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June 25, 2017

The 17 best camping hacks to kickstart your summer

by John_A

One of the most stressful aspects of camping is packing for the outing itself. Similarly, if we forget something or an item breaks during a trip, we could literally be left up a creek without a paddle. Fortunately, there are dozens of clever tips to help you minimize the gear you need to pack beforehand and tricks to replace lost or forgotten items. Improvise, adapt, and overcome. Necessity is, after all, the mother of invention.

As best exemplified by Born Survivor Bear Grylls, there is often more than one — albeit, roundabout — way to complete a given task. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, and if you forget your wetsuit, remember you can always skin a baby seal and wear the remnants of its blubbery corpse to ward off hypothermia.

While we all know that a high-proof bottle of booze can be used as a quick-fix antiseptic if an injury occurs on the trail, there are plenty of other lesser known tips to make life a little easier while in the great outdoors. From jury-rigging kindling from snacks to simply adding a little comfort to your campsite, here are 17 of the best camping hacks to utilize on your next adventure.

Cooking hacks

Cup o’ Joe on the go

For some, the idea of starting the day without a cup of coffee is unthinkable. Thankfully, there’s a simple way to brew a cup of coffee outdoors without all the fuss or gadgets. Before you head out on your adventure, place a scoop of coffee grounds into a filter and tie the wad in place with a little string or even some dental floss. Simply let this steep in a cup of warm water and you’re set.

A spice rack for your pack

When it comes to cooking on weekend outings, some individuals prefer more extensive camping recipes. However, towing around an entire spice rack isn’t exactly efficient. Thankfully, it’s easy to keep small amounts of your most frequently used spices and herbs on hand using waterproof Tic Tac containers. Need a little thyme for that hot sauce? Bam!

Scrambled eggs on the fly

Eggs aren’t the most portable foods. That said, use a funnel and crack your eggs into a plastic water battle before your trip and you’ll never have to worry about cracked eggs in a cramped cooler.

Fire and kindling hacks

Faux wood “chips”

Here’s a little-known fact: Doritos are flammable. The expanded surface area of Doritos 3Ds makes them particularly ideal for use as a source of kindling. As anyone who has ever tasted a Doritos Flamas knows, these items were most certainly not meant for human consumption and this haphazard, ancillary purpose makes much more sense.

Waterproofing your matches

Dipping your individual matches in candle wax will protect the phosphorous tip from the elements.

Stowing matches

Similarly, storing your matches in a Mason jar will add another layer of protection. You may also want to keep a piece of sandpaper inside the container, just in case the striking pad on your matchbox becomes wet or worn.

Cotton balls

Simply soak a few cotton balls in petroleum jelly and store them in a plastic bag. These are highly flammable and will burn slowly, making them a solid alternative to kindling.

Fixes and first aid

Mosquito repellent

One of the real downfalls with the great outdoors is dealing with bug bites and stings. When it comes to mosquitos, however, there are plenty of easy ways to minimize the risk of bites and ways to treat them after the fact. While cooking meals or simply enjoying a fire, add a little sage to the embers. The herb naturally repels mosquitos and should at least lower your chances of being bitten.

Treat mosquito bites

So you burned some sage and you were still bitten by a few bugs? Well, fortunately, you can apply most brands of deodorant directly to your bite to minimize the itch. The aluminum present in many deodorants acts as an astringent. Just be sure to check the ingredients on the back of your stick beforehand!

Mini emergency kit

An old pill bottle can easily double as a miniature first aid kit. Throw in a couple bandages, a gauze, and some disinfectant and you’ll be able to treat minor scraps and cuts on the trailhead. We’ve also compiled a list of the best items to put in an outdoor emergency kit.

Easy fix for broken grommets

If a grommet on your tarp breaks, never fret, there’s an easy fix. Simply wrap a small rock in the corner and fasten it in place with a zip tie or piece of string. You can then use this rock to fasten ropes and extend the life of your tarp.

Preventing rust

Stow a few silica gel packs in your pots and pans, which helps prevent your cookware from rusting between uses.

Duct tape

You may not need an entire roll of duct tape for a basic weekend outing, however, sooner or later you’ll probably need a strip or two for unforeseen mishaps. Simply wrap a foot or two of duct tape around your water bottle, flashlight, or a few inches around a lighter and you’ll have some durable tape handy at all times.

Bread bag tags

Let’s be honest, the small clip sealing our loaves of bread rarely makes it past the first sandwich. Luckily, there’s a handy use for all of these extra tags. Those little, square clips make for convenient clothespins when you need to dry wet garments and other materials on the trail.

Tent tips

Foam floor tiles

Even if you position your tent on a flat, grassy site, sleeping on the ground can be rather uncomfortable. Believe it or not, the interconnected tiles often used in children’s play rooms and gyms can add a little cushion for a more comfortable night’s sleep. You can also cut the foam panels down to size to better accommodate your tent and these waterproof padded mats are a solid option. For a more comfortable alternative, take a gander at our roundup of the best tents on the market today.

DIY lantern

A lantern is a handy tool to have at your disposal. However, rather than purchasing an expensive device, you can simply strap your existing headlamp to a transparent or translucent water bottle to create a rudimentary lamp using items you probably already own. We’ve also curated a list of some of the best headlamps if you’re looking to pick up something more capable.

Makeshift pillow

A pillow is arguably a rather superfluous item to bring on a camping trip. Luckily, you can save space in your vehicle and your pack by simply stuffing your sleeping bag pack or a shirt with a change of clothes. If you still need to pick up seasonal sleeper, we’ve also compiled a list of the best sleeping bags you can buy.




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