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11 Useful Camping Hacks

Friends camping together

Heading out for a camping adventure can be an exciting way to reconnect with the outdoors, but it can also come with its fair share of challenges. From setting up camp to dealing with bugs, even seasoned campers can benefit from a few clever hacks to make their outdoor weekends more enjoyable. Here are a few of the internet’s favorite camping tips that will make your next trip more fun.

Use Jugs of Water for Ice

A milk jug filled with water

When packing for your camping trip, don’t forget about the food and drinks. Before you leave for your camping trip, fill up gallon jugs with water and freeze them. Once frozen, use them in your cooler instead of regular ice packs. The frozen jugs will not only keep your food cold, but they will also melt into drinking water throughout your trip.

Using water jugs as ice packs is also a more economical and eco-friendly option. You won’t need to buy and dispose of disposable ice packs, and the jugs can be reused for future camping trips.

Coleman Ice Chest

Keep food and drinks cold for up to five days.

Stay Warm at Night With a Hot Water Bottle

A hot water bottle
New Africa/Shutterstock.com

Don’t let the cold weather ruin your camping trip. Filling a hot water bottle can keep you warm and comfortable throughout the night.

Before heading to bed, fill up your hot water bottle with hot water and place it at the bottom of your sleeping bag. You’ll be amazed at how much warmth this simple trick can provide. The hot water bottle will keep you cozy all night long, and you’ll wake up refreshed and ready to start your day the next morning.

Samply Hot Water Bottle with Knitted Cover

Keep yourself warm in a safe way.

Bring Condiments and Spices

A rack of spices on a shelf
Ted Odeh/Shutterstock.com

One of the best things about camping is being able to cook up delicious meals in the great outdoors. But many people forget to bring condiments and spices, which can mean some pretty bland dinners.

Before leaving for your camping trip, transfer some of your favorite spices into empty TIck-Tac containers and throw them in with the rest of your stuff. Whether you’re sticking with hot dogs or making a dutch-oven stew, your food will taste much better when it’s seasoned.

Tic Tac Freshmint Breath Mints

Eat now, use to store spices later.

Waterproof Your Matches

A boy lights a fire with matches

One of the most essential items to bring on a camping trip is a trusty match holder. However, it can be frustrating when the matches inside become damp and difficult to light. To avoid this issue, consider gluing sandpaper inside the lid of your match holder for easy lighting and waterproofing.

This hack provides a large, coarse surface for striking your matches and protects the sandpaper from getting wet or worn out. This way, you can easily light your matches even in damp conditions and ensure they stay dry for the duration of your camping trip.

24PCS Sand Paper Variety Pack Sandpaper

Sandpaper has many uses, so it's always nice to have some at home.

Keep Your Stuff Dry

Rain boots in a wet tent
candy candy/Shutterstock.com

Camping enthusiasts know that unpredictable weather is impossible to avoid. When you plan your camping trip, always prepare for the worst. One thing you can do to protect your belongings is to line your backpack with a garbage bag, which will keep the contents of your pack dry.

For added protection, choose a heavy-duty garbage bag that can withstand harsh conditions. Once you have your bag, open it up and carefully insert it into your backpack. You want the bag to be fully enclosed, so make sure to tuck the corners and edges tightly into every crevice. Then, fold over the edges of the bag so that it hangs over the outside of your pack. This will ensure that any water that lands on your pack will slide off the bag and stay away from your gear.

Reli. ProGrade Contractor Trash Bags 55 Gallon

These heavy-duty trash bags will keep all of your stuff dry.

Make Your Tent Floor Comfortable

A tent in a campground
Mut Hardman/Shutterstock.com

Camping can be a lot of fun, but sleeping on the ground can quickly turn a great day into a sleepless night. Hard and uneven ground can be a nightmare, but with foam floor tiles, you can create a comfortable and level surface in your tent.

Foam floor tiles help to keep the cold ground from sapping the body heat, and can help to reduce condensation inside the tent. They are also durable and can withstand wear and tear, making them a great long-term investment.

Repel Mosquitoes With Sage

Dried sage bundles

One of the biggest nuisances when camping is dealing with mosquitoes. Bug sprays and chemical candles can be effective, but they can also be costly and have negative impacts on the environment. An alternative solution is burning sage in your campfire to naturally repel mosquitoes.

Sage smoke has been used for centuries to ward off insects, including mosquitoes, without the need for bug spray. To burn sage, simply gather a bundle of fresh or dried sage and set it on fire. Blow out the flames and let the sage smolder and smoke by the edge of your campfire during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

FAIZA NATURALS White Sage Smudge Sticks

Keep mosquitoes away naturally.

Dry Your Shoes at Night

Hiking boots outside

Wet shoes can be a real buzzkill on a camping trip, but there is an easy solution to dry them overnight. First, remove the insoles from your wet shoes and stuff them with dry, used clothing. The clothing will absorb the moisture and help to speed up the drying process.

Make sure to check on everything periodically to ensure that everything is drying properly. By following this simple tip, you can keep your feet warm, dry, and comfortable.

Ottomanson Multipurpose All Season Boot Tray

Keep all shoes in a shoe tray to avoid tracking dirt around your tent.

Prep Meals at Home

People eating camping meals
Ryzhkov Oleksandr/Shutterstock.com

One of the easiest ways to simplify your camping trip is to prep your meals at home. By chopping up ingredients beforehand and experimenting with a few easy recipes, you can have a tasty and satisfying meal ready in no time.

Choose recipes that require fewer ingredients and have a shorter preparation time to reduce the hassle of cooking outdoors. Breakfast burritos, pasta dishes, and baked potatoes are all easy to reheat in a fire or over a camping stove. To reheat food in the fire, wrap your meal in tin foil and let it sit on the coals for about 20 minutes until it’s heated through.

Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil, 200 Square Feet

Great for making tinfoil dinners at home.

Use Hand Warmers in Your Sleeping Bag

Someone holds a hand warmer
New Africa/Shutterstock.com

When it comes to camping in colder weather, staying warm while sleeping can be a challenge. One of the easiest and most effective ways to stay warm is by using hand warmers in your sleeping bag.

Hand warmers are small, lightweight packets that generate heat when exposed to air. Simply open the packet and place it in your sleeping bag before you go to bed. The heat will last for hours, keeping you warm and comfortable all night long. These warmers are perfect for camping trips and can also be used for other outdoor activities like hiking or skiing.

HotHands Hand Warmers

An easy way to keep hands and feet warm while camping.

Pack Solar-Powered String Lights

String lights hanging outside
liu yu shan/Shutterstock.com

Have you ever wanted to camp under the stars without compromising visibility after sunset? Solar-powered string lights can offer the perfect solution. With these easy-to-use lights, you can embrace the beauty of the great outdoors without worrying about stumbling around in the dark.

Besides being environmentally friendly, they are also incredibly easy to use, making them a must-have for any camping trip. Solar-powered lights are also handy to have out when someone needs to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Brightech Ambience Pro Solar Powered Outdoor String Lights

A great way to make your campsite cozy.

Camping can be a lot of fun, but it also comes with a lot of inconveniences. These tips will make your next camping trip more relaxing and enjoyable.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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