5 Tips On How To Save Space When Packing For Camping

We all know how fun camping can be. But in order for it to be epic and memorable, you will need to bring a lot of stuff with you. A lot of stuff means a lot of mess, both during camping and after that.

Once you start packing for camping, you will soon realize that both your car and trailer are overcrowded by stuff and it is almost impossible to get in. Yes, this happens to everybody, both first-timers, and more experienced campers.

But do not worry!

There is a solution for not overcrowding your camping storage! So, if you are interested, keep on reading to find out how to save space when packing for camping.

#1 Pack Clothes Military-Style

When going camping, you will need to pack a lot of clothes, believe it or not. This could be your number one item on your camping checklist. 

You will need something for the day, as it is probably hot, and you will need to get something for the nights, as it tends to get a lot colder.

packing clothes

Moreover, you will need to bring a couple of shoes and everything extra in case you get wet or your clothes get damaged outside. Basically, even if you are going just for the weekend, you will need to pack for two or three weekends.

And these clothing items can take up a lot of your space. So, the easiest way to pack your belongings both safely and strategically that is also saving some storage space is to use the military-style of folding.

It is very easy - first, fold the items in half, and then roll them really tight. Just make sure you buy a good hiking backpack for storing all your clothes and other camping and hiking gear.

See the video below that shows how to pack your clothes in an easy and efficient way.

Before packing your clothes for camping, do some research to see what you really need. A sleeping bag?

You'll be surprised that often you don't even need one

#2 Use Collapsible Items

The things that take up the most space, both in the car and in the tent, are those bulky items like tables, chairs, dishes, etc. But those items are simply something we cannot do without. Every camper needs them.

So what you can do to save space when packing for camping is to replace your regular camping gear with a foldable and collapsible one. You could also think about what to use as a camping pillow

You can save some space by using foldable clothes, for example or stuffed sleeping bag sack.

 Here are a few ideas on what camping and backpack supplies you should have:

  • Nesting Cooking Set - of course, we need frying pans and saucepans for preparing some delicious hiking meals that will boost your energy. But, just like water containers, they take up a lot of space. Simply replace them with nesting cookware which allows you to remove the handles of the pans and store them inside each other 
  • Collapsible washbowl - if you are an avid camper, you probably know that sometimes washing your dishes can be a problem if your campsite is far away from some source of water. And in this case, you have to wash your dishes in some bulky bucket. Instead, invest in a collapsible washbowl and washing the dishes will become so easy.
  • Collapsible Kettle - yes, they do exist! And they are great as they can be folded into a flatter shape and practically use take up no space at all.
  • Collapsible water containers and mugs - these items tend to be really bulky and take up a lot of space. But if you use the collapsible version of them, you will be able to maximize your kitchen. 

You can buy all the items mentioned above, either online or in specialized camping stores. Make sure to pack them properly and possibly wrap them in plastic foil.

If you're camping in winter, make sure your snow shovel is foldable too. We have compiled a list of the best ones here.

#3 Use Folding Tables And Chairs

Another great thing that can save you a lot of space during camping is using tables and chairs that can be easily folded.

woman sitting on a foldable chair

So, the next time you start thinking about whether to bring your bulky table set or to rather sit on the ground, consider investing in foldable tables and chairs.

They come in all shapes and sizes. Besides, when they are folded, they do not take up a lot of space and they are very lightweight.

Depending on the number of people you usually take on your camping trip, buy a set with the same number of chairs.

You can buy these foldable tables and chairs pretty much anywhere, and they are fairly cheap.

Foldable tables and chairs not only save you a lot of space, but they are also great for getting the family around the table for dinner.

#4 Choose Your Tent Wisely

When it comes to camping, the most important thing is probably the tent. That’s why before you go on your camping trip with all your friends or family members, think about whether all of you can fit inside one tent.

a camping tent

Even if you have a tent for four people, and there are four of you, you will still need extra space for placing your stuff there. It is always a good idea to invest in a bigger tent if you plan on sharing it with others.

Your stuff must be placed inside. That is the best way to have a pleasant camping experience.

And as a bonus tip, instead of sleeping only on your mattress or sleeping bag, consider sleeping on a stretcher.

Stretchers are great for two reasons - you will not be sleeping on the ground, and you can use the extra space under it for storage.

Do not hesitate to invest in a more expensive tent. Furthermore, it's a good option to have a water-repellent tent

In addition, acquire some skills on how to fight bugs and prevent them from entering your sleeping space. It's a valuable skill to have when tent camping.

Last but not least, you might consider putting your tent in a compression sack to save more space.

#5 Map Out Your Cooler

Many campers say that placing items inside your cooler is like playing the game of Tetris. The coolers we take on our camping trips are rather small and only the chosen items can be placed inside.

outdoor cooler

Image via Coleman Steel-Belted Cooler, Flickr.

So think wisely and make a plan. If you are creative enough, you can put a lot of things inside one small cooler. It is also a good idea to buy some small plastic containers for keeping your food inside, as they are great for folding and organizing everything.


Remember, there’s always enough room for space even when you think otherwise. The secret is to know how to create one. Using the above-mentioned tips will certainly help you along the way.

Happy camping!

best winter hiking hats

Asen Stoyanchev

Founder of this website, Asen is a passionate hiker and writer who is also a gear nerd. He’s been featured on many established hiking websites where he gives hiking advice & tips. When he is not trekking with his family or friends, he is writing articles and product reviews. Asen spends most of his time in Bulgaria but he constantly travels the world in seek of more unforgettable experiences. Read more about Asen here.

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james - October 3, 2019

Hi, great tips, adding a youtube video is a great touch.

    Asen - October 3, 2019

    Hi James,

    Thank you for reading and I’m glad you like it. Videos are fun and informational.

Katie - October 3, 2019

This is a great article. We are planning a camping trip soon so these tips will prove to be quite useful. I always have the hardest time with the clothes part of it. Thanks!

    Asen - October 4, 2019

    Hey Katie,

    I hope you’ll have a great time on your camping trip.

Irma - October 3, 2019

Great tips and I learned a new way to fold clothes!

How good is the quality of the stackable cookware? I prefer cast iron, but wow is it heavy.

I want something that won’t cause food to stick and cleans up easy. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you in advance.

    Asen - October 4, 2019

    Hey Irma,

    I personally like All-Clad D3 Compact and Calphalon Premier Space-Saving Stainless-Steel. These are among the best space saving cookware sets.

Tyler Johnson - December 16, 2019

That’s a good idea to get things like a collapsable washbowl. I wouldn’t have thought that you could get things like bowls or cups that collapse without leaking. I should look into getting something like that so I could save space in my camping trailer when my sons and I go.

Brian - April 19, 2020

I am an experience camper and have been camping for years now. I must say these tips are love. Great Article I must say.

    Asen - April 20, 2020

    Hi Brian,

    Good to hear that and I like your website too. Will consult it when I need a waterproof tent.

Midwest Storage Solutions - June 11, 2020

Great post…amazing information you have provided here. Thank you very much for this, I was really looking forward to learn more about some space saving ideas while packing for camping, you have really done this ease for me…

    Asen - June 12, 2020

    Hey there,

    Glad to help! Thanks for stopping by.

Rosie Beckett - August 26, 2020

My husband and I are planning a two-month backpacking trip this fall because we want to get out and enjoy nature before we start our new jobs in January. We are going to need a lot of camping clothing to keep us warm and protected on our journey! Thank you for explaining that we should pack and fold our clothes military-style because this will save space and allow us to pack more clothing.

    Asen - August 27, 2020

    Hi Rosie,

    A two-month backpacking trip sounds exhilarating! Spend some great time and thanks for reading. I’m glad you found the information useful.

KEPEAK - September 26, 2020

“Happy camping!” I love those words. As a beginner of camping, it is much useful tips & guides for me. Thanks for sharing.

    Asen - September 28, 2020


    Many thanks for your comment.

Angela Waterford - April 7, 2021

My sister and I are planning on spending the weekend outdoors but we don’t have a lot of experience when it comes to camping. I like your tip on using a stretcher to sleep on because you can use the space below is for storage. My sister suggested we get one of those tents that you mount on top of your truck since we are both afraid of wild animals, and I think I would want to look into that.

    Asen - April 7, 2021

    Hi Angela,

    I’ve never used a rooftop tent but I know many people use these. Especially if you camp in a place with rich wildlife.

Dave Write - August 31, 2021

Hi! It’s my pleasure to visit your blog, I loved your content so much that I had to share it! Thanks again for sharing such nice content on Saving space for camping!

    Asen - August 31, 2021

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for reading and I’m certainly glad you like our content.

Dave Write - November 9, 2021

Hi, i found these camping tips very useful. It really made me planning for my next camping trip even exciting. I am planning a family camping with all the family members and i guess this will turn out to be a great time.

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