Among the countless joys of camping are those little tricks you learn over time that streamline your pre-trip packing or campsite setup, boost your comfort while “roughing it,” or otherwise make operations that much more efficient or enjoyable. Now, there’s a good chance you’ve picked up a few such time-savers or DIY improvements yourself; heck, you might have even originated a couple (or at least you believe you have). Maybe, however, you’ll find at least a handful of new-to-you ideas in the following list of super-useful—and super-easy—camping hacks.
1. Pack dryer lint in an old toilet-paper or paper-towel roll
This little setup lets you put that laundry fuzz to good use in the form of fire-starting tinder: Light a match to the lint and watch those flames start dancing. Build up the blaze with some kindling and fuelwood—and then reach for those s’mores-makings, post-haste.
2. Fill a Nalgene bottle with hot water and stick it in the foot of your sleeping bag
This classic tenting-out trick keeps those tootsies of yours warm and toasty during a nippy night under the stars.
3. Bring along a sealed bag of rice in case of unexpected smartphone swims
These days, most everyone is bringing along those expensive and now-borderline-essential smartphones on camping adventures. And all too often, that sets the stage for said smartphones to take a sudden tumble into the depths of ye olde lake, river, or mud puddle. Fear not, for all is not lost: Immersing that dunked, fritzed-out gadget in the embrace of uncooked rice for a day or two may draw out the moisture and—like magic—restore functionality. (To be clear: emphasis on the may. But hey, it’s worth a shot!)
4. Tie the top of your travel mug to its handle
How many times have you dropped the lid in the dirt? A piece of cord is all you need to keep that from happening again.
5. Set up a campsite handwashing station
Fill up a plastic jug with a spigot or an empty laundry detergent container with water, set it on its side on the picnic table, and place a bucket below. With some liquid soap, you’ve got what you need to keep those hands clean in the face of the inevitable dirt, sap, and unexplained grime that accumulate on a camping trip—not to mention the occasional nick in need of an antibiotic cleanse.
6. Transfer packaged dry foods and ingredients into sealable plastic bags to save space
The original boxes or puffy bags pre-packaged foods often come in can take up a lot of room in your on-the-go larder. A little repacking at home before your trip translates to more efficient storage and extra room for other essentials (or luxuries, for that matter).
7. Reserve a pair or two of dry socks as backup
Wet, sopping socks—not an uncommon feature of your average camping trip—will eventually dry out, but until they do they’re most definitely no fun. That’s especially true on a chilly night when you’re not especially keen on going barefoot in the sleeping bag. Whether a reserved pair of slumber footwear or pinch hitters for the hiking trail, always pack some extra socks and keep ‘em nice and dry until they’re needed.
8. Bring along some aluminum foil for ready-made fire-cooked meals
From baked potatoes and roasted onions to sausages and French toast, there’s a whole world of easy-peasy, essentially hands-off, and primaly fun cooking to be done with foil packets laid on the coals or nestled in the ash.
9. Mark tent guylines and stakes so they’re more visible
Pretty much all tent campers have tripped over guylines or stakes at one point or another—pretty sure the statistics are out there to back this up—but that doesn’t mean we should keep doing it. For safety’s sake—not to mention general campsite harmony—mark those tripping hazards with colored tape or flagging. You can also tie on glow sticks for nighttime visibility (and a cheerier, spruced-up after-hours ambiance).
10. Use a stuff sack or sweater packed with clothes for a pillow
This backpacker’s approach works just as well in a car-camping site if you’ve forgotten your pillow—or just didn’t want to haul one along.
Here’s to hacking your way to a smoother, more satisfying camping trip in the very near future!
Written by Ethan Shaw for Matcha in partnership with Kampgrounds of America.