Packing the Sprinter

When it came time to pack the Sprinter for our road trips I contemplated many options. I spent a fair amount of time reviewing the really cool options folks post on Pinterest. It is very impressive what many of them have done.

I really like the Kelty Base Binto bags which is what we used pre-Sprinter. The problem with the Binto bags is they do not stack well depending on what is in them. Items like the camp kitchen just do not fit well and remain organized and stackable.

Here is my criteria:

  1. It had to be removable – I don’t carry the camping gear in the van all the time
  2. It had to be organized so I could readily find what I’m looking for
  3. It must be durable
  4. It had to be practical for the tent camping we do
  5. It had to be affordable

After doing many searches on Pinterest, Google, and Amazon I landed on simple a plastic shipping container from Akro-Mills. Certainly not sexy but they do the trick.

It had to be removable.

It had to be organized so I could readily find what I’m looking for.

I purchased a variety of sizes and color to aid in this. Green is food, Red is cookware, Blue is tent items, etc. The sizes work so each unit stacks uniformly and little items don’t need to be lost in a big tote. I contemplated doing the same thing with the large camp duffel bags but they wouldn’t stack uniformly. I’d end up with a massive pile.

It must be durable

This is why I chose the Akro-Mills. The cost a tad more than other totes but the metal pin that holds the lid on is 1 complete unit and strong. Others are made purely of plastic and I foresaw lids breaking. These units are made for shipping industrial goods and medical supplies routinely. I think they will hold up for my weekend camping excursions.

It had to be practical for the tent camping we do

This meant weight, movement of gear, and unpack/repack had to be simple. If I had built one of the units found on Pinterest in the back of the van, all of our gear would be in the van and I’d spend my weekend walking between the campsite and the van. I found a collapsible dolly that the totes stack on really well and can move several at a time. By getting various sizes I can control the weight of each so they do not become too heavy being sure to save the large ones for light bulky items.

It had to be affordable

I did end up spending more than I had originally planned on the totes I feel I still did well in total on the budget. I bought 36 totes in all – amazon has package deals in lots of 3 and 6. You can also find these units on eBay and other used outlets. Buying used can mean you do not get the color selection which then could impact your organization. Our gear fit nicely in about 30 of the totes. The other six contain extra stuff – older gadgets and the like – that we do not take on every trip.

Each tote is labeled with its contents and we are refining the proper arrangement of what needs to be packed with what. The uniform size made it easy to pack the back of the Sprinter and even gain nice space utilization with wheel well. We still use our Kelty Binto bags for clothes, but they too are square and packed nicely atop the totes.

I searched the many options of plastic totes. Specifically looking for the more square units as to not lose space in packing. For structural design the units are wider at the top than the bottom leaving a void of lost packing space. The Akro-Mills minimize this and the top of the bottom unit is designed to receive the bottom of the next unit. This helps minimize movement. I learned that it is important to pay attention to the weight of the totes when stacking as to not put heavier totes up high. You can stack these five high in the Sprinter and do not want to put a heavy tote towards the top with light sleeping bag totes at the bottom. The load will easily shift on a freeway jug-handle. Seems like common sense but we all have to learn somehow.

camping, gear, packing, Sprinter

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