Show Off Your Outdoorsy Ingenuity With These Clever Camping Hacks

Camping is a lot of fun, but unless you’re experienced you may find yourself toting a lot of unnecessary items that take up a lot of space. Or you may encounter some insects and plants that can easily turn your fun weekend getaway into an uncomfortable, itchy disaster.

If you want to ensure that your next camping trip is trouble-free, take the advice of some seasoned campers. They’ve been there and done that and know which hacks work best to make the great outdoors more enjoyable.

Memorize What Poison Plants Such As Poison Ivy Look Like

Poison Plants
Susan Biddle/The The Washington Post via Getty Images
Susan Biddle/The The Washington Post via Getty Images

Before heading out into the woods, familiarize yourself with a variety of plants and bring a book with you for reference. It’s particularly important that you can identify poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Nothing can ruin a camping trip worse than having to deal with a horrible, itchy rash.

If you are exposed to poison sumac, for example, symptoms can last for weeks (way beyond your camping trip). The best way to avoid the issue altogether is to learn about the plants in advance so you don’t get near them when you encounter them.

Store Spices In Empty Tic Tac Containers

spices
Pinterest/christodewit
Pinterest/christodewit

If you enjoy cooking and spicing up your meals it can be hard to go camping because you don’t have access to all the spices you have at home — or do you? There is a handy little hack you can follow to make sure you have everything you need for cooking at your fingertips.

Simply get your hands on some empty Tic Tac containers. Clean them out, and put a little bit of your favorite spices in them. These plastic boxes are very portable and won’t take up much room in your camping gear.

Hang Pots & Pans On A Tree Trunk With A Belt

pots and pans
Pinterest/OnStar
Pinterest/OnStar

You have limited storage space when you go camping. As a result, you may end up keeping things in your vehicle and taking them out when you need it, which can be inconvenient. Cooking supplies, in particular, are good to have on hand when you need them.

A great way to keep your pots and utensils within reach is by hanging them up on a tree. Simply tie a belt around the trunk, add some S-hooks, and hang the cookware.

Use Doritos Or Corn Chips As Kindling

Dorito fire
Pinterest/ponderweasel
Pinterest/ponderweasel

The hope is that when you’re in the woods you will have a constant supply of firewood and kindling as far as you can look. However, that’s not always the case. And what if you’re camping at the beach?

If you’re in a bind and can’t find any kindling, you may have to sacrifice one of your favorite snacks. Some people have found success using Doritos and other types of corn chips to start a fire.

Make A Natural Tick Deterrent

make tick deterrent
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

In addition to poisonous plants, you also need to do whatever you can to avoid ticks. Some varieties carry Lyme disease, which can be debilitating if it’s left untreated. In addition to covering up your arms and legs, you can also make a natural tick deterrent to keep the insects at bay.

Mix one part tea tree oil with two parts water, and put the mixture into a water bottle. Spray the solution on your shoes, socks, and the cuffs of your pants.

Repel Mosquitoes By Putting Bundles Of Sage On The Campfire

Camp Fire
Nicolas Armer/picture alliance via Getty Images
Nicolas Armer/picture alliance via Getty Images

Even though some people are bothered less by mosquitoes than others, no one likes having them around. They are a huge annoyance, especially if one ends up in your tent. If you want to repel them, all you need is a little sage.

Pesky bugs don’t like the herb and tend to stay clear of it. Instead of using chemical repellent, simply dry some sage from your garden or buy a bundle online. Just toss it in the campfire to get rid of the insects.

Send Bored Kids On A Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt
Jörg Carstensen/picture alliance via Getty Images
Jörg Carstensen/picture alliance via Getty Images

The great thing about camping is that it forces kids to be outdoors. This is particularly important as more and more kids get hooked on technology and prefer spending time on the couch. To keep them entertained and electronics-free, set up a scavenger hunt.

Give them a list of items to look for, such as something fuzzy, man-made litter, a chewed leaf, something orange, and a pine cone. Just make sure they don’t venture too far away from the campsite.

Make Your Own Lantern

lantern
Reddit/nechronius
Reddit/nechronius

Sure, you can bring your own lantern, but if you don’t have a lot of space, the batteries are dead, or you simply forgot, you can make one yourself. All you need is a head lamp or a flashlight and a gallon of water.

This is one of the simplest camping hacks around. Simply strap the head lamp or flashlight to the water gallon, and turn it on. It will produce a nice ambient light for your tent or outdoor eating area.

Use A Frisbee As A Dinner Plate

Frisbee As A Dinner Plate
Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images
Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images

One of the great things about camping is it lets you do things you wouldn’t normally do at home. Kids in particular like this kind of “roughing it.” One fun thing you can do is eat out of a Frisbee. This is also good to do if you don’t have enough plates.

The bonus is that the lip of the Frisbee keeps food from sliding off. Just make sure you clean it off properly before you play with it again.

Apply Deodorant To Combat Itchiness

Deodorant
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If you forgot to bring anti-itch cream and you or someone in your family gets a bug bite, all you have to do is reach for some deodorant. It’s great for relieving itchy red bumps as well as chafing.

The aluminum in the antiperspirant absorbs the fluid from a bug bite and helps get the swelling down. This, in turn, will stop the itching. While you may not bring anti-itch products on a camping trip, there’s a good chance you’ll have deodorant on hand.

Flatten Toilet Paper To Make More Space

Toilet Paper
Arno Burgi/picture alliance via Getty Images
Arno Burgi/picture alliance via Getty Images

Products like toilet paper can take up a lot of space when you’re traveling. Still, it’s a necessary toiletry unless you plan on using leaves to wipe your bum. If you want to carry several rolls, there’s an easy way to make it more compact and portable.

All you need to do is remove the cardboard paper roll from the center. Then simply flatten the roll before packing it in your luggage. Don’t forget to keep it in a plastic bag so it stays dry!

Collect Dryer Lint To Build A Camp Fire

lint
YouTube/castandblaster
YouTube/castandblaster

If you wash your laundry at home, you know how much lint can accumulate over a short period of time. Instead of throwing that lint away, save it for your next camping trip. Compress a bunch of it and store it in a zip lock bag.

The reason you’re supposed to remove it from the dryer every time you do a load of laundry is because it’s very flammable. That makes it great for starting campfires.

Use Glow Sticks As Night Lights

Glow Sticks
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Sure, you may always have a flashlight on hand when you’re camping, but you don’t want your kids to wear the batteries out if they leave it on all night. Instead, give them glow sticks to use as night lights.

This is a fun hack that can be used by kids of all ages. They produce a soft glow that’s not too overpowering. Plus, the kids can choose from a variety of colors. It’s one way to make hitting the sack more fun.

Buy Solar-Powered Lights

glamping
Pinterest/gsachez
Pinterest/gsachez

If you want some pretty ambient light at your campsite during the evening hours, simply string up a bunch of solar-powered lights. They’re a bit better than battery-powered ones because you don’t have to worry about them losing their charge.

You can find a variety of options online at stores such as Amazon. They come in several sizes and lengths, depending on how you want to use them. The only issue is you need to find a sunny spot during the daytime so they can charge.

Freeze A Gallon Of Water

Freeze A Gallon Of Water
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

When you’re packing for a camping trip, one of the most important items on the list is food. Some food you have to keep cool, and you could just use a bag of ice. However, an even better idea is to freeze a gallon of water to keep the food preserved.

Eventually, the ice in the plastic bottle will melt back into water, and it will be perfect for drinking. It prevents you from having to lug around extra water bottles.

Put Underwear & Socks In Ziploc Bags

packing
Pinterest/the3day
Pinterest/the3day

Sometimes it rains on a camping trip. And sometimes it rains a lot. No matter how hard you try, it can be challenging to keep everything dry. One way to protect essential items is by storing them in zip lock bags.

Make sure to pack your socks, underwear, and other essential clothing items in these convenient plastic bags. That way, no matter how wet you get during the day, you know at night you can put on a dry pair of undergarments and socks.

Scramble Eggs & Put Them In A Water Bottle For Easy Transport

eggs
Pinterest/superbizz1130
Pinterest/superbizz1130

There’s nothing like waking up to the smell of fresh eggs cooking over a campfire. But it can be really hard to safely transport eggs on a camping trip without breaking them. So instead of carrying them in a container, prepare them in advance.

Crack the eggs, and put the contents into a water bottle. Shake them up, and they’ll be ready to be used for scrambled eggs. You can do the same with pancake batter. This insta-meal is easy and delicious to make.

Use An Empty Pill Bottle To Make A Mini Emergency First-Aid Kit

first-aid
Pinterest/babble
Pinterest/babble

A first-aid kit is a must when you’re planning an outdoor adventure. And while you can keep a full kit at your campsite, you may not want to lug it around if you go for a hike. The solution is to make a mini emergency kit you can carry with you.

Just take an old pill bottle and put a few bandages, gauze, and a little disinfectant inside it. Then if you get a minor scrape while on the trail, you’ll have it right at your side.

Wrap Duct Tape Around A Water Bottle

Duct-tape
Pinterest/upsocl
Pinterest/upsocl

Duct tape is a really useful accessory that can temporarily repair a lot of things, such as a hole in a camping tarp. But rolls of tape can be really bulky, and how often do you actually need to use the entire roll at once?

Instead, you’ll probably only need a strip or two for an outdoor adventure. All you need to do is wrap a foot or so around a water bottle, flashlight or other object, and it will be there in case you need it.

Bring A Hammock

couple in hammock
The Washington Post, contributor, Getty Images
The Washington Post, contributor, Getty Images

This is more of a suggestion than a hack, but it’s something a lot of people forget about when they spend time in the woods. While camping chairs are just fine, they’re not particularly comfortable. If you really want to relax, consider bringing a hammock on your next trip.

There are all sorts of hammocks available at a variety of price ranges. You can even get one for two people to relax in. All you need is some hardware to hook it up against a couple of trees.