Camping is all about organizing. The more thought put into packing and setup, the more enjoyable the experience. Nobody wants to dig through their underwear to find the coffee at o’dark-early.
Nine campsite setup ideas:
- Pack For Your Campsite With Purpose
- Camping Tents And Shelters
- Campsite Ground Cover
- Camp Kitchen And Refrigeration
- Camp Seating And Lounging
- Camp Lighting And Decoration
- Bathing And Changing Area
- Campsite Pet Play Area
- Camp First Aid
Table of Contents
1. Pack For Your Campsite With Purpose
Packing with purpose takes longer than simply tossing whatever wherever. But the more thought and organization put into the prepping stage, the more enjoyable the campsite.
Even clothing benefits from being sectioned into easy-to-reach stashes. For example, use ziplock bags for underwear and another for swimwear. When traveling large with kids and pets, towels for swimming are kept in a tote separate from towels for showering.
The more you can break down the camping items, the less likely everything gets taken out and strewn everywhere. For example, keep dry breakfast goods separate from dry snacks. Solid storage bins are the sturdiest, but clear will allow you to see what’s inside without opening.
2. Camping Tents And Shelters
Your setup depends heavily on your main sleeping shelter. If space and weight isn’t a concern, always go a bit bigger than the number of people. For example, a single person will have an easier time in a 2-person tent. Two people will find it easier in a 4-person tent.
If you have pets, consider where they’ll sleep. Having them in a separate tent or tethered outdoors at night isn’t safe. However, getting a tent with a screened porch will keep them from licking your face at night.
Also consider if you want shelter from rain or the sun in other campsite areas, such as the kitchen or lounging spaces. Creating shady spots for small children and pets is essential. These can be:
Some tents have extended rainflys to create a lounge and kitchen area off the sleeping areas. Others, like the Wenzel Klondike, have an entire screened family room.
Hammock campers might also find it easier to have a large ground tarp under the hammock that can be used for sitting and eating.
However, in some places with bears, porcupines, and raccoons, it is wiser to pitch your tent as far from the kitchen/cooking area as possible.
3. Campsite Ground Cover
Campsites are full of nature that can get tracked into your sleeping and lounging areas. The longer you stay in a camping spot, the more of a problem this becomes.
For short-term camping, an extra footprint or tarp is often good enough. However, the waterproof properties of these mean they are not great choices in the long term. Water puddles, even in covered areas where it is blown in and collected.
Thus, AstroTurf mats for seasonal and longer-term campers are often preferred. It lets water through while acting like a rug, clearing debris from shoes before entering sleeping spaces. Smaller cuts make an excellent “welcome mat” to a tent to help reduce debris being tracked inside.
4. Camp Kitchen And Refrigeration
The camp kitchen and refrigeration setup must consider your location and safety. For example, in some areas of the US, you need to worry about bears or dexterous raccoons. Monkeys will wreak havoc in other parts of the world on a campsite if food isn’t well secured.
In these areas, you will have to secure food at night. For bears, the car is not recommended, and it is preferable to hang it or keep it in a bear canister. For raccoons and most monkeys, cars, a separate tent, or a free-standing, closed bathroom can work.
Also, keep foods like raw meat in a separate cooler for drinks, so if somebody accidentally leaves the lid off, your food doesn’t spoil. Even if you are using a camp refrigerator, keeping the day drinks separate can save energy and stress.
Also, consider bringing at least one portable table, even if a picnic table is provided or you have an RV. Spare tables allow people to set out food tubs or give the cook a space to work while others eat or play card games.
A hanging storage space can be excellent for dishes, paper towels, foil, and other odds and needs that can constantly get lost in the shuffle.
5. Camp Seating And Lounging
Camp seating and lounging depend on space, weight, and length of your stay. Many campsites provide a picnic table, but that’s comfy for relaxing when reading a book or hanging out by the campfire. Also, do you want space to take an outdoor nap?
- Hammocks are lovely even if you are using a tent or an RV
- Camp rockers are excellent for long-stay campers
- Bungee chairs are perfect when you have kids that are constantly wet and grimy
- Comfortable portable or reclining camp chairs are a must for parents and grandparents
- PowerLoungers are a treat when space is at a premium
- Helinox Incline is made for festivals
- Camping mats are great if you want on-the-ground picnics
Also, keep extra chairs about if you are a social person that enjoys inviting others to hang out. People attending concerts and festivals might find it easier to bring backpacker chairs.
6. Camp Lighting And Decoration
Camp lightning and decorations depend on where you are and the space. Backpackers and weekend campers often stick to lanterns, flashlights, and head torches. But you want more than a head torch if camping at a festival, seasonally, or permanent.
- LED solar fairy lights add cheerful decoration and provide light to eating and cooking spaces
- Coleman OneSource Rechargeable Strings is a practical and durable choice
- Portable fire pits are excellent for seasonal and permeant campers
- Solar path lights can be staked near paths or steps for extra safety
- Hanging lanterns can be useful in covered eating areas or tent porches
7. Camp Bathing And Changing Areas
Not all campsites come with established places to shower and change. Even some that do may be crowded, and you’ll want personal hygiene and changing room solutions.
For example, while changing into a tent or RV is great for some, with larger families, this can be chaos. Sometimes you need another area with a storage tent for clothes and a designated changing room.
Other areas have toilets, but for hygiene, you are left with wipes, buckets, or using a sun shower with a privacy tent or combining it with a changing room. But if there are no toilets, and digging a hole behind a bush isn’t for you, there are privacy tents for that too.
Need a cheaper solution? You can easily create a private space with string, towels/sarong, and clothespins. Add clothespins to the bottom of the towels to prevent the towels from blowing “up” in the wind. Also, pinching the towels together will help reduce gaps.
8. Campsite Play Areas For Pets And People
Some campsites are small, so there won’t be enough space for active play areas. Instead, you will need to take the kids to the park, pool, lake, and on hikes to burn off extra energy. But even in snugger sites, there needs to be a designated spot for quiet play.
For babies and tiny toddlers, you can bring their travel bed or playard to keep them entertained. But for preschoolers, confining the toys and giving them their own space can be wise. A simple solution is a play tent.
Another easy way to confine babies or bigger children’s mess is an empty inflatable pool. It establishes a “play area” without turning the tent into a barefoot-minefield for adults. It also keeps the toys from becoming filthy and lost.
Pets are also a complicated challenge as you can’t let them roam off their leash. But during cooking and eating, holding the lead isn’t always practical. Also, while you do give them exercise, there will be times they’ll want to move about.
A great solution is pet playpens: soft and hard. These are a good idea, even if you are an RV camper. Your four-legged friends will not be happy cooped up in the RV while you’re eating outside. They’ll throw potentially destructive tantrums and whine. With a pen, they can see you.
If you decide to use a pet tent (great for cats, as they can’t climb out), just remember they are for daytime use only. You can’t leave a pet in there alone at night, or they’ll be vulnerable to other animals.
9. Camp First Aid
You don’t want to hunt for the first aid kit in emergencies. There needs to be a dedicated spot for the first aid supplies. Even better is to have more than one.
For example, when camping with our vehicle (rather than hiking in), we always have a first aid kit in a designated compartment. Popular places are the glove compartment, the middle armrest storage well, or a door well. The trunk is not recommended, as it typically gets buried in gear.
The next first aid kit is smaller and kept in the main hiking daypack. This backpack goes on any hike, whether it is only one person or a group. It is in the tent at all other times.
The last first aid kit is in the campsite kitchen area. It always has extra items specifically for treating burns and cuts. Sure, there are similar supplies in the other kits, but this has more. Keeping a first aid kit in an RV or van’s kitchen near the fire extinguisher is wise.