By: Nick Tortajda
The weekend is coming straight at you, and you’re going camping. Life is good. Well, until you have to start packing. Packing can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Use these simple tips and become the car camping packing champion you were destined to be. Or, just avoid the stress that could creep into your epic weekend adventure!
Setting The Stage
One of the most important, yet often overlooked parts of the packing/prepping process is using a basic checklist. There’s nothing worse than getting to your favorite spot, setting up the camp, and building up an appetite only to realize you forgot the propane. No warm dinner for you, my friend. There are loads of resources for a camping checklist or you can create your own.
The first step would be to lay everything out on a table or the floor. Go through your list and double-check that you have collected everything on there. This will help you to avoid that last minute, let’s just grab everything we can think of and throw it in the car. You know, just in case.
Every Bag Has A Purpose In Life
Ok, that’s a bit dramatic, but at least I didn’t tell you that I actually name my bags. But I guess I just did. Hey, it makes it super easy to say “Do you mind grabbing my Hoodie? It’s in Oliver.” To each their own, right? Anyway, if you start organizing by having your gear separated into your own bags or crates, it will make your life just that much easier.
If you plan on hiking, put your hiking clothes and shoes in your day hiking pack. Just need to carry some basic essentials on a stroll or hit a downtown area? Make sure you have that fanny pack ready to go. Keep your soft camp items (tents, tarps, small chairs, hammocks, etc) either in a larger backpack or a duffel.
One Bag to Rule Them All – The Duffel
Duffel bags are the jam! Not only for car camping but for travel, moving, daily life, storage, and more. Why? Because of their insane diversity. They are such simple pieces with almost limitless uses. Duffel bags come in all sorts of sizes, pack away nice and small when not in use, are riddled with accessory loops to add on or strap down other beautiful bags, and have adjustable carry straps. That means you can carry, like, 5 at once, right?
Duffel bags have a huge top access panel that makes it easy to sort through quickly and stuff with abnormally shaped things, such as clothing and shoes. Use packing cubes for clothes to make them easy to separate them for quick access. Have a separate cube for Undies and socks, one for bottoms, and another for tops. Throw your toiletry bag in there so all of your personal items live in the same place. Don’t sweat it, these bags are super durable and made with a waterproof coating to protect your clothing from those unavoidable camp spills. I’m looking at you, Meredith!
Everything but the Kitchen
Keep the kitchen stuff separate from everything else by using a dedicated bin. This will make it easy to double-check that you brought everything, have what you need when you need it (stop burning the burgers because you’re looking for the tongs you swore you brought!), and keep everything clean. The kitchen can get messy. You don’t want grease or ketchup (or tequila) getting spilled on your hammock or camp chair.
In Last, Out First
Think about what you will do when you get to camp and organize your car accordingly. Most likely, you will want to pull the big items such as the tent, tarp, or chairs out so you can get them set up first. Pack these items into the car last so that they are the first thing you grab. Consider keeping weather-related items quickly accessible as well in case rain rolls in as you pull into camp (tarp, jacket, umbrella). Also, keep some lighting handy if you are headed out later in the day or there is a chance that you may show up after dark.
Hopefully, using these simple tips will help to make the packing portion of your car camping adventure a bit less daunting. So get out there and get to it, and don’t be shy about naming your bags. Everyone is doing it these days! Aren’t they?