5 Tips for Packing Down Your Campsite

An adventure into the outdoors is always going to be a communal experience.

Be you travelling with family or friends, sharing a site with your neighbours, or visiting an isolated spot that someone else will eventually occupy – there is always a sense of community in the outdoors. This is what allows us to create memories that last a lifetime, which is why it’s important to ensure that we leave spaces as we found them. That way, they’re ready for the next group to visit. It’s not a pleasant experience when there are pieces of rubbish left at the campsite, toilets not packed down properly, or campfires left full of glass, tin, and foil. This makes it difficult for the next group of campers to have a positive start.

As a camping nation, we need to work together to get it right when it comes to packing up camp. With that in mind, here are five tips for packing down your campsite properly.

A young family of four sitting on a picnic rug with a cooler, outside a tent.

Be you travelling with family or friends, or sharing a site with your neighbours – there is always a sense of community in the outdoors. Image: BlackWolf

1. Be Conscious of Time

You’ve had a great time camping, but sadly the time has arrived to either move on or head home. While you want to dismiss the thought of pack-up for as long as possible, it’s important you give yourself enough time to avoid the rush. This will only result in mistakes; you get into the car, and you’re ready to drive off… then it hits you. Your keys are still in the tent pocket, which is packed up in its bag… which is buried at the bottom of your trailer!

Not taking your time can also result in gear breaking. Snapping your tent poles because you’re deconstructing them the incorrectly just to get home faster is not ideal!

Or, going to use that expensive torch you bought, only to find that you can’t… because you left it at the campsite!

Not only is your time important to consider, but so is the time of others. Many people love to get an early start on the journey, home which is no problem – unless you involve everyone in the process! Nobody likes being woken up to the sound of people packing up – especially when it involves pots crashing into each other, or cursing because the tent won’t fit into the bag! If you’re leaving super early, start packing the night before so that your morning efforts cause minimal disturbance.

A young family unzipping a tent and packing a backpack.

Take your time packing up, and clearing up your campsite. Image: BlackWolf

2. Take Your Rubbish With You

The idea of dealing with your own rubbish properly seems obvious and straightforward – but sadly, in my experience, it quite frequently isn’t. The approach is simple: what you bring into your campsite, you should take home with you.

If you’re lucky enough to camp where bins are provided, feel free to use these – but once they’re full, the responsibility is on you to deal with your own rubbish, not the people who placed the bins there!

Don’t be that person who leaves rubbish next to a bin. Don’t be that person who buries rubbish, either. Rubbish attracts animals, even if it’s buried – they still smell it out and dig it up, and this results in a rubbish-strewn campsite! Not only is this unpleasant to come across, it can result in bad habits for the local wildlife.

A lady sitting with a baby on her lap outside a tent, with watermelon on a picnic rug. A man is pulling back the tent fly.

The responsibility is on you to take care of your own rubbish. Image: Oztent

3. Clear Your Campfire

Dealing with your campfire is not only important for your fellow campers but the entire community. The simple reality is that a badly managed fire has severe consequences.

When it comes time to depart, ensure that your campfire is completely extinguished (even the embers that aren’t glowing) by pouring any leftover fluids that you don’t need over the fire. If extra water isn’t available, you can ‘suffocate’ it by turning dirt over onto the campfire. In the event that you don’t have other options, find water from a source close by to extinguish the campfire. Even after it seems to be completely diminished, throw another splash or turn another shovel of dirt for good measure.

Also, ensure that no rubbish is left in the fire pit. While it’s discouraged to try burning glass, tin, or foil – if you choose to do so, ensure these are pulled from the ashes and placed in your rubbish bag before departing. Nobody appreciates coming across a fire pit full of dangerous debris, let alone rubbish in general.

Woman sitting at her campsite before packing up to go home.

There’s nothing better than a roaring campfire, but make sure you take the steps to clear it out. 

4. Clean Your Gear to Avoid Double Handling

Naturally, you’ll likely be feeling tired toward the end of your camping trip. The thought of getting home to a hot shower and your own bed is becoming more appealing with every moment. However, you can’t be complacent when it comes to packing down your gear!

You’ve paid good money for quality equipment. In order to maintain that quality, you need to take good care of it. The best thing to do is to start this process at the campsite to limit the double handling you’ll need to do once you get home. This doesn’t require a whole cupboard of cleaning gear; you can do the little things like shaking out the dirt, drying out your gear, and washing your cutlery and crockery before you hit the road.

When you arrive home, all there is to do take care of the small tasks rather than starting everything from scratch.

A man is leaning into his tent with a soft cooler to his left.

You’ve paid good money for quality equipment – so take good care of it. Image: Coleman

5. Keep a List, so Next Time is Better!

During your adventure, and especially during pack down, you’ll undoubtedly remember things you’ve forgotten!

You also might conjure ideas on how to make improvements, or discover your gear needs either repairing or replacing.

Take the stress out of all of this by having a sheet of paper or notebook handy. That way, you can record these notes before you forget them, and sort everything before your next adventure. This is especially important if you need to repair or replace any equipment; sometimes spare parts can take some time to source, or new products may take a while to adapt to.

Give yourself the peace of mind that you’ve prepared and organised yourself better when the next adventure calls, so you’re ready to hit the road again!

A tent is standing in a forest of trees, the sunlight streaming in, with two camp chairs and picnic set-up out the front.

Give yourself the peace of mind that you’ve prepared and organised yourself better when the next adventure calls. Image: Oztent

Let us in on your best packing tips below!