Less painful pack-up?

Discussion in 'General Camper Setup / Take Down' started by SydsVienne, Jan 17, 2021.

  1. SydsVienne

    SydsVienne New Member

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    I've been a tent camper my entire adult life. Part of that is because I love backpacking and part of it is because nearly every memory I have of camping with my family in our pop up when I was a kid includes a lot of yelling and the last day of every trip being just packing and driving. I felt like it was more of an ordeal than it had to be, and packing up a tent never stressed me out in the same way.

    Flash forward 15 years: it's not so easy to just flee central Texas for the mountains during the months that sleeping in a tent here is terrible. I mean, we still do it, but with husband and stepdaughter it doesn't happen but like once a year now, so we recently got a pup to make the more accessible summer camping actually possible.

    Well we left our first trip that included the dog and kid this morning, and it took us what felt like forever to pack up. It was like when I was a kid all over again: we were frustrated and snappy at each other, and by the time we got the thing hooked up and ready to roll, we were all tired and annoyed and didn't even spend any more time in the park (we had talked about looking for a geocache before heading home). I know it will get faster and easier with practice and as we get our "system" down for where we are packing things, but I found myself missing our tent. We both kinda thought maybe for 2 night weekend trips outside of needing the summer a/c that we might stick with the tent.

    All that to say: any encouraging thoughts/advice about how to make packing up more efficient? We talked about doing more of it the night before next time but don't have many other ideas. Anybody stick to tent camping for their quick weekend trips? HELP!
     
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  2. Dingit

    Dingit Well-Known Member

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    TLDR: bring less stuff.

    Are you setting up all kinds of stuff outside the popup? I prefer to bring out chairs. That's it. But the spouse likes to set up the camp stove and the screen room if it's buggy and act civilized with a tablecloth and a lantern and the kids must have hammocks and the dog needs his lounger and...it escalates. But I've seen some camping setups here on The Portal that must take hours to put away.

    A system will help (I bet you didn't get to be so good at tent camping right away!). Setting up less stuff will help. People who can't get the system down end up with travel trailers. I think you need to keep at it. It will PROBABLY get better!
     
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  3. cuppajoe

    cuppajoe Member

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    One thing we do is to go ahead and pack up everything cooking related after dinner the night before. Final day breakfast is always a no-cook meal, like fruit, pastries, and hard-boiled eggs. It's only one thing, but it helps a lot with making pack up day easier.
     
  4. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Well-Known Member Silver Supporting Member

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    get more organized, take less stuff, simple meals, dedicated storage for PUP stuff (inside Pup and inside house), do what you can a week prior. It gets easier with practice. We did not get our camper until February 2019, we are now 69 going on 70 years old. We don't miss the hassle and discomfort of tent camping one iota.
     
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  5. generok

    generok Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Well, I left tent camping for the hassle of pack in and out. I found the PUP much less hassle because so much can be LEFT IN the PUP between trips. If you're still alternating between tent camping and PUP camping, I can see how that can be troublesome. But, if you're just PUP camping, put everything in the PUP and leave it there. Pillows, sleeping bags, blankets, toiletries, etc. See if you can get to the point where all you need to pack is clean clothes and food.

    As for the last day pack up, well honestly, that's why I left my PUP! It can be a little bit of a chore, and triple so if it is raining. But, give everyone a job to do, and get the kids OUT of the PUP and doing something. Mine had to roll sleeping bags, then GET OUT and police the camp, fold up chairs, and help take down the awning. But eventually they knew when we were packing up to stand out of the way. When it was raining, waiting in the car was very helpful to me, and them. We got good at it, and could move fast, but no matter how fast you move, you still have X steps to do before you pull out. Concentrate on eliminating STEPS, not going faster. Like I said, leave all you can in the PUP for next trip.

    We also found making breakfast with no dishes the best option on last day... cereal worked well, in paper bowls with plastic spoons. Muffins worked in a pinch too (and can also be eaten in the back seat of the car when it is raining!).

    You'll eventually work like a NASCAR pit crew. Hang in there, it gets easier.
     
  6. SydsVienne

    SydsVienne New Member

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    Thanks y'all. I think part of what made me the most crazy is we don't really bring tons of "stuff." This time we had some extra blankets/dog bed and the kid's bike, but otherwise we are not big "setup" people. No tablecloths etc. We had camp chairs and a rug to knock dirt off but that's it. Didn't even use our awning!

    But realistically, it's true that it always takes longer to pack up with dog/kid along with a tent too, so I should probably have expected that to be exacerbated with a system we don't have down yet. I like that "pack your area and get out!" plan. Definitely using that next time.
     
  7. tombiasi

    tombiasi Well-Known Member

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    When I camp with other people everyone has an area of responsibility. Depending on the age of the "kid" he or she may be able to contribute, even if only for a lesson. I would be very impressed however if you could get the dog to pack his own stuff.
     
  8. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah Gold Supporting Member

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    Now that my popup is packed up with everything That gets stored inside all I have to worry about is clothes, food, and chargers. Clothes gets packed few days before and even dry food is thrown in a box days earlier. I plan the meal a week before so I have time to squeeze shopping in. I don’t bother bringing the screen house or other things on weekend trips. If at all possible follow the kiss (keep it stupid simple) method. Give kiddo a job, if old enough, to help with setup. Keep dinner real simple on setup day and breakfast real simple on close up.
     
  9. cuppajoe

    cuppajoe Member

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    I don't know how old your child is, but when ours was small her one and only job on packing day was walking every inch of the campsite looking for any bits of trash. Once they start looking, they'll find a ton of tiny bits of plastic, clear straw wrappers, specks of foil, etc. It's a great way to let a small child know they're doing something important while keeping them out of your way. Bonus, i know she'll always follow the campsite rule when she grows up!
     
  10. DiamondGirl

    DiamondGirl Adventures with KODI in AZ Diamond Supporting Member

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    We start packing the night before leaving camp. We pack up items that won’t be used during the last morning before leaving. DH and I will clear out the back of the truck, begin sorting and organizing items after the last dinner. It makes packing the next day/final morning easier to pack. On the final morning, I will prepare breakfast sandwiches in the microwave and use paperware so no dish washing is needed. After breakfast, we begin packing up. DH will pack up outside items while I pack up the inside of the Aliner. Plastic tubs are labeled which makes packing and unpacking easy. Once my tasks are completed inside, I will assist DH with packing up the outside and hooking the Aliner onto the TV.

    Most camping gear is kept inside the Aliner during storage and transport. The propane fire pit, Camp Chef Ranger III stove, dishwashing tubs, Dometic portable potty, TV, shower items, PopUp garbage can, Chuckbox, plastic dresser for paper products, water system gear, inflatable sofa, table games, horse shoes, shower tent and hammock are kept inside the Aliner. Clothes, bedding linens, food, temperature sensitive items(cleaning products, first aid kit and etc) and rechargeable electronics are packed/unpacked from the house. Large items such as EzUp, chairs, tables, ice chest for drinks, Hydroller water containers, Camp kitchen, foam mats, and the Honda generator are packed and unpacked from the TV.

    Happy Camping...[ALPU][PUT]
     
  11. Dingit

    Dingit Well-Known Member

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    If you can pop up when you get home, you can just cram everything in and deal with it at your own pace at home. :)
     
  12. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Well-Known Member

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    Back in November I went through the same thing you are going through. I was tired and discussed because I had to pack up so much stuff. I was actually ready to sell the pup and buy a hard side trailer. I said so in my video. But after I got home and had time to think about it I realized that there were things I could do to solve the problem. My oldest son was with me on that trip,but he had his own slid-in bed camper. I am alone so there is nobody to help me or chew me out for doing something wrong in the pack-up process. The problem was... I had too much stuff!

    Here is an example of what I brought along for the four day trip to the high Sierra mountains. I had three spare tires, two camp stoves, two ice chests, three buckets, a water transfer pump, a portable folding table, a metal detector, a drone, enough food for three weeks, three sleeping bags, two pillows, a heavy duty blanket, a suitcase full of extra clothes, a laptop computer, two bags of camera equipment, two 2 gallons gas cans for the Quad, three 5 gallon propane bottles, a portable BBQ with six 1 pound bottles, a full 5 gallon water container, a 24 bottle case of purified water, and a whole bunch of other normal routine stuff that you should have in your camper. Cranking the top up and down, setting the BAL leveler, and adjusting the stabilizer jacks was a real pain. Too make matters worse, we were camping in 6 inches of snow at the 6,000 foot level in the mountains. Needless to say, the trip in the snow, the altitude, the "stuff", and my age (75) did not go well on that trip. I was beat!

    So when I got home I was determined to minimize the load and work to set-up and take down. I got rid of the three 20 degree sleeping bags and bought one Zero degree bag. I leave the two spare tires at home and just rely on the one mounted on the camper. No more two 2 gallon gas cans. The quad holds 2.5 gallons and I have yet to run out on the longest trip. I cook on the camper's internal stove and leave the extra camping stove at home. I don't take the portable BBQ or small propane bottles any longer. I just don't need it. One extra 5 gallon propane bottle is enough. I might change my mind on that one... we'll see. I only take one pair of extra clothes, except I take plenty of socks and underwear. I also decided that I didn't need all that food. I did not need to eat every meal like I was at home. No more fried eggs, hash browns, sausage and toast in the morning. Breakfast is now a package of dehydrated scrambled eggs and sausage. I bring along some lunch meat and bread for lunch. Maybe a few items to snack on. For dinner, it is now a package of dehydrated Lasagna or beef stroganoff. Just add boiling water and you have quite a tasty meal. I've discovered that those thing are really pretty good. I took out all of the canned food and added 25 dehydrated food packs with various entrees. All of that was good, but the biggest change I made was purchasing a cordless electric drill and an adapter to raise and lower the top, adjust the BAL leveler and the stabilizers. That drill alone made camping so much easier.

    My list may change somewhat depending on where I go, who I go with, and how long I'm going to stay out. But I did manage to thin the load and make set-up and take-down a whole lot quicker and easier. Here is the link to my video. I posted it it somewhere a while back on one of the other threads, but I don't remember which one it was.
     
  13. SydsVienne

    SydsVienne New Member

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    [LOL] There's a real possibility the cram and deal with it later method is why packing up the tent felt so fast in comparison. Unfortunately we have a very sloped driveway. We can chock and park the pup in it but even with tongue as low as it will go we can't get it level enough to raise roof all the way up, so we at least need to get the under-seat stuff repacked correctly.
     
  14. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    It will get easier as you figure out a process. Every pup and camper is different. It took me a year to get things sorted out for the basic process. It still takes me forever to pack up, but that is partly because I bring too much gear, and most of my camping has been for extended stays so I like to bring a full outdoor cooking setup and other stuff. I also have a slide, which means much of my gear has to be packed a certain way to fit, and whenever I change what I bring it takes a couple trips to remember the new jigsaw puzzle.

    I start packing the night before - clothes, food, packing up any electronics, extra lights and so on. Camp kitchen gets packed down except for what I need to cook breakfast. Stuff that goes in the car gets packed that night as well if possible.

    Look at what you bring, what you use and what you need. Figure out what really needs to come, and where it needs to be packed. Once you get a couple trips under your belt it will all start to fall into place easier.

    I will admit though, camping in TX summer sucks. I do it, and setting up and packing down are the two worst times of my trip. I am often drenched in sweat when finished - we usually pack a clean set of clothes for departure day so we can shower and drive home clean. That 100 degree heat will do a number on you, especially when you sleep in like we usually do.
     
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  15. Fish N Farm

    Fish N Farm Well-Known Member

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    I saw some where that people were strapping their BAL Lever on their step and I tried it on my PUP and it worked fine. With the tool box and the front deck I have I don't need to find a place to store it. I have been thinking about switching my F150 to an extended so that I would have room for a boat on an overhead rack. I can't get a quad type vehicle in the bed if I am towing anything. I have ditched the propane grill. If there is a burn ban in effect I can use my George Foreman out doors. I even use my drill to work my dolly jack.
     
  16. silvermickey2002

    silvermickey2002 Morris County, NJ Gold Supporting Member

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    At the beginning of the season we pack the pup with what we need. Then when we go on a trip most of the stuff is in there. Make a list!!! I have a list I still use 13 years later!!! Yes, the list gets modified a little now and then. But it helps!!! Now, as for packing up to go home, we just throw everything in the pup and close it up. Makes getting out of the CG easier and faster!! I know it sounds like we're nuts! But once we get home before we unpack, we will sit down and relax. Depending when we get home, we will have a nice lunch or dinner, then start unpacking. And we will not unpack everything at once. We will take two days to unpack, clean and have it ready for the next trip!
     
  17. Natureangel

    Natureangel Everythings better outdoors...

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    My take down takes forever. I do a deep cleaning and will do simple repairs as I do it. Strip beds, clean fridge and get it totally dry ( have to shut in down early).
    Except for making the beds the pup is ready to go for the next time.
     
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  18. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    As you camp in the popup, you may be able to determine what can be left behind, and develop a better routine. After 20 or so years of tent camping, we had two popups, then moved to a small TT. Both popups were small enough that what we could pack inside wasn't that much different than tent camping. the first one was a 6', one bunk end Palomino, the second an 8', two bunk Coleman. We still needed to use our rooftop cargo box.
    With just two of us, and not kids or pets, packing was easier than those who have one or both. Food and kitchen boxes stayed in the tow vehicle, except at meal times, so that made coping with those easier. After supper the night before departure, we prepped outside items for the morning - tables rolled up (we could then stash them on the extra bunk on the Coleman), chairs under the bunk end, shade/rain structure(s) packed; if the camp stove was out, it was put back in the cargo box. We could use our inside stove for an easy breakfast. If we're heading home, breakfast dishes just go in a plastic bag and are dealt with once we get home. On overnight stops or for a short weekend trip, we tried to have a little outside as possible.
    If pushed, and with the simplest set-up, I had been known to be up and on the road in 45 minutes on a solo trip. These days, even in the travel trailer, 2 hours is more the norm, from the time we wake up. We can do it more quickly, but it takes me time to get moving (at 66, being stiff in the morning is a given). We've also learned that trying to rush means things get missed. If we need to be on the road early, we set an early alarm. We live and camp in the SW, most of our driving days are 5-9 hours, so planning is a good thing.
     
  19. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Well-Known Member Silver Supporting Member

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    Just the two of us - we almost always cook inside the ALiner - so less stuff to be moved around. We added two cargo doors to make it easier to store and retrieve exterior items. Our bed stays made up - except when we upend it do dig out items from beneath it - or check the wet cell batteries.
     
  20. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Well-Known Member

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    For me there is no "Camping Season"! I live on the desert The weather is generally clear with widely scattered sunshine. No humidity. Winter has very cold nights, and summer has very hot days. Sometimes a little wind to make it exciting. I have a heater and A/C, so I'm good to go anytime of years... and generally do. I have a Fridge in the camper that works very well, but I prefer to use my two ice chests strapped on a rack at the rear of the camper. I take them off when I get home. I rarely use my awning, but if I do I take it down the night before. I will generally clean and put things away after I use them. If I have the Quad, I'll load it in the pick-up the night before as well. If I have the generator, it will go in the door as the last thing to be loaded.

    Sometimes, like last weekend, I will go out in the desert just for an over-nighter. I just find a nice spot in the desert away from everybody and every thing. I'll arrive about noon, set up and just sit in my recliner for the afternoon. I might even take a little nap. The next morning, I'll pack up again and go home. I love the solitude and stillness of the open desert. Now that I have taken out most of the non-needed "stuff", set-up and take-down is quick and painless. I'm already planning my next over night trip. Here is a link to my last over night trip.
     

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