After years of practice, we’ve come up with 20 of the best camping hacks every camper should know! Because for every magical campfire there’s one realization that you forgot the matches, but with these tips, you won’t be left feeling unprepared.
20 Camping Hacks Every Camper Should Know
1. Make your own pillow with a pillowcase & clothes.
Space is always a problem when camping. Instead of packing an extra pillow, turn your clothes and a pillowcase into a pillow instead! The pillowcase makes a great replacement for an extra bag as well.
2. Make your own lantern with a headlamp.
Whether you need an extra nighttime lantern or just don’t feel like lugging along a heavy one for just one purpose, you can make your own lantern with a large water bottle and a headlamp. Just wrap the head strap around a large, clear plastic bottle with the light facing inward and turn it on!
3. Prep your meals at home.
By prepping your meals before you leave on your trip, you can cut down on cooking time and the resulting mess. If you know you’ll need to cut up ingredients for a meal, try chopping them beforehand.
4. Use empty Tic Tac containers for spices.
Camping food doesn’t have to be bland. Common spices such as salt and pepper, or even cinnamon, can be siphoned into these Tic Tac containers. These containers are the perfect size for just a little bit of spice, don’t take up much space, and can be securely sealed to prevent any spillage.
5. Use Doritos as kindling.
Fire won’t start? Not a problem! Skip the expensive fire starter sticks and reach for a bag of Doritos or Fritos instead. These dense, oily corn chips are easy to light on fire and will last for a long time, making them ideal kindling for starting a fire. Plus, they double as an emergency snack if you get cravings.
6. Bring Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Soap.
Replace most of your liquid or foam toiletries with Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Soap! This soap is all natural and can be used as shampoo, body wash, mouthwash, shaving cream, or even dish soap or laundry detergent. Because this soap is free of chemicals and biodegradable, it can be used without fear of harming the environment.
7. Bring microfiber towels.
If you’re carrying your equipment, weight can also be an issue for camping. Microfiber towels are lightweight and more absorbent than normal towels. Not concerned about weight? They’re also quick drying, which means you won’t have to worry about growing mold once they’re packed. Using these in place of paper towels reduces waste, which is also better for the environment!
8. Compact cooking sets are not just for backpackers!
Even if space isn’t an issue, compact cooking sets and mess kits can be a handy thing to bring to a campsite (We use this microdualist cookset). Cooking sets are durable, multipurpose, and easily stack, which makes cleanup and re-packing easier.
9. Use block ice in your cooler.
Want to save money on ice for your cooler? Consider buying a large ice block. Because it has less surface area than individual cubes, it will melt at a much slower pace. If you want cubes to occasionally add to a drink, keeping your ice in the bag until you need a cube will help increase the ice’s lifespan.
10. Plan ahead! Keep a checklist.
Checklists are all-important necessities when it comes to all the packing, unpacking, and repacking that goes on in a camping trip! Preparing a checklist ahead of time and deciding what goes in which bags will make sure you don’t forget those important items like lighters or cookware that can make or break a great camping trip.
Here’s a peek at our camping checklist. Whether we are camping or backpacking, these are the essential items we don’t want to forget!
11. Use contact lens cases for small amounts of liquids.
We use these contact lens cases for my liquids (it’s great for lotion!) on flights as well as camping and it’s one of my favorite ways to save space!
12. Easily make espresso with this compact container!
This portable hand-held espresso machine with detachable cup is a must-have for coffee lovers!
13. Make mini soap bars with a vegetable peeler.
Saving a bar of soap on the road is the worst! Using a vegetable peeler to make single use soap bars saves money and a huge mess.
14. Add bundles of sage to your campfire to keep mosquitos away.
It smells good too!
15. Use HotHands air activated warmers in your sleeping bag.
Sleeping somewhere cold? No problem! Use these HotHands air activated warmers at the foot of your sleeping back to keep you toasty warm all night long!
16. Use silica gel packs when storing your cookware & electronics.
Use these gel packs to prevent rust when storing your cookware and place them in your bag with electronics. These are a must-have in humid weather.
17. Dry your shoes with crumpled newspaper.
Grab a newspaper from your recycle bin and keep it handy in case your shoes get wet and stuff the newspaper inside your shoes while you sleep.
18. Use trick birthday candles as a firestarter.
Finally(!) there’s a good use for trick birthday candles.
19. Use candle wax as a zipper lubricant.
Rub this along your sleeping bag and tent zippers (no need to light) to lube them up.
20. Store eggs in a water bottle.
Fan of scrambled eggs? Pre-scramble the whites and yolks and pour the mixture into a plastic bottle or mason jar.