Truck Camper and Small RV Storage Tips!

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.

Truck Camper and Small RV Storage Tips

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.

Arctic Fox 860 truck camper kitchen

The kitchen needed a few extra goodies to increase the storage sapce

2005 Arctic Fox 860 Truck Camper interior

The dinette also got some simple upgrades to keep the dining table clutter-free.

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.

Spice rack on RV camper wall

A spice rack near the range makes cooking essentials easy to reach.

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.

Spice rack on RV camper kitchen wall

Wire spice racks proved useful in the kitchen and elsewhere! A towel rack for the dish cloth helps it dry fast and keeps it off the faucet.

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.

Truck camper storage upgrades banana hook

Bananas bruise so easily we like to hang them up on a ceiling hook!

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.

Standalone shelf for kitchen cabinet in truck camper

The big kitchen cabinet needed a second shelf. Building one in would be a good idea too, but I like this standalone shelf unit.

We’ve always had key hooks over our entry door, so we put two sets of four hooks over the door.

Key hooks on RV camper wall

Our many keys and glasses all need a home of their own and these key hooks work well.

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.

Key hooks inside RV camper

A long row of key hooks gives us lots of hanging options, and although we have to remove the items to move the slide-out, the strips of hooks themselves don’t interfere with the slide-out movement.

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.

Key hooks and Alien Tape for mountain inside RV camper

Alien Tape makes it a cinch to hang things on the walls — and remove them too!

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!

Hanging wall storage baskets on walls inside RV

These hanging baskets are good for slightly bigger items including wallets, moisturizer, sunscreen and flashlights that we want by the door.

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.

Empty wall in RV dinette

This wall could definitely help increase our storage.

Empty wall inside RV truck camper dinette

So could this one!

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.

Spice rack for storage in RV truck camper dinette

The spice rack can hold pocket knives, a book or two, an iPad and other goodes.

Spice rack doubles as a shelf for extra storage in a truck camper

The movement of the slide-out wouldn’t impact this space at all but we did have to place the spice rack high enough so we wouldn’t hit our heads on it if we leaned back in our seats.

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.

Hanging wall magazine storage in RV truck camper

We like to read magazines and this fabric magazine rack is nearly flush to the wall which makes it ideal for avoiding the slide-out wall as it moves in and out. It holds plenty of magazines!

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.

Shoe rack inside RV truck camper doorway

Our shoe chaos was solved with one tier of a multi-tier shoe rack.

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.

Shoe rack inside truck camper RV

Now the big clunky shoes and boots are out of the way.

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.”

Under desk drawer storage in a truck camper

The Under desk drawer (or “add-a-drawer”) is a single unit that gets hung under the desk or table with double-sticky tape, Alien Tape or screws.

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.

Under desk drawer storage in a truck camper

Two fit side by side just right and our knees don’t hit them!

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.

Under desk drawer storage in a truck camper

These can be used for paper, pens and other office items or for small tools and hardware or even for silverware or cooking utensils.

Under desk drawer storage in a truck camper

I just love these — thank you, Annie, for your wonderful tip!

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!

Puppy sleeps happily in truck camper RV bed

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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.”

Happy campers

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More tips and anecdotes from our Life On The Road and At Sea:

14 thoughts on “Truck Camper and Small RV Storage Tips!

  1. A round of applause for your creative solutions, Emily! Love the shoe storage idea – I’m always kicking mine around by the bed in our travel trailer. Coincidently, there is a box of Alien Tape on our kitchen table right now. We had never heard of it, but a neighbor swears by it and gifted us with some. Hi, Buddy! You have definitely not outgrown your cuteness.

    • Thank you, Mary! We used two stacked milk crates for our shoes in the fiver…not pretty but it got the job done. Solutions in the truck camper require a bit more finesse, but we’ve had a lot of fun fixing it up, Alien Tape and all! Buddy sends tail wags and a big smile to you. He’s out with Mark on an early morning hike in the forest right now. He’s finally having a chance to hunt down a few lizards and sprint after a few rabbits!

  2. What great ideas! Love the spice racks and the towel rack for the dish cloth! Now all I need is a wall! Got me thinking again.

    • When I sat in the camper looking for small storage spaces after our first frustrating trip, I was surprised at how many little spots there actually were, if I could just find the right products to fill them. It took a bit of time online and a bit of brainstorming to come up with the right search terms to locate what I had in mind, but I’m really happy with the results. The wire spice racks have been great so far, and if I find, over time, that small things fall out of one end or the other since the ends are fairly open, I’ll line the racks with cloth. Have fun getting creative!!

  3. Emily, Thank you for the inspirational ideas. I’ve tried to use Command strips before, but they don’t stick on an RV wall! I do have some Nano tape, but I’m not creative and just never made the connections in my head! I like the key hooks and spice racks and dish clothe holder. Time to get outside to the RV to measure and order some items! Love Buddy all cozy and content 😍🥰

    • I’m glad this gave you some new ideas, Deborah. I don’t have experience with Command strips, but the Alien Tape is pretty cool stuff. Have fun measuring and shopping for goodies for your rig. Buddy is incredibly dear…a total sweetheart in every way…!

  4. Thanks for the tips! I will be selling my house soon, I hope, and have been loading the Moho. I noticed that magazine rack in your last post and thought I might try to make one. I just looked at it on Amazon and decided it will probably just be easier to buy one, lol, as inexpensive as it is.

  5. While I am closer than ever to leaving my “sticks and bricks” forever, I am wondering if you miss the bigger 5th wheel? I was going to get me a low end 5th wheel Arctic Wolf 311ml or something close to that. But then I look online and people are asking like 70k for these low end 5th wheels now so screw that. Did you get more than what you asked for on your 5th wheel?

    Have you noticed the prices since a certain president took over? My goodness.. 5th wheels I was looking at in 2019 are now going for twice as much. I was close to being able to retire or at least work camp in the winter in AZ but dang. I am 46 years old now and just retired. I might have to go back to work full time if these prices don’t go down a bit. I decided to wait a year while selling all my things I wasn’t planning on taking with me.

    • Yes, Gary, we do miss our fifth wheel, although we don’t regret selling it at all. It was spacious, comfy, had big tanks and we knew where everything was and what magic tricks we had to do to make it all work.

      We are still adjusting to the truck camper. It will do for now, but it is tight. If there were just one of us and no dog, it would be a different story. It’s a great space for one or even for two with no pets!

      We have been thinking seriously about a travel trailer toy hauler, and we were all set to trade the dually truck in for a single wheel and trade the camper for an open box travel trailer toy hauler, but when we went to the truck and RV dealerships we discovered there is nothing on the lots and nothing in the pipeline either because various critical parts are unavailable.

      At the time (2 months ago), Toyota had announced a 60% cutback in production next year due to lack of parts (not lack of buyers), and since then at least one of the big 3 has announced similar strategies for next year. Likewise, a Northwood Mfg dealer called his Northwood rep for me and verified that they are cutting back production of the Desert Fox toy hauler line by 50% next year. Factory orders for those toy haulers from the dealers were due sometime in August for a May delivery. Both truck and RV dealers were selling what they had for MSRP or thousands more.

      At one dealer we saw a 2018 Sierra dually truck with 20k miles on it that had been used for hauling horses and was filthy inside and out. They wanted $82,900 for it. It was the only diesel truck on the lot.

      A friend told me she and her hubby visited the Vilano factory last year and there were 37 fivers sitting on the lot waiting for parts before they could be shipped.

      So, for us, we’ll work with what we have and not get mired in trying to buy something different unless something falls in our lap, although in another era we would have traded both units in by now!

      For you, I don’t know if it’s worth fussing over the rig either. We just talked to a couple yesterday who started their full-time adventures in a 26′ travel trailer 5 months ago and they are over the moon happy and loving life.

      When you start full-timing it is so exciting seeing the country and blowing through your lifelong bucket list day after day that it doesn’t matter so much if you have the ideal rig. A year or more down the road you may get more particular, but the goal is to get out and do it, not to wait for ideal conditions. Conditions will never be ideal! Save worrying about you creature comforts for when you return to the stick-and-bricks lifestyle at a later date, and get out there now in whatever you can find. Go have some fun while the rest of the world is frowning.

      I’m no economist but we’re seeing everything rising, from astronomical increases in real estate, trucks, RVs, meat, dairy and gas, and I think we’re in for a very bumpy ride for the foreseeable future.

      You are just a year younger than I was when we started, and my attitude was that we were enjoying a break from convention but that I would likely be a greeter at Walmart someday to pay the bills — and I’d have a huge grin on my face because I’d fulfilled my dreams. Maybe that won’t be my exact job, but I figure that as long as I’m able bodied and can think straight there’s nothing keeping me from working if I need to. We’ve been fortunate to be able to make ends meet with my writing and our photography, but I don’t think any of us is guaranteed anything beyond this sweet moment right here and now. The rest lies in a crystal ball somewhere that none of us can see just yet.

      Good luck, happy shopping and have a ball out there. Craigslist or RV Trader may be your best bet. In the last 2 months I’ve seen some smokin’ deals on fivers in Craigslist. A 2005 Cardinal in mint condition (garage kept, one owner) for $15k and a 1996 Hitchhiker Champagne in great shape with all systems working for $5k. Keep looking til you find the right thing and go have some fun!

  6. So glad to see you back. Have not received a post in a long time so on a whim yesterday I searched and found your blog alive again and re-subscribed. Interesting going back to a pick-up camper. We had several for a number of years but now have a smaller 5th wheel. Its very comfortable but we miss the ease of a pick-up camper. We are not full-timers but spend about 3 months camping…a couple of those down in the southwest like both of you. Always love the writing and pictures.

    • Thank you for thinking of us and coming back to our page and resubscribing, Dick. I actually have a new post in the works that I hope to publish in the next week or so.

      The pickup camper is a lot of fun but definitely not as comfy as a fiver or travel trailer (or Class C or Class A or that matter!).

      It is ideal in many ways because it’s so small and can fit in a regular parking space anywhere, but that’s its drawback at the same time — it’s so small!!

      Enjoy your travels in the southwest — such beautiful country!!

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