Camping Tips: Best Ways to Stay Organized

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Camping in New Zealand.
Camping in New Zealand.

Camping Tips to Keep You Organized the Entire Trip

By Oscar Davis

As the world becomes more digital, camping becomes more of a novelty. For many people, it’s even lost some appeal. Indoor temperature control, microwave ovens, and streaming entertainment have all contributed to a comfortable way of life that can be difficult to leave behind. But, for those with a strong appreciation of nature and a desire to experience adventure, there is no equivalent to spending time outdoors.

Camping in Yellowstone National Park.
Camping in Yellowstone National Park.

No matter how big or small your planned outing might be, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

  • Leave your campsite as you found it, if not better.
  • Know the park rules and regulations before arriving.
  • Pack wise, and pack lightly.

That last tip is one people seem to struggle with. It’s tempting to take your electronics, facial creams, and entire wardrobe with you, but then you get caught up in packing, unpacking, searching, never finding anything, and before you know it, you’ve spent your camping trip with your stuff instead of enjoying your surroundings.

Try to leave everything behind, including your computer, streaming apps, and favorite coffee creamer (It’s okay to take the coffee, though). Packing for a camping trip can be overwhelming, which is why it’s important to get an organized start.

Organizing Your Camping Gear

Go Sun camping cutleryYour camping gear is everything you need to utilize during your trip. It should be lightweight, basic but sturdy, and necessary. Your battery-operated drink mixer isn’t necessary. Survival gear is.

Survival Gear

Your survival gear includes your compass, first-aid kit, lanterns, fire starters, multi-purpose tools, and repellants. These are products designed to keep you safe and that keep you from getting lost.

These are also things that need to be packed separately and easily accessible. Depending on the type of trip you’re taking, you may only need some of these items or all of these items and more.

Because you need to keep these things together, and because they go where you go, plan on storing them in a fanny pack or backpack if you’re only staying a few days. That way you can keep them on your body anytime you need to wander away from camp. This will also help to keep it easily accessible.

If you’re staying longer than a few days, you’ll likely need more gear that includes backup power sources. Choose camping gear that has a variety of storage compartments and is easy to carry. It can work as a central location for your items, and then if you leave camp you can take what you need.

Outdoor Gear

Camping in Morocco's vast Sahara. Chris Watson photo.
Camping in Morocco’s vast Sahara. Chris Watson photo.

Your outdoor gear is everything that will be exposed to the elements. It can include your stove or grill, your solar shower, camp chairs, and even your tent. Depending on the amenities at your campsite, you may not need all of these items. Because these items are also larger than the rest of your gear, if you don’t need them, don’t bring them.

While some of these items will come in their own storage bag, some won’t. The only time you should need to store them is when you’re traveling between locations. It won’t be necessary to worry about having a storage location for these items at your campsite.

Any hunting items you might bring, such as fishing poles or firearms, should be kept safely in your vehicle so they don’t pose a risk to wildlife or others when not in use.

Sleeping Gear

Like your outdoor gear, your sleeping gear will stay put once you unpack it. You should have cots, an air mattress, or sleeping bags. Keep sheets, blankets, and pillows to what is necessary. If those items are kept on your bedding, you shouldn’t need to worry about storage.

Sleeping Under the Stars: Wild camping, also called Freedom camping, avoids the paid campgrounds for the wild areas.
Sleeping Under the Stars: Wild camping, also called Freedom camping, avoids the paid campgrounds for the wild areas.

Personal Items

Personal items are where you might be tempted to overpack. Everything personal is your clothing, toiletries, electronics, medicine, etc. The best way to pack your items is to only take what will fit in one duffle bag.

You don’t need an outfit for every occasion. After you shower at the end of the day, what you choose to sleep in you can continue to wear the next day. That way, you only need one outfit for each day. If you’re on a 3-day camping trip, you only need 3 shirts and 3 bottoms in your duffle bag.

Festival food for camping.
Festival Food.

Keep your duffle bag near or under your bedding so it stays clear of traffic and doesn’t mix in with the food storage.

Food Storage

Though you may not initially notice, wildlife will be all around you on your camping trip. In your vicinity, you could have wild cats, raccoons, bears, and a host of other critters that will find the smell of your food tempting.

  • Keep food in airtight containers to help control scent.
  • Use clear storage bins so it’s easy to find what you need.
  • Choose ice chests with thicker walls so your cold storage lasts longer.

The simpler you can keep your meals, the less waste you will have. Challenge yourself to produce as little trash as possible.

Controlling Litter and Trash While Camping

Always follow the park rules for how your trash should be stored. Many campgrounds will advise you to store your trash in your automobile, especially if bears are known to be in the area.

If your campground doesn’t offer any specific rules, a good rule of thumb is to keep trash high and away from camp. You can hang your trash from a tree where animals can’t reach it, or you can dispose of it daily. Some campgrounds offer lidded dumpsters.

When you’re away from camp, never leave trash behind. Not only will it find its way into rivers and streams where it poses a risk to birds and fish, but it minimizes the beauty of nature for others who come behind you.

Enjoying Your Journey

A camping trip is good for the soul. Spending time outdoors has proven health benefits beyond exercise, including improving your mood.

By packing light and staying organized, you’ll make your trip less stressful, allowing you more time to enjoy the beauty that surrounds you daily. Being in a situation where you can take notice just might open new perspectives on life.

oscar davis unsmushedOscar Davis is a freelance writer from Leeds, UK, who enjoys camping and outdoor adventures.