Camping with family and friends can be a lot of fun. Whether you prefer to rough it with minimal equipment out in the wilderness, or you like to have all the comforts of home in a well-maintained campsite, you could benefit from some of these genius camping hacks.
Foam Floor Tiles
If you’ve been in a daycare or a playroom with hardwood or tile floors, you’ve probably seen these brightly-colored, interlocking foam tiles that provide a soft surface to sit on. Try using them in your tent to cushion the ground and make your sleeping bag a little more comfortable. Depending on the size of your tent, you could fill it with cushy foam for under $25.
Instant Water-Jug Lantern
If you find yourself needing some ambient light, try strapping a headlamp or other small light to the side of a water jug (gallon-sized works best). This cool trick creates a bright light that’s easy on the eyes and can light up the whole tent.
Tin Can Sandwich Bread
This camping hack sounds odd, but it’s legit. If you’ve tried bringing loaves of bread on a camping trip, you know that they inevitably end up squished, unless you keep them in a hard plastic container, which you then have to lug around with you.
The solution? Bake your own bread in a tin can! This camping food hack can also be a fun project to work on with your kids. The can will keep your bread safe and fresh no matter what you do with it. Find the recipe here.
DIY Tick Repellent
Nobody likes ticks, but the repellent you find in stores usually contains DEET which is potentially dangerous and toxic, especially to kids and pregnant women. Luckily, scientists discovered that some natural ingredients are almost as effective at repelling ticks. All of them are safe and non-toxic. To see if you have any of them around, check this list.
Handy Match Holder
Strike-anywhere matches are a must-have on any camping trip. Keep your matches dry by putting them in a water-proof container, such as a mason jar or plastic baby food container. Then, superglue a patch of sandpaper to the lid to strike your matches on! This camping idea has many different variations you can find online, on Pinterest and other image-sharing platforms.
Toilet Paper Protector
If you’re a fan of real camping, chances are you’re far from a public restroom. That means you’ll need an easy way to carry toilet paper with you without it getting dirty or wet. Luckily, a 24oz plastic coffee can is the perfect size for a standard roll of toilet paper!
Just cut a slit in the side so you can easily feed TP through it. For added convenience, you can punch a couple of holes near the top of the can and attach a rope or bungee cord to it to make it easier to carry.
It’s a shame that travel-size toiletries are so much more expensive than getting them in a standard size. If you don’t like the idea of lugging full-sized toiletries to your campsite, try making your own single-use packets by cutting small lengths of straw, filling them with toothpaste or ointment, then sealing them shut with heat. Now they’re small, easy to carry, and don’t cost you anything extra!
DIY Travel Coffee Bags
If you’re a caffeine fiend like us, there’s no way you can go camping without coffee. If you like to rough it and don’t plan on dragging along your coffee maker but hate the taste of instant coffee, try making your own coffee bags.
Scoop a single serving of coffee into a paper filter, then tie them off using a piece of unflavored dental floss. In the morning, dunk the bag in a mug of hot water like you would a tea bag, and voila! You’ve got instant coffee that tastes just like the real thing.
It’s hard to stay clean at a campsite, especially for kids. You can make the process a little easier though, by creating your own handwashing station. All you need is a water jug with a spigot, a bucket and some hand soap. As a bonus, you can also use it to brush your teeth. Get the instructions here!
Mini First Aid Kit
You should never go camping without a first aid kit. However, if you’re planning on hiking or any other excursions outside the campsite, you likely don’t want to carry around a full-size kit with you. Instead, use an empty pill bottle or mints tin to store a few essentials like bandages and Neosporin.
Fool-Proof Fire Starters
Sometimes it can be challenging to start a fire at a campsite. Maybe your wood is damp, or there’s a lack of kindling. Rather than dousing everything in lighter fluid, bring along a homemade fire starter! All you need is dryer lint and a cardboard toilet paper tube.
Stuff the tube with the lint, so just a little bit sticks out, then light the lint on fire. The dryer lint is highly flammable, and the cardboard tube keeps it contained. For extra flammability, you can wrap the whole thing with wax paper, which will help it catch fire and keep it burning a little longer.
Campfire Mosquito Repellant
Mosquitos are easily one of the worst parts of camping. Rather than coating yourself or your campsite with citronella, you can use your campfire to keep the mosquitos at bay! Just throw in some bundles of sage. Not only will it smell great, but the smoke will also deter any pesky bloodsuckers from coming near.
Frozen Water Jugs
Coolers are a necessary evil when camping. After the first day, you’re left with several inches of dirty, smelly water, and everything else in the cooler is soaked.
You can prevent this whole mess by freezing several gallon jugs of water and then using them instead of ice. Not only will they keep everything chilled, but they’ll also provide a cold water source as they melt. Their size means it’ll take a long time for them to melt, too.
Speaking of water, sometimes camping can get a little damp. Whether it’s from rain, or from getting up close and personal with a lake or stream, there’s a good chance your stuff will get wet. To prevent all of the items in your backpack from getting soaked, use a plastic garbage bag to line the inside of the bag, or throw everything in the trash bag before putting it in your backpack.
Keep the zipper on your favorite windbreaker or hoodie from getting stuck by rubbing an (unlit!) wax candle along the entire length of the zipper. It will keep rust and other debris from getting in the way.
If mosquitos have gotten to you even after using your natural repellants, you’ll need a way to combat the itchiness. If you don’t have any ointment on-hand, you can just rub a little deodorant on your bug bites. Aluminum chloride, which is found in most bar deodorants, will draw out any moisture and toxins, which not only beats the itch but allows the bite to heal faster, as well.
Muffin Tin Condiment Station
One of the best parts of camping is the barbeques. Food cooked over an open flame just tastes better! If you’ve got a large group with you, you’ll need to make it easy for everyone to get the fixings they want. An easy way to do that is to use a muffin tin. Just fill each spot with a different condiment, and chow down!
DIY iPhone Speakers
If you forget to bring your Bluetooth speaker with you on your camping trip, you don’t have to forgo the tunes. With a cardboard toilet paper tube and two plastic cups, you can create your own speakers!
Cut a slit in the side of the cardboard tube to fit your iPhone, then cut holes in the sides of the cups to fit on the ends of the tube. The sound from your phone will be amplified through the tube and the cups! If you need more details, check out this tutorial video on Youtube.
This camping tip will be familiar to anyone who spent time in the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. You can use an acorn cap to make a (loud) whistle! Not only will this amuse your friends, but it could also save your life if you’re lost in the woods and need to signal for help.
You don’t need any special tools or items other than a decent-sized, intact acorn cap. You can see a diagram of how to position your hands and get the most sound out of the whistle on WikiHow.
DIY Water Purifier
Here’s another camping hack that could save your life. If you’re in the wilderness and you run out of clean water, it’s not a great idea to drink from whatever streams or pools you come across, unless you have a water purifier. Bacteria and other microorganisms in the water could make you seriously ill.
As long as you have a few everyday items with you, you can whip up your water purifier in a matter of minutes. All you need is a couple of 2-liter soda bottles, some charcoal, sand, and a piece of cloth. Though this will remove impurities from your water, you should still boil it before drinking it to be extra safe. You can find the instructions, as well as other types of improvised water purifiers, here.