If you’re interested in vanlife, you should be prepared to make some major adjustments. For example, you’ll have to learn how to live with limited storage space (which is easier said than done). In this guide, we’ll share our top camper van storage ideas for saving space while organizing your vehicle. By the end, you’ll be an expert on van storage systems!
Table of Contents
- Tips for Planning Your Van Storage Situation
- Vanlife Clothing Storage Ideas
- Where to Store Outdoor Gear in Your Van
- Creative Food and Cookware Storage for Vans
- Where to Store Books and Games in Your Van
- Where to Keep Your Van’s Bedding
- What Accessories Will I Need for Van Storage?
- How Will You Organize Your Van?
Tips for Planning Your Van Storage Situation
When you need extra storage in your home, you can just buy some containers and plop them wherever you please. Vans, however, rarely provide enough space to afford this luxury. You can expect storage to play an essential role in overall organization — thus, the earlier you start planning your vanlife storage set-up, the better. Here are some key tips to keep in mind:
- Build more storage than you think you need: A common mistake many vanlifers make is underestimating the amount of campervan storage space they need. The last thing you want to do is leave items lying around because you don’t have enough storage.
- Make sure daily-use items are easily accessible: When storing objects, divide them into two categories: items used frequently and infrequently. Daily-use items (such as clothes, cookware and gear) should be in the most accessible van storage bins.
- Utilize outdoor space: Be prepared to get creative and use unorthodox methods to maximize space. For example, many van owners utilize top of van storage space (such as rooftop storage boxes) to hold extra luggage.
- Focus on the essentials: You can’t bring everything with you on the road. Start by categorizing your items as either essential or non-essential. Then, go through the non-essential items and decide whether you really need them.
Now that you know these tips for planning your storage set-up, let’s look at some popular small van storage ideas.
Vanlife Clothing Storage Ideas
If you plan to spend extended time on the road, you’re going to need to bring a fair amount of clothes. Ideally, clothing should be easily accessible. Here are a few helpful vanlife storage ideas for organizing outfits.
In a Dresser
One of the easiest ways to store clothes is in a dresser. This furniture item features a collection of van storage drawers designed to hold your clothing. You can assign drawers to different items (such as a drawer for pants, a drawer for shirts and so on). It’s worth noting that dressers can take up a fair amount of floor space — thus, these are best for people who have larger vans.
In a Tiny Closet
A great way to expand your storage space is by installing a small closet. You can place anything you want inside the closet, from van storage shelves to rods with hangers. Most closets can be built directly into the van walls, which saves floor space. They also offer a clean, crisp look, unlike van storage boxes (which clutter up vehicles).
While closets are one of the most useful vanlife storage ideas, not every van type supports them — you may not be able to cut into your van walls to build one.
In Above-Bed Storage Cubes
This campervan storage hack involves storage containers that go underneath your bed, providing extra storage room without interfering with floor space. Moreover, since they’re concealed from view, they won’t mess with your van’s appearance.
The only downside to above-bed storage cubes is that it can get tiring to pull out the containers every time you need clothes. However, this is a minor inconvenience — if you have an elevated bed, don’t let the space underneath go to waste.
Where to Store Outdoor Gear in Your Van
Vanlife and outdoor adventures usually go hand-in-hand. Chances are, you probably have some outdoor gear (such as bicycles, ski equipment or camping materials) that you need to store. Because gear is usually bulky, it’s best to store it outside your van. Here are our favorite campervan storage ideas for gear.
In the Garage Under a Platform Bed
If you have a fixed bed layout with a garage, the empty space underneath is the best place to store outdoor gear. Since your gear will be used outdoors, making it accessible from outside is highly useful. Plus, a garage space typically has the most capacity of any van storage option, so you can keep larger items like bicycles inside a of secure from weather and potential threats.
In a Rooftop Storage Box
For those who don’t have enough space in their van interiors, rooftop storage boxes (or storage for the top of vans) offers a solution. This method involves storing gear in a box that’s connected to the rooftop. Not only is van top storage a great way to save space, but it also promotes cleanliness. If your gear gets dirty, keeping it outside helps prevent the interior from becoming unsanitary.
Before you store anything above your vehicle, make sure your van can support its weight. You should also be prepared to exert some effort into removing and reloading the gear whenever you wish to use it.
Attached to the Side of the Van
If the idea of rooftop storage sounds appealing, but you don’t want to climb a ladder every time you need to use your things, consider hanging items along the side of your van. This campervan storage solution doesn’t consume any interior space, and — since your van has two sides — there’s plenty of room for storage. Just like with rooftop storage, you must make sure your van can support the additional weight first.
Creative Food and Cookware Storage for Vans
There’s lots to consider when organizing a van kitchen. Key ingredients (like spices) should be easily accessible, while long-lasting items (such as non-perishables) should be packed away. Here are some top cooking van storage ideas.
In a Drawer with Hold-Tight Slots
Most kitchens feature van storage cabinets and drawers for holding silverware, pots, pans and other cookware. For the best results, the drawer or cabinet should feature hold-tight slots (which prevents items from moving around while driving).
Terry Clip Spice Rack
If you’re looking for quick DIY van storage ideas, this one fits the bill. Not only are spice racks easy to set up, but they’re also extremely helpful for organization. You don’t have to worry about rifling through cabinets looking for the right spices — a rack makes it easier than every to follow recipes.
In-Drawer Fridge Under Stovetop
The best small campervan storage ideas utilize space that would otherwise be wasted, and that’s exactly what this set-up does. It features a small refrigerator that seamlessly fits underneath your stovetop. The fridge is connected to a drawer, which can be slid out whenever you need to access the contents.
Not only does this solution conserve space, but it also facilitates cooking. It’s most suitable for vanlifers who intend to make meals frequently.
Slide-Out Spice and Dry Goods Organizer
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of DIYing your own spice rack, a slide-out spice and dry goods organizer is a great conversion van storage idea. As the name suggests, this organizer slides out whenever you need to grab something, then integrates smoothly back into your van kitchen set-up.
Where to Store Books and Games in Your Van
Living in a van involves spending a fair amount of time on the road, which means you need to find ways to entertain yourself. And, of course, you’re also going to need van storage solutions for organizing this entertainment. Here are some of the best places to store your books, games and other spare items.
On a Shelf Above the Bed
When it comes to easily accessible vanlife storage ideas that save space, you’ll find shelves at the top of the list. Open shelves provide a clean look while offering an empty surface for hosting books, decorations or anything else you might want to display.
One of the best places to install shelves are above the bed. Not only does this free up your hallway or living room wall space, but it also lets you quickly grab items from the comfort of your bed (which is great if you enjoy late-night reading).
In Open Campervan Overhead Storage Compartments
Camper van overhead storage, or van ceiling storage, takes advantage of the wall space near the top of your van. Since this space often goes unused, you can install these compartments anywhere, from the bedroom to the kitchen.
The major downside of this storage solution is that it can be hard to reach. However, considering how much space it saves, this is a small price to pay.
Where to Keep Your Van’s Bedding
Many vanlifers rely on convertible beds (or beds that turn into couches) to save space. When the bed is not in use, you’ll need a place to store the bedding (such as pillows, linens and blankets). Here are some popular options.
On the Van Ceiling with Netting
If you have a high roof, you can secure a net to the ceiling and use it to hold your bedding. Most of these nets will have a zipper — during the day, you can unzip it, slip in your bedding, then zip it back up until you need the bedding again. Keep in mind that, while this arrangement helps save space, it’s not the most accessible option.
In a Bench Seat
Bench seats are a multi-functional van storage option. The surface offers a comfortable seating solution, while the interior provides space for storing bedding. You can place it wherever you need an extra seat, such as a living room or bedroom.
If you don’t want a stand-alone bench seat, you can build storage into a convertible set-up. For example, say you have a bed that converts into a dinette — you can include bench seats in this dinette, giving you a convenient area to store linens.
What Accessories Will I Need for Van Storage?
While some of the aforementioned van storage ideas can function well on their own, others require the help of accessories. Let’s go over a few accessories that are useful for vanlife.
If you have open shelves holding fragile items (such as books, decorations or spice jars), bungee cords are a must-have. They’re strapped in front of the shelves and help prevent items from falling down. Along with shelves, you can place bungee cords across the following:
- Bathroom cabinets
- Trash bins
You could even attach bungee cords on the walls and use them to hold up shoes.
As mentioned earlier, netting is a great option for storing van bedding. You can also use it to hold other lightweight items, such as sleeping bags, empty backpacks or even clothes. Many vanlifers even strap nets around shelves to catch items that fall off.
It’s one thing to build a van storage solution — it’s another thing to properly organize your items. That’s where bins come in. By placing bins inside dressers, shelves and cabinets, you can quickly organize items by category. While bins are usually found inside storage furniture, they can also be used as stand-alone items. Best of all, they come in a variety of sizes, meaning you can choose whatever best suits your needs.
How Will You Organize Your Van?
Now that you’ve gone through our top van storage ideas, you might be wondering: which option is right for me? The answer comes down to your van type, available space and preferences. Some solutions (like closets and dressers) are convenient, but require extra room, while others (like rooftop and overhead storage) conserve space but demand effort. Ultimately, you need to decide what works for you.
No matter which van storage option you select, remember to follow our key tips (such as building more storage than you need and ensuring items are easily accessible). And, if you have any questions, feel free to contact our experts!