into what I actually pack.
If you haven’t already, check out this camping hacks blog post where I first talk about the camping bins.
Bin #1: Camp Kitchen Gear
I use two bins when I go camping. The first one is for all of my camp kitchen gear that I need for cooking meals. This includes things like a cast iron pan, pot, coffee mugs, plates, bowls, and more.
RELATED >> What Kitchen Gear to Pack for Camping
The important thing is: no food goes in this bin. That’s what the second bin is for…
Bin #2: Food
The second bin that I pack is for food.
This is where I put all my snacks and any other food that doesn’t need to be kept cold.
In the bottom of this bin, I always have some unopened pantry items and easy meals that I just leave in the bin when I get home. I love this, because every time I go camping, I know that I have plenty of extra meals incase I need to stay out longer.
These extra meals are also perfect for those nights when you just don’t feel like cooking.
My favorite “backup” meals are:
- Mac & Cheese
- Ready-to-eat Indian Food Packets and Rice
- Instant Potatoes or Hash Browns
- Pancake Mix
These are quick and easy camping meals that I can store in the food bin long-term. Another great thing about the food bin is that it laches closed. This will help to keep the mice out.
Even if your food is packed in a closed locked car, the mice can still find their way in. I know from personal experience.
This is even more of a problem in popular camping spots.
Using the bins will help keep your food protected from small critters. They’re not bear-proof though, so this is not a substitute for proper food storage in bear country.
Spices and Condiments
Within my camping food bin, I also have a smaller box with condiments and spices that don’t need refrigeration.
Organizing the spices into a smaller box makes it easier to find them and then you can carry the box to the picnic table for easy access.
It also helps to keep your spices and condiments upright so they’re less likely to spill.
I like to pack:
- Trader Joes spice blends such as the Everything But the Bagel seasoning (so good!)
- maple syrup
- hot sauce
- soy sauce
I love having them in my camping bin because then I don’t have to keep unpacking and repacking these commonly used spices and condiments!
When you get home:
When I get home from a camping trip, I wash any kitchen gear that’s dirty, I remove opened and perishable foods from the pantry bin, and then I store both of the bins in a closet.
Next time I want to go camping, there’s much less packing that I actually have to do.
More Car Camping Resources:
For even more car camping tips and hacks that I’ve learned over the years, make sure to check out some of these other camping resources: