30 Crazy Camping Tricks That Will Make Your Life Easier

by Albie Hartshill Apr 4, 2014

We’ve entered the age where glamping is a thing. Glamorous camping, for those who mercifully had not heard about it till now, is a type of outing where one sleeps less under a tent and more in a fully appointed home that just happens to be under a canvas roof.

Though the glamping trend feels a bit too much like the One Percent’s approach to the outdoors, glampers do have a point: This is the 21st century, and there’s no reason we need to treat camping like we’re still cavemen. Here are some camping hacks to make your trip less chaotic and, hopefully, more enjoyable.

1. Protect your toilet paper.

A super easy hack that can keep your toilet paper from being crushed and keep it from getting wet if you accidentally drop stuff in the water or if it starts to rain. Just take a coffee can (my father’s been using cylindrical Quaker oatmeal tins for years, and they work just as well), pop the TP in, and cut a slit in the side to run the paper out of.

2. Create a makeshift lantern.

You’d be surprised how much light it provides. They actually use old soda bottles as solar light bulbs in some parts of the world.

3. Create a makeshift music speaker.

You don’t need to bring big speakers or even a separate speaker plugin for your phone: A phone or an iPod in a ceramic mug will work just fine.

4. Sage is a natural mosquito repellent.

Throw some on the fire every now and then, and it should help keep them away.

5. Spice that shit up.

There’s no excuse for bland food, even in the middle of the woods. Use Tic Tac containers.

6. Pack a cooler like a boss.

The more space you conserve, the more room there is for beer and hot dogs.

7. Pack a backpack like a boss.

If you’re gonna be moving, pack efficiently.

8. Keep your clothes warm.

Especially if you’re camping in the winter, you can keep your clothes warm by putting the next day’s clothes in your sleeping bag while you sleep.

9. Use Doritos as tinder.

While it probably doesn’t say anything great about the nutritional content of Doritos, they actually work pretty well as kindling if, say, it just rained and you’re having trouble getting a fire lit. You can also use the lint from your laundry dryer’s filter.

10. Make coffee easy to make.

Just put some coffee in a coffee filter, tie it up with dental floss, and then use it as a teabag in hot water.

11. Conserve (and don’t lose) soap.

It sucks if you drop your one bar of soap in the lake and have to root around the bottom to find it. So, instead, get a bar of soap, peel it up with a vegetable peeler, and use a single slice per bath.

12. Make your zippers more zippable.

Just put a keyring on them. This is especially useful if you’re camping in cold weather and are wearing gloves or mittens.

13. Bring quick and dirty firestarters.

If you don’t want to burn through a billion matches, do this: coat a cotton ball in Vaseline and then wrap it in a square of aluminum foil. When it’s time to use it, cut an X in the foil, pull a bit of the cotton out, twist it into a wick, and light it. It should last about 10 minutes.

14. Pack more firestarters.

It’s just circular cotton pads dipped in wax.

15. Bring Altoids tiki torches.

Take an empty Altoids tin, fill it with folded cardboard, and then sprinkle wax on top.

16. Carry a portable charcoal grill.

Charcoal in a cardboard egg carton. Light the carton. Fire started.

17. Protect your matches.

Wooden matchboxes can get wet or crushed. Pack your matches in a plastic container — make sure they’re ‘strike anywhere’ matches — and then glue some sandpaper to the top of the container. If you’re camping in the cold, bring a metal tin, as the plastic might break.

18. If you’re body-odor averse, bring a portable washing machine.

Basically, just get a five gallon bucket, cut a small hole in the top of it, and then put some water and detergent in it, stick a regular bathroom plunger through the hole, toss the clothes in, and use elbow grease. More detailed instructions here.

19. If you’re squat-in-the-woods averse, bring a portable toilet.

A milk crate, a bucket, a toilet seat. Boom.

20. Hide your valuables in soap.

Especially if you’re at a fairly crowded campground and want to go for a hike, valuables can be hidden in soap. This is an old Boy Scout trick.

21. Make calzones.

Mini calzones in cupcake tins. Can be cooked directly over the fire.

22. Make campfire cones.

Fruit and chocolate, grilled in aluminum. What’s not to love?

23. Smoke it with rosemary.

A nice alternative to a marinade — just put it directly on the charcoal and underneath the meat.

24. Roast Starbursts.

You heard me.

25. Seriously, guys, you can cook virtually anything in foil.

Three cheese potatoes. Burgers. Sausage. Lumberjack breakfast. Pineapple upside-down cake. Nachos. All in foil.

26. Pre-make your pancakes.

You won’t have to worry about spoiled milk or eggs if you pre-make your pancake batter, put it in plastic bags, and then freeze them. They’ll double as ice packs, and you can thaw them and then cook them up.

27. Cook all your hot dogs at once.

If you don’t have a grill and want to cook all your hot dogs at once, all you need is a rake.

28. Never lose your keys in the water again.

Attach your keys to a cork. Practically essential if you’re boating.

29. Get comfy with padding.

It’s way easier on the back to camp with padding between you and the ground. If you don’t want to buy these tiles, a yoga mat will work in a pinch.

30. Know your knots!

As any Boy Scout knows, knots aren’t a one-type-fits-all deal. Learn a few, and it’ll make your camping (and your life) easier. 

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