Up until recently, any hacking done while camping was strictly log-based. Then, the Internet gave us the means to share all manner of weird tips for the outdoors with each other. These are generally less related to survival and more about making your camping experience a little more comfortable and whimsical, but allow me to share a few hacks that I’ve tried that have made my outdoor ventures just a bit more stress free! After all, camping should be fun!
Okay, so this isn’t so much a hack as basic advice, but a Sham-Wow or one of its many knockoffs goes a long way in ensuring that cleanup is a low-stress process.
In the clothing department, don’t pack jeans. Just… don’t. Even if you’re car camping, jeans are heavy and retain water for far too long. Save your clothesline the burden and invest in a nice pair (or twelve) of nylon pants.
Get creative with firestarters.
Even with ample resources, it can be difficult to effectively start a fire. Wet wood, tricky lighters, and expensive store-bought firestarters can all contribute to fire frustration.
Fortunately, civilization has blessed us with any number of common materials, both natural and unnatural, that happen to burn really, really well.
Dipping cotton pads or cardboard in wax is a great way to ensure that these flammable materials last long enough to ignite your fire. Additionally, Doritos are great firestarters. No, seriously. They burn brightly and impressively, with the added bonus of being delicious. Just be sure to make sure that they burn completely or are properly disposed of; leaving food lying around your campsite is never a good idea.
Lint is also a lightweight way to easily start a fire, burning quickly but brightly enough to easily ignite other kindling. Any combination of these previously mentioned elements works fairly well, so feel free to experiment!
Or you could just burn a bunch of newspaper instead. You can’t beat the classics.
Freeze Water Ahead of Time
If you’re camping in the summer, you may know the trials and tribulations of attempting to keep your food cold. Avert some hassle by freezing your water ahead of time! It’ll keep food cold for longer than just buying bags of ice, and you’ll have access to the water after it thaws.
It may be difficult to ward off all of the assorted nasties that can be found in the woods, but burning sage in a campfire can create a scent to repel one of the worst possible outdoor insects: the mosquito. Renowned for being loud, pesky, spreading disease, and contributing very little to the ecosystem, mosquitoes are basically just the bug equivalent of that one friend that shows up at all of your parties and eats all of the hors d’oeuvres.
As far as hacks go, this seems pretty obvious, but makes for a great party trick and provides practical campsite utility. For hanging bear bags, try two half hitches! Use a tripod lashing and barrel sling to boil water if a stove isn’t handy. The bowline is useful to tie a moving object to a fixed point, but is useful for far more than that.
I encourage you to research and find knots that fit your needs!
Foil is your friend.
When it comes to packaging servings of food in a practical way, foil is king. It repels heat well enough that you can place your food right in the fire without too much risk of it igniting. Plus, it enables you to divide your food before you go, eliminating the need to worry about portion sizes while you’re camping! Foil also makes for a great, non-permeable surface to prepare food for easy disposal.
Anything you think I absolutely should have included? Tell me your camping tricks in the comments!