With the stars shining above your head, the sound of running stream, and crickets chirping in the nearby bushes, the time you spend in the great outdoors will be filled with a lot of amazing events and adventures. Each passing day, you will go to sleep knowing that tomorrow has in store some wonderful experiences. Whether you choose to take a refreshing hike to the mountains, spend some relaxing time at the beach, or go on a fun fishing trip, the endless possibilities will keep you motivated throughout your camping trip.
However, in order for your camping trip to go smoothly, you not only need to have a proper plan of action, but also be aware of some important and useful camping hacks.
Regardless of how experienced you are at camping, and even if you plan way ahead and have the best packing list, you are more likely to forget some essential items. Things get much worse when you realize this at the campsite, and this is when camping hacks come in handy. Yes, you will find a lot of inventive camping gadgets on the market; however, in some cases, the best solutions for your camping problems are the simplest and least expensive.
Here are some simple yet effective camping hacks that can improve your next adventure:
1. Waterproofing Hacks
Rain is one phenomenon that can completely ruin your camping trip. To prevent this from happening, you need to be aware of some efficient waterproofing hacks:
- Start with the basics; take with you at least two pairs of socks to alternate between the two during the trip. This will let you use one pair while keeping the other dry at all times, which will be useful when the conditions get wet. Also, one easy way to dry your socks is to sleep with it inside your sleeping bag. And, remember to keep one pair just for using inside the tent, so they remain dry completely.
- Matches are a great tool for camping as they help you stay warm when it rains. But, they wouldn’t be of much use when they’re wet. The best way to waterproof matches is to store them in plastic containers rather than in their own boxes. Having some spares will be helpful too.
- When it comes to your tent, purchasing a waterproof tent is apparently the best solution. However, you can also waterproof your tent by spraying it with a waterproof seam sealer. Spray the sealant in every area, including the tent bag, seams, and rain fly.
- Coffee cans come in handy for waterproof storage. From toilet paper to typically anything else you want to keep dry, this will be an extremely useful technique.
- It is also possible to waterproof your shoes. All you need to do is coat them in a waterproof spray or beeswax to prevent leaks and also watermarks.
When it comes to outdoor kitchenware, a lot of brands now offer rustproof solutions. However, if you already own a set that isn’t, there is a rustproofing technique you can use. The silica gel packets you usually come across in various products actually have the ability to suck up moisture, especially in those items that are prone to rusting. You can either collect those packets from the products you buy or buy the packets themselves. These are highly effective in keeping your camping cookware rustproof.
3. Packing Light
Packing light is one of the main requirements in camping. However, there is no specific rule for the same; it depends on your personal judgment of how to stay comfortable, healthy and safe on the trail and at the campsite. Here are some hacks:
- One of the largest items you will carry for your camping trip is your backpack. To reduce its weight, go for frameless backpack that is also minimally padded. Such backpacks usually weigh only under two pounds.
- Next comes your shelter, which includes your tent and other essentials like tarps, bivy sacks, and more. Many brands now produce ultra-lightweight tents that weigh between one and two pounds. The same applies to the other essentials as well; go for ultralight options.
- The sleeping bag and sleeping pad you choose also affects the weight you carry. Down sleeping bags are known to be the best lightweight option for packing light, and most of these bags are also water resistant. In the case of sleeping pads, air pads tend to be light in weight.
Here are some general tips for packing light:
- When it comes to clothes, pack only the essentials, even if it is for your kids. You don’t have to have specific outfits for every single day; just a few essentials depending on the climate of your camping destination will work fine.
- Plan the menu for your whole trip ahead of time. This will help you minimize the amount of food items you carry, because you will only buy what you need and not a lot of extras.
4. Makeshift Icepacks
Bringing ice on your camping trip can be an extremely difficult process. Not just that the ice will melt and create a complete mess, but the fact that the watery mess can make your food items soggy and unusable is a huge concern. To prevent this, there are different hacks you can try:
- One of the best hacks is to freeze gallon jugs of water and place them in your cooler. Since these jugs are usually designed with sufficient room for expansion when frozen, you don’t have to worry about them cracking. This trick not only prevents you from wasting water (ice melting), which is absolutely essential for camping, but also eliminates the extra weight you carry and keeps your food cold.
- You can also make your own ice gel packs with just two items: a zip-top plastic bag or any other sealable plastic bag, and some dish soap, rubbing alcohol or corn syrup. Simply pour one of those items in the bag (except for running alcohol, which needs to be mixed with water in 1:2 ratio), remove excess air, and freeze the packet.
- Another option is to use a sponge. Soak a clean sponge in water, preferably cold water, let the excess water drip off, seal it in a plastic bag, and place it in the freezer.
5. Space Saving Hacks
When packing for a camping trip, you would often get tempted to throw everything inside your bag and call it a day. However, this isn’t possible if you go backpacking or have very limited space to spare. Here are a few space saving hacks that could be of help:
- Roll your clothes instead of folding them. In addition to helping you save a lot of space, this technique also makes it easier for you to find specific clothes.
- Stick to just one method for campsite cooking. As you would know, there are various camp cooking methods you can choose from: propane stove, camping grill, and more. Choose one of these methods and take only that cooking equipment along. Even better, find recipes that let you cook directly over the fire.
- Pre-cook or pre-cut food and store them in plastic bags. Hence, you wouldn’t have to pack a cutting board or bowls. However, remember that this hack is efficient only for short camping trips.
- Toilet roll is one thing that is of utmost importance while camping and also something that takes up a lot of space because of its structure. A simple way to save space is to remove the cardboard from the center of the rolls and flatten them for easier packing.
- Another essential that takes up quite a lot of space in your backpack or camping duffel bag is toiletries. You can cut down on space by packing single use soap shavings in a tin and buying shampoo bars instead of big bottles.
6. Making Fire
Fire is indispensable during camping and therefore, matches are too. But, more often than not, a lot of things go wrong with matches: they get wet and soggy, or the strike pad goes smooth and becomes of no use.
Here is what you can do: transfer the matches to a waterproof container, buy a sandpaper and stick it to the inner side of the container’s lid. The sandpaper will be the surface you can use for striking the matches. No more worries about soggy matches or smooth and unusable strike pad.
Another easy fire starter hack is to dip makeup remover cotton pads in wax and use them as portable fire starting option. Take with you few sprigs of sage to add to your fire to keep mosquitoes away.
7. Easy Food Prep
While there are a lot of camping food prep hacks you can follow, following are some of the most popular ones:
- Eggs are one of the main ingredients in your everyday meals. However, it is quite impossible to carry eggs with you. An easy solution to this issue is, pre-crack eggs, scramble them, pour it into a plastic water bottle, and carry it in your cooler to the campsite.
- For super easy and scrumptious pancakes on your camping mornings, pre-whip pancake batter as you normally would and store it in a plastic bag to take along in your cooler. When you’re ready to cook, simply cut a corner of the bag, just like you would to create a piping bag, and dispense the batter into your cooking device.
- Starting your day with a strong and hot cup of coffee would be just perfect, especially when you have a long day of adventures ahead of you. But, you cannot always carry a bulky coffee maker while camping. All you need to do is, fill coffee filters with preferred amounts of ground coffee and tie each filter with dental floss. You now have “coffee bags” ready to be thrown in hot water for that perfect morning cup of java.
- Just because you will be cooking on campfire with minimal ingredients and cooking devices, doesn’t mean your food should taste bland. On the other hand, it is also not possible to take with you your entire spice rack. In this case, your solution is to use tic tac boxes or pill organizers to store all the necessary spices and take with you on your trip. Another hack is to use plastic straws; pour in small quantities of spices that you need in each straw and seal the ends using heat from a lighter or candle. Label the straws accordingly.
8. Keeping Warm
Staying warm is a must during camping, especially when it rains, during the nights, and/or when the overall temperature of your camping location is low. Some easy hacks to keep yourself warm and comfortable are:
- Just before you go to sleep, fill up your water bottle with hot water and place it inside the foot section of your sleeping bag to enjoy long-lasting warmth. You can also place the bottle directly between your legs, your inner thighs to be exact, (wrap the bottle if it’s too hot) to keep yourself warm, nice and comfortable throughout the night.
- Remember to pack your hand and feet warmers to survive those chilly nights.
- Eat something high in fat, like chocolate, peanut butter, etc., before sleeping. This will keep your metabolism going, thus keeping you warm. However, make sure that wildlife isn’t an issue in your camping area before packing such snacks.
- Do not sit on rocks, ground, or other surfaces directly because they could easily transmit cold to your body. Use a camp chair, your backpack, or any other object that you have.
- Avoid getting wasted when you go camping or backpacking in the wild. Though alcohol can make you warm initially, it will soon dehydrate you, which in turn will make you colder.
- One other important hack is to do a boatload of jumping jacks before crawling into your sleeping bag. While this may sound silly, it actually is an effective solution to get your body warm enough, without sweating, before dozing off.
9. Drying Clothes
Drying your wet clothes while camping becomes a problem when there is no enough sunlight for the same. Here are some hacks you can try:
- In the case of insufficient sunlight or winds, one option you can try would be to wrap your wet clothes in unused blankets or towels. As these are usually thick, they can easily absorb water from your clothes and make them dry. However, remember to squeeze as much excess water as possible from your clothes before following this method.
- If your clothes are just slightly damp or you need to dry only the smaller ones, like gloves, socks, etc., you can use your sleeping bag to dry them. Place them in your sleeping bag before going to sleep, and your body heat will help dry them out.
- If you’re camping with family, it would take a whole lot of space inside your bag to bring enough clothespins or pegs for the entire family. An easy and efficient alternative to this is to use bread tags.
10. Dual Purpose of Gears
Camping gears that can fulfill more than one purpose are a great way to reduce the weight you carry. Here are some examples:
- You will carry along a pot for cooking purposes; the same pot can be used as washing vessel and/or bowl based on your needs.
- If you’re hiking, you can use your hiking poles as support for any lightweight tarp or tent.
- You can use your backpack to keep your feet raised when you sleep at night, as this will reduce the chances of or decrease swelling after a long day’s hike.
- Something as simple as your bandana can also be used as water filter, towel, face cover, and for more such purposes.
- Pillows usually take up a lot of space in your packing. Instead of packing a bulky pillow or relying on an uncomfortable inflatable one, use the case of your sleeping bag and stuff it with every soft piece of clothing you have.
11. Cooking Hacks
- Always plan one-pot meals for camping. All you need to do is invest in a good quality cast iron skillet and use it typically for anything you want to cook, even directly on the campfire.
- Tin foil is one of the best items you can carry for campsite cooking. From French toast to cinnamon rolls to burritos, you can cook almost anything by simply wrapping it in tin foil.
- You can also use small tin foil packets to take with you salt and pepper mix, instead of going with separate bottles.
12. Much Needed Comfort
As your camping trip is more likely to involve a lot of physical activities, finding comfort with what you have is extremely essential to get refreshed to face the next day. Here are some hacks for the same:
- You can make the floor of your tent much softer and comfortable by laying down foam floor tiles designed for children’s play time.
- For additional comfort, especially during the day, bring along folding rocking chairs or recliners, or even camp beds for your nights.
13. For the Techies
- Buy some wind-up flashlights, just in case your batteries run out. Also, don’t forget a headtorch.
- For many campers, the whole idea of camping is to stay away from their otherwise stressful life and all the technology and gadgets. However, some prefer to stay connected with their regular life. If you are one such person and choose to bring your phone while camping, seal it in a plastic freezer bag to protect it from dirt, sand, rain, and other elements.
14. Emergency Hacks
- The chances of getting wounded are high during camping. If you get hurt, use a strip of duct tape to cover the wound because it can prevent bacteria and dirt from infecting the area.
- In case your tinder gets damp, making it difficult for you to start fire, an easy and excellent hack is to use a few pieces of chips from your food supply and lit them with a lighter or match. The greasy nature of these food items makes them a great fire starter. Another fire making option is to use lint or cotton ball and petroleum jelly.
- If you face a wilderness emergency and caught in the wild without a compass, you can use your wristwatch to find your direction. Simply hold your watch with the 12 o’clock on the left and see to that the hour hand is pointed to the sun. The area at the middle of the 12 and the hour hand represents south.
15. Getting Rid of Mosquitoes and Bugs
Mosquitoes and bugs can totally ruin an otherwise wonderful camping experience. Therefore, knowing to get rid of them, without the use of harmful chemical repellents is essential:
- Next time you go camping, take with you a few bundles of sage to burn them during dawn and dusk, because this is an excellent natural mosquito repellent.
- Liquor is another great solution to avoid mosquitoes and other pests. Simply spray yourself with some vodka or any other liquor you have and let its intoxication property to do the rest of the job.
- If you have tick issues, one hack you can try is soak a cotton ball in soap and place it on the tick for a few seconds; it will automatically come away with the cotton.
16. Let There Be Light
One of the most common camping lighting hacks you will come across is to make a lantern out of a gallon jug of water and a headlamp. Simply strap your headlamp to one side of the jug in such a way that the beam faces inward and voila, you have cool lighting in all directions of your tent. A few other hacks you can try are:
- At night, use glow sticks on tent ties to avoid tripping in the dark.
- Glow sticks can also be used on different pathways, like to the bathroom, and also as mood lighting, by placing them inside bottles.
- Using solar stake lights to illuminate your tent, pathways, and other ways is another easy, less expensive and effective lighting hack.
17. Organization Hacks
Camping is most certainly a lot of work, especially when you camp with your family and kids. Therefore, the more organized you are, the easier it will be to carry on with your day-to-day routine in the outdoors. Here are some simple organization hacks for your benefit:
- Buckets are a great way to keep your odds organized. They can keep your gear protected at all times and are waterproof as well. In addition, they can also be used to carry water and as additional seating when you need one.
- Buy stacking bins from your local dollar store to use inside or outside the tent to keep everything organized.
- A tool organizer is another great option to organize all your camping essentials.
- For family camping, you can use hanging organizers inside your tent to separate everyone’s clothing and other stuff.
18. First Aid and Survival Kits
Whenever you go camping, it is always a good idea to carry with you a proper first-aid and survival kits just in case someone gets hurt or you meet with an unforeseen circumstance.
- Make your own first aid kit by buying the essentials from your local dollar store. From Band-Aids to medicines and more, you will be able to find everything under one roof and at a low price.
- Also, buy a decent sized tool box, also at the dollar store, to store your first aid essentials.
- You can make a tiny first aid kit with an old prescription medicine bottle and filling it with the essentials, which can include cotton balls, antiseptic ointment, and anything that can fit inside the compact bottle.
- When it comes to survival kits, you can follow the same hack of using your medicine bottles, and fill them with miniature survival essentials like safety pins, fire starters, candy (for diabetics), matches, etc.
19. Camping Activities
Camping can sometimes be boring, especially for kids. Therefore, packing some activities to keep them engaged at the campsite, say when you are pitching the tent or busy cooking, is a good idea.
- Search online for some printable games, like bingo and scavenger hunt, and print those in different sheets of paper to pack with you.
- Buy a selection of embroidery threads in different colors and pack them along with a tape and small scissors. Your kids will love making friendship bracelets with these in different colors and designs.
- Also pack some crayons, watercolors, washable paints, and other similar painting resources so your kids can let their imagination run wild and indulge in rock painting and other general drawing.
20. Delicious Camping Menu
With some advanced planning, you can certainly enjoy delicious meals during your camping trip.
- Cheesiest Camping Mac n’ Cheese: You will need mini aluminum pie pans for this recipe so you can pre-make it as individual servings. Prepare the mac n’ cheese following your usual recipe and divide it in the pie pans. Let the pasta cool down and then add cheese to your liking. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray and seal the pans. Once at the campsite, you can simply heat it up over a pan or grill and enjoy a cheesy meal.
- Campfire French Toast: For a scrumptious camping breakfast, you will need foil, parchment paper, a loaf of bread, eggs, vanilla, and milk. Wrap the bread first in parchment paper and then in the foil, making sure that the slices are slightly apart. Whisk together all the other ingredients, make sure that the parchment paper and foil wrap is tight and pour the egg mixture evenly on the bread. Use another piece of foil to wrap the top. Place it over the grill or campfire and cook for around 30 to 40 minutes, or until the bread is no longer soggy. Serve with fresh fruits, chocolate syrup, or any other way you prefer.
21. Campsite Hygiene Hacks
- Taking a shower is one of the main hurdles faced by campers. It is easy to make your own shower when camping in the wild. All you need is a water jug, a poly rope, a shackle buckle, a watering can, a replacement spout, a chain link, and a gorilla tape. By just following a few simple steps, which you will come across online, you can maintain your regular showering routine even in the outdoors.
- If you are someone who is not comfortable going anywhere, a portable camping toilet is something you should invest in. You can also find some DIY toilet tutorials that can prove useful.
22. Campsite Washing Machine
Now, you don’t have to wait until you return home to wash and dry all your dirty clothes from camping. With the help of a DIY mini washing machine, you can easily wash your clothes while you are at the campsite. You will need a decent size bucket with a small opening on the lid, a plunger, and a knife. Make a few holes around the plunger’s perimeter and cut away any extra rubber flap. Add detergent to the bucket, fill it with sufficient water, dump your dirty clothes, and start plunging.
23. Not Getting Lost
If you are planning a hike, not getting lost on the trail should be on the top of your agenda. Here are some tips:
- Always use a map to plan your hike.
- Use trail marking tape (specifically biodegradable one to protect the environment) to keep track of your route.
- Keep an eye out for different landmarks, directions, and the trail.
24. Dollar Store Gear to Not Miss
Camping gears are not always expensive. As a matter of fact, you can find a lot of items on your list at your local dollar stores, some of which are as follows:
- Table cloth, so you don’t have to worry about a messy kitchen or dining table.
- Thin rope, to be used as clothes line.
- Bungee cords.
- Duct tape.
- Dust pan and brush.
- Dish cloths.
- Zip lock bags.
- Plastic plates, cups, and cutlery.
- Rain ponchos.
- Travel size containers.
- First aid essentials.
- Glow sticks, and more.
25. Packing Your Cooler
While most campers tend to focus on packing their backpacks smartly, many forget about the importance of learning to pack their cooler smartly. By following the right packing technique, you will be able to utilize the available space efficiently and also maintain things cold.
- Always make sure that your cooler is clean and cool before packing.
- Remember to chill everything first before storing them in the cooler; this is especially important for beverages and perishable foods.
- The bottom of your cooler should contain bottles and cans, so they can stay cool longer.
- Use water-tight containers to store food items, and add a layer of ice over the containers and bottles, without leaving any blank space.
- Bagged food items should be placed on top of the ice.