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The Best Camping Hacks to Try on Your Next Outdoors Adventure

best camping outdoors hacks

We’ve talked about a lot of hacks for packing and traveling, but those who enjoy camping can get truly creative when it comes to preparing for a trip.

There are so many things that go into the planning, including where you’ll set up camp, what you’ll bring to sleep in, and what meals you can bring to easily cook.

Here are some of the best camping hacks we’ve found!

Camping hacks for beginners

Easy ways to start a fire

1 – Dip cotton swabs in wax (or vaseline) or corks in rubbing alcohol, and then store them in a container or zip lock to use as easy fire starters.

cotton ball fire starters
Cotton ball fire starters via Pinching Your Pennies

2 – Keep charcoal in an old egg carton to keep it safe and dry when transporting.

Storing charcoal in egg carton.
Store charcoal in an egg carton. Source: Sew Many Ways

3 – If you’re not confident with your knife skills, bring an old-school pencil sharpener and use it on small twigs to make kindling to start a fire.

Make pencil shavings of small twigs for fire starter.
Use a pencil sharpener to create fire starter from twigs. Source: One Crazy House

PRO TIP: Once you have your fire started, toss some sage leaves into the fire to keep the bugs away.

sage on fire to keep bugs away
Put sage in your fire to keep bugs away. Source: Instagram

Keeping your camping essentials organized

Organize your items using an over-the-door shoe rack with transparent pockets, so you can easily see where your things are.

Camp organizer
Camp organizer via Instagram.

This can be where you store things that you will always be looking for, like flashlights, sunscreen and bug spray. You can even set them in the rack before you go and roll it up like a towel and tie it with string, keeping everything together.

If you’re crafty, you can also make your own roll-up organizer specific for your needs.

Another alternative to keeping your camping essentials organized is to use a clothesline or a rope and hang your items using a carabiner.

gear line
Gear line.

Keeping your toilet paper dry

With toilet paper being a hot commodity, especially when you camp, it must be kept dry yet easily accessible.

toilet paper hack
Toilet paper hack via Pinterest.

You can fashion a toilet paper dispenser from an old plastic coffee container to keep it dry. Cut a small slit down the side so you can pull out pieces without opening the entire container.

An alternative to that is to take out the cardboard core from your toilet roll, flatten it, and then put it inside a ziplock bag.

Toilet paper hack
Toilet paper hack via Modern Caveman

Camping hacks for food and water

Keeping your food fresh and cold

While it’s easy to just buy a bag of ice cubes to keep your cooler cold, you’ll just end up with a pool of cold water and soggy food. Block ice takes longer to melt, so this can be a great alternative to buying party ice cubes.

You can make your own blocks of ice by reusing empty juice boxes: rinse them out to remove all the juice residue, fill up with water, and put in the freezer.

block ice for camping
Block ice via Camping Detective.

You can also repurpose empty milk jugs and fill them up with water. Put the containers in the freezer at least a couple of days before your camping trip. This ensures that your jug of water is very frozen, and would take a little longer to defrost. 

frozen milk jug
Frozen milk jug via Pinterest

This way, there’s no wasted space in your cooler, and you have jugs of water that you can use when it has completely melted.

Put them in your cooler at least an hour before you pack your food, so what when you put them in, the cooler is already cold

It’s also important to organize your cooler to minimize the number of times you open it. Put frozen food at the bottom, and fruits and snacks near the top. 

It’s also a good idea to make a meal plan so you organize the items in your cooler in the order in which to take them out.

Make camping cookouts easy

Marinate your meat in sealed bags, and then freeze them for easy storage and cooking.

Marinating meat for a camping trip
Marinate meats for a camping trip via To Love, Honor, and Vacuum

Make sandwiches and breakfast burritos wrapped in aluminum foil, for easy reheating. You can also use aluminum foil for easy-to-cook vegetables and even macaroni and cheese.

ham and cheese croissants pre-made
Ham and cheese croissants via Life with the crust off

Mix pancakes in a squeeze bottle (or an old ketchup container), so you can just squeeze them over a hot griddle in the morning.

pancake mix in bottle for a camping trip
Pancake in squeeze bottle via The Trainer’s Corner

Make a cold brew concentrate ahead of time, and just mix with boiling water for a hot cup of delicious coffee in the morning.

cold brew coffee
Cold brew coffee via Cookie and Kate

Camping hacks for rainy days

A tarp can be an all-purpose tool when camping. It can provide shade and shelter from the rain. Bring an extra tarp to put under your tent to protect it from the ground and help keep the inside of your tent dry.

camping with tarp in the rain
Camping tarp via Gander

Keep your things dry by putting them in dry sacks. Pack extra plastic bags or garbage bags for bulkier items.

Camping hack for a comfortable sleep

Don’t have the time or budget to buy a portable air mattress? A yoga mat can be a good added padding between your sleeping bag and the ground for a more comfortable sleep.

yoga mat as sleeping pad
Yoga mat sleeping pad via The 3-Day Blog

If you have them, foam tiles can do as well. They also provide insulation inside your tent from the cold ground.

Camping hacks for cold weather

Keep your toes warm and toasty with sock liners. Sock liners worn over your socks while you’re walking the trails or when you go to sleep.

sock liners for warmth
Sock liners via One Crazy House

Handwarmers are not just for your hands. Put a handwarmer inside a sock, and tuck it inside your sleeping bag before you sleep. Once you’re ready to go to bed, you’ll find your sleeping bag will be a warm cocoon to burrow in.

hothands
Handwarmers via Amazon

An alternative are flat river stones. Warm up the stone by the fire or grill, wrap it in a sock or towel so you don’t burn yourself.

Camping hacks for camping with kids

Make individual shower lanyards to keep your shower kit organized and would not touch the ground. You can make these using hanging squeeze bottles, and reuse lanyards from conferences.

hanging shower lanyards via The Pop Up Princess
Hanging shower lanyards via The Pop Up Princess

If you have a restless toddler who loves running around, put a bear bell on their shoes so you can hear if they are close by, or have already run far from your campsite. 

bear bells on shoes of toddler
Use a bear bell to keep tabs on a child via Take Them Outside

Camping hacks for camping with your pets

Always keep the leash accessible and easy to find by hanging it from a hook. These hooks are available in most DIY stores and can be easily screwed into a tree. If you have a clothesline or hammock line up, you can also hook it there using a carabiner.

hook for dog's leash
Hook for your dog’s leash via New England Momma

Keep your dogs mobile yet contained within your campsite with ziplines. You can make your own using nylon ropes and spring clasps.

zipline for dog leashes
Zipline for dogs via Go Pet Friendly

These are some of the hacks we find useful for our camping trips. What are yours?

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Written by Nina

Nina Fuentes splits her time between Manila and Bulusan, Sorsogon in the Philippines. She is one of the pioneering female travel bloggers in the country and her blog, Just Wandering, has been recognized as the Best Travel Blog at the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and at the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards. She has recently started Just Wandering Tours, offering customized tours of Bulusan and the province of Sorsogon.

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