Kim Rohrer blogs at Kim’s Kitchen Sink about everything interesting including things like knitting, gardening, baking, technology, and friendship.
If you’re like me, you’ve amassed quite a collection of gear over the years…and if you’re like me, you might not have a beautiful suburban garage in which to store said gear. In a small apartment, or even in a small home (ah, city life), storage space is often limited, and miscellaneous gear ends up all over the place. Whether you’re finding tucked-away corners for your gear or storing it away from your house (hello, Extra Space!) when not in use, it’s important to keep things organized.
The best thing I ever did was create a Camping Box (ok, well, now we have a Camping Box, a Backpacking Box, and a Miscellaneous Extra Outdoors Supplies Box as well, but still). Inside the camping box is (almost) everything we need for a weekend mountain getaway, and oh man, do I love it.
While my husband may not understand the giddy excitement of realizing I could fit TWO SMALLER boxes inside the main box (and -gasp- a THIRD box inside one of the smaller boxes! Excuse me while I hyperventilate over here. More on this later.) for even further organization, I think he’s sold on the idea. It’s just so easy to pack: we never forget crucial items, it fits easily into our small-ish car, and most importantly (to me) it corrals all of our gear into one closet.
Yes, this means that we have duplicates of many things – we’ve accumulated them bit by bit, relegating older kitchen items to the box when we upgrade or replace them in the house. Pro tip: if you build your collection bit by bit, it’s easy to do, it’s cheaper, and you’ll avoid buying things you don’t need. And then, when it’s time to hit the road, packing is crazy easy.
“So, Kim. What goes into this miraculously-organized box of yours?” I’m glad you asked! After 29 years of camping, and about 6 or so years of camping on my own as an adult (ie: without parents to mooch from), I think I have this nailed down. And because this is a blog post about efficiency and organization, I consider it my civic duty to help where help can be given.
I present: The Camping Box.
I love a good list, so here’s what’s in the camping box.
● Aluminum foil (always comes in handy!)
● Garbage Bags (I also keep zip-top bags in various sizes in with the garbage bags)
● Hand sanitizer (a pump-top that locks is convenient)
● Dish soap (environmentally-friendly, campground-dumping-safe) and a sponge
● First Aid kit (bandaids and neosporin: crucial)
● Lanterns (1 propane, with extra mantles, and 1 battery-operated, for the tent)
● Cutting Board
● Dish-washing bins (two: one for soapy water, one for clean water for rinsing)
● Cups (4), plates (5), bowls (6) for eating (we have a few extras)
● Pans (2), pots (2, one with lid)
● Shop towels (better than paper towels for campground cleanup)
● Utensils (slotted spoon, silicone brush, stirring spoon, spatula, tongs)
● Small dustpan and brush (for sweeping out the tent)
● Tarp (for under the tent)
● Extender sticks (for roasting marshmallows)
● Bonus: usually we’ll throw in our really nice knife (and its sheath) before we go, since we only have one of those.
And inside this box are two smaller boxes.
Box 1: The Miscellany
● Bug wipes (OH MAN I love these things. Natrapel: if you’re reading, will you sponsor my life?)
● Bandanas (2, one for each of us)
● Headlamps (2, one for each of us – pro tip: keeping the headlamps in a smaller box within the larger box makes them easy to access when you’re looking for them outside of camping trips)
● Miscellaneous extra camping things (compass, poncho, matches, anything small we find around when we’re packing)
Box 2: The Utensils
● An array of disposable utensils
● Bottle/can opener
● Sharp knives
● An even smaller box (a pencil box, actually), to hold our reusable forks, spoons and knives
The Camping Box lives in our dining room closet (it’s under the stairs that go to the top floor of our duplex, so it’s awkwardly shaped but rather large), along with the tent and camp stove (which sit on top of it) and a tub of propane canisters (for which we can never quite find the right, safest storage place) stuffed with dish towels (for drying dishes at the campsite, and for keeping the propane from clanking around while packing/driving). Our camping chairs are stored in the basement under the house, for easy access to the backyard (gotta have seating for impromptu parties), though if I’m being honest, during high season they tend to end up in the living room. Nobody’s perfect.
Ok, so now you know all my camping secrets, or at least the ones related to gear and storage. Do you have any questions? Did I forget something? Are you inspired to get out there and commune with nature? How do you wrangle your gear? Let’s nerd out about storage and organization together!