When you’re out camping, one of the most important things to do is make sure that you’re keeping your space clean, and not leaving trash blowing around the forest. Ecosystems are delicate balances within nature, and human trash can really harm wildlife and the environment.
We get it, sometimes your plastic trash bag gets torn up, or the wind blows and sends stuff flying, but there is an answer to this camping problem. A collapsible trash can. These handy tools keep your trash in check while camping and at the same time are easy to pack, and store.
Surprisingly, there are a lot of collapsible trash cans on the market. We’ve done the leg work, so you don’t have to. Here’s our list of the 10 best and most sturdy collapsible trash cans.
1. Fiskars 30 Gallon Trash Can
Ok, sure, this can is marketed as a garden bag. But, it works great for camping. We do a lot of car camping, and this collapsible trash can is the perfect size for a week or so of camping, and it doesn’t take up a ton of room in your camping gear bins.
The Kangaroo Garden bag is 23.5-inches wide by 23-inches tall, so it is perfect for all of your camping trash. It is also the perfect size for large trash bags, so you can line your Kangaroo Garden Bag with a plastic trash bag, for easy emptying and to keep your bin clean.
Features of this can that we really like include the HardShell bottom which is exceptionally sturdy, and the nice sturdy handles that make it easy to carry when full. This bin is made from vinyl coated polyester for easy clean-up and added durability.
- Sturdy, strong base
- Internal spring for pop-up opening
- Lifetime warranty
- Base picks up rocks and twigs
- Doesn’t have a lid
- Tricky to collapse and store
2. Trashco Flings Bins
The Trashco Flings Bin Pop-Up trash cans are a great option if you are looking for a collapsible or portable trash can that can be either single use or used a few times before tossing.
These bins come in a 10-pack so you don’t have to feel bad about using them once and tossing. Or if you’re into sorting your trash, food waste, and recycling at camp, set-up a couple of these for easy sorting.
At 13-gallons capacity, these are a little smaller than other options. The frame for these Trashco bins is cardboard so they aren’t made to handle a lot of weight.
However, this also means that if you have trash that gets a bit messy, you don’t have to deal with the bag. Just tie the drawstrings, and throw the whole thing away.
- 10-pack is nice
- Really nice looking
- No clean-up necessary
- Blows over easily
- Not great for sharp objects
- Can rip if overfilled
3. Lusso Gear Spill-Proof Trash Can
Sometimes you just need a smaller size trash can. When we are camping or traveling we like this compact 2.5-gallon hanging trash can for our car. This trash can compacts down for easy storage in your camping gear, so you can use it for camp trash on a short camping trip. Or, hang it from the headrest of your car’s seat, and you have a handy trash bin in your car.
This bin is perfectly sized to hold plastic grocery bags, so you don’t have to invest in special sized plastic bags. It is made from PVC and Oxford material for easy cleaning. We love the added storage pockets that can hold additional bags or things like hand sanitizer or wipes. This collapsible trash can also has a really nice lid, so if you’re using it at your campsite, you won’t have to worry about trash blowing away.
- PVC material is leak-proof
- Handy side pockets
- Strap adjusts are handy
- Lid doesn’t zipper or latch shut
- Can be challenging to attach
- Removable liner is a pain
4. Coghlan’s Pop-Up Recycle Bin
The Coghlan’s Pop-Up trash can is made for camping. It is made from heavy duty polyethylene fabric, so it is super durable, but at the same time lightweight and easy to manage.
This trash can expands to about 30-gallons of capacity and is made to fit standard 33-gallon trash bags. One of the features of this collapsible trash bin that we really like is the grommets on the bottom of the bin.
These grommets allow you to stake down this bin so it won’t blow away. Also this trash can has a zippered lid, so you don’t have to worry about trash blowing out of the container.
- Lid has a pocket for extra bags
- Sturdy handles and zippers
- Keeps trash in and critters out
- No side pockets
- Can’t use zip with trash bag in
- Spring is tough to compact
5. Stansport Collapsible Trash Can
Perfect for the beach, a BBQ or your camping adventure, the Stansport Collapsible Trash Can will help you keep your area tidy. This collapsible trash can is great for holding trash, but can also be used for storing extra gear. It’s made from lightweight but sturdy polyethylene so it can handle a lot of wear and tear. It is water-proof and easy to clean.
This is another option that fits standard 33-gallon trash bags so you have enough space for a few days worth of camping trash. The lid on this bin does zip closed, but you’ll need to tuck the trash bag inside the bin to use the zipper.
- Zippered lid
- Lightweight and easy to store
- Comes in two colors
- Can’t be staked down
- Handles are not padded
- No storage pockets for extra bags
6. Camco Pop-Up Utility Container
The Camco Utility Container is a nice option if you are looking for a storage container that can be multi-purpose. Sure, it works great as a collapsible trash bin, but it can also work for storing camping gear that you want to keep dry such as pillows, blankets or sleeping bags.
This container holds standard 33-gallon trash bags but comes with it’s own durable liner. We really like the handles on this collapsible trash can. They are padded and larger than on other options so this bin is really easy to carry when it’s full.
The other great thing about this collapsible trash can is that it has a grommet on the bottom for staking down, and even comes with its own stake.
- Handy zippered storage bag
- Keeps trash in and animals out
- Velcro straps hold bin together
- Lid is kind of flimsy
- Not as durable
- Plastic stake doesn’t hold up well
7. Camp Chef Collapsible Garbage Can
The Camp Chef Collapsible Garbage Can comes from one of our favorite makers of camping gear. This collapsible garbage can was made with camping in mind. It weighs in at less than 2 pounds, but is made from sturdy polyethylene which can handle plenty of trash, and is also water-proof.
While originally intended for camping, you can also use this trash can at home for parties, or even for yard work. Anytime you need a lightweight trash can that is easy to manage, but won’t get in the way when you’re not using it.
- More durable than similar options
- Bin stays together when collapsed
- Zippered lid
- Can’t stake this one down
- Doesn’t come with a storage bag
- No added storage pockets
8. Oswego Pop-Up Collapsible Trash Can
We like the Oswego line of Pop-Up Garbage Cans because you don’t have to settle with the standard 30-gallon option that every other collapsible garbage can comes in. The Oswego comes in 20 or 30 gallon options, so you can pick the one that best fits your needs.
These bins are intended to be used with or without a trash bag. If you don’t need a trash bag, the Oswego collapsible garbage can is made from polyethylene so you can easily hose it down to rinse out. This bin has three handles, two at the top and one near the bottom, for added portability.
- Zippered lid
- Three handles instead of two
- 20- or 30-gallon options
- No storage bag
- No bag clip inside
- No place to put extra trash bags
9. Jardineer 30 Gallon Collapsible Trash Can
Made from vinyl coated polyester, the Jardineer 30 gallon collapsible trash can is a more durable option than other collapsible trash cans, but for the same affordable price.
This bin has a PVC lining which makes it easy to clean. The waterproof fabric keeps your trash or your gear dry. The internal spring system makes this bin quick to set-up and easy to store away. The quick release clips keep the bin securely closed when not in use. The great benefit of this bin is the 110-pound maximum capacity, which is more than many other collapsible trash cans.
- Reinforced stitching on handles
- Durable oxford polyester fabric
- Easy to clean
- Quite pricey trash can
- It doesn’t have a lid
- Bottom is flexible
10. GardenMate 3-Pack Reusable Waste Bags
If you’re looking for a collapsible trash bin that can hold more than the average, then the GardenMate 72-gallon Garden Waste Bag is your pick. These bags fold down to a compact size so they store easily despite having such a large capacity.
We really like that you can buy these in a multi-pack so you can separate your trash or just have an extra on hand if you need one.
These bins have three sturdy handles (two on top, one near the bottom) for easy carrying. The top edge of these bags have a flexible hoop that keeps the bag open so it’s easy to fill. It is important to note that these are more like bags than pop-up bins. They stand up just fine on their own, but they aren’t as sturdy as other options.
- Good value for the money
- Larger capacity
- Durable construction
- No springs to hold up sides
- Durability is lacking
- It doesn’t have a lid
What to look for in collapsible trash cans
The styles and features of collapsible trash cans are endless. It can be a chore to find the right one. Here are the features that you should consider when choosing a collapsible trash can for your camping adventures.
The one part of your camping trash can that will take the most abuse, is the base. The bottom of your collapsible trash can should have a sturdy and tough base. The base should hold up to heavy loads and the potential that the can will be dragged across rough ground.
Your collapsible trash can will get dirty, eventually. Just being outside will you’re your trash can dirty, but there’s also the likelihood that a trash bag will leak in your trash can. If you select a collapsible trash can that is easy to clean, this won’t be a big deal for you. Look for trash cans made from durable materials like vinyl. Vinyl and similar materials wipe down easily and are also sturdy.
The right can for the job
Not every collapsible trash can is appropriate for camping. Take some time to read the recommended uses for your collapsible trash can. Some are only intended for single use, while others aren’t meant for use outdoors. Make sure that the one you pick is going to handle the rigors of camping and being outdoors.
What about the material?
Polyester is a great material option if you are looking for a collapsible trash can that is lightweight and at the same time pretty sturdy. 100% polyester collapsible trash cans are inexpensive, easy to clean, and pack down to a light and easy to carry option.
Oxford fabric is the same kind of fabric that many men’s dress shirts are made from. Oxford fabric is quite durable, and can easily be treated with a water resistant coating for added durability. Oxford is lightweight, and super easy to keep clean. For camping trash cans, oxford is super flexible and allows for easy packing.
Nylon is the same material that your tent, puffer coats and sleeping bags are made of. So, if it’s good for that stuff, it is also great for your camping trash cans. Nylon is water repelling, inexpensive and lightweight. It is also quite durable if use in the appropriate applications. We like nylon for backpacking and tent camping trash can because it won’t take up too much room in your gear bins or pack.
Vinyl is the least compact and the heaviest of the material options for collapsible trash cans. However, we like this material because it is very sturdy and super easy to clean. Vinyl comes in a variety of weights and thicknesses, so if you’re looking for something a bit more sturdy and able to take a bit of a beating, vinyl is a great option.
What are the benefits of using collapsible trash cans?
But what are the benefits of buying a collapsible trash can for camping? Certainly there needs to be some great benefits to make purchasing a collapsible trash can worth the money.
You can find collapsible trash cans at a range of prices. If you’re not wanting to spend a lot there are really affordable options. There are also options that cost more, and if you have more to spend on a collapsible trash can, you’ll find great options with higher price tags, and often more features. The low price of most collapsible trash cans means that you can invest in a few, allowing you to have a back-up or put them in a variety of locations around your camp.
The last thing you need in your camper or camping gear is an item that doesn’t pack well. Collapsible trash cans are great, portable additions to your gear. The fold down to a compact size and are easy to tuck into a cabinet in your camper or in a storage bin with your other camping gear.
Range of sizes
With a variety of sizes to choose from, you can find collapsible trash cans that are perfect for your super large camper, your little teardrop camper, your tent camping gear or your back country pack trips. There is a collapsible trash can for every camping adventure, and remember, they’re super affordable, so you can buy the right size trash can for each of your camping adventures.
Precautions for using collapsible trash cans
Collapsible trash cans do have some recommended use suggestions, and there are some precautions that you should remember when using a trash can while camping, even if it isn’t collapsible.
For non-food waste only
Remember, you’re in the woods and the woods have wildlife. Bears, birds and other critters are attracted to food smells. Put your food waste in bear canisters or other tight sealing containers. Never use your collapsible trash cans for food waste.
Carry – don’t drag
No matter how sturdy they claim to be, collapsible trash cans aren’t that sturdy. Don’t drag them across the ground, even if your collapsible trash cans have solid sturdy bottoms. Dragging can damage the bottom or tear the body material. Don’t overfill your collapsible trash can so that you can easily carry it, instead of dragging.
If you’re out camping for more than a few days, make sure that you find a way to empty your collapsible trash can. Perhaps this means dumping in a campground dumpster or heading into town to a public space with trash cans. Holding trash in your collapsible trash can damage your trash can or can cause it to smell. You definitely don’t want a stinky trash can in your camping gear!
A collapsible trash can is a great way to keep your camp area clean and tidy and to ensure that your trash stays with you and not spread around the woods. The Fiskars 30 Gallon Hard-Shell Bottom Kangaroo Garden Bag is our favorite for camping.
It is large enough for a week of trash but is still easy to manage and is pretty compact.
Remember, our natural spaces should be places for everyone to enjoy. By following the “Leave no trace” principles when camping, you allow others to enjoy the beauty of nature, unspoiled by garbage. Make your next camping adventure cleaner and easier with a collapsible trash can.