Car camping and backpacking are great past-times to unwind, reconnect with friends and family, and enjoy all that nature has to offer. While you may have plenty of gear for camping, let's face it: There has probably been a time or two you thought, “Man, there's got to be an easier way to do this.” Fortunately, plenty of avid campers and backpackers have shared their own camping hacks from years of experience. We've compiled some of these easy hacks for camping in our lists below to make your next camping trip as smooth as possible!
You might not think there would be too many hacks for backpacking since it's already fairly straightforward, but you might be surprised by all of the little things you can do to stay more comfortable on your backcountry adventures. Plus, many of these camping tips are useful with traditional camping as well. Here are some of our favorites.
- Place a bottle of hot water in the footbox of your sleeping bag before heading to bed to both warm your bag and keep your feet nice and toasty.
- You can also place your clothes for the next day in the footbox so they aren't freezing in the morning, or...
- Put your clothing inside of a stuff sack and use it as a pillow.
- No rain cover, no problem! Place a garbage bag inside of your pack before packing to keep all of your items dry in the event of rain or snow. Or, you can take said garbage bag and use it in place of a rain cover.
- If you have metal cookware, place silica gel packs in them when not in use to prevent rusting.
- Dryer lint is lightweight and makes an excellent firestarter.
- Use trick birthday candles as an alternative to waterproof matches.
- One of your grommets rip out? Place a rock in the corner of your tarp or rainfly and tie some line around it to form a makeshift tie-down point.
- Prep and vacuum seal your meals ahead of time. They're super easy to heat up, less expensive than the trail meals you can find online, and you can season them just the way you like.
- Rope. Always have rope. For hanging clothes, hanging a bear bag, etc.
- Test your gear ahead of time. This isn't exactly a hack, but it's always a good idea to make sure all the parts are in your tent bag. It's also an especially good idea to make sure your tent is waterproof before you hit the trail!
- Microfiber towels come in handy for drying your hands without a paper towel, drying condensation off of your tent, and more. Plus, they're a lot more eco-friendly than paper towels since you can reuse them!
- Speaking of cloths, ladies, consider bringing some reusable rags for doing your business in the woods. Check out these anti-microbial and fast-drying ones from Circe Care. If you have trouble going in the wilderness, you might also want to invest in one of their female urination devices. It makes peeing outdoors a lot easier!
- Take tweezers. You never know when you'll get an unwanted cling-on.
- Tired of your pillow shifting in the night? Use a t-shirt to secure it to your sleeping pad.
- When it's cold out, protect your water filter from freezing by placing it in the bottom of your sleeping bag at night.
- Speaking of keeping things from freezing, place any electronics in your sleeping bag during cold weather too.
- And, speaking of electronics, take a rechargeable battery pack for your phone or GPS. Sure, it's nice to go without electronics when you're hanging out in the wild, but they're also handy to have in case of an emergency.
- Create offline maps ahead of time of where you'll be hiking. Many wilderness areas do not pick up cell signals.
- Going on an extended trip or thru-hike? Use your empty bear canister to wash your clothes.
- Always carry some duct tape or Gorilla tape, even if it's a mini roll. You never know when you may need to patch something!
- Take collapsible bowls and plates and utilitarian silverware, such as sporks.
- Pre-mix pancake batter in advance, pour it in a Ziploc bag, and place it on the top of your cooler. Cut one of the corners off when you're ready and voila! Easy squeeze pancakes!
- Place single servings of coffee in tea bags to easily make a cup of coffee.
- Taking a carton of eggs isn't very convenient, so beat some ahead of time and put them in a clean water bottle. Easy to store, easy to pour!
- Use a foam sleeping pad or blanket under your air mattress or sleeping pad at night. It really does help you stay warmer!
- Baby wipes are super handy, even for adults. From wiping hands to wiping your entire body down.
- Use small containers, like tic tac boxes, or straws sealed at each end to hold cooking spices.
- Throwing some fresh sage on a campfire reportedly helps to keep mosquitoes away.
- Use bread tags as clothespins to hang up damp clothing.
- If you're unaccustomed to sleeping outdoors, bring earplugs. (They also help drown out human noise if you are sleeping at a campground.) Barring that, many hikers and campers like taking adult beverages to help them relax before bed.
- Instead of folding and packing clothes separately, plan your outfit ahead of time, wrap all of your articles of clothing up like a burrito, and place your socks over either end to secure. This video shows you how to do this easily.
- Set up a handwashing station like this one.
- Collect condiment packets from fast food places instead of taking full-size bottles.
- Use cool candle wax as zipper lubricant.
- Tired of stumbling and tripping over your tent's guylines at night? Wrap some glow sticks around them!
- Fill and organize plastic tubs with your camping gear so you can just grab them and go whenever the opportunity arises.
What camping gear or tricks have you picked up over the years that make your outdoor trips easier or more enjoyable?