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, even though our truck camper is a pop-up, meaning we have even less space than those with a hard shell truck camper. The reason is that, as seasoned RVer’s we have discovered camping packing hacks that save space.
First, I am going to share my best tips for keeping a small space less crowded, and then I am going to share a list of products to help you make use of every inch of space to its fullest.
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, 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 in size and 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 are 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 drying, we usually toss them over the bars holding 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 a 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
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 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.
More Products To Help You Fit All Your Gear Into That Tiny Space
Every Truck camper setup is unique. Ours is a pop-up in an 8-foot truck bed of an F-250 with an extended cab. If you have a more traditional hard-top truck camper, you have upper cabinet storage and more wall space to utilize. Above, I shared what works for us. This section is more generic, giving you ideas for storage regardless of your style of rig.
- Instantly increase your counter space with a sink cover and/or stove cover.
- Measure up each and every area of your camper where you think you could add storage, and then wander through IKEA with your list in hand and search through their endless selection of products for storage ideas. To get ideas before your trip to the store, watch some Ikea hacks for RV’s videos on Youtube.
- Hang a small adhesive hook rack above the door to hold your keys, sunglasses, and other small items you might grab on the way out.
- Magnets can be your best friend. Use a magnetic strip in the kitchen to hold knives or spices. Purchase small strips to place inside your cabinet doors to hold tiny magnetic containers that you can fill with small items like hair types, hair clips, nail clippers, tweezers, or even a few hot wheel cars if you are traveling with a young child.
- Spice racks can hold an endless amount of small items. The smaller one-shelf style like this one can make excellent mini bedside tables that can hold smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and more.
- If you have a bathroom in your rig, the bathroom door is prime organization real estate (if it isn’t a pocket style). Cloth baskets like these work great as you can decide how to space them so that they are not in your way, and if you should bump into them, they don’t have sharp edges that will leave an owie.
- Flexible cutting boards are awesome if you are tight on cabinet space, as they can slip into teenie tiny spaces that a traditional cutting board can’t.
- If kitchen storage space is really tight, consider buying cookware and mugs that have either folding handles or removable handles. And use your mugs for bowls to save even more space. This pots and pans set on Amazon comes highly rated and includes everything you should need to cook meals.
- Use clear refrigerator storage bins like these ones in tiny spaces to corral various tiny items into one handy to grab place.
- Command Broom grippers can be used to hold flashlights by the door.
- Hanging closet space can be maximized by using these ultra-thin yet strong non-slip hangers.
- Create drawers under the cabinets or tables with these self-adhesive drawers.
- Make a DIY holder for laptops by installing a Command hand towel rack a few inches above the floor in the dinette area.
- Cut up a shoe pocket organizer to fit the back of your cabinet doors to use to store various electronic, kitchen, and clothing accessories.
- Pick up a package of eye hooks and bungee cords from any hardware store and use the to fasten various items to the sides of walls, cabinets, etc.
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.
Are you looking for an alternative to busy and expensive campgrounds and one-night Walmart stops on the way to your destination? Check out our post about our first time using Boondockers Welcome.
nadine cornett says
Packing tiny-I buy jelly packets at the big box store. They don’t take up precious space in the fridge and I pack just what we need for the duration. I think I’m going to add ketchup mustard and relish packets to the list.
Thanks for leaving this great tip!