Cardboard. A camping necessity

I’ve been camping for 40 some years. It’s only been in recent years that I discovered a wonderful item to bring along that is dirt cheap, easy to transport, & very useful in case of survival. It’s cardboard. Here are all the reasons I love cardboard. When I packed the car, I lay 4 large unfolded boxes in the back of the SUV. Maybe 1 or 2 smaller boxes as well. These cost between .69 & $1.70 each from Walmart. I pack everything on top of them. If I should need one before unloading stuff, I can easily pull one out without moving anything above it. In general- It takes up very little space.
Here’s what cardboard does at the campsite: Slide a piece between your tarp & your tent, your knees will thank you. It will also help insulate your floor. On the morning of pack up you can pull them out before taking the tent down and use them in the fire pit for a nice warm fire the last morning. I’ve never had an instance where the cardboard got soaked, once in a while it was a little bit wet on a corner- most times it’s dry as a bone when I pull it out at the end of the camping trip. Boxes make excellent foot rests & tables. I always keep a box open on its side next to my camp chair. This way I can keep stuff in the box without it blowing all over the place & use the box for a table. Same goes for using boxes inside the tent, I no longer bring tables, I just use boxes. Last summer at 35 degrees at night I could not sleep. I set up one large box on its side -open on both ends, put my sleeping bag inside, then myself. It was so much better! Placing cardboard underneath an air mattress will keep it from deflating in the cold as well. Cardboard makes an excellent entryway mat to keep muddy boots on. As well as keeping a small box on its side and putting shoes and boots inside to keep them dry should it rain or drizzle. If you’re out and want an ad hoc picnic and don’t have a blanket, cardboard is wonderful on the ground. Keeps your fanny warm & you can set your drinks down without them falling over. Cardboard can be set up alongside tent walls so nobody can see through when you’re trying to change clothes at night. Or slice one side of a box and just surround yourself with it for privacy. Cardboard and duct tape together can give you privacy to do other things (think toilets) on both the road, or in the tent. There are about a million other things you can do with cardboard. Like I said, I love cardboard! And it makes a great fire for the last morning of your camping trip.


Love when people think outside the box! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Great ideas for something so common yet so handy!


So many great ideas for using something that would normally just be thrown away! Thanks for the post.

Very clever ideas - impressive!

Pun intended? haha…

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Wow! I just learned new things how cardboard box can become handy for camping. I thank you for sharing!

@colleen_R do you have any pictures of how you’ve used cardboard over the years? Would love to see!

Hi there, no I have no pictures, I’ll have to make sure to do that this summer

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For some reason this brings to mind: “Camping is spending time and money to live like the homeless …”

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This would be a good blog post!

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Thank you! Wow, it’s impressive what excellent ideas I get for my next camping trip. I couldn’t even think that cardboard can be so multifunctional. My family and I are planning a trip to Minnesota to visit the lakes care and camp. I was reading on what beautiful lakes we can see there. I was impressed by Lake Superior and Lake Mille Lacs. So long journey is waiting for us.

Absolutely brilliant. Huge thanks for the share!

And the timing couldn’t be better, as I was debating between spending some serious scratch on fold-up camping tables for both tent and kitchen purposes!

Interesting take on cardboard.

As a scouter/scoutmaster, I will have to do some further looking into the uses. I have some very inexperienced campers and didn’t consider the use of cardboard under a tent (we always tell them to put a tarp in the tent with them to keep it clean and dry if it rains).

Using it as a quick fire the day we are leaving is a good idea as it will burn quickly but also provide some warmth on cold days.

I have always saved some cardboard for use when working in the driveway. This is another reason.

It’s great to hear about your creative use of cardboard in your camping adventures. Cardboard is indeed a versatile and readily available resource that can be incredibly useful in various camping scenarios. Your innovative ideas, like using it to insulate the tent floor, create a makeshift picnic area, or even enhance privacy, demonstrate how simple and affordable items can greatly enhance the camping experience.

Here’s a summary of the many ways you’ve found cardboard to be invaluable during your camping trips:

Protective Barrier: Placing cardboard between your tarp and tent can provide insulation and protect your knees.

Fire Starter: Cardboard can be used in the fire pit, especially on the last morning of your trip.

Footrests and Tables: Folded or open boxes can serve as footrests or tables, keeping your belongings organized.

Cold Weather Insulation: Using cardboard as an additional layer in your sleeping setup can help insulate against cold temperatures.

Air Mattress Support: Placing cardboard beneath an air mattress can prevent deflation due to the cold ground.

Entryway Mat: Cardboard can be used to keep muddy boots off the tent floor and even to store shoes.

Picnic Surface: When you need an impromptu picnic area, cardboard can provide warmth and stability.

Privacy: Cardboard can be set up alongside tent walls or used to create a private changing area.

Privacy for Other Activities: Combining cardboard and duct tape can offer privacy for various activities.

General Utility: Cardboard can serve countless other purposes during your camping trips.

Your experience showcases the importance of resourcefulness and adaptability in outdoor adventures. I have all these facilities in one car, which i bought from dealer. Thank you for sharing these practical tips for making the most of a simple and affordable item like cardboard while camping.