Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) principles are often long forgotten when people are packing up vehicles for a camping trip. I know I'm often guilty of this myself. You want to take every piece of camping gear you ever purchased with you up until it's time to pack your vehicle. You realize you don't have as much space as you imagined in your head. Often times we want to pack everything including the kitchen sink. We're all afraid of leaving that critical piece of gear behind because there's no worst feeling than realizing all your cooking pans are in your garage when you're 500 miles away from home.
Keeping everything clean and organized is also a great goal to achieve. Having all your gear in containers or boxes that are well labeled and ready to go also makes spontaneous trips a real possibility. You're more likely to take a random weekend trip if all you need to do is load a few containers then grab beer, water, and ice on your way out of town.
The following checklist/ organization works for us. It's not perfect but it's centered around the type of camping we most often do. Depending on the type of location and activities we target we will often add or remove gear as needed. I've categorized all my camping gear into the following three containers--
Tent/ Hiking Container
This container is usually the first one to be unpacked when we first arrive at camp. We always try to set up the tent as soon as we arrive, before we lose light and/or get lazy.
This containers houses everything needed to make a meal for two or more people. Often we also just throw in any dry goods & snacks we will be eating during the trip in this container. If I am solo backpack camping this container gets consolidated down to the lightweight MSR stove and dehydrated meals. Having this large container organized becomes a chore due to the large amount of small items floating around inside.
Remote Camping Container
This container will come with us if we will be spending multiple nights in remote areas without restroom or bath facilities. This contain also holds any tools needed for a emergency roadside repair since often we will be traveling on remote off-road trails. This container is probably the heaviest but every piece of gear inside is essential when you're hours away from a paved road.
It's important to note everything in these containers listed above is the most used gear when camping for a weekend in a State or National Park. The Remote Camping Container is currently still a work in progress as more additional items such as off-road recovery gear is purchased. I will probably write another separate article once that container is 'completed'. But for now these three containers help us stay organized for any outdoor adventures that may come our way.