What to Pack in a Camping Bin

When I decide to go camping, it’s usually a spontaneous, last-minute idea. To make it easier to take off on an outdoorsy trek as soon as nature calls – without forgetting any essentials – I keep a big plastic storage container packed with most of my camping supplies ready to grab and go.

What to pack in a camping bin? Here are the contents of my Big Blue Camping Bin:

Contents of my Big Blue Camping Bin packing to prepare for camping

Here is the list of supplies inside my Big Blue Camping Bin (starting in the upper left-hand corner and going clockwise):

  • Plastic tarp
  • Tools: ax, 10-inch folding saw, 6-inch survival knife, pocket knife
  • Rope: 100-foot paracord, extra rope, extra tent stakes
  • Light: lantern, flashlights, extra batteries, fireproof matches, flint, citronella candle
  • Cooking: aluminum foil, spatula, cooking spray, oven mitts, hot pads, cutting board, teapot, cast iron skillet (*utensils stored separately in small container – see below)
  • Eating: plates, cups (*utensils stored separately in small container – see below)
  • Washing: collapsible sink, eco-friendly dish soap, dish rag, hand sanitizer
  • Tape: electrical and duct tape
  • Toiletries: sunscreen, bug spray, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, soap, shampoo, towels, washcloths, lotion
    • TIP: Store bottles of liquid in Ziplock bags! I learned this the hard way after camping in higher altitudes.
      • I use a gallon-sized Ziplock bag to store the “liquid” half of my First Aid Kit (click to read my full list of First Aid supplies), and a sandwich bag for travel-size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion for showering.
  • Entertainment: playing cards, Left Center Right dice game, books, crossword puzzles, trivia cards, drawstring backpack for hiking
  • Solar/battery/crank-powered portable radio with USB chargers
  • Air mattress pump

To keep smaller items easily accessible so they don’t get lost in the bottom of the bin, I added a small, plastic, shoe box-sized container that stays near the top of the big bin.

Here’s a better look at everything packed into the small bin:

contents of small camping preparedness bin

And a list of contents:

  • Coffee: ground coffee, filters, rubber bands, teabags, packets of sugar/cream/stirrers
    • TIP: How to make camping coffee: Spoon coffee grounds into a heap in the center of a coffee filter, then secure it shut with a rubber band. Throw the bag in teapot full of water, place on grill over fire until water boils, periodically stirring and squeezing the bag to assist brewing.
    • TIP: Hotels often have convenient single-serving packets of coffee, sugar, creamer, etc., often packaged together.
  • Cleaning: paper towels, dish rag, dish soap, hand sanitizer, plastic doggie bags
  • Utensils: can opener, tongs, spatula, chef’s knife
    • TIP: Store sharp kitchen knives inside a roll of paper towels.
  • Silverware: forks, spoons, knives (stored in Ziplock bag)
  • Light: small LED flashlight, fireproof matches
  • Spices: salt, pepper, garlic powder, seasoned salt (I use Coleman’s set of two 2-sided spice containers)
  • Fun: water balloons, playing cards, glow sticks

Of course, the Big Blue Camping Bin is just one part of my packing list for camping preparedness. Here is the Master Camping Checklist I use to make sure I pack everything I need before I hit the road.

Happy Camping! What survival essentials do you keep in your camping bin?

what to pack in a camping bin

Read more about Fresh Domestic camping here.

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