How To Pack a Car Trunk for Camping (19 Helpful Tips)


If you want to take a break to relax and connect with nature, then going camping is an excellent idea. One of the easiest ways to get to your camping site is by car, as all you need to do is pack your camping stuff in the trunk, and off you go. Packing a car trunk for camping is a skill and you get better each time you do it. 

Here’s how to pack a car trunk for camping:

  1. Know your car’s trunk size.
  2. Create a checklist of what you need on your camping trip.
  3. Gather everything on your camping checklist.
  4. Get some storage containers.
  5. Organize your camping stuff into categories.
  6. Save space using the nesting method.
  7. Pack camping stuff in the storage containers.
  8. Clean out your car.
  9. Put everything out next to the car.
  10. Pack the large items first. 
  11. Unroll sleeping bags and pads.
  12. Place the heaviest items in the center of the trunk.
  13. Leave spaces in between the storage containers.
  14. Position storage containers just right.
  15. Fit extra items into the spaces.
  16. Hold items securely in place.
  17. Avoid blocking your view.
  18. Ensure that the car trunk can close securely.
  19. Avoid overloading your car trunk.

When you are going camping, you may have a lot of stuff and supplies to carry depending on the duration of your camping trip and the number of people going with you. Sometimes you wonder how to fit all that stuff into your car trunk. This easy guide will explain how to pack a car trunk for camping.

1. Know Your Car’s Trunk Size 

It is essential to know the approximate size of your car’s trunk to enable you to estimate how much luggage can fit there. It can also help you decide what kind of storage containers you’ll use. Also, the size of your trunk can help you know whether you need rooftop cargo bags to carry excess stuff. 

2. Create a Checklist Of What You Need On Your Camping Trip

Before you start packing your car trunk for camping, it is best to make a list of everything you’ll need on your camping trip. Making a list helps you know how much camping stuff you will carry in your car trunk. 

You’ll want to make a list several days before your camping trip so that you don’t forget anything essential. For example, if you have young children still in diapers, you don’t want to be without an extra supply of diapers or wipes, or it could be a messy vacation.

Always aim at packing light and pack what you only genuinely need for camping. When you pack what you need most, your car trunk will have enough space to accommodate all the essential stuff for your camping trip. 

In addition, packing light helps you not to overload your car.

3. Gather Everything on Your Camping Checklist

Once you have made a checklist of everything you need on your camping trip, start putting everything together, and remember to tick off the list. You should do this a few days before your trip to buy anything that you do not have readily available. Once you have everything, you’ll want to put it all in a place near the car. 

4. Get Some Storage Containers

Get different storage containers to pack your camping stuff and clean the containers to make them ready for packing stuff. The storage containers help you organize your camping stuff in the car trunk. 

They also enable you to save space in your car trunk if you arrange them wisely and systematically. 

It is essential to choose your storage containers carefully because they determine how much space you can save. For instance, you can go for some crates and bins because they can hold many items. 

Also, you can pack clothes and bedding in compression sacks instead of using suitcases so that you can save space.  

5. Organize Your Camping Stuff Into Categories

Before you pack your camping stuff into containers, organize it into categories. For instance, you can have categories consisting of the following: 

  • Toys
  • Games
  • Accessories
  • Clothing
  • Bedding
  • Toiletries 

When you organize your camping stuff into categories, it makes your life easy when packing stuff into storage containers. 

6. Save Space Using the Nesting Method

When packing your car trunk for camping, you can save space if you nest items inside each other. In this method, you nest small things inside the large items instead of packing them side by side. For instance, you can nest pairs of socks inside a pair of shoes or roll phone chargers and cables inside clothes.

After nesting the various items, put them in a suitable container, ready to go into the car trunk. It is important to note what is nested with what so that you don’t forget.

7. Pack Camping Stuff in the Storage Containers

Once you have put your camping stuff into categories, pack the stuff methodically into the different storage containers. 

For instance, your dry foodstuff can go into one tote, and the toiletries can go into another. You can pack clothes in compression sacks, and cooking gear such as a portable stove can go into the crates. 

You can label your containers to help you locate items quickly when you get to the campsite. Labeling the storage containers also helps you stay organized at the camp, so you don’t need to disarrange stuff as you try to locate something.

8. Clean Out Your Car

Often, junk builds up in the car, and it is good to clean out your car before you go camping. 

Remove any trash and items that you won’t need for your trip from the trunk. Doing so creates more room in the trunk for packing your camping stuff. Give your car a thorough cleaning to create a clean environment.

You’ll want to clean out your car the day before your camping trip to give yourself ample time to pack the car trunk on the morning of your camping trip.

9. Put Everything Out Next to the Car

On the day you leave for camping, put everything out next to the car, including the packed crates, suitcases, and totes. Doing so helps you see the car trunk and the camping stuff simultaneously and assess how to fit things inside. You can thus decide on where to position things and what you can stack together. 

10. Pack the Large Items First 

How you pack your car trunk for camping determines whether you’ll save or waste space. Put the large items in the car trunk first. For instance, lay the tents flat at the bottom of the trunk. You can stash the tent poles lengthways at the end of the car trunk so that they can fit securely. 

You can then put big suitcases on top of the tents and place lighter luggage on top and around the boxes. When you pack the large items first in the car trunk, you save a lot of space. 

11. Unroll Sleeping Bags and Pads

Sleeping bags and pads are light, but they can take up plenty of space in the trunk when you roll them up. You can save plenty of space if you unroll the sleeping bags and pads and lay them flat on top of the tents. 

In addition, laying the sleeping bags and pads flat on top of the tents makes it easy to grab them even if you get to the campsite at night. 

12. Place the Heaviest Items in the Center of the Trunk

When packing the car trunk for camping, it is good to place the heaviest items in the center of the car trunk to support the weight of other things. In addition, put the heaviest items as far forward in the car trunk as possible. The aim is to balance the car’s weight because when the car’s weight is balanced, your ride will be smooth and safe. 

13. Leave Spaces In Between the Storage Containers

As you pack the storage containers and other items in your car trunk for camping, it is good to leave spaces in between. In other words, avoid packing everything tightly together. Leave spaces so that you can fill them later with small items that you might have forgotten to pack. 

14. Position Storage Containers Just Right

As you pack storage containers into the car trunk, position them well so that you can access whatever you want without having to unload the trunk. For instance, you can turn bags so that you can easily access the zippers. You can also put containers holding snacks, water, and other items you may need on the way on the top of the trunk.

15. Fit Extra Items Into the Spaces

As mentioned earlier, you should leave spaces as you pack the car trunk for camping. Once you finish arranging things in the car trunk, you can fit any extra items into the gaps. Look at the space and decide what you can put in there. For instance, you can put foldable tables and chairs into the available holes. 

16. Hold Items Securely in Place

You’ll want to hold items in the trunk securely in place before setting out for your camping trip. Doing so ensures that you and other motorists are safe because if things are loose, they can fly and hit you if you swerve or stop suddenly on the road. You can use cargo, boxes, and bags straps to secure the items in the car trunk.

17. Avoid Blocking Your View

When packing your car trunk for camping, you try to ensure that everything fits. Sometimes, you might not realize that some items have blocked your view. As you pack, ensure that you do not sacrifice your visibility. 

Blocking your view could endanger your life and the life of other travelers.

You’ll want to keep all items in the trunk below the headrests so that you can see clearly, or sit at the driver’s seat to check your visibility. Ensure that nothing blocks your views, and the view from all mirrors and back windscreen should be clear.

18. Ensure That the Car Trunk Can Close Securely

Apart from ensuring that nothing blocks your view, you should also ensure that the car trunk can close securely. If the trunk cannot close securely, some of your camping stuff could fly out as you drive, which could hit other travelers. 

You could also end up losing some of your items.

If your car trunk cannot close securely, you’ll need to rearrange your camping stuff. You might also end up removing some of the unnecessary stuff.

19. Avoid Overloading the Car Trunk 

As mentioned earlier, it is essential to pack light when packing your car trunk for camping. With the numerous items you have to carry for camping and the limited car trunk space, you might end up overloading your car. 

As you pack the car trunk, remember not to overload your car because doing so could lead to various problems.

For instance, overloading the car with camping stuff can lower the car’s fuel efficiency because the excess load puts more pressure on the engine leading to increased fuel consumption. If you overload the car trunk, you could end up blowing your camping budget as you will spend more on fuel.

In addition, an overloaded car can damage the tires, suspension, and brakes and pose a risk to your safety and the safety of others.

Conclusion 

It’s frustrating to find that your camping stuff cannot fit in the car trunk when going camping. The amount of things you can take largely depends on the size of your trunk. However, even if your car’s trunk is enormous, packing it for camping can overwhelm you if you don’t do it systematically. 

Learning how to pack a car trunk for camping is a skill you perfect with time. If you plan carefully, know what goes where, and pack wisely, you can succeed in packing your car trunk for camping regardless of the size of your car trunk.

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