Organizing a Tent Trailer

It’s the end of the season, so I thought I’d talk about how we managed to go on eight camping trips this season, with little packing stress. The key was organizing the tent trailer (a.k.a. “pop-up” trailer). Most of these tips  apply to camping in general. It is a work in progress, so below I’ve shared what we did this summer. IMG_2124 I apologise for the poor quality pictures, camping isn’t exactly an ideal indoor photo environment!

First, have a camping checklist so you can pack as much ahead of time as possible.

Tote #1: Kitchen
This one stays in the trailer. Anything that needs to be washed when we get home can easily be put away after it’s clean. This tote includes:
  • Pots & pans
  • Cutting Boards
  • Plates & Bowls
  • Cups & Mugs

The food and kitchen totes

Tote #2: Food
This tote stays in the house between trips. It’s stocked with staples and we fill the rest with perishables before each trip. Food staples that are always in tote #2 (to be used/emptied at the end of each season):
  • Rice-A-Roni
  • Canola Oil
  • Pam
  • Pancake Mix
  • Syrup
  • Granola
  • Salt & Pepper Shakers
  • Can of Tuna Fish
  • Can of Soup
  • Sweet Mesquite Seasoning
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Ground Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Oatmeal
  • Marshmallows
  • Graham Crackers
  • Chocolate Bars
  • Granola Bars
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Jerky

“Tote #3”: Bedding

This isn’t so much a tote, but a plastic comforter bag. There’s enough room to stuff our bedding in other places, but keeping it in a bag keeps it clean. We learned this after a run-in between the comforter and charcoal!

Tote #4: BBQ Stuff

See tote #3. The Charcoal and dirty BBQ tools really need to be contained. This is a small tote, half the size of the others. We also use this tote for doing dishes while at the camp site.

Laundry basket

We use a small laundry basket to bring all the little things camping. Clean sheets, small backpack, anything that needed refilling (like a new roll of paper towels). Once camp is set-up, all that stuff gets put away. We then fill the basket with our dirty clothes and towels during the trip. Makes laundry easy when we get home!


The bedding bag & laundry basket. All ready to pack up and go home!



The cabinet by the door (#2). Baskets hold small things. The first aid kit, dust pan, tool bag and a few other things are all found here.

We have several cabinets built-into the trailer. Here’s what is inside:
1. Towels
2. Easy access stuff – get to w/o going inside (first aid kit, lanterns, hand wipes, roasting forks
3. Games, pitchers, and extra things (paper plates, coffee cups, wipes)
4. Plastic grocery bags (VERY tiny cabinet)

5. Weird space under sink – camelback bladder (it’s a strange shape space, so we’re not really using it effectively yet)






Cooking utensils (drawer #3). It is also removable, in case we want to take it out to the picnic table.

We also have a few drawers…
1. small things that are used often (flashlights, sunscreen, bugspray, floss, tablet & pen, cards, tums, advil
2. Silverware (in removable tray)
3. Large utensils (in removable tray)
4. Cards & small games, walkie-talkies


Under benches

The booth seating has storage underneath. We’ve packed these areas full of…
1. Camp Stove, folding chair, folding table, sleeping bags, small tent

2. Blankets

Overhead Cabinet

We have to lift and clip it into place, so only light items go here. This includes paper towels, wipes, table clothes, hand towels, garbage, plastic, and ziploc bags. Since it’s over the sink, this is also where the dish soap, scrub brush and sponge are stored in a small basket (with a solid bottom so it the paper products don’t get wet). We also use the top of the cabinet to store hats.


Front Gear Rack

Our tent trailer had a rack on the front. We store the same things in the exact same configuration every time. Now that we’ve figured out how to pack it, it makes it easy. Plus we store all this in one cubby in the garage, so we don’t’ forget anything.
  • Large cooler for food
  • Small cooler for drinks
  • Extra propane tank
  • Tote with hoses, cables, etc (trailer stuff)
  • Table
  • Charcoal BBQ
IMG_2709 Things that go on the floor inside the trailer during travel, that typically live outside at the camp site…
  • Gas BBQ
  • Longer tools (shovel & axe)
  • Folding chairs
  • Floor mats
  • Cast Iron griddle
Other Stuff
There are a few leftover things that still need to be packed…
  • Clothes – duffels either go in the trailer or in the truck cab
  • Wood – back of truck bed (we had a 1/2-cord delivered at the beginning of summer – cheaper than buying at the campground!)
  • Generator & gas can – back of truck bed
  • Small trash can – made to fit plastic grocery bags (large garbage bag goes outside)
  • Medium baskets used to fill & transport stuff in & out of trailer (food, dishes, games, etc)
To leave for camping on any day we only have to do the following things…
  • Pack perishable food in food tote and slide into trailer
  • Pack coolers with food, drinks & ice
  • Pack clothes and toss into truck
  • Load front gear rack
  • Load wood, generator & extra gas into back of truck
Off we go!
Do you have any tips for packing for camping, especially if you camp in a tent trailer? I’d love to hear them!

121 thoughts on “Organizing a Tent Trailer

  1. I love the way you camp! I want to be just like you someday.

    I thought this post would be a good spot to tell you about my recent thrilling discovery: 2 gallon Ziploc bags! They’re awesome! I actually used some to pack for our trip but forgot to show you. Perhaps not everybody would be excited about *bags* but I thought you might get it a little. :)

    • I bought “space bags” to pack clothes in and vacuum out the air. Takes lots less room. Bought smallest Shop Vac available to take to reuse the bags. The vac also comes in handy for cleaning camper and vehicle. Also, glad makes huge bags to hold things like sporting equipment, etc. We used a large one to put the outdoor rug in. Just fold or roll it up and put it in and seal. Just don’t forget to take it out when you get home and dry it out. We forgot once and had to throw the whole thing away and start over.

  2. Thanks for the great ideas, we just bought our first tent trailer and I was trying to figure out where to put everything – the pictures helped a lot.

    • Congrats! You’ll have so much fun. For us, the best part is having everything ready to go with minimal prep. We camp more often because if it, I hope you do to!

  3. Some campgrounds won’t allow you to bring in firewood–trying to stop the transport of wood-destroying insects, I believe. But if you can take your own, that half-cord is a great idea.

    • You’re right Janet, some campgrounds won’t allow campers to bring in their own wood. For us, we’re usually camping within a couple of hours of our house, so our wood is from about the same place as the campground. For longer trips, we would definitely buy local. Great point!

    • Here in NH I believe the state has forbidden bringing in firewood from any other state. Check before you go. I believe the fines can be high. What a way to ruin a great vacation.

    • If you live close to a truss company etc, they normlly give away ends of 2x4s and is all kilm dried and flat (stores easily). This can be taken across provinces (or states) bugs!

  4. We just bought this exact pop-up camper, so that means I get to follow your instructions exactly (I’m a little OCD about lists and things)!! We are going on our first camping trip this weekend and I’m so excited that I found your site. Lots of great tips and organization ideas. Thank you!!

  5. Soooo,helpful! Thank you! We just bought a pop-up this April 2013 and I’m starting to stock it. I was thinking just along these lines…..get it well stocked/prepped so that we don’t need a long list on the weekends we want to go.
    Here’s my question though: One of the things I’m trying to figure out is the packing of clothes and personal items. We have three girls who will want to access this stuff a lot. Does living out of a duffel bag in the back of the truck really work? I just can’t quite imagine…..We have a Durango so there isn’t as much trunk storage anyway. Any thoughts on the best way to let everyone have their own stuff with easy access, too? I can’t see us fitting 5 duffels in the back of the Durango. And do you just leave your clothes in the truck at all times?

    • Hi Leah! We actually only keep our suitcases in the truck while we are traveling. Once we get to the campsite the suitcases go in the trailer. We keep them at the foot of our bed, and at night move them to the table. If your girls are still little, they could probably sleep with them at the foot of their bed too. I grew up with a tent trailer and my sister and I always had a blast. I hope this helps, and have a great time!

      • I use the Rubbermaid draws and put them on a little cabinet space between the bed and dining table. That way everything is nice and organized. The only bummer is that they don’t fit when the trailer is folded down for transport so I have to put them in the back of my SUV until we get there.

    • For packing our clothes, each family member gets a clear, zip-up (bed) comforter bag. Everything is visible, which makes it really easy when your child is trying to find that “favorite shirt.” Happy camping!

    • now that our 3 kids are teens, we have them set up a tent that we use for changing. We keep the clothing bags in there and a stool to sit while changing (15yr old is 6’2″!) Battery operated light inside tent. This set-up makes for a lot more room in the pop-up.

      • We use a clear Costco bin for clothes and stack them just outside of the trailer. They are still under the awning so if it rains it’s fine. That way we don’t have tons of bags hanging around and it gives us more space in the trailer.

  6. Hi, I also have a tent trailer and do alot of the things your doing! I do have a question. Where did you get the white collapsable storage unit for above the kitchen? Great idea.

    • I would love to know this too!! Ive been goggling my heart out for a good 20 minutes now and I cant find it anywhere.

    • The white hanging pantry actually came with the trailer. I’ve looked online, but I can’t seem to find it sold separately. However, one of the “hacks” i’m currently working on is to hang a short sweater hanger to the left of the door using a similar hanging method as that pantry. Here’s the hanger: I like it because you use it as two shorter pieces. I think I’ll mount it with some small brackets and use small carabiners to attach the hanger to the ceiling. I’m working on a post!

  7. we have a vintage pop up that needs a lot of repair. need help in finding where to go. does anyone have information to help us? I know that the canvas is in bad shape not sure about other parts. this is a soft top not a hard top. no kitchen just the beds on each end. thanks for the help

    • For canvas repair, I would try a local awning or tarp company. They should be able to at least help you get materials, if not also do some of the work. My parents did this to repair one side of their tent trailer, and also got materials to sew their own awning. It turned our really well. What a fun project; good luck!

    • We bought a fixer upper with the older type canvas that had several big holes in it. I bought matching canvas at fabric store, got a caulking adhesive called lexel (clear, great product ). I made the patches using same technique as patching an inflatable. I used a wide putty knife to make sure I got good coverage then another clean one to apply patch over hole. (Had someone hold board on back side of canvas so I could really smooth patch in place. Then after it dried about 24 hours I covered with water proofing spray. One area was rather large, but sewing to the old canvas was not an option. We have used it 4 years like this. It doesn’t leak a drop. I also used a tube of seam sealer over any stitching as you would any tent periodically. I priced replacing the canvas completely on-line and it was pricey, this worked great for us.

  8. Hi! We use fabric covered copy paper boxes to pack our clothes for camping. I have also packed kids outfits in gallon ziploc bags for easy choices in the mornings. I am looking at investing in some of those plastic stacked drawers. I have a couple of spots in my pop-up that I think they could stay on the floor and then move up to small counter spaces when occupied.

  9. When we went in the pop up we would lift up the mattress and lay our clothes neatly under them before our trip. Gives you more space in the camper without bags of clothes.

  10. We used the plastic stackable drawers and just set them outside under the awning, no one ever bothered them and saved space inside. The collapsible trash cans are awesome and easy to store.

    • Thank you! Typically we don’t use it a lot. Usually just for milk (don’t have to leave the trailer for morning coffee) and to store leftovers so they don’t get smushed. I am interested in how others use their fridge though!

      • I stock all my freezable foods in the fridge at the last minute, with a couple (5 or 6 different size) ice-packs. It stays very cool for all the 3 days we are in camping (more than a typical coleman cooler) . So that way I don’t have a separate cooler on my tent trailer. We lift the trailer just enough to get the sink out of the way to open the fridge. It takes about 10 minutes before we go, but it worth the time spent.

        I used to have a big large tent trailer and the fridge was right in front of the door, so it was very easy to access. We downsized and now we have to lift it, but it’s not that big of a deal.

      • we also take a small bar fridge (has a small freezer). This allows me to freeze ice packs for a beach cooler, etc.and gives double the fridge space. It fits inside the door when traveling. This allows more food (not stuck buying at a camp store) and can be used when travelling to transport dry goods.

  11. I wonder if the pantry hanger would be available from a Rockwood dealer?
    Thanks for the ideas! I have a 3 section stacking plastic unit with drawers that fits perfectly on the cabinet beside the door. It is filled with dishes, utensils, t-towels etc and it can be moved into the dining tent or left where it is. I am thinking another one would be perfect for clothing to eliminate the duffel bag clutter.

  12. Over the years we had two different Coleman popups. The first was rather small as we only had small children at the time. The other was much larger. We had each for seven years. One of the things I did was to make up the beds before we left home. I put a foam pad on top of the mattress first. Then a mattress pad, sheets (use sheet garters to hold them on), and then a blanket or comforter depending on the time of year (since we live in New Hampshire, spring or fall could be rather cool). Then I would cover the whole thing with a fabric mattress cover with elastic corners. I don’t remember where I got them but the ones I used were rather heavy weight and water proof. This is important because as you have probably found out, it always rains when you are either setting up camp or taking it down, Use fabric covers because they wear longer. If you can’t find waterproof cloth ones, use a waterproofer like Scotchguard. Anyway, I found this to work well and saved a lot of time in setting up camp. Since we always set up the camper when we got home to air it out and restock, doing bedding was not a problem.

  13. I plan our menu and freeze the burger patties solid before our trip. Anything that can be frozen ahead is to keep food fresh and safe. We use a toaster oven for breakfast breads. I bought a crock pot for spaghetti, beef or deer stew, chili, Mexican etc. We have a griddle for pancakes or grill cheese. My boys are young and like snacks. They seem to eat more variety when camping. We move our cooking outside during the warmer months. We bought a canopy to put over the picnic table. It helps keep the dew off our table and seats. A string of white indoor outdoor Christmas lights adds a bit of light very inexpensively. You can use clothes pins to clip them to the canopy. It’s great to buy an extra rectangular plastic table cloth and split into in the longest direction. We use duct tape to attach it to the picnic table benches. Bottoms stay dry in the rain and legs are not scratched or full of splinters. We also carry a small table to put outside the camper to create our kitchen area outside. I use a folding clothes rack outside to hang towels on to dry or swim suits. My boys love the glow sticks from the dollar store to play with after dark and don’t forget the lightening bug containers. For the bath houses I carry an over the door towel hook (it has 4 hooks) or a door wreath hanger to have an extra place to hang towels & clothing. When taking two boys to shower each night it makes storage easy. Thanks for sharing your organization. It makes all the difference in camping to have everything in its place & easy access. I love all the storage in your camper!

  14. We recently purchase a Rockwood camper, the white folding storage bags are made for a Rockwood, as the hangers in the ceiling have supports built into the frame work. We love the way you have setup the organization of your camper. We have taken your ideas and applied them to our organization. We recently purchased a “Camp Chef”, two burners, oven, about 30 lbs, uses 1 lb propane bottles, or hook up to a larger tank. Works real nice, made cinnamon rolls this morning. Take a little practice, but practice makes perfect!
    As we camp more, I’ll let you know what else we have come across to help out.

    Happy camping everyone!

  15. We have a Flagstaff and it didn’t come with the hanging storage. We found them for sale at a Rockwood dealer. We got the over the sink hanger plus a tall hanging shelf with 4 shelves. Since our trailer didn’t come with the hangers to hang them we had to buy the hooks and a rivet tool. You need to pre drill the holes carefully so you don’t drill all the way through the roof. If you put masking tape on the drill bit it will stop it before it goes too far. We use the 4 shelves for clothes. We bring the clothes in a clothes basket and transfer them to the shelves. The over the sink shelf I put towels, dish towels, table clothes etc in.
    We have a plastic three deep drawers set for dishes, pots and pans, cutting boards, collapsible collanders and collapsible bowls. We sit this on the low counter where the indoor/outdoor stove goes. We don’t cook inside and I don’t like the stove that came with the trailer. We use a Coleman stove outside.
    We only have two built in drawers and we use them for utensils. We also have a set of three small plastic drawers for sunscreen, bug spray, tin foil, cloths pins etc. that also sits on the low counter.
    We use one or two food bins depending on how long we’re going. Those usually stay in the back of the Jeep since we camp in bear country. We have no kids so we can use the smaller bed to store the cloths basket and jackets. I’d like to come up with a way to hang jackets inside.
    Thanks for the detailed description of your storage. It will give me ideas on how to approve my own organizing.

    • We had two Coleman tent trailers (at different times) and bought a clothes hanger for just such a purpose. It was L shaped and removable when closing the camper. I don’t think it was too expensive and you can probably buy one at a Coleman dealer or on Ebay. I don’t remember exactly how it attached but I do know my husband had to screw it in. I’m sure it would fit any brand of “pop up”. We had two kids and it came in handy for hanging clothes and jackets.

  16. We are new to camping, so this was very helpful to me. Our first time out, we had a water hose pop off, so I was VERY happy I had thrown in some extra towels “just in case”. Couple of things I do – I see that you are using command hooks – aren’t those things FABULOUS! I keep one by the door to put the keys and a small flashlight so it is handy for nighttime visits or to investigate animal noises. I’m also thinking about getting some of those plastic “squash” bags or stuff sacks for our bedding to it takes up less room. But I like the tote for washable dishes and stuff. We accidentally left the iced tea pitcher in the trailer for a couple of weeks and it was all nasty by then.

    • Yes, I love command hooks too! We actually left a Tupperware of watermelon in the trailer once, and of course the lid wasn’t closed all the way. I’ll never forget crawling around in our closed trailer trying to find where the horrible smell was coming from!

  17. Hi! Just came across your blog. Nice stuff! Just thought I’d share how ours is set up and what I do. Sorry it’s long. :) We have had two pop-ups. Our current one has a slide out so it opens up pretty big. but when closed there’s not alot of floor space for storage. Crazy thing is we had more with just a regular pop up! Here’s some of the things we do. One cabinet is my table clothes, extra paper towels, batteries, small games and cards (it’s a big space but weird shaped), one cabinet is my mugs, koozies, platic cups, and a small lamp (I’d prefer to use the outlet to plug in a lamp (campground electricity) then use up the battery. we also have a weird and small area under the sink. I store my pans in there. then the larger cabinet that has drawers, for plates, silverware, foil, etc. and I store towels and the baby stuff in the fridge (since it doesn’t work). then we have two areas under the seats of the dinette. one side is all the little propane tanks for the extra grill and latern, marshmallows sticks, tools and emergency stuff. the other seat base is my washing bins and towels, and all the canned goods. Most of that, like potatoes, corn, carrots and small snack stuff I leave in there all the time, since we camp so much. we also have two small fan/lights that we store in there. Then thre’s a cubby in the corner which I have a coffee maker, toasters, gizmos (for the bunk ends) and two large pots. One more storage area by the door that has more tools, the dogs bowls and chains, and a small container with candles abd bug sprays. then last but not least is a cooler that is built in under the bench. only problem is to load it, you have to have the camper set up to do it. so if when we use it, it’s only for pop and waters. Where we can do it the night before and ice it down pretty good. If I don’t use it as a cooler, I pack clothes in it. The only thing I do at the end of a trip is take the bedding out so it can be washed. so I only have to pack clothes and food like chips and bread. I always like reading what other people do, so maybe I can organize differently. Hopefully we can all help each other! But as I was writing this I think I’ve figured out some changes I can make already! Yay! Happy Camping!

  18. Great ideas! We bought a Rockwell in June and love it!! Everytime we take it out, I learn more and more about storage and ideas. Thanks!

  19. 99% of our camping is “dispersed,” meaning not at an established campground. Here’s a suggestion for comfort (psychological &/or physical), hygiene & convenience during extended outings:

    Pack a collapsible privacy shelter for a shower (solar kits are handy). A five-gallon bucket can also be placed inside (“tote-able toilet”) with seat & a supply of “Double Doodie” or similar plastic bags. Don’t. Forget the T.P. & flushable wipes. Products are readily available & moderately priced.

  20. Pingback: I like the idea of having a storage place for the coolers in front of the camper. They would be easily available and opens up space in the camper for other important things. - virilstyle | virilstyle

  21. Pingback: IMG_2124 by All Those Details, via Flickr |

  22. Pingback: Organizing a Tent Trailer |

  23. This is such a wonderful site! I just bought my first pop-up camper, and am taking my kids camping this weekend in it for the first time. I’m a single mom, so I need to make sure that I plan ahead as much as possible so I really really really appreciate all the storage and best practice tips. Thank you!

  24. We have no hot water in our camper. I bought an electric coffee pot for quick hot water. We make cocoa, oatmeal, grits etc. I also have two small platic tubs for dishwashing. I can have hot dish water quickly.

    • We have a Honda, I think it’s the 1000 model. The newer ones are actually pretty quiet! It’s definitely worth going with a Honda for the quiet factor.

      • We also have a Honda. Its a smaller one too, so you can’t run the ac but a radio, fan, coffee maker. You can be inside the popup and not even hear it. I know at the local Honda dealer, the smaller one will run you about $1100 new. Pricey but worth it.

  25. What my family uses for clothes are rectangular plastic bins that are made to go under a bed. (They’re about 3″ deep). There are five of us. We each get one with our names on each end and on the lids. They stack and can all be placed on one of the small “counter” areas in our pop up or on the table. They fit perfectly, limit the amt everyone can bring, and keep the interior looking neat and organized.

  26. We have the small fridge in our popup. My husband had to buy a Bunn coffeemaker for camping. We keep it stored n the fridge when traveling. Keeps the carafe from breaking. The coffeepot fits nicely without bouncing around.

  27. As a kid my parents and us three kids traveled the country in the summers with a Coleman pop-up, it was a larger one with two tables so lots of storage. We all had a spot under the cushions for our clothes. We also all had our jobs, we could have that camper up and ready to go in 5 minutes. We just (yesterday) bought a used one and I keep thinking of how to store stuff. I’m extremely excited to get out of the tent.

  28. Sorry this long. We have only had our tent trailer for 3 years. However, we tented for many years before that. We now have a different size of plastic drawers for our ‘kitchen cupboard’. Now it is a shorter set, 2 large bottom drawers with the top drawer space divided into 4 spaces: silverware; cooking utensils; matches and bbq lighters, string, tape; then the can opener, serviette holder, dish scrubbies etc. 2nd has all the dishes and glasses and coffee perc. 3rd has all the pots, pans, fry pans. This goes in the dining tent as we always cook outside. We have very little storage in the trailer. Inside the door is the cupboard for the potty chemicals, disposable gloves, trailer tools. Under the sink is soap, paper towel (travelling – the dishpans and dish rack). A drawer holds markers, tape, more matches and string/butcher cord. Other cupboard holds a thermal carafe, griddle, tea kettle and toaster.Storage under one dinette seat only holds extra blankets, towels/dish cloths/washcloths, pillows. (We travel with the beds made up.) Step stool (for putting up the awning) trailer’s stove, hoses and electrical cords store under the table. We have NO space for clothes. Our duffle bags get shuffled from the little counter space to the dinette – we have never eaten or cooked inside. We need TIDY, easy access ideas for our clothing. There are ourselves (in our 50’s) and two of our girls 18 & 20. They tent but leave the clothes in the trailer. We go rooting thru our bags and clothes end up everywhere. Anyone have ideas for clothes storage? Sure wish they made some form of collapsible/folding wardrobes to sit on a tent trailer counter. With a clothes bar and shelves??????

    • I think they make a tension rod that is used for bathtub curtains. Measure the width of the camper and see if you can get one to fit. I’d try Home Depot or Lowe’s. Then you can hang your clothes. They make cloth closet organizers that hand on closet rods. Some have shelves you could put folded clothes on. Also shoe organizers can hold lots of different things. I used to use one outside the camper (my hubby put a hanger on the upper part of the clamp on the roof) to hold cooking stuff, napkins, etc. Kept outside of the camper neater. The larger of our campers had a counter along one side with storage under and we got two small plastic three drawer units to put underwear, socks, personal items, etc. in . At the time we had a van so we put those in the back while traveling.

      • Thanks for the ideas. Where could we place the tension rod tho’, in a tent trailer? Ideas?

      • Laurie, your camper has a hard roof right? We used to put ours just inside the roof near the canvas that makes the roof over the bed.(Across the width of the trailer) I don’t know what kind of camper you have but both of the ones we had were Colemans. There was a support rod that went from the hard ceiling to the fold down support for the canvas over the beds. We would put the tension rod so that it was above the support rod to give it a little extra support.

        Also, this is not about storage, but I forgot to mention something else we did. Twice a year we would spray the canvas part of the camper with Scotch-Guard. It took about a can each time (heavy spraying is best) but we never had any leaks.

        When we had our “pop ups” (and they never just popped up) I would scout out the container/storage areas of every store we went into. I don’t live near an Ikea but I bet they have lots of stuff that can be repurposed for camping. If you don’t use your table inside that space under it can store lots of stuff. Also, as our kids got older (a boy and a girl so they could only sleep together for a little while) the dinette became someone’s bed and it became obvious that the storage under the benches were good for storing stuff we only needed occasionally. With the second one, we ordered two replacement doors (I think they were for the top half of the stove cupboard) and my husband cut holes in the end of the benches and installed the doors. That way we could access the things we needed which we placed nearest the doors. Other stuff got packed further away from them. Also, if you store blankets, etc. that are only in case of a turn in the weather and not used every time, use a large space bag and a small shop vac to condense it. We always took our little vac. Not only is it good for the space bags but you can reverse the hose and use it if you have something that needs to be blown up (water toys, etc)

        Hope this helps. We camped in pop ups for 14 years before we bought our motorhome, which has storage challenges of its own. Unfortunately, a hurricane in 2012 or 2013 took the roof off it and ruined it. Hubby had died and so I gave it to someone who wanted to try to fix it. I’m looking into a travel trailer now that I can take down south and live in for the four winter months. But I’m not going to rush into anything — I want to make sure I’ll be comfortable in it for months at a time.

      • We haven’t had ours set up this year. I’ll have to take a good look at it and see if we can use any of your ideas. We cannot make use of our dinette as a bed as it is only 5 feet. The shortest family member is 5′ 71/2″. Ours is made by Viking and is 10 years old.

  29. Sarah -wow glad I came across this blog, thanks… we just bought a used 2003 Rockwood and it didn’t come with an outdoor stove, which I though was weird. It just has that small size table to go outside..But by your pics I see a lower level BBQ? How is your outdoor stove attach?

    • Samm – we also bought a used Rockwood without an outdoor stove but we were able to find one on amazon that works great. Good luck!

  30. Just looked this over again. Sure which we had the extra storage area on the tongue. We have the propane tank and battery and that’s all the room there is. It sure would be great to have storage outside the trailer. If/when we get another trailer, I’d like the extra built in storage compartment on the front.

    • Well we have set the trailer up and your idea of a tension, shower bar makes sense. However, the popup is almost 7 feet wide which will require an extra long bar. I’m on the hunt. I tried a magnetic hook but it could not hold the weight of a sweatshirt. Laurie Burk

      • Did you try Home Depot or Lowe’s? Another thing that might work is a regular bathtub shower rod. You might have to get brackets that can be mounted inside the camper on the sturdy part of the roof. Then you could just put the rod up when you get where you are going. Or HD and Lowe’s might be able to order a tension rod to fit. Let me know how it works out. Have a wonderful time in your camper — we always did. Vicki

      • Unfortunately, we are at least an hour from our closest Home Depot and I don’t even know if Lowes is in Canada. If it is, not near us. After I posted this, I did some googling and found that Bed, Bath & Beyond, does have an extra long tension bar; again about 2 hours from us. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for what we need. My husband refuses (I agree) to start attempting to drill into the ceiling or walls of the tent trailer.

      • Laurie, can you order on line? Might be worth it over driving there. I have ordered from Home Depot before and had no problems. Its worth a try. Vicki

  31. Hi,
    We a renting a trailer tent this summer to see if we like it. I was wondering, can you store the plastic totes inside the trailer went it’s folded or do you put everything in your truck? We have a car with 3 children so we only have the trunk left and I was wondering if I can count on the trailer for some extra room. Thank you!

    • When the trailer is down, you can slide totes and other stuff inside the little door to sit on the floor of the trailer. We must as much as possible in the trailer, food, suitcases, shoes, etc. (so the dog gets the whole backseat!). You’ll definitely have enough room for the kids and all your stuff. You’ll have a great time!

  32. I love all of these organizational ideas, however My problem has nothing to do with organization. We just bought a used Coleman pop up, used it once last year and everything ran perfect. We are trying to cool down the frig before we set out for our first trip this year, and we can’t get the electric to work. Any suggestions. I don’t know where to turn for help.

  33. My first thought would be, Did you receive the original info with the popup? You could call the original dealer or any close to where you live. Maybe they can help over the phone if it happens to be something simple. Other wise, hopefully they can give further advice. Good luck, hope it is an inexpensive fix. We had a similar situation the year after we bought our used popup and the closest repair centre was an hour away.

  34. We had the same problem. My hubby worked on the electricals and theres something in it that needs replaced, (sorry not sure what it is). and so not to drain the battery, I don’t use the lights on the ceiling. When we get to camp and plug in the camper, I use a small lamp. since the outlets run off that and not the camper itself. and we just store towels in the fridge. If you think about it, you probably have to have it set up to load it, which is a pain. so taking a cooler is just easier.

  35. Hi,

    Love the post…I am curious…Do all the totes stay in the trailer while traveling and storage?? other than the food one of course. We want to be able to put all of our totes in the trailer for travel.

    Thanks in advance.

  36. I found a cool idea on you tube not long after we bought our popup for some collapsible shelving. It takes 2 tension shower rods here is the link I did make one change to his design as the shelves fell over as the roof shifted while walking in and out. I gorilla glued rubber table leg covers 2 top and 2 bottom to the camper. I will take pics and try and add them next time out (2 weeks). It makes for great storage, we use it for food and other supplies but could be used for clothes etc. as well. Great tips here. We go a lot more often now that we have minimal packing to do beforehand and utilize a lot of your tips.

  37. WOW! This is wonderful. Wish we had seen this when we had our popups and the kids were little. It was always so hard to keep things organized. Think I’d try to find some light weight containers for clothing for top shelf. Since we usually cooked most of our meals, I’d find a nice wicker basket to store mixes (ie pancake, biscuit, cake, etc.) in. I usually make my own and put them in zip locked bags. I measure all the dry components into the bag and use a sharpie to write the recipe on front of bag. Cuts down on bulk.

  38. Just discoverd this site. Our pop up is fairly big for just the 2 of us, as kids are grown and married, prefering their tents. Hubby built a little shelf with folding sides that fits over 2 storage containers, which are sitting on the counter top. We put most of our clothes in the containers and still have a place to set things on top of shelf. The containers with lids can be slid in and out w/o taking shelf down until we are ready to leave. We have an 8-10 in. hanging rack that folds down from ceiling- you could put hangers on it. I purchased a canvas fold up shelf unit that you would hang on a closet rod with velcro tabs. This goes over that bar and provides storage for paper goods and other items that are not too heavy (ponchos, umbrellas, hats)

  39. Hello! I have a great couple of ideas for everybody. We bought a little bitty leaf blower off Amazon and blow our campsite off before we get settled. It has cut down tremendously on debris drug into our pop-up. We also bought floor runners from Target to lay inside and it’s helped with all the debris the dogs bring in. My husband took a rolling carry-on suitcase and built out the inside with shelves. It’s our pantry. We have a huge pop-up with appliances, etc…, but still struggled with enough storage. This food pantry is a gem as it sits on the counter but stays neat. We roll it out and put it in the SUV before and after trips. It’s easy to restock each time as well. I also bought a pants hanger (the kind that holds several pairs) and we hand that from the ceiling to put our washcloths and towels on to dry (keeps them out of the way and it keeps us from having to hang stuff outside around our campsite). Last, since our dining area has storage under the bench seats (but also has doors that open on the outside to that area), my husband closed off 3/4 of that area and that’s where he stores ALL things outside – from chocks to lawn chairs, etc… I am still able to open these areas with a cabinet door from the inside but I only use 1/4 of one side for long things like marshmallow forks, etc… This has really helped us because we don’t mix inside stuff with outside stuff. He has also added an extra shelf in every spot inside every cabinet that he could. Again, huge help in organization. For all of our dishes, we have bought microwavable “plastics” so as not to add weight to the camper and we don’t have to worry about breakage either. We also use a welcome mat outside and that helps tremendously. Hope these trips helps somebody! I LOVE seeing how everyone else does things. has been a great source for us as well.

  40. For overhead storage in our trailer I used wire shelving hung on lengths of chain hung from roof. it fold s down with trailer so don’t have to rehang it every time you set up. We use it to store cereal, bread, snacks etc.

  41. Storage will always be a problem in a pop up. Limited space! Our pop up is designed with a couch on the door side. After the first year of use we came to the conclusion that none of use that couch. We now leave the couch cushions at home and use that area for storage bins. With the bins we chose, it will accomodate six. Lots of storage. In a nutshell….never take with you more than what you’ll use.

  42. We use fold up chair canvas bags for pie irons and forks, keeps mess contained, ashes and food don’t get on other things.

  43. Just love your storage ideas ,we are new to camping just bought a ’95 coleman Williamsburg popup. Quite rare here in England. Just a shame our summers are so short.

  44. Great blog!
    I have a 91 coleman Laramie. I installed a roof mounted car trunk and it really helps with suitcases/sleeping bags/and bedding (you need roof racks for this-don’t attach directly to roof) I can put coolers inside the trailer when we are traveling to our destination. Depending on the destination, we tend to buy food just before we get there at a grocery store. With trailers, it’s all about weight. The few dollars you save buying perishables before you leave may end up in your gas tank-hauling it. And yes, the roof trunk hurts gas mileage.

    I would encourage all PU campers to find a system for setting up and breaking camp. Many a trips/relationships suffer when everybody wants to do everything and since everyone’s way is right, you can see the impending conflict. While I do all the setup, my wife takes a nice 20 minute walk, usually out of eye and ear shot of the site. When she returns, her pop up palace awaits.

    Don’t even get me started on backing the rig into a stall…..;)

    • We have had a hard car top carrier (we are on our second one), which goes on the car. We purchased two soft/fabric ones(less weight) the second year we had our pop up, it already had racks for a canoe. The dining tent, folding camp ‘kitchen’ unit (it holds the propane stove, it is my meal prep and dishwashing table too), propane stove go in the hard top. Our camp chairs, girls small tent and all sorts of lighter awkward items.
      I am the driver as my husband has limited sight. I am NOT great at backing up the tent trailer so have patience everyone. Whether it is the two of us or one or two of our girls are with us, we all help unload.
      While Ross starts getting the jacks down, starts putting the trailer up etc., I work at sorting out everything we’ve unloaded to that point. The dining tent requires two etc., but we each try to do our own thing and co-operate on the things we have to do together. Even after 26 years of camping together and 4 years with a pop-up, he still turns the air blue with the set up and take down, but we have improved.
      We also have a small fridge that goes in the dining tent, straps buckle around it to keep the coons out. We have a set of plastic drawers in there too. It holds ALL the kitchen ware, silverware, cooking utensils, pots/pans, dishes/glasses/mugs, coffee pot etc. we had this from tent camping. We refer to it as the kitchen cupboard, we have never used paper plates or disposable dishes.

    • We looked at a beautiful pop up camper for sale. When the owner set it up for us to look at the inside – mice had moved in over the winter. They chewed the mattress pads and all the drapes. The bench fabric and foam were full of holes. It smelled terrible from the feces. My mom concerns were hygiene focused. My engineer husband discovered the electrical wiring was damaged in many spots. The guy had purchased a new home and parked the camper off the side of the driveway on the edge of the woods. The mice came inside last fall and lived in it until he recently opened up the camper. I can’t imagine how much it will cost to replace all the electrical wiring and then the upholstery.

      • OMG …what is recommended to prevent that? We just purchased a pop up and live in Minnesota so it will be outside & closed up for sometime. Mice always tend to head for the garage when the weather turns cold and this scares me now.

      • 1. Don’t leave any type of food in the trailer or on the ground around it.
        2. Make sure that it doesn’t have any access holes that may have wore through to enter.
        3. Keep the grass down around the sides of the trailer- gravel is best.
        4. If you have a mouse problem, open it if the weather allows it during the off season, might be able to catch it early.
        That trailer is going to need a lot of work…I wouldn’t buy it…

  45. Another thing I do with our food is, as many have mentioned, put pancake mix, rice etc. into zip lock bags, from their boxes. I cut the instructions from the box and put on the bag, holding it there by covering with packing tape. These items are easier to pack and take less space than the original boxes. I start keeping an eye out in the spring for food items on sale, for camping. Things like smaller size mustard, instant rice, things that I may not always use normally at home. Of course if you can get these smaller size bottles, mustard etc. you can save them and reuse them, year after year.

  46. We have not cooked or eaten in our tent trailer. All that is done outside or in our dining tent. As I have mentioned before we have a set of plastic drawers that is our “kitchen cupboard”, which stays in the dining tent. Our propane bbq has legs to support it’s self. We have a folding table that holds all it’s pieces inside it. When set up, it has a section for the propane stove plus the actual table area where we prepare food or wash the dishes. There is a pole with hook where we hang a lantern; a rack with hooks to hang your cooking utensils or dish cloth. There is a shelf where the dish/rinse pans and dish rack sit when not in use. We used totes for our food, over the years until we ran in to a coon issue. Now we have a black tool box that can be locked, It’s approx. 36″ to 40″ long, 15″ to 18″ high and about that deep too. This sits in the dining tent. We eat in the tent and play cards, do puzzle books etc. in there.
    My question is this: how do you light such a space?? We used lanterns but they don’t cast enough light. We hung white Christmas lights, with twist ties to the supports. Not enough light. We have purchased rope lights designed for the tent, still not enough light. Does anyone have a simple, inexpensive suggestion for what type of lighting we can use in our dining tent?? Hubby has limited vision so this may be far more of an issue for us than most people.

    • IKEA Has a paper lantern floor lamp, $15, that has three bulbs and is pretty bright. It also unscrews and flattens fairly easily too. Also, maybe you guys should use some headlamps? Like headbands that have LED lights- that would suit for reading, doing puzzles, playing cards, etc.

      • I just checked IKEAs website- it’s called the DUDERO floor lamp. It holds 3 bulbs that are 200 lumen each.

  47. Thank you, we’ll check these out. We do have headlamps and I hadn’t thought of them for this purpose. I’m kind of afraid we’ll blind each other tho’. haha

    • lisa McP: I did check out the DUDERO floor lamp. Does not look like it would offer enough light for the table, in the dining tent, after dark. I do appreciate your ideas tho”

  48. Where did you find your hanging cabinet. We are headed out in a long road trip and that would make for perfect storage.

    • I am also interested in this answer. If your tent trailer does not come with fasteners to hang it, how do you hang it? We do NOT want to start drilling into the roof.

      • You may want to try the 3M Command hooks, can be found at Walmart. I’m not sure about the hanging cabinet – I think it may be the style you can purchase from RV places. I’ve seen other people using just regular hanging shelves (closet kind or shoe ones)

  49. This isn’t so much about the organizing in a pop up; it has to do with food storage whether in a tent or pop up. All our kitchen stuff is in the dining tent. Our worst problem for our food is racoons. We found a basic tool box with no extra compartments works well, Walmart on sale for about $20. CDN. We padlock it at night. We even have a bar fridge in there too. I made straps to put around it at night with snap together fasteners. The critters aren’t strong enough to squeeze, them to open them up. (We used storage buckets for years until we had issues with coons.)
    I purchase fruit in plastic jars rather than cans so they reseal with out needing a storage container, or I purchase the fruit cups. I buy instant rice only when camping. I place it in a zippered bag and (cut out the instructions from the box) tape the instructions on the bag with clear packing tape. I do the same with “complete” pancake mix; etc. Bags seem to take less space than boxes and what do you seal the contents in if you take it in the boxes?
    I hold the tablecloth on with the little metal clips. On the end of the table I use 2 clips, to hang two plastic bags from the produce department (I save them for camping). On the Right, Recycling. The left is garbage. We empty them EVERY night before bed. Don’t want to encourage the critters right?

  50. Another idea for saving space, collapsible items whether they be your colander/strainer, dish rack, food storage containers or mixing bowls. I even found a collapsible pail at the Dollar store last year. Every year I go thru everything and say what can we do without? Some times we eliminate. haha

  51. Such a great post, thank you so much! You’re so organized, such perfection looks like quite the challenge for me. I’m really trying to organize my trailer and after a week of trying all I can say you’ve got to give your best when you organize a trailer! Thanks again for the motivation!

  52. Hi! ive been dreaming of getting a hard top/ side pop up so i am enjoying reading all the comments and ideas!

    regarding the question about lighting- i saw an idea that took the headlamp and attached it to a 2 gallon water jug and aimed the light into the water (from outside of jug).

    Question: if you have your kitchen outside (in a screen tent) do you keep all your food in storage containers in the tent or do something to prep it for overnight? thanks!

    • I have also seen the headlamp/water jug idea but have not yet tried it. Our food.. pad locked into a basic tool chest ($20 CDN on sale at Walmart). The fridge has straps I made with fasteners that coons can’t undo. Not to be rude, I have written a more thorough explanation if you read through this whole blog. good luck and happy camping.

  53. thanks for your response- youre right i need to read the rest of your blog which i didnt do yet. ive only camped a handful of times and mostly as a kid so i have a lot to learn :)

    • If you are interested in camping, this IS a neat blog, I found it originally thru PINTREST. There are so many of us reading it eh? Everyone has great ideas. We started tenting about 26 years ago and did until 5 years ago. Hubby and I are in our 50’s and have arthritis. Air mattresses were increasingly too hard to do. I had only camped a couple of times as a kid so we learned a lot, just by doing. Other campers used to start our camp fires, we were so lousy at it. hahhahahaha I definitely suggest you read thru the whole thing. It will take some time but I think you’ll find it interesting. We bought our used 8 foot tent trailer 5 years ago, so this will be our 6th summer with it. Something we didn’t realize when we bought it is some of the tables only make into a five foot bed, too small for anyone in our family even at 14 years old.. The “double” beds are only a 3/4 bed in real sizes. Therefore the table is not used as a bed and hubby and I sleep at either end. This means the youngest two kids, now 21 and 19 use a tent on their own. From here we’ll either get a pop up with bigger beds, maybe a 10 ft. one. Or if we were to win the lottery, hahaha we might buy a small trailer. Enjoy reading.

    • I just reread this WHOLE blog. Took quite awhile. I realized how much I have repeated myself. Sorry about that. Anyone know if you can still buy milk in a four litre jug, in Ontario? The type you would fill with water and put the head lamp around?

  54. About the lighting thing, we use inexpensive clamp lights you get from home depot or lowes. They use regular bulbs so you can get as much or as little light as you want and they are adjustable to place light where you want. We clamp one on just outside the door so we have a porch light and we use another on our food prep/serving area.

    • Clamp lights? Could you explain a little more? Are you in the USA or Canada? Home Hardware have clamp lights, I wonder if they are the same as you are talking about.

    • Having reread your comment, I realize that the clamp lights I was thinking of would NOT be what you are talking about. You said they take a regular bulb?

    • I checked out the Lowes and Home Depot websites. The clamp lights I located do not appear to be waterproof. Even inside the dining tent, you run the risk of water.They are running about $13.99 – $16.99.

  55. Well over a year ago I found this blog and love the ideas. I asked about ways of hanging and storing our clothes. Hubby is visually impaired so we like to keep everything as tidy as possible to help him out. You folks have offered different ideas and we considered them. We ended up buying 3 shoe racks that stack to attempt to put our socks, underwear bottoms etc. on. 2 surfaces each. (We can pull them apart and they will take up less space than a set of plastic drawers which really would have been my choice.) After hunting on line and in stores for a clothing rack for hangers which was just long enough for shirts (ones in stores are about 64 inches high) I googled how to build one. Found several sites where they were made from PVC pipe in various sizes and shapes. Eureka! great idea. Asked at the local hardware store and were told he really didn’t feel PVC would hold our stuff with out going with a large pipe. I want compact!!! So….. hubby says, what about dowelling? We purchased the PVC elbows, connectors to fit the size of dowelling we wanted. We will just place them together and pull apart when not in use. Now we just have to cut the dowelling to fit and put it together. Just hope it works as well as it seems it should. These will still sit on the counter where our duffle bags always sat. Everything was reasonably in expensive so we aren’t out a lot if it doesn’t work out. Shoe racks our daughter can use at college for shoes!

    • Oh and I would love to load pics of our campground set up, cooking and dining areas just to show how we do it. We mostly go for 2 weeks each summer, so we do take a lot of stuff. On weekend trips we would not take a second little fridge but would make do with the one in the pop up. I hated rifling thru totes all the time which is why I set up a set of drawers as our “kitchen cupboards”.

  56. Well we got the clothes rack built !! Hopefully when we get things set up, we will be able to get photos to upload.

  57. I have some help for some of the problems discussed above. Go my Pinterest page called: Dee’s…I Don’t Camp . I have been doing a lot of research on pop up campers and trailers. My son got one that needs work and I said I would help him. To answer the question about the title of my page…I personally have only camped one weekend in my life with my husband and my 3 kids. Everyone is now grown …My son became a Eagle Scout at 16 and has always loved camping…so now him and his son now want to camp … so mom has offered to help….I have to do research before I tackle stuff.,this explains how I started with Pinterest…..I tried to find the places you could buy the products and pinned those as often as possible. Please try the page I think you will find it helpful…. I add something to almost everyday. It everything from food to repairing. to rodent control,,, the decorating is my favorite. When we are done with his i will post the before and after pictures of the pop up. Wish all Happy Camping…..

  58. We used our shoe racks stacked together and home built clothing rack. They worked really well for two weeks in one campground. We would not bother but leave things in our duffle bags if we were travelling-setting up and taking down every night. There is a lot we would eliminate in that case.
    I asked quite awhile ago for an idea for light in the dining tent. I found a home built light on Pinterest. Sorry I can not give credit. I don’t remember who he was. I sent it to a friend of hubby’s. We had a pail, the actual light fixture that attaches to the electrical box (that we had on hand) that would normally be in the ceiling and an extension cord. Hubby had to get a new end for the cord. When this was all put together, I used caulking we had to seal around the fixture where it was fastened in the hole in the bottom of the pail. We used a piece of wire to make a handle and hung it from the dining tent supports with a bungee cord. We used one of the ‘swirly’ bulbs 13 watt, and it gave great light. All we bought was the cord end. Just like having a hanging light at home.
    I really wanted to have the photos uploaded of how we used our things in the tent trailer and dining tent. However, our family techie went back to college without doing it.
    We discovered a hole in one of the wheel wells- the plastic cover, while camping. I patched it with duck tape. Anyone know how to do a permanent patch? Must get it done before we get critters in there.

  59. We are about to purchase a used pop up, and I started making a packing list when I realized there’s probably a blogger somewhere who’s done it better than I can. You are that person. This is that list. What a sanity saver. I’m printing it out now to follow it step by step. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  60. One of the most important parts of organizing the tent trailer is having everything organized to “put into the trailer” or to take camping. The last several years we have had some stuff stored in our porch, in two areas of the basement and in the garage. (My sister moved her stuff out that she has had stored here for 12 years.) We bought two sets of shelving and hubby set them up in that space. Now everything is TOGETHER. Even the tents we aren’t using are there. No more hunting for everything. Our college daughter has loaded the trailer at home but coming home this year, hubby could NOT remember how things had been placed. I meant to reload and take a photo when we got home but we forgot. I’ll have to draw a diagram and put it in the folder with all the trailer papers. It sits in the first cupboard with all the tools for setting up/taking down.

Leave a Reply