Camping Hacks

19 Camping Hacks, Tips, and Tricks that will make you love being outdoors!

Camping might often be referred to as roughing it, but since the true purpose is connecting to nature, there’s a limit to how rough it should get. Camping equipment is meant to alleviate the discomfort, although sometimes it can be a bit costly. Other times, it’s just forgotten and left at home. Luckily, there are ways around this to keep the event as pleasurable as it should be. There are plenty of these camping hacks to be found on the Internet and elsewhere, but here at ElectroSawHQ, we've put together this list of 19 hacks that tackle some of the most popular problems.

There are many low-cost, DIY camping gadget alternatives out there!

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#1 Acorn Cap Whistle

camping-hacks-acorn-cap

Whistles aren’t something you always remember to take along and their size makes them easy to lose. Fortunately, given that oak trees are some of the most common trees around, a unique camping idea can be found right under your feet.

With your hands pressed together to form a V-shape between your thumbs, hold an acorn cap between thumbs and forefingers with its dome facing away from you. Press your lower lip against your thumb knuckles while your upper lip remains free and blow into the cap. (How to Whistle an Acorn Cap ) After a little experimenting, you should get a nice loud tweet to signal your camping companions if need be.

#2 Corn Chip Kindling

Among the food items often brought along on camping trips are bags of potato or corn chips. After finishing off a bag, there are always crumbs and dust left in the bottom that are normally tossed away. Think twice about doing this. These little morsels can actually pull their weight by serving as tinder when starting a campfire.

They consist of dried organic material saturated with quite a bit of oil. Also, being so small, they cover a lot of surface area which is important for easy ignition. Just pile them where the fire is to be struck and watch them perform their magic. This video will supply a better example of what they can do:

#3 Dryer Lint Kindling

Camping Hacks-Dryer Lint

If you own a clothes dryer, collect the dryer lint and stuff it inside the cardboard tubes left after using up rolls of toilet paper or paper towels. These tubes make long-burning fire starters but it’s best to place them in water-tight plastic baggies for safe keeping. Concerning the firewood, bring along a pocket saw for this task since it provides the best control, can access difficult spots, and works very efficiently due to both hands being involved in the cutting action.

#4 Learn to Make Uni Knots

Camping Hacks-Uni Knot in a rope

While there are several highly useful knots, camping and fishing experts consider the uni knot (also known as the Duncan knot) to be the single most valuable one around because it can be applied to a huge range of tasks including joining together separate lines, securing a line to an object noose-style, or just lashing together separate items.

Start things off by bringing the end of a string back and then forward again in an elongated S-shape. The free end is then wound at least four times around the two other parallel segments starting at the loop end. After the final pass, pull on the loose end to tighten the knot.

#5 Make Waterproof Matches

Camping Hacks-waterproof-matches

Even after wet matches have dried out, the match heads are softened and the flammable material crumbles off easily. A good way to eliminate this problem is to coat the matches in either nail polish or shellac.

These substances create a waterproof layer that, unlike wax, strongly adheres while still permitting the head to ignite. Start by inserting the wooden ends of the matches in the holes along the edge of a strip of corrugated cardboard. Dip the match heads and about half the shafts in shellac or paint on the nail polish. Then hang the cardboard up to dry.

#6 Bacon and Eggs in a Bag

Camping Hacks-Bacon and eggs

Skip the skillet and use a paper bag to add bacon and eggs to the menu for a camping weekend. First, rub the bacon around the bottom of the bag to create a leak-proof surface for the eggs. Next, crack open the egg and dump it in on top of the bacon. Finally, fold the top of the bag over, poke a stick handle through it, and hold it over some hot coals for at least seven minutes. After eating, the greasy bag can be tossed into the campfire to meet its very smoky end.

#7 Car Window Screen

Camping Hacks-window screen

Why go through the bother of pitching a tent if the minivan, SUV, or even the sedan with rear fold-down seats is already available? True, the windows need to be rolled down and this is an open invitation to mosquitos and other nasty flying critters but it’s actually easy to keep them out. Start by cutting out a section of flexible window screen material about two inches wider than the window. Alternatively, tape together some sheets of newspaper to make a pattern. Then simply attach high-power permanent magnets around the screen edges with pieces of duct tape.

#8 Tin Can Grill

A cheap alternative to buying a charcoal grill involves turning an empty tin can into one. Take a large tin can and cut it down the sides to about three inches from the bottom with a pair of tin snips. The cuts should be spaced roughly two inches apart around the top rim to form ten or eleven equal strips. Next, bend the strips outward to create a wide, shallow bowl shape. Cover the whole thing with aluminum foil and place several charcoal briquettes in the bottom just like they do in this video.  Use your dryer lint fire starter to get things going and place a rack on top.

#9 Bannock Bread

Camping Hacks-Bannock bread

This stuff is the champion among easy camping meals. The main components are a cup of flour and a teaspoon of baking powder. A pinch of salt can be used for flavoring. For camping purposes, keep the dry powders in a resealable plastic bag and add just enough water to knead thick dough when needed. With the dough prepared, baking can be done in a pan or just on a stick. Since the dough is fairly thick, bannock can be wrapped around the end of a very long skewer. Hold it over hot coals until it’s golden brown. It’s certainly good as is but you can make it as fancy as you like. (Bannock Recipe )

#10 Make Sparks Fly

What happens if you need fire and you’ve lost your matches? Striking sparks from flint is a very old method. There are actually two things needed to perform this. First, a piece of high-carbon steel should be at hand. The flat side of a pocket knife, survival knife, or old hacksaw blade will do. Identifying flint isn’t a big deal considering that you don’t really need flint. Rocks like quartz possess the hardness required to generate sparks.

Seek out a rock that’s smooth rather than grainy, and that produces a sharp edge when broken. Striking the steel against this sharp edge is the secret to creating sparks for one of the most awesome camping tricks. Watching how it’s done should give you a better idea of the whole operation. 

#11 Toothpaste Dots

Camping Hacks-toothpaste

A tube of toothpaste can be a bit bulky in a backpack. It’s also vulnerable to rupturing. Turning toothpaste into dried dots for easy storage ranks high among useful DIY camping tricks. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a table. Using toothpaste —not gel— squeeze out blobs the size of garden peas on the sheet.

Set this somewhere that’ll keep it clean since it’ll take a week to properly dry. Once the dots have dried, put them in a ziplock bag and toss in a pinch of baking soda to provide a stick-free coating on the dots. When needed, just chew on a dot to soften it and start brushing. 

#12 Foil Popcorn Popper

The most compact popcorn popper has to be a sheet of aluminum foil. In the middle of an 18-inch heavy-duty foil square, place 2 tablespoons of popcorn and pour 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over it. Fold the foil in half and fold over the sides and top edges a couple of times. Jab a skewer through the top edge and hold the foil pouch over the heat. Once the popping has stopped, carefully tear the pouch open and enjoy one of the simplest camping food hacks. If you want to see this in action, just check out this video.

#13 Cheap Camp Shower

Portable showers specifically designed for camping tend to be expensive while one-gallon garden sprayers are very affordable cool camping stuff. Along with the sprayer, get a kitchen sink sprayer, a barbed metal hose connector pipe, and a hose clamp. First, remove the spray nozzle from the garden sprayer. 

Second, insert the connection pipe into the garden sprayer hose and secure it with the clamp. Finally, screw the kitchen spray hose onto the other end of the pipe. All that’s left to do is add warm water and pump up the garden sprayer to create pressure. This video might clear up any uncertainty. 

#14 Cushioned Tent Floor

Camping Hacks-Guy sleeping in cushioned tent floor

The great thing about covering the floor of a tent with interlocking foam tiles is that this leader among tent camping tips and tricks provides better cushioning underneath the sleeping bags than you’d get from typical mats while more effectively insulating against the cold ground.  You’ll particularly appreciate the protective cushioning for your hands and feet when climbing in and out of your sleeping bag. Keep in mind that the mass involved with camping equipment like this precludes loading them in a backpack.  

#15 Integrated Tape Dispensers

Camping Hacks-Duct tape

Duct tape is one of the most valuable items you can bring along on any camping trips. Still, it does seem a bit inefficient to carry a separate roll alongside the other equipment. Since it’s rolled around a cardboard ring, just wind it around a few other things that also possess a similar circular shape like a cigarette lighter, flashlights, or water bottles.  

The only downside to this project is that it can leave some adhesive on the object’s surface. On the other hand, having some tape available on several different supplies is one of the awesome camping ideas that ensures there’ll always be some even if one roll is accidentally lost. 

#16 Estimating a Sunset

Camping Hacks-boy pointing at sunset

One of the simplest camping hacks that requires no makeshift tools is estimating the remaining sunlight. Depending on how high the sun is, all that’s needed is either one or two hands with fingers. With your arm stretched toward the sun, bend you open-palm hand 90 degrees to your arm with fingers together.  

The number of fingers between the sun and the horizon gives you the remaining time. The thickness of each finger constitutes approximately 15 minutes. Of course, this calculation won’t be perfect but it also won’t require knowing when sunset occurs on a particular day. Test it ahead of time to see how many minutes each of your fingers amounts to. (Let Your Fingers Tell Time)

#17 Make a Camping Toilet

Camping Hacks-camping toilet

Making your own camping toilet will save money and weight. The only two components needed are a 5-gallon bucket and a swimming pool noodle. Begin by bending the noodle to match the shape of the bucket rim. Make a cut on both ends of the noodle at a 45-degree angle so they’ll securely fit together.

Then again, you could just lap one end over the other. Next, slit the noodle lengthwise so it can be slipped over the bucket rim for cushioning. If you’re planning on using a plastic bag to capture the waste, the job’s finished. If you’d rather take care of things by digging a hole, remove the bucket bottom. (DIY Portable Toilet)

#18 Put Some Eggs in a Bottle

Camping Hacks-eggs

Conserving water at the campsite is difficult when you’re washing your hands every time you crack open an egg for a meal. The simple solution is to crack open as many as you think you’ll need at home and pour them into a bottle or similar container for the trip.

If you’re looking for some good RV hacks and tricks, this one has the added bonuses of making the eggs easier to transport without breakage while also making them more compact in an ice chest. They should be kept below 40 degrees and for no more than a couple of days (Food Storage).

#19 Drying Out a Cell Phone

Camping Hacks-wet cell phones

Rescuing soaked cell phones ranks high among camping tips and tricks for travel trailers but any campers can manage with the right screwdriver. After pulling the phone out of the water, don’t assume it’s all right if it’s still immediately working. Move quickly to take the battery out.

This probably won’t void the warranty since getting it wet will have done that first. If it’s an iPhone, you’ll need a special tool for extracting batteries. The next step is blowing as much water out as possible with cool air. Finally, place the phone somewhere safe to let it air dry. Silicate gel might speed things up but uncooked rice apparently won’t. (Gazelle’s Guide to Water Damage )

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed reading through this list of ideas. Camping is supposed to be fun and I put this list together to help ensure that’s how you experience it. Some of these suggestions are designed to provide low-cost alternatives to pricey equipment.

Other tips involve successfully dealing with possible camping emergencies. All of them are known to work without requiring too much expertise or eating up too much of your time. The only thing left to do is head out to the wilderness and try them yourself.

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