Camping Lessons Learned

Remember a few months ago when I went tent camping for the first time? Well, I really liked it and I am thinking of planning another camping trip for this spring.

I was pretty happy with how well things went on our first camping trip. There was nothing major that we forgot to pack, and for the most part, things went pretty smoothly. However, there were a few things that I’d like to improve for our next camping trip.

Packing and Organization

Although “what we packed” was great, the organization certainly left a lot to be desired. As you can tell from the way we organize our gear at home, we are bin junkies. We love storing everything in bins.

This organization system of various-sized bins really works for us at home, so I thought it would be great for our camping trip as well. So, I put supplies in bins, labeled the bins, and put them in the car.

Well, the bins did not work great.

  1. We kept the bins stacked in the back of the car, which meant if we needed something from a bottom bin, we had to move all the other bins to get to it.
  2. As ridiculous as this sounds, removing lids and putting them back was annoying. So many times we just left the lids off, leaving items to fall out when things toppled over. Note all the lids leaning up against the car in this picture!
  3. My level of organization was almost too detailed. There was no reason that I had to have a bin for “First Aid and Hygiene” (i.e., bug spray, toilet paper, and hand wipes), that was separate from “General Supplies” (i.e., scissors, pocket knives, rope, batteries, etc.). And kitchen towels were in a separate bin from the bath and beach towels. You get the idea. That level of granularity is fine for our storage in our home when we want to find something very quickly in a sea of dozens of bins, but it’s not necessary for camping.

For our next camping trip, I’m going to eliminate most bins, and try using plastic drawers instead. Or perhaps try a toolbox to organize supplies instead of multiple bins.

My bin of cooking tools and supplies would have been much better suited in a drawer.

Bedding

We bought two of these small air mattresses. We wanted separate mattresses because, if you’ve ever slept on an air mattress with somebody else, you know that when one person rolls or moves, so does the other person. While the air mattresses weren’t terrible, they weren’t great either. We couldn’t get them at a comfortable inflation point. They were either too hard or too soft. They didn’t conform enough to our bodies, leaving our backs pretty stiff when we woke up in the morning.

For our next camping trip, I’m thinking that little futon mattresses like these might be nice, especially if we covered them with some additional padding like this. Although I’m going to be on the hunt for cheaper versions of these. As an alternative, we saw this cot at LL Bean. Ken thought it was comfortable, but I thought it was just okay.

Seating

We purchased two of these chairs for our camping trip, and we really liked them. They were comfortable, folded compactly, and the cupholders were great. But, after our hike the one afternoon, I wanted to stretch out my legs, not sit upright in a chair. I tried laying in the tent, but it was too warm in there, even with the vents open. So I think for the next trip I might bring some sort of patio chaise lounge chair or hammock. That would’ve been perfect for an afternoon campsite nap!

Inside-the-Tent Organization

It would have been nice to have a small crate or basket to store things we wanted to keep at hand overnight. Things like our glasses, water, cell phones, flashlight, pocket knives, etc. We just kind of put things next to our air mattresses and hoped that we wouldn’t have pushed things away in our sleep overnight.

What do you think? What are your camping tips?

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