These camping hacks are the ones you actually need

April 7, 2015

In today’s fast paced society, saving time and making things easier is a very popular topic of conversation. The word “hacks” has now become synonymous with tips and tricks to make anything simpler.

When it comes to camping “hacks” guides out there, they can be kind of a mixed bag of actually useful tips and some that seem more like silly ideas that actually take more time or don’t serve a useful purpose. Usually there’s way too big of an emphasis on silly “solutions” to camping “problems.”

In my humble opinion, camping hacks should be clever or unconventional solutions to actual situations experienced while camping, not simply telling someone to buy a campfire sandwich pan in order to make paninis at their campsite. You won’t find any of that nonsense here. These are the camping hacks you actually need for your next camping trip.

Basic survival skills are at the essence of any camping hacks if you ask me. Having the type of knowledge to survive for a night or two in the woods if something goes wrong is absolutely essential to anyone not just camping in their backyards. You might not think that you’ll need to know how to build a shelter or start a fire from scratch, but you’ll be glad you do when your tent won’t go up or all your matches get wet. Of course, you could just head back to the car and call it quits, but where’s the fun in that?

Learning how to build a makeshift camping shelter is a skill every camper should have. Do a little research (some practical practice in the backyard never hurts either) and at least grasp the basic concepts behind common shelters like this A-Frame shelter. Another very common type of survival shelter is a lean-to. Now I’m not telling you to leave your tent at home and build one of the shelters I mentioned instead. I’m just saying that this is knowledge you never think you’ll need, but if the situation did arise, you’d be very happy that you have it.

Learning how to build a shelter is also a great way to get the kids involved and teach them about outdoor survival. Just make sure to not disturb the woods if you’re in a national park or other protected area (unless it’s a true emergency).

Another shelter-related tip: Never go camping without a tarp. You have no idea how many different uses you will find for it! From covering your sleeping area to creating temporary shelter from the rain, you’re sure to find a thousand and one uses for such a seemingly-boring item.

Having the ability to start a fire when you lost your matches or broke your lighter can be another lifesaver while camping. Having a fire immediately boosts your morale while camping and allows you to dry out if you’re wet, warm up if you are cold, and cook up some grub if you get the noms. Don’t make the rookie mistake of relying on a lighter to always get the job done. Make some emergency fire starters at home before you leave. There are a ton of different options and they are all easy to make. Choose the kind that would work best for you and go to town.

Another great camping hack is to build what is known as a penny stove from a couple empty aluminum cans. Having one of these in your pack will allow you to boil a small pot of water in a very short amount of time with only a small amount of fuel.

Camping hacks don’t only have to be about survival. There are plenty of other tricks and tips that come in very handy while camping. The next two camping hacks I’m going to tell you about are very useful skills indeed and can even impress your less experienced camping companions.

First, learn how to make cowboy coffee. On some of the more popular and mainstream camping hacks lists, coffee is brought up a lot. It ranges from making unnecessary coffee bags at home with filters to bringing instant coffee crystals to add to hot water. Neither of those things are necessary if you know how to make coffee like the cowboys did while out on a cattle drive.

All you need is a quart of water, a small pan, and some ground coffee. Bring the water to a boil over the campfire. Once the water is boiling, add ¾ of a cup of ground coffee and return it to a boil. Once it boils, stick a cover on it and remove the pan from the heat. Let it steep undisturbed for about five minutes. The grounds will sink to the bottom in that time and you’ll be left with hot, delicious coffee that will taste better than anything from Starbucks.

Second, for some campsite entertainment that doesn’t involve your iPhone or other mobile device (Don’t lie. I know you brought it with you.), learn how to whittle a willow whistle. It’s a very simple whittling project and will help you to get in tune with nature both literally and figuratively. Just make sure to be careful with that sharp pocket knife!

I hope that my take on the subject of camping hacks will help you to filter out the unnecessary tips that you may come across while planning for a camping expedition. The last tip that I’ll leave you with is to go into your camping trip with an open mind. I say that a lot, but it bears repeating often. After having your own experiences, you’ll come up with you own camping hacks that work best for you and your style of camping. Have fun and be safe out there!

Test out your camping “hacks” at one of KOA’s many great locations!

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