Here at Positive Adventures, we like to have fun, especially in the outdoors. We’ve put together a list of over 45 camping hacks that will make you an absolute legend on your next outdoor adventure. I could tell you about my favorite adventures, or why I always bring my dog along, but that’s not what you want. You’re here for the hacks.
So here they are. Tons of cool tricks to make every trip a smashing success.
#1. Use a hot Nalgene to warm your sleeping bag. Ever get cold feet in the tent? Fill your BPA-free bottle with hot water and put it at the bottom of your bag for the toastiest of tootsies.
#2. Make your own lantern. Simply strap your headlamp to a water bottle for nifty DIY lighting.
#3. Waterproof any bag. You can line your non-waterproof bag with a garbage bag to keep your stuff dry, without paying for that top-of-the-line waterproof sack. For the record, this is not going to keep your bag dry. If you plan on getting wet, this will help keep your stuff dry, but your pack is going to be soaked.
#4. Stash dry clothes in your sleeping bag sack to use as a pillow. One of the biggest keys to a good camping experience is minimizing your gear (because packing up at the end of your trip is the worst). Instead of bringing your pillow into the wild, utilize the gear you already have to create a comfy head sanctuary. Also, can we please make “head sanctuary” a thing? I’ve wanted to start a trend since the 80s.
#5. Bring a Frisbee. Sticking with the “don’t pack too much” theme, did you know that you can use a Frisbee as your outdoor flatware? Frisbees make excellent plates for almost any meal. Plus, you won’t get yelled at for throwing your plate later. PS: I was told that I need to clarify that the Frisbee should be washed before eating. Obvs.
#6. Here’s a laundry hack. When you get home, you’ll want to wash your gear. Tennis balls will help keep down sleeping bags fluffy. Just toss a couple in the dryer with your down bag to keep it from clumping. It has something to do with the balls knocking out the lumps. Science.
#7. Burn sage to ward off mosquitoes. I love nature, but honestly… If mosquitoes went extinct tomorrow, I wouldn’t shed a tear. Luckily for us, there’s no need for heavy chemical warfare. Just toss some sage on your campfire to keep those nasty buggers away.
#8. Pack Doritos. Did you load up on snack foods but forget to bring kindling? Doritos may not be healthy, but they make excellent fire starters. Watching them burn is impressive, but it may kill your future cravings for the blessed orange triangles.
#9. Time for another storage tip? Yuuuuup. Store your eggs in a bottle to save space and avoid breakage. Just crack the eggs ahead of time and store them in an empty bottle. A 12oz bottle holds about 8 eggs! You can keep these refrigerated for up to 5 days.
#10. Fight the bites. You know how I feel about mosquitoes, but sometimes a bite is unavoidable. Plus, there are plenty of other crawly things that think we’re delicious. Stop the bites from itching by applying your deodorant to the area. Not only will the itching subside, but you’ll smell better, too.
#11. Clip travel toiletries to a keychain or lanyard. This is another “don’t overpack” tip. Score some travel toiletries with clips on them and attach the whole ensemble to that old college lanyard. You know, the one you got at orientation, never used, but can’t seem to get rid of?
#12. Tic Tac containers are great for storing spices or medicine. If you keep a few empties, you’ll always have a great little mini-pharmacy with you.
#13. Foam puzzle boards make great sleeping pads. That’s right, they aren’t just for preschoolers. Make your tent the coziest of all with these comfy foam miracles.
#14. A yoga mat can serve as a great sleeping pad. Enjoy a killer vinyasa flow in the morning and the ultimate Shavasana at night. Speaking of yoga, we use it all the time as part of our wellness programs.
#15. Tea tree oil is an excellent tick repellent. Mix with water and store in a spray bottle. Also, check for ticks when you get home.
#16. Toilet paper is one of the most essential camping luxuries you can bring. Use an old coffee can to stash your TP or take out the cardboard tube and flatten for easy storage.
#17. Have I said anything about saving space lately? Not since #11? Perfect. Leave your bulky bottle of body wash (try saying that 5 times fast) at home and shave a bar of soap to create single-use soap strips. They’ll dissolve in the shower and you won’t have to carry a slimy bar of soap around all weekend.
#18. Another annoying thing that’s hard to avoid while camping is clutter. As a card-carrying neat freak, nothing bugs me more than a picnic table piled with junk. A belt and some S hooks will provide you with plenty of storage for your cookware and an Instagram worthy photo.
#19. Tired of paying for trendy fire starters? Put some charcoal in a cardboard egg carton for a DIY ignition packet. You can even use dryer lint, which is great, because what else are you gonna do with it?
#20. Put rosemary directly on hot coals to easily flavor your food. Personally, I’m a grill MASTER. But if you want an easy trick to flavoring your food, you can throw some ‘mary straight onto the embers to cook like a pro.
#21. You can also put cinnamon buns into orange peels to cook right over the fire. I honestly don’t even know what to say about this one. Sticky buns are amazing, and you can pretty much be the outdoor Gordon Ramsay.
#22. Freeze your water and use it to refrigerate your cooler. Avoid using ice, which just melts into unusable water. Less mess. Colder water. #Winning
#23. Actually, freeze EVERYTHING. It’ll keep everything cold that needs to be. The colder your food and drinks are at the beginning, the colder they’ll be when you need them.
#24. An emergency blanket on top of your tent will keep the inside nice and cool. They’re ultra-reflective, and they’ll send those scorching heat rays right back into the sky where they belong. And it’s a good idea to pack an emergency blanket. You know, in case of a camping emergency.
#25. Confession: I’m addicted to coffee. Those people who’ve seen Sasquatch? It’s just me before my morning joe. But coffee can be a tricky ask out in nature. Put your favorite ground beans into filters for easy, portable coffee. Just twist the end, tie it off, and drop it into your mug like a teabag.
#26. Camping is dirty, and that’s ok. A little dirt is just fine. But sometimes, you just need to get clean. Pack organic baby wipes for cleaning any and every inch. Like, every inch.
#27. Save silica gel packets to keep your pots and pans from rusting. Those weird little packets that come in your shoes and at least half of your Amazon packages? Just store them for your next trip and keep your cookware fresh. Don’t open them – just toss the packets in!
#28. Break a grommet? Simply wrap the area around a rock and tie on for a quick fix. I’ve used this a ton, because I’m constantly striving to extend the life of my gear.
#29. Stash some clean, dry socks in your sleeping bag for bedtime. Note: the author does not believe in sleeping with socks on. But if that’s your thing, a dedicated pair of foot purses is the way to go. Again, please make “foot purse” a thing and help me live my dream.
#30. Don’t leave your dog at home. Dogs love nature even more than you do, and the best way to make camping better is to bring your best buddy. Bring your furry friend along for critter control, extra warmth, and at least one companion who thinks your jokes are hilarious. And you can take it from me: the greatest sleeping bag in the world is no match for a four-legged snuggle buddy.
#31. Collapsible cups and bowls are the best. Easy storage, indestructible, and super nifty.
#32. Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks, but you probably don’t want to bring all the gear required to make it. No sweat. Just pour popcorn kernels into an old can for easy fireside popcorn. Fill the can about ¼ of the way, add a few drops of olive or sunflower oil, and set that bad boy on the edge of the fire. Remember, cans need to be taken out with you, so make sure you throw them away when you’re done, and don’t leave them in the fire pit.
#33. Save grey water for extinguishing your fires. This one seems obvious when you read it, but it’s really handy. Just collect any washing or leftover cooking water and use it to put out your fire. Water is heavy, and you don’t want to bring more than you must.
#34. Duct tape is arguably the most versatile tool you can find. Wrap water bottles or lighters with a few feet of duct tape in case you need it in a pinch.
Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, and it holds the world together – Oprah Winfrey
#35. Don’t pack glass. Just don’t do it. (Check out our blog Camping Cuisine 101: Essential Gear, Pro Tips (+16 Mouthwatering Recipes) for more on why not to bring glass on camping trips.)
#36. Roll your clothes for compact packing. Oh, you thought I was done nagging you about saving space? Think again. Rolling your clothes is the most efficient way to pack and won’t leave you with wrinkled threads.
#37. Stash your phone in a Ziploc bag to keep water and dust out while you’re adventuring. I’m generally an advocate of a technology detox when out in nature, but we both know that the phone is coming with you.
#38. Use polarized sunglasses as a camera filter for the perfect Insta shot. We’ve established that you’re bringing your phone anyway. You can get awesome shots of your trip by holding your sunnies in front of the lens before framing your pics.
#39. We absolutely stole this from the internet, but apparently separated Oreos make the Cadillac of s’mores. I haven’t tried this myself, but you’d better believe I’ll be crushing s’moreos by the fire this weekend. If you’re lucky, I’ll snap a pic and upload it here for you.
#40. Use beeswax to waterproof your shoes (or pretty much any other material you want to keep dry). To those with propolis allergies, check your wax before using it.
#41. A small rake is the ultimate s’more maker. Stab the mallows and set the grahams and chocolate on the flat part. I hope this goes without saying, but make sure you use a clean rake. Unless you’re into yard waste-flavored s’mores, in which case knock yourself out.
#42. Attach a flotation device to your keys. Seriously, have you ever searched the bottom of a cold creek for your keys? It’s the worst. I clip mine to my pack with a carabiner, but better safe than soaked.
#43. You can use mini pie tins for ready-to-go individual meals on the fire. Just prep your grub and drop those bad boys right over the fire.
#44. A collapsible hanging closet organizer can help you stay organized in the tent. I told you: I’m a neat freak. Keep your tent looking like something out of an Ikea catalog. Find what you need, when you need it.
#45. Dr. Bronner’s unscented soap can be used for pretty much anything: hands, hair, teeth, dishes, laundry, etc. Since it’s all-natural and unscented, it’s ideal for following leave no trace principles.
#46. I was told to write “more than 45 sweet camping hacks”. And while reliable, I’m not an over-achiever. So, here’s your bonus trick: For drive-in camping, use a plastic sled to easily pull all your gear from the car to the site. Alternatively, pack a portable chiropractor.
Camping is a great way to bond and learn, and we’re kind of a big deal when it comes to planning outdoor adventures. To get some info on planning a retreat or how to get the kids outside for experiential education, we’re the right people to talk to. Give us a call.