How To Pack Your Car When Camping

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Jay Elliott

Chief Camping Officer

How to pack your car when camping

When packing and loading your car, keep safety in mind at all times. A vehicle loaded without due consideration for safety can endanger you and others on the road. 

In the event of an accident, a poorly loaded car can also limit what you can take, cause damage to your vehicle, and, in some cases, invalidate your insurance policy.

To help you solve your problem about getting your car packed, here are some tips that will benefit you:


While planning a camping vacation, one crucial thing to do is to create a checklist of the things you need to pack or prepare for and cross each item off your list before leaving.

This guarantees that you have all of your camping supplies and equipment in your vehicle. Careful planning is a great way to make the most of your outdoor excursion and ensure that you enjoy the rest of your trip.

Heavy and Big Items First

Load your heavy and oversized items first, like big tents, sleeping bags, camping tables, and chairs. Put them in the trunk if you prefer to. If you secure the heavy items first, it will be much easier to load the rest of your belongings because you will be able to carefully arrange and organize the bigger ones inside your car to maximize space and avoid crushing the smaller ones.

Essentials Last 

Your essentials, however, should be loaded last, so you can access them whenever you need to. These include your first aid kit, food, and hygiene kits. You wouldn’t want these things to be buried deep inside your car, where they can easily get misplaced and covered by bigger items.

Use storage

To organize your things, use storage and put your cooking utensils and cookware inside it. You can do this with the rest of your stuff as well to save and maximize space. The type of storage you need depends on your preference. 

You have a wide variety of items to choose from, such as bins, drawers, bags, among others. This way, you can easily categorize your things, and it will be much easier to access them when they are appropriately stored. Take note to label your storage bins.

Make Space

You don’t want your car to be occupied by your things alone as this will make it difficult for you to unload them. It is also not ideal to pack a lot of stuff when you are only going camping for a few days. As they say, the lighter the load, the better. 

Always make sure to allocate enough space where you can still stretch your arms and move around. Also, check the visibility if you can still see the road to ensure that your belongings are not blocking your view; this may cause accidents.

Carload Limit

Be mindful of your car’s limit. Although there are differences across vehicles, the average weight that a compact car can carry is roughly 350kg. A mid-size automobile can carry around 400 kg, while it’s 418 kg for full-size vehicles but be sure to research the specifics for your particular vehicle.

This value includes passengers and any additional load, such as your gears and equipment, and it tells how much combined weight your car can manage. Be careful not to overload your car. 

Is it okay for my car to get loaded? 

As much as you can, don’t overload your car. You should know your car’s limit because it may cause tons of strain on it when you get your vehicle fully loaded. It can also lead to getting your tires to wear out quickly, and worse, overheat. 

Excess weight also increases fuel usage; If that happens, it will cost you a lot of money you don’t necessarily have, to spend. 

The maximum weight your car can carry is stated in its manual; this will guide you in determining whether or not your car has reached its total weight capacity. Even when you get your things organized in designated bins, still, don’t pack too much stuff that may overload your car.

What if my car is too small to pack for camping?

One of the challenging responsibilities when going on camping trips is packing. If storage is the problem, especially if you have a smaller-sized car, you must consider using vehicle storage equipment and doing the necessary tricks to expand your vehicle’s space. 

These pieces of equipment might include a roof box and a trailer installed on your vehicle for additional storage. 

Whenever choosing this option, it is vital to consider your vehicle’s weight capacity and condition to be able to estimate the weight of the things you should pack in a way that won’t damage or strain your vehicle. 

What to pack for your car for camping?

Whenever you are packing, you should always think of items you highly utilize on a day-to-day basis. It is preferable to only bring along the essential things you need during your trip. 

To further emphasize this, prepare a checklist on the necessary things such as clothing, appliances, and other essentials to bring that corresponds to the duration of your journey and the amenities the campsite offers.

Things to consider bringing include:

  • Food
  • First-aid kit
  • Sleeping Bag and pillow
  • Stove
  • Match or lighter
  • Water jug or a cooler
  • Tools, maps, compass
  • Extra Clothes

What accessories should my car have for packing?

Storage is always a challenging factor to consider when going on long camping trips, especially if you are traveling in a smaller, less spacious vehicle. 

However, there is available vehicle storage equipment you can install in your car to ensure that you have enough space to pack for everything you need.  

Cargo net or net organizer

Cargo nets or organizers are automotive additions that are used to keep huge cargo together while being transported. They normally come with clamps that allow you to secure them in place during your journey to prevent damage to your belongings, especially when driving through bumpy roads.

Roof rack

Roof racks are storage devices that are attached to the roof of your vehicle and allow you to store more luggage. They’re great for long trips that involve traveling offroad and on undeveloped roads.  

However, it is crucial to estimate the roof of your vehicle’s capacity based on the items you plan to place on the roof rack. This precaution will protect the roof of your vehicle from getting damaged. 

Also, a roof rack with a gutter is strongly recommended in securing the position of your belongings. But even so, you should still take the additional measure to tie your luggage altogether.

Shovel holder

A shovel holder is a piece of equipment that holds your tools such as ax and shovel securely in place. They are usually installed on the gutter of your roof racks or sometimes at the side of your vehicle’s door. 

This equipment provides you additional space inside your car’s compartment and roof racks, preventing any damage to your car and belongings, as well as injuries when you are unpacking. These tools are extremely sharp so always be careful and remain cautious.

Hacks for car packing for camping

Packing for a camping trip is not easy, especially if you don’t know how and what to pack. You may have been in a situation where you needed to locate a specific item, but you are unable to because your things aren’t organized properly. To avoid this problem, here are some helpful hacks that will surely make your life easier.

Keep your personal item close

To ensure that you won’t get robbed, put your wallet, keys, IDs, and cards close to you at all times. These are the essential things you should always carry, especially when you’re camping at a place you’ve never been to before, so secure them in a safe place.


If you don’t want to place a label on your storage bins, you can opt to color-code them instead. This will make it easier for you to identify the items you need based on the color you placed them in. Of course, you would have to remember the colors you assigned to every one of your things so you will be able to locate them when needed.


An important thing that campers must remember is to create a checklist. It’s natural to be excited about your trip, and when that excitement gets the best of you, you’re more likely to overlook something important when packing. A camping checklist will help you avoid this problem. 

Get your cameras ready

If you’re on the road and come across a beautiful spot to stop by, don’t miss out on the opportunity to capture the moment with your family and friends. Always remember the reason why you’re on that trip in the first place: to have fun and spend time with your loved ones. It’s all about making memories, and the best way to do that is to pose, smile, and click that shutter button.