We’ve been taking our new-to-us truck camper on short jaunts this summer. These “shakedown” cruises are helping us figure out the ins and outs of traveling in a truly tiny home, and we’ve learned a lot about living large in a very small space.
In the process, we’ve come up with some storage ideas that we’d like to share.
Northwood Manufacturing did a great job with creating large storage spaces throughout our 2005 Arctic Fox 860 camper. There is a full height closet, two shirt closets, huge bins on either side of the bed that can hold lots of clothes and good sized storage spaces under the dinette seats, not to mention several cabinets and a sliding pantry.
However, creating storage spaces for small things like keys, glasses, flashlights, pocket knifes, pens, pads, small tools, etc., are projects they leave up to us RVers. And it’s been fun to get creative!
The first thing we noticed on our maiden voyage was that all our small stuff kept ending up in a huge pile on top of the dinette table. Nothing makes a small space feel really cluttered than having a single horizontal space piled high with stuff.
So, we mounted a few different types of storage spaces for small items on the walls.
As a reminder of what our camper looks like inside, here are pics of the interior so you can see the bigger picture of where each storage item wound up.
For starters, we put a spice rack on the wall next to the range hood right below the microwave’s swinging door but high enough to be out of the heat of the flames on the range. This is handy for all those things I like to have “right there” for cooking.
There is very little counter space, and I found that a second spice rack under the window helped get things like dish soap up off the counter so other things could be tucked underneath as needed.
The towel rack was already in place, whether from the manufacturer or the previous owner, I don’t know. I added another towel rack for a dish cloth.
We like bananas and when we lived in our fifth wheel we had a banana hook for hanging banana bunches that we used a lot. So, we put a ceiling hook (also called a “swag hook” for hanging plants) in between the range hood and the kitchen light. It is screwed directly into the bottom of the cabinet. We may put a second one on the other side of the light too. In that position it would be further from the heat from the range burners.
We’ve found in both the fiver and the truck camper that the bananas actually stay on the hook while we’re in transit, even on bumpy dirt roads, and this helps keep them from bruising as we move from place to place.
Although we rarely used a toaster in our fifth wheel, we’ve been enjoying having one in our sticks-and-bricks life and we wanted to have one in this camper too. Toasters and other small kitchen appliances are bulky and awkward, and I almost gave up on finding a home for it.
However, there’s a large cabinet over the sink that has just one shelf in it, and if I could get a second shelf in there it would be perfect for the toaster. After tossing a few ideas around for installing a shelf in that cabinet, I found a standalone shelf unit that fits perfectly. The dishware is stored underneath and the toaster fits on top. I take the toaster down and put it in the sink when we travel, but while we’re camping it is wonderful to store it out of the way and be able access it easily when we want to use it.
We’ve always had key hooks over our entry door, so we put two sets of four hooks over the door.
After a few trips, we realized that these 8 hooks weren’t enough. Between the keys to the camper, the truck and the RZR plus multiple pairs of sunglasses (light ones and dark ones), multiple pairs of reading glasses (strong and weak) and various hats, we decided to add two more strips of 7 hooks each going right across the wall so there would be plenty of room for all those things.
There is almost no space between this rear wall of the camper and the slide-out wall as it slides in and out. So, all the things on the hooks have to be put elsewhere when we travel, but the hooks themselves fit just fine and it sure is convenient while we’re camping to have a home for all those items.
One of our earliest outings was a trip to visit our friends Ann and Phil who were camping nearby in the woods.
Phil and Ann have been living in RVs for over three decades and are a wealth of knowledge. They travel in both a “winter home” that is a beautifully appointed Alpenlite fifth wheel and a “summer home” which is a smaller, really well laid out and more maneuverable Class C. Phil spent his working years as diesel mechanic and mobile RV mechanic and he has an incredible shop built onto the back of his Freightliner that is a sight to behold. He and Ann ran an RV park for many years, and Ann is full of great ideas for ways to make life in an RV comfy and cozy.
During our visit they had two great suggestions for us. The first was to use a product called Alien Tape to mount lighter things on the walls of the RV. This is a double sided tape that has a stronger stickiness than any tape we’ve seen before, and it doesn’t ruin the walls when you remove it.
We used this tape to mount the key hooks and it was a snap. Later, when we mounted a clock and then decided we didn’t like the location, all it took was a good strong twist and the Alien Tape came off of the wall and also came off the clock and didn’t leave a mark or a stain behind.
We also wanted a bigger storage area for things like sunscreen, moisturizer, bug spray, wallets, flashlights, etc., right by the door. I found two cloth hanging baskets that fit perfectly in the space next to the bathroom sliding door — his and hers!
You can also see the side-view of these baskets in the previous photos of the keyhooks.
The tricky thing with finding places to mount mini-shelves and storage areas on the walls is that we didn’t want to bump into them as we moved about and we didn’t want them to obstruct the movement of the slide-out as it went in and out.
The bare walls in the dinette were begging to be useful. Those walls aren’t near the slide-out movement, but we did have to worry about banging our heads on anything we put there if we leaned back in our seats.
They turned out to be the perfect places for more spice racks to hold things like our two-way radios, current book we’re reading, iPad, etc
We put one on each wall. Both were mounted high enough so if we threw our heads back they wouldn’t hit the racks.
We both enjoy reading magazines, especially if we’re camping in a place with no internet (which happened quite a bit this summer!).
There is a big open wall space next to the refrigerator that could definitely hold something. However, the slide-out comes in along this wall, so there is only about an inch of depth, just enough for a magazine or very thin book but not enough for a solid plastic wall filing system.
I found a fabric magazine rack designed to hold manila folders for school teachers, and it works perfectly. I put a manila folder in each pocket to keep the pockets from sagging. Mark used extra screws and washers on either side to hold the whole thing flat against the wall.
We’ve always had a big struggle with shoe storage. We like to have a variety of shoes — a pair of running shoes, hiking boots, slippers and slip-on shoes/sandals for each of us — so the pile of footwear by the door is huge no matter where we live.
There is a tiny space between the step in front of the dinette and the back wall of the camper where I squeezed in a single tier shoe rack.
This shoe rack comes unassembled as a bunch of rods and shelf supports with holes in them for the rods. The smallest model I could find was a five tier unit, so I took the rods and shelf supports for just one level for the camper and built a separate four tier unit to use in our home.
It doesn’t hold absolutely all our footwear, but the thin and flexible slippers and slip-ons can be shoved behind the dinette seat. The main thing was to get the clunky boots and shoes out of the way so we aren’t tripping over them each time we go in and out of the camper.
There is just one drawer in the whole camper, right next to the range, and it is so narrow it has just a single divider inside. I use it for silverware on one side and cooking utensils on the other. I hadn’t really thought about how to get more drawers into the camper, but our friend Ann showed us an absolutely fabulous product that she is using in her Class C to hold her silverware. It is an “Under desk drawer.”
The whole sliding mechanism of the drawer is built into one unit, and you mount the drawer under the table using either the stick-on tabs they provide or Alien Tape (or screws if you wish). I bought two drawers that fit perfectly on either side of our dinette table — his and hers again! Surprisingly, they are shallow enough that our knees don’t hit when we slide on and off the settees getting in and out of the dinette.
Each drawer comes with a small sliding compartment so you can separate smaller and larger items if you wish (or you can remove it). These drawers are great for small tools and hardware as well as pads, pens, scissors and other office goodies.
Well, that’s it for now. If you’ve got a small RV like ours, I hope these tips help you make the most of your space, and if you’ve got other cool space saving ideas please share them in the comments below!
Oh goodness, there’s Buddy under the covers. He took a nap throughout this whole post!
After I took this pic, he opened one eye and said, “If you aren’t going to talk about Lizard Hunting or Rabbit Chasing then I’ll just keep snoozing under the covers.”
More tips and anecdotes from our Life On The Road and At Sea:
- Americas Mailbox – Mail Forwarding & So Much More in South Dakota! 05/10/19
- And God said: “Let the Beer Flow” 03/30/13
- Buddy – A Journey in Sprit 02/26/22
- Canada RV Travel Tips – RVing Nova Scotia & the Canadian Rockies! 08/16/15
- Coffee Kiosks of the West 02/22/19
- Cruising = Fixing your boat in exotic places! 03/02/13
- Dirty Little Secrets from the RV Dump Station – RV Dumping Tips + Composting Toilets 09/25/17
- Divorced Eggs…?! 07/28/13
- Dog’s Life – Buddy’s Got It Covered! 02/15/19
- Driving an RV in the Eastern states – It’s a Wild Ride! 06/22/15
- Finding the Fountain of Youth! 03/20/14
- How to Beat the Summer Heat in an RV 07/31/16
- How to Defrost an RV Refrigerator in 20 Minutes! 03/20/16
- How to Heat an RV in Cold Weather and Winter Snow Storms 10/07/16
- How To STAY WARM in an RV – Survival Tips for Winter RVing! 11/09/15
- It’s Not About the Hair! 06/19/13
- Life on the Hook in Mexico – What do you do all day when you’re cruising in the tropics? 11/17/14
- Mexican Dentists – Finding Affordable Dental Care in Mexico 02/12/16
- Mobile Internet & Phone Communications for RV Living – A Minimalist Solution! 07/03/17
- Oh, That’s Just Swell! – Life on a Boat that ROLLS At Anchor!! 05/17/13
- Quinceañera – Sailboat “Groovy” Helps Celebrate a Mexican 15th Birthday 07/14/13
- RV Refrigerator Management Tip – Winning the Turf Wars! 06/07/19
- RV Refrigerator Replacement – How an RV Warranty Saved Our Bacon! 09/27/15
- RV Storage Tip – Making Space & Getting Organized in an RV 12/19/15
- RV Tips – Cleaning Tips for Washing your RV 09/12/12
- Showering on the hook = A carnival ride with your eyes closed! 03/28/13
- Snap, Crackle, Pop – Fishy Sounds from Deep Under Our Boat! 04/17/13
- Surfing the dinghy = Crash landings on the beach! 03/18/13
- Swabbing the decks underway! 03/16/13
- The Tourist Tangle – All tied up in knots! 04/09/13
- What’s A Girl To Do at the RV Dump Station? 03/23/17
- World Cruising Done Right! 04/04/14