After a long day of hiking, you’ll be glad to come back home to your tent to get some rest and prepare for the next day. While your backpack is a great companion on all your adventures, you might not know quite what to do with it when it comes time to settle in for the night. When tent camping, there are several options for storing your backpack.
It’s always a good idea to keep your backpack close to keep it safe. However, personal safety is your number one priority when camping, so you don’t want to keep your backpack nearby if it will attract wildlife or other dangers.
Let’s examine a variety of options for storing a backpack that are convenient and prevent it from getting harmed by animals or nature.
Do I store my backpack inside my tent?
The easiest and most secure method of storing your backpack is to keep it inside the tent with you at all times. However, storing your backpack may not always be the safest option if you are camping where there is a danger of wildlife, particularly in bear country. Deciding where to store your backpackpack will depend on what you had inside it during the day. Of course, any food and scented items should be stored in a bear canister or food locker when encountering wildlife or bear is a possibility.
But what about the backpack itself?
If you want to stay safe in bear country, we suggest you read another article that we wrote to help keep you safe. How to store food in bear country.
If you carried food in your backpack all day while hiking, for example, air it out once the food has been removed. You shouldn’t need to store it outside the tent unless something spilled on or inside the backpack or there was a strong smell that continues to linger.
Do a quick inspection of the exterior and look for stains or marks. Smell it to see if it has any food residue and make sure to shake out any crumbs. Dispose of wrappers or waste from food packages and containers.
In cases where your backpack has been spilled on, don’t store it in the tent with you. Instead, explore alternate options that keep the bag secure but far from where you are sleeping.
After an inspection, if you find that the bag is clean, it is safe to keep it inside where you can simply stow it in a corner or put it to use as a pillow by stuffing unused clothing inside.
While food is the obvious culprit when it comes to bear proofing your campsite, don’t forget other scented items in your toiletry kit such as toothpaste, soap, wipes, deodorant, perfume, cosmetics, bug spray, or sunscreen. If you had any of these items in your backpack during the day, make sure to remove them and store them separately, away from your tent.
For sleeping comfortably in your tent, check out this article that we wrote. 8 Real Tips For Sleeping Comfortably In A Tent (Easy to do advice)
Storage Options Inside the Tent
Inside the tent, there are a few possibilities for storing your backpack to keep it out of the way and help keep things organized. One is to utilize the gear loft which is usually made of mesh and attaches to the top of the tent for storing things.
Most gear lofts are on the smaller side but, depending on the size and weight of your backpack, it could be stored there to keep it out of the way. Larger size gear lofts that are designed for multiple people and larger tents may be a bit easier to use for storing a bigger backpack.
If there are interior loops on the roof of the tent, attach a carabiner to the top handle of the backpack and hang it from there. This is an effective way to dry out a backpack if it’s raining outside and you don’t have a vestibule or tarp.
Make sure the backpack isn’t too heavy for the loops or else you’ll end up breaking them. This is best for lightweight backpacks that have been emptied. It could also inadvertently help add weight to your tent in particularly windy weather.
Portable organizers and storage containers can also be brought along and placed inside the tent to organize space. If you have one of these, you could store your backpack there to keep it secure in the tent without being cluttered.
You can also put the backpack to use by using it as a pillow or footbox to keep feet extra warm inside your sleeping bag. To make sleeping more comfortable, a backpack can be put underneath your knees for extra support.
Storing Your Backpack in the Test Vestibule Area
The vestibule of a tent acts like a mudroom and is usually located along the sides or at the front of the tent. It’s a place to store your gear if you don’t have room inside the tent.
Another great use is to change out of your dirty gear before getting into the tent so the interior stays clean. In colder weather, vestibules can block the wind and get you out of the cold while preparing food or doing other tasks that can’t be performed inside the tent.
Most vestibules don’t have a floor but just consist of a flap that uses the tent to hold it up. Some tents don’t have a built-in vestibule but you can purchase a portable one to use on the side. Other tents will have an add-on option where a vestibule can be zipped into the tent.
It’s pretty safe to store your backpack in the vestibule because it will be nearby and protected from the weather. However, a floorless vestibule means your gear could get wet if there is rain or flooding.
The vestibule isn’t quite as secure as the tent if you’re concerned about animals or theft and the same precautions when it comes to food apply. Don’t store food inside the backpack or on its own in the vestibule. If there is any residue, clean the backpack thoroughly or store it far from the tent.
Although animals more than likely will not approach the tent or come inside the vestibule, there is also the possibility that some rodents could access your gear. If you have a particularly expensive backpack, you will want to prevent it from getting chewed or damaged.
If you opt to store your backpack in the vestibule, an added layer of protection is advisable if you are worried about damage. You can put the backpack into a large, durable trash bag or cover it with your tarp to keep it more secure.
Options for Storing a Backpack Outside the Tent
When it comes to storing your backpack outside your tent, there are many different ways to do this. You can lean it against the tent or keep it just outside, a foot or so away. Cover it with a bag for protection from the weather and animals.
Consider hanging a tarp over the tent or stringing it up nearby so you have added shelter for storing gear. Then put the backpack on the ground or on a picnic table that is shielded from the weather by the tarp.
Another option is to store it by propping your backpack against a tree. If you are concerned that bears or other animals will try to get into the backpack, try hanging it up in a tree. Just connect a carabiner to a rope and toss it over a branch to secure it.
If rain is expected, always cover your backpack with a waterproof cover, put it inside a dry bag, or use a durable trash bag. Whenever you leave your backpack outside of the tent overnight, check the pockets and any openings for insects or small animals before repacking in the morning.
When storing a backpack that has food smells or, if you are forced to store food in the backpack, make sure to put it far from your tent. The distance will depend on the type of wildlife you are dealing with, but a good rule of thumb is to store food 100 yards from your tent.
Use airtight bags to minimize odors and clean any empty containers far from your campsite. Take advantage of the winds and try not to store anything fragrant in an area where the scent will be blown toward your tent.
Storage Options when Car Camping
Even if you’re camping in a tent, you may be at a designated campground and have your car parked nearby. If this is the case, you can store your backpack inside the car overnight or any time you aren’t using it.
This will protect it from the elements so it remains dry and can be used immediately again when needed the next day. Make sure to thoroughly inspect it and make sure there aren’t any bugs or debris inside that could escape into your car.
Although a car does seem very secure, the food rule also applies here. If you must keep food inside the backpack when storing it in the car, the first place to use is the trunk of the car. Bears, in particular, won’t be able to open it and, if they can’t see it, they should leave the car alone.
If the trunk is not an option, put the backpack inside the car and cover it with something so it is not visible. Make sure to lock all the car doors because bear do know how to open doors. Just don’t forget your keys inside!
For more great articles on tent camping click here.