Pitch Your Tent: Camp Containers

5 Uses for Camp Containers

Plastic boxes with lids have a ton of uses in the home and they’re very useful in camp as well. Here are my top five uses for plastic containers. These tips are good if your car camping, tent camping or have an RV. They also work for day trips!

When buying your plastic box, keep in mind how it will be used. Does it need to fit in a certain cupboard in your RV? What about in the trunk? Between a pickup truck’s wheel wells? When I’m buying more plastic boxes, I also look to see how well they stack on top of each other. If you’re camping with kids, you may also want to figure in how easy or difficult it is to remove the lid.

To quote The Queen Mother, “Don’t worry that you look dorky when you’re standing in Wal-Mart with your tape measure, measuring Rubbermaid boxes. It’s worth looking dorky knowing that they’ll fit in your RV or truck!” Plastic storage containers are sized by volume (quarts, gallons, etc) but there can be inches difference in footprint size or height for the same volume container.

1. Corral like items: batteries, games, tea, etc. The picture shows our game box- a Rubbermaid shoebox that holds our cards games, Scrabble dictionary, and other small games. In the trailer, I also have a box for all my teas, one for batteries, clothes pins and string, and another for pre-packaged seasonings like meat marinade.

Some things fit better if you take them out of the original packaging!

2. If you’re car or tent camping, a good sized plastic container works perfect to hold boxes of dry food mixes like ‘Quick Mix Baking Mix’ or packages powdered hot chocolate. It can stay outside or under the picnic table or trailer, and I don’t have to worry about rain or items blowing away. We still do this in the trailer because we can carry the entire box out to the camp kitchen at mealtimes.

Be sure to bring any boxes of food in at night- either into the RV or in the car. Squirrels are great at getting into things or, even worse, attracting a bear! Just because you don’t think there are any animals near by that might bother your food is no reason to tempt fate.

Measure your space before you buy containers! You need to make sure everything fits.

3. Pack your clothes in a plastic box instead of a duffel bag or suitcase. The plastic containers can stack in a corner of the RV or tent for more room. When we used to tent camp, we’d actually put all the clothes boxes outside at night. Of course, before you do this, you want to make sure that they are waterproof!

4. My favorite is an empty container by the front door of the tent or RV to hold shoes. That way, if your shoes are muddy or wet, or even just dusty, you’re not bringing that mess inside. Line the bottom with several layers of newspaper to keep the mud or wetness off the plastic. Snap the lid on to keep out rain and bugs, of course. I like to sit on the trailer step to put my shoes back on.

5. Create a separate ‘Grab-It-And-Go-Box’ for day trips, either from home or from the campsite. Ours has extra batteries, water bottles, dry jackets, a flashlight, large garbage bags, and snacks. The idea is to pre-pack anything that you might need in case of an emergency or sudden weather change. With a ‘Grab-It-And-Go-Box’ you know that if you forget sweatshirts and it gets cold, you’re covered. Just be sure to replace any supplies you used when you get home.

A variation on the ‘Grab-It-And-Go-Box’ is to have a box for specific purposes. We have one that has all our digital camera stuff (batteries, lens cleaning, memory cards, a pen and notebook, etc) so we can get out the door faster, knowing our gear is ready to go.

The need for tight-fitting lids:

ESP Boss was out hunting one fall when he was caught in a torrential rain storm. (The type where you can’t get the RV out and have to come back for it when the road dries out.) His containers were flipped over from the wind and bobbed around in the standing water but his stuff stayed dry- thanks to the tight fitting lids!

Readers Weigh In:

  • What do you use to corral your gear when you’re camping?
  • Do you have a favorite size or type of plastic container?
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