If you feel the urge to head into the great outdoors for a camping trip, there will be plenty you need to prepare beforehand. But while you may have covered the obvious – food supplies, a tent, gallons of insecticide – some things may not have crossed your mind. So from quick fire-starters to an impromptu washing machine, these camping hacks will have you prepared for absolutely any eventuality. Check off these 20 items and ensure that your al fresco vacation runs like a dream not an out-and-out nightmare.
20. Foam tiles a firm favorite
Part of the magic of camping is roughing it in the great outdoors, but it quickly loses its charm when you wake up aching all over. Rather than placing your sleeping bag straight on the cold, hard ground, try taking it easy. Lay down some foam tiles first, and your back will thank you later.
19. Liquid light show
Battery torches are often the go-to light source for campers, but these devices are inherently directional. If you are looking for a more ambient way to light up all corners of your tent, look to this ingenious camping hack for illumination. Simply strap a head lamp to a jug of water, and it will splash light in all directions.
18. Bread for the purpose
Don’t worry – this doesn’t involve cramming an entire loaf into a tin can. Instead, simply make the bread from scratch inside the can, making it a perfect fit. Et voila – fresh bread for the entire trip. This method also provides an intrepid outdoors person with a handy container for their daily staple. Really, we don’t know why we didn’t think of this canny move earlier.
17. Get the paperwork complete
This clever piece of recycling can help you avoid the utter misery of reaching for the toilet tissue to find that it is already wet. An old plastic container can provide a quick-and-easy waterproof dispenser for your T.P. All you need to do is drill a hole into either end of the drum, thread a cord through it so it can hang, and place your toilet paper inside. Next, cut a slot in the side of the container for access. Hey presto! – you’ve got a civilized sanitary solution for when you’re on the go.
16. Go easy on the spices
And speaking of recycling – don’t throw out those old Tic Tac boxes. Those small containers may be empty of candy, but they can still come in handy. Yes, they are perfect for ingredients that you don’t need vast quantities of – such as spices. However, if you fancy yourself as a master chef on outdoor maneuvers and require a range of flavours, you may need to chow down a lot of Tic Tacs. But, nevertheless, it will be totally sweet.
15. Helpful pouches for various ouches
If you are roughing it in the wilds, you will naturally pick up a few scrapes, cuts and bruises. So it is always good to have some antibiotic cream to hand – and even better if it is in convenient, single-use pouches. However, rather than buy expensive over-the-counter sachets, make your own by cutting up sections of drinking straws and sealing them with a lighter.
14. Mood lighting made simple
If you’re looking for outdoor lighting a wee bit more romantic than a jug with a head lamp strapped to it, try candles. Up the sophistication stakes with this impromptu candle holder hack. Simply create a hole in the bottom of the wax, then insert a long stick. It really couldn’t be easier – but it looks great.
13. Handy hand-wash station solution
Using nothing more than an old pair of tights, a plastic gallon jug, twine and a golf tee, you too can put together an outdoor hand-wash station. It really is a straightforward solution to mucky paws. Simply poke a hole in the jug, insert the golf tee as a stopper, tie it to the jug handle with twine, and then thread the tights through as a soap holder.
12. Small matter of a first aid-kit
Trudging around weighed down with an entire first-aid kit is a pain. So it would be a good idea to lighten the load and make the kit as compact as possible. And few containers are as small as an old pill bottle. Indeed, most everything you need – including safety pins, pills and band-aids – will fit into one and be a breeze to carry anywhere.
11. Bucket-list outdoor washing machine
Even if you pack enough clothes for your entire outdoor trip, dirty disasters do tend to happen. You may just find yourself in dire need of a washing machine miles away from the nearest laundry service. Fortunately, it is easy to make your own appliance. Just get a decent bucket, a lid with a hole, and a plunger to stand in for a traditional machine’s agitator. You will also get awesome guns after a work out with this impromptu washer.
10. Brush up on oral hygene
Toting a whole tube of toothpaste when camping can be cumbersome. It can also be messy if it gets squashed and squeezed in amongst your other gear. Toothpaste dots are an ingenious dodge to avoid the need for an entire tube. Ooze out individual brush-sized blobs on to a tray and let them dry before storing the resultant minty dots away. In fact, this method does not require water out in the wild – simply chew the dot for a few seconds before brushing.
9. Get cracking with your BBQ
BBQ is surely the best form of outdoor eating – but who can be bothered slinging a sackful of charcoal around? As it happens, old egg cartons are the perfect size and shape for carrying lumps of the black stuff. And the best bit is that you don’t even need to remove the charcoal before you set it alight, because the container is flammable too. Indeed, you will be cooking up a storm in absolutely no time with this incredible hack.
8. Camp lamp champ
If you’re after a compact heat-and-light solution while camping, try these tiny all-in-one oil lamps. Any small container will do, although if it is made of plastic you will need to fix the opening with something heat resistant. Then, simply fill the container with flammable oil, add a strip of suitable material for a wick and flame on.
7. Just add heat for a little candy treat
It may sound strange, but roasted Starburst candies actually taste sensational. Just like marshmallow, the confection turns lovely and warm and gorgeously gooey. Unlike their marshmallow alternatives, however, they won’t take up half the space in your backpack. A pocketful of candy over your campfire – you’ll never know how good it is until you try…
6. Backup plan for when you strike out
When you’re out in the elements, fire is your best friend. Whereas matches in matchboxes are unreliable and can seriously let you down. Remember that downpour earlier? Well, it’s just reduced your fire-starters to a soggy sulfurous mass. Avoid this sorry scenario completely by packing your matches in a waterproof plastic box. But how will you strike them without the edge of the matchbox? Simple – glue a strip of sandpaper to your new container.
5. Utility utensil belt
If you’ve embarked on an extended camping trip, a warm meal will be most welcome at some point. And this will be when whoever’s cooking wishes that they had somewhere to hang their pots, pans and kitchen implements. Well, if you want to earn extra rations, transform a nearby tree into an improvised chef’s station. Just loop a spare belt around the trunk and attach a few hooks for a quick-and-easy solution.
4. Portable comfort station
If you’re camping out in the wilds, rather than on a relatively civilized designated campsite, you will be minus one serious piece of sit-down equipment. In that case, you might want to fashion yourself an emergency toilet for, well, emergencies. All you need is a bucket and a milk crate and you’re good to “go” – any time, any place.
3. Slow-burning quick fire-starters
If you’re after an easy way to start and maintain a fire to cook up some chow, look no further. Just dip cosmetic cotton pads into melted wax. Allow them to absorb some of the liquid, then take out, dry and store. When you’re outward bound and ready to heat up something tasty, take one of the pads and tear it slightly. Then, simply light the exposed cotton. The result? A fire-starter that will burn slowly enough to catch the rest of your kindling and make cooking out a shoo in.
2. Get into the swing with a homemade hammock
If you’re looking for an easy way to relax on your next camping trip, try putting together a makeshift hammock. All you will need is some rope, a sizable beach towel, a sewing machine and a little bit of patience. Just make sure to camp near somewhere you can actually string your creation up – between two trees, for instance.
1. Chip in some ash
So, with your bone-dry matchsticks and your waxy cotton pads, you’ve got the beginnings of a successful fire. But how do you keep those flames licking without any kindling to hand? Well, believe it or not, you can always chuck some Doritos on the blaze. Or Cheetos, or Fritos, or whatever chips you have to hand. Actually, they will all do the job nicely because essentially they are just fat.