Best Way to Pack Your Car

Pelican Flyer  |  June 15, 2020

When you’re heading out on a road trip or are moving, your car becomes the hub of everything. In a sense, it becomes your home between homes, and it’s the trusted transporter of your most precious valuables (including your family). One other important thing about the car: it has limited cargo space. You’ve got to find a way to safely fit your belongings, plus the cooler and the snacks — which, by the way, need to be immediately accessible at all times — as well as you, your family and your pets, all in a car with a trunk the size of a bathtub. It’s a true challenge.

Luckily, there are some great car packing tips you can use to ensure that your vehicle and all your personal belongings are organized efficiently and stored safely while in motion.

Heavy Gear Goes on the Bottom

All heavy items should be stored on the floor of your car or trunk. Always pack your hard coolers on the floor with nothing else stacked on top of them unsecured. Never make a large trunk-stored cooler your main source of drinks or snacks while you’re on the go, either. The ideal solution is to pack a small soft cooler up front for easy access.

pelican consumer blog heavy item storage

Keep Your Frame of Vision Clear

You’re starting from the bottom up, but make sure you don’t go too high. You always want to be sure you have a clear visual path through your rearview mirror. A compromised frame of vision could cause a serious accident, so don’t chance it!

Bag or Box Up Any Loose Items

Car packing enthusiasts (we know you’re out there) are all about making packing the vehicle feel like a game of Tetris. Unfortunately, odd-shaped things — a lamp here, a rolled-up rug there — can compromise this effort. Wherever possible, put all your gear in stackable cases so you fully optimize every cubic inch of cargo space. Never place any loose items on the top of your cargo pile, as they could fall onto you or your passenger.

If Necessary, Invest in a Roof Rack

Roof racks are great for situations where you need to carry a lot of stuff. Hard-shell carriers can house a ton of extra gear, luggage, coolers and more, while purpose-built kayak, surfboard and bike racks keep your toys out of the way safely as you travel. But roof storage should be used sparingly, as it’s not good for your gas mileage. In fact, research shows that a roof rack could cost you as much as 25 percent more in gas.

Straps and Bungee Cords Are Essential

Always keep a few spare bungee cords, ropes and straps on hand in the trunk or hatch to ensure that you’re able to batten down any loose items to prevent movement while in motion. This will keep those odds and ends in place while you’re in motion.

pelican consumer blog bungee cords ropes

Don’t Bury Emergency Gear

Be sure your car emergency kit isn’t buried somewhere inaccessible. Many people store theirs in the storage compartments beneath the false floor in the trunk or hatch, but this is not a good idea if you’re piling lots of items on top. The last thing you need in an emergency situation is to unpack your entire vehicle just to reach your flashlight or flares. In the same vein, always keep any firearms unloaded and locked in a hard-sided gun case.

Think About Arriving at Your Destination

Try and pack in a sensible order, thinking about which items you’ll want to remove first (pack those last) and which items may be able to stay in the car after you arrive at your destination (pack those first). For example, if you’re stopping overnight before reaching your final destination, pack your overnight bag last so you don’t have to go rifling through your entire trunk when you arrive. Also, consider packing in wheeled cases or using bags with handles if you know you’re going to have to carry your items a long way once you arrive.

Indeed, packing an empty trunk is like a real-life game of Tetris, and your cargo items are the tetrominoes. At Pelican, we’re happy to help you beat the game. Be sure to follow all these tips the next time you’re headed out on a long trip!

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