A truck camper is super convenient to travel in; it can fit in any parking space, any campsite, and you can take it just about anywhere. That convenience comes at a price, however, which is little storage space. No worries–you can fit everything you need to camp in comfort when you follow a few truck camping packing hacks.
I know this for sure because my husband and I have been camping in our truck camper at least once a month for over a year. We have taken it on trips as short as two days to as long as a week and plan to take it out for a two-week trip soon. No matter the trip’s length, we have never felt like we couldn’t take with us what we want. The reason is that as seasoned RVer’s we have discovered camping packing hacks that save space.
Truck Camper Packing Hacks: How To Fit All You Need In That Tiny Space
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1. Collapsible Products Rock
I like to start my mornings with a cup of pour-over style coffee. But my pour-over takes up less space than an average paperback book. How? It is collapsible. We bring along a collapsible dish drying rack too. And for our next trip, we bought a collapsible bucket so we can use this 12-volt battery-operated shower to enjoy showers while out boondocking.
But the list of space-saving collapsible items on the market doesn’t end there. Here are a few more that would be great for saving space in a truck camper.
The list of items that can collapse to take up less space when not in use is endless now thanks to new advancements in materials.
2. Make An Item Earn Its Place
After every trip when I take things out of the camper that don’t stay in it between trips, I scan the truck camper for items we haven’t used for the last few trips. When I find one, out it goes. We do not have room for items that are rarely used–except for emergency items like the fire extinguisher and the first aid kit; those, of course, stay no matter what.
3. Make A List And Check It Twice
I like using Google Docs for this, but you can use whatever works best for you. Your list doesn’t have to look like a graphic designer created it; it just has to list what you need to go camping.
There is something about scanning a list that makes you realize what is on it that isn’t really needed. It also helps stop you from over-packing items you don’t need and under-packing items you do need. A list will help you be realistic about what you need and what you don’t.
4. Revise That List After Every Trip
I like using Google Docs for our truck camper packing list because I can easily access it on my phone and edit the list while we are camping and realize that it would be handy to pack an umbrella. We might not have it that trip, but we will next time we head out since it is now on our list.
We also take things off our list during our trip, like the metal strainer we use for washing fruit and veggies when we realize that the insert in our small pasta pot works just as well.
5. Squeeze The Air Out
Packing cubes like these are great for shorter trips as they reduce your clothes down in size and they do allow you to squish your clothes into tight places. However, when going on longer trips, I recommend these 2-gallon name-brand Ziploc storage bags. Place an outfit inside them and then squeeze the air out. Repeat until you have enough outfits (find out how many is enough later in this post).
You can place the Ziploc-sealed outfits back in the storage cubes to help you make sure they will still fit in the area you need them to. You should be able to fit several more outfits in them now.
6. Pre-Cook As Much As You Can
Truck camper fridges are not much bigger than your average cooler and the countertop area (at least in our pop-up truck camper) is super tiny. To make cooking and storing food less of a hassle in the small space, we pre-cook as much as possible before we leave and store it all in Ziploc bags that we can easily stack in the fridge.
A few examples of what we pre-cook are all our meats, rice, and potatoes. We also hard boil a few eggs for easy snacks.
7. Stick To Simple Meals
We stick to one-pot meals when we camp since we don’t have a lot of food prep area. We might cook up a pasta packet and stir in a can of chicken. Another night we will grab the pre-cooked potatoes out of the fridge and toss in some pre-cut peppers, pre-shredded cheese and do a potato scramble on the stove.
Lunches are usually peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for me and a meat and cheese sandwich for Jack.
Breakfast is fruit, yogurt, granola bars, or oatmeal packets with canned fruit and nuts stirred in.
8. Use These Types of Towels
Traditional fluffy house towels take up a lot of space and take forever to dry. And where do you hang the monsters in dry? We eliminated these problems by switching to travel towels like these several years ago. They do take a bit of getting used to, but they take up a lot less space and they dry a lot faster. As for where we hang them while they are drying, we usually toss them over the bars that hold up our pop-up truck camper ceiling.
9. Utilize The Cab Of Your Truck
Our truck is a cab and a half, meaning that although the backseat has little legroom for passengers, it does give us a lot of extra space for our possessions when we go camping.
On the seat we put our cooler for beverages and this set of collapsible totes. One tote is full of road snacks and the other has a blanket, pillow, my knitting bag, and a few other things I use as a passenger. We place the 6-gallon water container that we use as a grey water tank and our gallon water jugs on the floor. Under the seat we store our NOCO Boost Pro (we like how versatile this jump starter is), an umbrella, a few tie-downs, and a tarp.
I have thought of buying a seat extender meant for pets to store wider things on the back seat, but so far it hasn’t been a need.
10. Remember That Grocery Stores And Laundromats Are Everywhere
We fit enough clothes and food in our truck camper for the week we spent exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway, but when we go on our two-week trip soon I think we will need to restock on food at the end of week one and do few loads of laundry at the laundromat the same day. The price of laundry and the time spent doing both laundry and buying food are worth it for all the benefits of a truck camper over pulling a larger travel trailer.
11. Keep Your Eye Out For Hidden or Under-Utilized Storage Areas
We found a narrow space down the side of the cabinet that holds our port-a-potty. We have a container that fits it perfectly and inside we store simple tools we might need like a few screwdrivers, wrenches, duct tape, etc.
The cabinet that holds our garbage can has this same narrow space and in there, I store the dustpan and brush set we use to sweep the floors.
12. Go Digital
There isn’t room in a truck camper to pack a huge stack of paperback books, but there is room for you to bring a Kindle. There isn’t wall space for a 48 inch TV, but there is room to bring an iPad to watch Netflix (we download the shows we want to watch before we leave on our trip). And if you really want to pack the least amount of stuff, download the Kindle app to your iPad and leave the kindle at home. Or go ultra-tiny and do everything on your phone.
13. Go Tiny
In the go digital section just above this one, I gave you an example of what I mean by going tiny. Reduce in size everything you can. For instance, instead of bringing a whole bag of sugar on our trips, we bring a jam jar full of sugar. Instead of bringing along full-sized bottles of every vitamin we take, we instead bring along just enough for our trip duration and put them in reusable containers similar to these.
I save the tiny toothpaste tubes the dentist gives us with our cleanings for camping trips. I bought a set of refillable travel-sized containers and put our shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and dish soap in them (similar to these, but I bought mine in a smaller set at Dollar Tree).
Bring just as much of a product or food as you need for your trip and leave the rest at home.
14. Bring Less
Back in 2017, we took our three children, who were 14, 16, and 20 at the time, on a trip of a lifetime. We used money left to me by my father to take a 5 1/2 month road trip in a 28 foot Jayco. That works out to under 300 square feet of living space for five people. I thought I had brought only what we needed, but along the way I got rid of a few boxes worth of items and upon arriving home, I found several items in the under-storage compartments of the trailer that we didn’t touch the entire trip!
What this taught me was that we need way less than we think we do to live. When you think you have everything you need packed in your truck camper for your trip, look at all your stuff one more time. I bet you can find at least half a dozen items or more that you can leave at home and therefore make more breathing room in your living space.
I hope these tips help you pack up and hit the road for your next truck camping adventure with everything you need and nothing you don’t.
WHERE WE HAVE TRAVELED LATELY
POSTS TO HELP YOU TRAVEL MORE FOR LESS
Want to know how we afford to travel so often? It is because we have developed thrifty living principles that allow us to live a full life for less money. You can learn exactly what those economical living principles are when you read my book, Thrifty & Thriving: More Life For Less Money. You can stop dreaming about travel and start traveling when you apply the 40 thrifty living principles shared in this book.