Camping is a great way to spend time with your family, get out into nature and reconnect with the world around you. Unfortunately, it’s also a great way to get bitten by mosquitoes, chased by bears and rained on, if you’re not careful.
We want you to have an awesome camping experience, so here are 10 great camping hacks to help make your nature getaway more comfortable and enjoyable.
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10 Amazing Camping Hacks
1. Dry Toilet Paper = Happy Camper
If you’re camping in a modern campground, toilet paper is usually provided, as are other amenities like toilets, showers, and maybe even hand soap. If primitive camping is more your style, you’ll have to bring your own toilet paper, and the one thing you really want to do is make sure it stays dry. Wet toilet paper is the worst!
Luckily, there’s a quick trick for this — just finish your coffee! Any large coffee can (metal or plastic) is the perfect size to hold a regular roll of toilet paper, protecting it from the elements. If you’re feeling handy, you can cut a hole in the lid to pull the toilet paper through, making it even easier to use!
2. Big Tasty
S’mores are the most common go-to campfire treat, but if you’re looking for something with more substance, pick up a tube of pre-made crescent rolls instead! Get your fire going and find a Y-shaped stick that you can clean up.
Then, just criss-cross one of the raw rolls over the stick and hold over your campfire until baked. Add a bit of butter or use it to soak up the yummy juices from your campfire meals.
3. Don’t Forget the … Lint
Yes, you read that right.
If you’re going to start a campfire at any point, make sure you grab a handful of dryer lint before you head out the door. The dry fluff makes an amazing fire starter!
Extra tip: If you’ve got a couple of empty toilet paper tubes lying around, pack the lint inside and light that instead. The cardboard tube burns as well and will give the lint plenty of time to catch fire.
4. No Biting!
Mosquitoes can quickly turn an enjoyable evening around the campfire into an itchy mess. To keep them away, toss a bundle of dried sage on the flames. The smell of the sage smoke will drive away the mosquitoes, keeping you bite-free without having to slather on layers of chemical bug repellent.
If you can’t find sage, burning lemon balm, cedar, or citronella leaves has the same effect. And if you do end up getting bitten, you have a few natural home remedies (like honey or a banana peel) on hand to stop the itch!
5. One-Pot Meals = Less Mess + Sleeping Bag Heater
You don’t want to haul the entire kitchen into the wilderness with you. Not only will the food spoil quickly, but it’s also a bit heavy to stick in your pack.
Instead, focus on meals that can be cooked in a single pot. One great option is a ceramic dish with a lid that you can use on your campfire. This is perfect for two reasons. First, ceramic cooks evenly — even with uneven heat — and cleans up easily. Secondly, ceramic retains heat extremely well.
The benefits? You can make dinner early and then just let it stay warm in the ceramic dish. And if you’re camping in a cold climate, your ceramic dish doubles as a heat rock for your sleeping bag. Once it’s cool enough to touch safely, simply slide the cleaned dish into your sleeping bag to warm it up before you call it a night.
6. Don’t Sleep … on the Ground
The point of camping is to be out in nature, but that doesn’t mean you have to sleep on the hard ground. That could get a little uncomfortable, especially if your campsite has rocks or sticks on the ground where you’ve set up.
A set of interlocking foam pads or an inflatable mattress pad can be great ways to cushion your sleeping space a bit. They’re lightweight, pack away easily, and can make your camping experience more comfortable. Or if you really hate sleeping on the ground, bring a hammock that you could tie between two sturdy trees.
7. Breakfast of Champions
There’s nothing quite like the taste of pancakes cooked over a campfire when you’re braving the wilderness. But who wants to pack their mixing bowl for a camping trip?
For an easy way to mix and dispense your tasty breakfast treat, wash out an old plastic ketchup bottle and use it to store your pancake mix.
Or you could consider mixing up your own “Shake and Pour” pancake mix. It has everything included in the mix except for one egg and one cup of water. So, all you need to do is add those two ingredients and shake it up!
8. Light the Night
It gets dark when you’re camping, and sometimes those store-bought lanterns and flashlights just aren’t going to cut it. Instead of investing in an expensive lantern, just pick up a translucent gallon jug of water and a headlamp.
Point the headlamp into the gallon jug, turn it on, and voilà! You’ve got a fantastic lantern plus a backup gallon of drinking water. The water refracts the light, leaving you with a gentle glow that’s perfect for those evenings out.
9. Don’t get stuck!
How can you enjoy the wonders of the outdoors if you’re trapped in your tent by a stuck zipper? The answer is you can’t, so make sure you have something on hand to help you wiggle free. Things to keep around might include:
- WD-40: You should keep a small can of WD-40 with you at all times, anyway. If something is stuck, it’s one of the best things to have on hand.
- A candle: Rub a neutral-colored candle on both sides of the stuck zipper. If you don’t have a candle, a crayon or lip balm will work in a pinch.
- A graphite pencil: Graphite makes a surprisingly great lubricant, so if you have a pencil, run the sharpened tips along both sides of your stuck zipper.
10. Peppermint bug repellent
Keeping some peppermint oil nearby is a great way to keep bugs away from your tent.
Spiders and ants especially hate peppermint oil, so put a few drops in a spray bottle with water and spray it around the entrances of your tent and on the ground outside.
There you have it! Ten of the best and most cost-effective camping hacks to help you enjoy your camping trip without wet toilet paper, mosquito bites, or stuck zippers. Now go enjoy the great outdoors!
Feature image credit: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock
Editor’s note: Originally published on September 23, 2016, this article was updated in September 2019.