Everything in its right place – how great storage can make or break a camping experience
“In the desert I had found a freedom unattainable in civilization; a life unhampered by possessions, since everything that was not a necessity was an encumbrance.”
– William Thesiger, Arabian Sands
The creature we call man was, for millennia, nomadic. He roamed. His possessions were, by necessity, few, lightweight and honed down to what he could carry on his back.
By the time the wheel was invented, man had largely forgone foraging for farming.
But the open road beckons to those with the right kind of ears. And upon the way, we carry far more than our forebearers, and we do it better.
Today, how you carry the necessities (and the little luxuries that separate camping from homelessness) can make or break your adventure.
Here at Kimberley Kampers headquarters, we have learned the hard way how to create, improve and utilise storage space: through decades of time spent designing, travelling, testing, redesigning and honing every aspect.
Good storage is about four related core tenets:
If you have to get the keys to the Cortina to move the Camira so you can get the Torana out to get to the Commodore, you’re doing it wrong.
How many times have you seen someone on the side of the road, their entire life, it seems, sprawled across the shoulder so they could get to the spare tire inside the boot of their 4WD.
Good storage design doesn’t just mean bolting a box wherever its convenient, or calling void spaces storage because they don’t have a better function.
It’s about experimenting and designing every box, drawer and cubby so that they are easy to get to, easy to use and don’t get in each other’s way.
A painter friend recently spilled four liters of white paint in the back of his van and painted a new white line on the road from Bunnings back to his driveway. His storage wasn’t reliable. Quality latches that won’t bounce open on the first corrugations, locks that are easy to use and hard to break into, dust sealing…all of these things come together to ensure that when you get to camp, everything you so carefully packed is still where you left it.
Utilisation of space
Space…the final frontier. There are a million ways to take advantage of every cubic centimetre of space. Square containers will fit together and waste less space than round containers. Collapsible containers are amazing because you gain space while you use the contents, eg.: water bags or casks vs jerry cans; cans instead of bottles.
Break up your space. Unless you’re carrying dirtbikes around, you want a way to take your larger spaces and make them adaptable, i.e. quality plastic boxes, canvas bags or drawers. If your stuff is organised, it’ll stay neater and use less space. It is so much easier to pull out two boxes to get to a third, than to rifle through three boxes’ worth of piled up stuff trying to find what you’re looking for.
The path to packing enlightenment is paved with the tiny stones of small changes, open eyes, patience and anger. Small changes add up, you don’t have to fix it all at once. Noticing something on the road means you can change it for the next trip. Patience is about letting ideas compete in your head until one clearly wins. And anger…that’s about when you can’t close a drawer on the road because something loose fell behind it: there is no better motivation known for solving your storage problem.
After every trip, or even every couple of months if you’re living on the road, it pays to unload every single thing from your vehicle/ caravan/ camper and repack it. You’ll be surprised how many pointless things you’ve been carrying around, and how much room you’ll find repacking things with your recent time on the road.
Make a packing list, too. It will help make sure you don’t forget anything important, remind you what to replace and help show you what to leave behind next time.