So you’ve decided to go camping, but you’re looking for a few new setup ideas for your campsite that take you beyond the basics.
Functionality and convenience are a must, but not at the expense of pleasure—or even luxury!
We get it.
Some of our favourite camping setups are super simple and surprisingly comfy.
From bringing the indoors out, to enjoying a tasty campfire meal, the list of setup ideas are virtually endless!
Here’s what we’ve done at least once or twice…
Bring a small mat for your tent doorway
It’s always best to remove your shoes before entering your tent, but if you’re camping on dirt or sand, removing them (or putting them on) can be a bit of a hassle.
To avoid having to stand in your bare feet or socks on the dirty/sandy ground, try placing a small mat right at the doorway that you can stand on or place your feet on while sitting inside.
Hang as many things as you can from nearby trees
Instead of keeping everything on the floor, which makes the campsite look very messy and even puts you at risk of losing something, try hanging them on trees.
Things like dry bags, your main garbage bag, stuff sacks, and almost anything else with a handle can be hung from a short but sturdy branch.
Try a camping cot instead of sleeping on the ground
The ground can be cold, hard, and uneven—but you can solve that problem by switching from an air mattress or sleeping pad to a camping cot.
Better yet, why not combine your air mattress or sleeping pad with a camping cot?
We’re huge fans of the ones from Helinox because they’re super comfy, lightweight, and easy to assemble.
If you love the idea of a camping cot, consider a convertible one
These are heavier and bulkier than their lightweight counterparts, but if you’re car camping or RVing, they could be just the ticket to get some much needed rest and relaxation.
Convertible camping cots are designed to convert from a bed to a camp chair, allowing you to use it for both sleeping and lounging.
Add extra groundsheets beneath your tent for added protection
You should always have at least one groundsheet under your tent, but you can add more to help protect against cold and wet conditions.
This is especially beneficial if you plan on sleeping on the ground since most of the cold will be coming from underneath your body.
Use logs and tree stumps as small tables to store essential items
Some established campsites may already have these, and those that have been cut to have a flat surface are perfect for keeping things like water bottles, sunscreen, bug spray, hand sanitizer, and more in a convenient place.
If your campsite doesn’t have any, make sure you know the park or campground rules before you decide to cut any trees down yourself.
When in doubt, assume that you shouldn’t.
Bring a portable camp table for extra items
Sometimes you just never know what you’ll get at the campsite you’re staying at, so if there’s a chance you won’t have access to a picnic table or tree stumps, a portable table is always a good idea.
Use bright-coloured reflective cordage and tent stakes to avoid tripping over them night
I used to trip over our tent stakes all the time in the dark because I couldn’t see them, which would usually knock them out of the ground.
But now that we use bright orange and red cordage and stakes, my headlamp quickly picks up their reflective colour so I can easily avoid them in the dark.
Swap camp chairs and tables for picnic blankets and food trays
Whether you’re trying to save weight and bulk, or you’re just looking for unique ways to create a cozy campsite atmosphere, an easy way to do that is by setting up a picnic right at your campsite.
A simple wool or fleece blanket will do the trick while a tray table with folding legs can help you keep your food from spilling (or the ants from invading).
Bring extra pillows and blankets
If you’re camping with a group, or the weather is expected to get chilly, it’s worth bringing a few extra blankets and pillows to stay warm.
They’re great for cozying up by the campfire, napping in a hammock, or just beefing up the warmth of a sleeping bag at night.
Have a separate area for processing firewood
If you plan on processing your own firewood with a saw, hatchet, or axe, make sure it’s done at least 10 to 15 feet away from your tent, camp kitchen, common area, and any high traffic areas.
This will ensure the safety of everyone when you swing the axe or if any pieces of wood get thrown from the saw.
Stack processed firewood neatly beside the fire pit
Keep an area beside the fire pit clear for kindling and firewood so you don’t have to search for it in the dark.
Stack it neatly and securely so that it’s easy to access but won’t be easily knocked over or kicked apart by campers walking by.
Set up a hammock to relax among the trees
A hammock is the perfect addition to any campsite that has a lot of trees.
It’s an excellent way to relax in the shade and take in the sights of nature.
Leave the rainfly off your tent on a clear night to fall asleep under the stars
If the forecast is calling for clear skies and balmy temperatures, this is the perfect time to try going without your three-season tent’s outer shell (usually the rainfly) for some stargazing.
You’ll typically be left with the frame and the mesh interior, which should allow you to see out of the top of your tent—but still protect against pesky insects like mosquitos.
Hang small decorative items in or outside of your tent
Bringing a few small items to hang up around your tent is a great way to bring some personality and fun to your campsite.
We love this idea of bringing a small dream catcher and some coloured tassels to hang outside our tent entrance, which adds an extra bit of flair.
Hang battery-powered or solar-powered string of lights around camp
This is especially great for when you’re camping in the backcountry and don’t want to be running off your headlamp all night long.
String up some fairy lights around your campsite to create a whimsical and magical atmosphere.
Bring along an extra tarp
A tarp can be used in so many different ways while camping, from creating shade to sheltering your tent from the rain.
And it’s always better to have one handy just in case you need it!
Serve a charcuterie board for lunch or snacks
A charcuterie board is an easy and convenient way to fuel up as main lunch meal, or as a snack in between meals.
Keep kitchen essentials all together in a place that’s easily accessible
There’s nothing worse than rummaging around for a pot to boil water or a spoon when you’re trying to make dinner.
Designate one bag with all your cooking essentials, and store it in an easy-to-reach place like the top of your cooler or the end of the picnic table.
That way, everything is all in one spot and you don’t have to worry about hunting for things while the food is cooking.
Hang a clothesline in a spot that gets direct sunlight
If you don’t have a designated spot to hang up all your wet clothes, towels, and swimsuits while camping, bring along some extra cordage (like paracord) and set it up between two trees—ideally in a sunny area.
The UV rays will help dry out the items much faster!
Get yourself a comfortable camping pillow
It’s the little things that make the difference when it comes to comfort while camping.
Invest in a good quality camping pillow so you can get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
There are tons out there, and we have different ones we use depending on the trip we’re planning.
If you’re looking for something affordable but high quality, we highly recommend the Wise Owl Outfitters compressible memory foam camp pillow!
Set up your own camp shower
If you don’t have access to shower facilities or are camping in the backcountry, a camp shower will do the trick with getting you clean!
Check out our guide to making your own DIY camp shower to find out what you need and how to easily set one up in no time at all.
Keep all of your gear’s stuff sacks all together
There’s a stuff sack for everything—your tent, your sleeping bag, your air mattress, your camp chairs, and who knows what else.
Instead of placing them all in random spots separately, take a large bag or one of the bigger stuff sacks and put them all together so you know exactly where they are.
This will make it faster and easier to pack up when it’s time to go home.
There’s a unique tent camping setup idea for everyone!
Feel free to bookmark this page as we come back and add more setup ideas that we discover along the way!
Elise is an experienced backcountry canoe tripper and winter camper from Ontario, Canada. She loves cooking up a storm over the campfire, taking in all the backcountry views, and enjoying a piña colada or two while relaxing at camp. She’s also certified in Whitewater Rescue (WWR) I & II and Wilderness First Aid (WFA).