50 Camping Hacks to Upgrade Your Outdoor Game

You fancy yourself a seasoned camper?

If not, here’s a knowledge bomb. If so, we’re still willing to wager that there’s some tips and tricks in here that you were previously unaware of.

Your next camping trip can be less stressful, and more time efficient than you ever thought possible. Peer through these top fifty hacks, and put that imagination to good use.

1. Duct tape can fix just about anything

duct tape can fix anything

It may sound like a joke to some, but duct tape is essentially a cure-all for damaged equipment out on the trail.

Whether it’s your tent, sleeping bag or plastic containers that have split, duct tape helps bond it back together.

This is especially helpful when you’re trying to retain a temperature rating in frigid conditions.

2. Instant coffee can taste like restaurant quality with this one trick

Instant Coffee Grounds

It’s not clickbait, it’s a real trick that makes it taste exponentially better.

Stir in a teaspoon of cold water into your instant grounds, and mix it up into a slurry before you put that hot water in.

The reason?

The granules in the instant coffee harden like a cocoon, so you’re getting this watery taste, and a few hardened bits on the bottom of the cup when you’re done.

This saves all the flavor.

3. Buy a slightly longer sleeping bag and stuff the bottom to stop cold feet

sleeping bags should be slighty longer than your feet

The furthest points from your heart are the areas of your body that get cold the quickest, namely your hands and feet.

If you’re tall, you’ll likely experience cold feet often, and since you’re not sleeping with your boots on, you need some additional protection to keep your toes warm.

Get a sleeping bag that’s longer than you need, and stuff some clothes in the bottom to envelop your feet.

4. Dryer lint and a toilet paper tube can start your fire faster

You’ve got buckets of the stuff at home, so why not put it to good use?

Keep those empty toilet papers tubes and the mass quantity of dryer lint, stuff it in the tube, and make sure there’s a bit poking out on both ends like a cannoli (that’s a gross visual, but it’s the best way to explain it).

Light one end, and let the rapid spread of fire do the rest. Pop this under your kindling, and you’ll get about two to five minutes of fire, which is plenty of time to let everything else catch.

5. Scramble eggs and keep them in a single bottle before you leave

pre scrambled eggs

Standard water bottles are usually built to retain 16.9 fluid ounces.

If you scramble between six and eight large eggs, they can fit in there no problem.

Stash this in the fridge until the minute before you leave on your trip, and then toss it in the cooler.

Scrambled eggs without all the work, messy egg white on your fingers, and no need to toss shells in the limited garbage space. The bes of all? Saving a ton of time.

6. Line your backpack with a heavy duty trash bag

Bringing some toiletries along for a backpacking trip?

If you have anything that has a possibility of spilling, you need to be lining your backpack.

Using a heavy duty trash bag not only protects your belongings from, well, your other belongings, but it also acts as a shield against the rain.

If you drop your backpack on the ground while it’s raining, leave it at camp when you’re on a hike, or the ground is just wet, the bag is going to get wet and dirty, but the contents will have this shield.

7. Water jug headlamp

headlamp near a water jug trick

Grab a headlamp, strap it around a gallon water jug, and turn it on.

Make sure the light is facing inward and that the jug is completely filled, and you’ll have a perfect low-light lantern for the inside of your tent.

This isn’t a proper light source for full campsite visibility, but it lasts for ages and at least gives you mood light for reading.

8. Put pancake batter in a Ziploc, then cut the corner when you need it to dispense

You can do this with Ziplocs or pastry bags, but if you zip/tie them up with fully prepared pancake batter, then you’ll save yourself loads of time (and dishes) on the campsite.

This is the perfect way to adopt a minimalist mindset into your camping life, even when you have a big family that you need to feed.

9. Use block ice in your cooler to help food last longer

using a block of ice in the cooler

Cubed or crescent ice isn’t going to cut it: you’re going out for a long camping trip, and you need that food to last for as long as possible.

Going with large blocks of ice minimizes melting times, and protects your food for longer.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be pricey: buy a 13” x 9” plastic container (or a few), and make your own block ice.

Give it two to three days to freeze fully before you pack it up in the cooler.

10. Get a back-of-the-door organizer to store kitchen item

Remember that trend back in the early 2000’s?

Those back-of-the-door organizers that we used to use for spices and snacks have completely been repurposed by the camping community.

You can hang one of these on the interior of a sturdy tent, or over a tree branch, and have it filled with kitchen items like pans, spoons, silverware, and more.

Pack it by laying it flat on the kitchen table, and roll it up before storing it to ensure it all stays in place.

11. Use milk crates to store just about anything

using milk creates as makeshift storage

You can usually find milk crates being given away on local yard sale sites (bonus frugal tip here), and they’re one of the most sturdy things you’ll ever store anything in.

Since they stack and stay in place on top of one another, you can get rid of those wasted spaces in the trunk when you’re packing up, and prevent things from rolling around during transit.

12. Use foam puzzle piece pads to support your sleeping bag

Maybe your little one had a foam mat back when they were tots, maybe it’s still stored in those boxes in the attic.

If so, you’re in luck, because these are the best sleeping pads that you’ll ever come across.

Just stash these underneath your sleeping bags right before you lay down, and you won’t get those cricks in your neck the next morning.

This hack works best on flat ground, but is still useful on an uneven campsite.

13. Dried Quaker grits repel ants

Dried Quaker grits repel ants

This has to be one of those bizarre ones that you’ve never heard of, but it’s an age-old secret to keep those pesky ants off the campsite, and away from your food.

Just sprinkle some dry grits (Quaker works best for some reason) onto ant hills, or just in a circle around your campsite.

You’ll have to check with local regulations to make sure it’s okay to do this, but it will repel ants in no time, and they’ll vanish completely within twenty-four hours.

14. Tea tree oil protects you from ticks

There are certain souvenirs that we’re okay bringing back home, but those are all located in the gift shop.

Nobody wants to bring ticks home.

Rub a bit of tea tree oil on yourself, on your boots, and on the outside of your jacket, and they won’t go anywhere near you.

One application should do well for a two-day trip, but anything past forty-eight hours, and you should apply another coat just to be safe.

15. Pool noodles can protect tent lines

pool noodles protecting tent lines

If you get bright colored pool noodles, you can increase the visibility of your tent lines, effectively protecting them.

Vendors with canopies use these all the time to protect their tents, and you can keep the lines safe from rust (and people tripping over them) by slipping a few of these on.

16. Altoids containers can be used to make emergency first-aid kits

It’s insane just how many uses there are for an Altoids container.

One of the best things you can do is make a small EDC survival kit out of them: enough supplies to stitch a wound, antiseptics, a small knife, fire starter, really anything that can fit in it.

This is a super compact way to augment your backpack and maximize your available space.

17. Put disposable, travel size toiletry tubes on a lanyard

travel size toiletry tubes

Get a lanyard, and hang everything from it.

You might need to get a pack of inexpensive metal D-rings, but that won’t be an issue.

This keeps everything in one spot, like a hanging medicine cabinet.

If you’re showering outdoors or using a public facility, this is a lifesaver.

18. Deodorant can cure bug bite itching

Getting bit by those pesky mosquitoes?

Take your deodorant, and rub it over a bug bite in order to remove nearly all the itching.

Do it a second time about an hour later, and it should eliminate the urge to scratch entirely. Keep in mind that deodorants that don’t contain aluminum don’t work nearly as well.

19. Three nylon straps can make a beer bottle holder

nylon straps beer bottle holder

Three simple nylon straps, similar to straps that hold down roof rack bags, are extremely versatile.

You can make a ton of things with them, but most importantly, you can stitch them together in an X shape, position them, and stitch the other one around the top like a ring.

Presto; you can cut a hole into plastic camp chairs and glue this in, or pop a nail in a tree and hang your beer from the bark.

20. Use a waterproofing spray on your shoes or boots before you go

You’re not heading into this camping trip with the expectation of damaging your belongings.

Whether it’s hiking boots, general wear boots, or you have specific hiking shoes, give them a little bit of TLC with some waterproof spray before you hit the trail.

21. A sled or Radio Flyer wagon can make lugging your cooler even easier

radio flyer wagon cooler

If you followed our tip on block ice, it’s going to be one heavy cooler.

Bring along a wagon, like a reliable metal Radio Flyer, and you’ll have a much easier time lugging it to the campsite. Nobody wants to throw out their back just to bring along a bucket of cold drinks.

22. Cut a slit in a coffee can to use as a toilet paper dispenser

If you use canned coffee grounds at home, you’re in possession of the best DIY material you can imagine.

Comfort is important when you’re camping, and we’re all specific about how we take care of business.

Cut a vertical slit in the coffee can, put the toilet paper roll into it, and feed the paper through the opening you’ve just made. You can thank us later.

23. Make match holders to keep them usable

matching holders

Whether it’s with a mason jar or an Altoids container, storing your matches is important.

Keep them dry, keep an ignition source (like sandpaper) handy, and you won’t be caught with your pants down when it comes time to light a fire.

24. Sandpaper can light matches

Yeah, speaking of which, a little scrap of sandpaper (stored separately from your matches) can work better than the ignition strip on the side of the original match box.

Get high grain sandpaper, and you’ll be good to go.

25. PVC pipe portions can store cutlery to prevent accidents

pvc pipe portions storing cutlery

Get some PVC pipe that has ends to it, cut it straight in half, and stash your knives in it.

You can basically make canisters out of these to keep your blades sharp during transit, while also protecting yourself from reaching into your backpack and emerging with a fresh wound.

If you’re going to use this hack, be sure to couple it with our silica gel hack below.

26. Roll your clothes instead of folding them to maximize backpack space

The most effective way to store your clothes for travelling is to roll them.

This creates more space in your backpack, while also preventing your clothes from getting all wrinkled (most of the time). Every cubic inch in your backpack can be utilized, if you pack smart.

27. Use Tic Tac containers to store spices and/or toiletry items

using tick tack to store spices

If you’re a regular enjoyer of Tic Tacs, then this is a hack for you.

Keep those containers, strip the packaging from them, and use a piece of medical tape around the case.

Write the spice name on it, and fill it up.

This provides perfect portions of spices, regardless of what you’re cooking on the campsite. No need to bring the whole spice cabinet along for the ride.

28. You can use a paper towel holder to roast a chicken over the fire

Standalone paper towel holders (metal ones, of course) can be used to roast a chicken over a fire.

You need to keep the bird around 5-7 lbs for it to work without being too heavy, but this can be a one dollar solution to get a fresh rotisserie style chicken on the campsite.

29. Butterfly bandages can help you when repairing a tent or tarp

Butterfly bandages storage

They’re used when you’re trying to keep two sides of a wound intact, but they also work wonders for preserving your tent, tarp or sleeping bag when there’s minor damages.

Duct tape fixes a lot, and when you use these two together, you’ll be A-okay to keep your essentials safe and sound while you wait for professional repairs.

30. Store your fishing hooks in plastic Easter eggs

Fishing is a quintessential activity that you need to do while camping, especially if you haven’t before.

That being said, storing fish hooks has always been a hazard, so grab a two dollar pack of plastic easter eggs, and fill those with your hooks.

You should still pack them securely, but this ensure you’re not going to prick your finger when rummaging through your backpack.

31. Muffin tins are buffet trays with a bit of imagination

muffing tins are amazing trays

Get some plastic serving spoons, and a six-part large muffin tin to use as a miniature buffet.

This works great for condiments during a big camping trip at the buffet, or sides like mashed potatoes and coleslaw during an outdoor feast.

32. Sage keeps mosquitoes at bay

Fresh sage is basically the ultimate mosquito repellent, yet all the big brands don’t use it in their body sprays.

Makes no sense to us, but what does make sense is that sage creates a much bigger safe zone, so larger parties can wander the campsite without inhaling the odd air of bug spray.

33. Candle wax preserves tent zippers

candle way used to preserve zippers

If you use candles at home, be sure to save the wax drippings when you’re done.

You can rub these on your tent zippers to not only make them easier to zip up, but to also preserve the metal of your zippers and prevent rusting. If you have a high end tent with some YKK zippers, this is the ultimate hack for upkeep.

34. Use paracord and bread tags to make a makeshift clothesline

Hang a line of paracord between two branches, and use bread tags to hang your clothes.

Not to be confused with aluminum ties, bread tags are the plastic squares with that divot in the center that keeps your bread fresh.

Collect these over the course of a month or two, or purchase a pack online.

35. Portable solar panels can charge almost anything

portable solar panels can charge anything

With a bit of electrical know-how (or a set of adapter wires), you can use portable solar panels to charge laptops, phones, portable kitchen gadgets and more.

Solar energy is its own whole crazy topic, so be certain to read up so you know how long it’ll take to charge everything.

This comes in handy if you’re using a smart watch for GPS navigation on a hike.

36. Clothes and a nylon bags make the best pillow

That nylon sack that your sleeping bag came in is secretly a pillowcase in disguise.

Stuff your laundry into the nylon sack, tie it up nice and tight, and you’ll have a fairly firm pillow to use throughout the night.

To soften it up a bit, remove one piece of clothing at a time to find the right comfort level.

37. Use branches as a tripod to get a photograph of the whole family

tripod branch

This takes a bit of patience, but if you’re trying to use portrait mode to get that perfect family camping photo, propping up some fallen branches can act as a pretty awesome tripod.

Use a bit of paracord or some twine to keep everything tied together, and use that camping hatchet to trim and chop everything to size.

38. Microfiber towels absorb more than cotton

Microfiber towels and rags are not only eco-friendly, but they absorb far more than normal cotton towels or paper towels.

Whether you’re cleaning up spills, trying to dry off your backpack after some rain, or anything you can think of that falls in between those, microfiber towels will have your back.

39. Use dirty laundry to dry off your shoes after a freak rainstorm

using dirty clothes to dry off shoes

It’s day two of the trip, and unexpected rain clouds have formed overhead.

One of the most common “souvenirs” you can get from camping in the rain is foot fungus, which happens when your shoes get wet and you continue to wear them.

Use the dirty laundry from day one to dry off those shoes, and store them by the fire to keep them dry for later.

40. Dry your sleeping bag with tennis balls

Did you get a fluffy down sleeping bag?

Down filling is tricky, but if you put about four brand new, clean tennis balls in the dryer with your sleeping bag as it dries, it doesn’t bunch up or lose its fluffiness.

With down filling, you need to avoid clumping because it will affect the temperature rating.

Treat it well, and it won’t let you down when it gets frigid out.

41. Keep an inventory list so you don’t leave anything behind at the end of the trip

inventory keeping while camping

If you don’t already have one, you need a camping inventory list.

This could simply be a copy of the list you used during packing, but you want to be certain you’re not leaving anything behind when you leave the campsite to head home.

It can be a bit tedious, but checking this list beats losing your belongings. Simple tip, yet effective.

42. Ten gallon buckets can be used a miniature washing machines

This involved a bit of DIY know-how, but if you take a ten gallon bucket and cut a ½” hole in the lid right near the center, you can feed the handle of a plunger through it.

Fill bucket with clothes and clean water, then use the plunger to move everything around. You’re essentially stirring the clothes, building speed, and washing them all at the same time.

43. Bring a bag of white rice to save electronics caught in a rainstorm

saving electronics with white rice

You know the old trick about popping your phone in white rice, right?

If not, it’s simple: white rice absorbs moisture from electronics, so putting your phone in a small tupperware container with nothing but white rice can actually save it.

If you drop it in the handwashing station or in the river (so long as you grab it right away), this little hack could save you hundreds of dollars, and all those priceless camping trip photos you’ve accumulated.

44. Use a vegetable peeler to make baby soap bars

You don’t need an entire bar of soap for a three-day camping trip.

You can make what are called soap leaves that work for single use, and all you need is a bar of soap and a vegetable peeler.

Shave the soap, and you’ll get these little curled-up bits that work wonders in an outdoor shower or on-site bathhouse.

45. Make smores with Oreos to maximize fun and minimize the mess

smores with oreos

Smores are like a camping passtime, but they’re far from clean eating.

If you’ve got little ones who can’t wait to get their hands on some smores, grab Oreos instead, pop a square of chocolate in the middle, and roast them this way.

Keeps things simple, and tastes phenomenal.

46. Silica gel packs prevent rust

Those annoying packets that you get in your package of pots and pans actually has a purpose.

Silica gel prevents rust, which can be a lifesaver when you’re packing up the pots and pans after a long trip.

If you couldn’t leave them out to air dry properly, toss one packet in each pot or pan, and they’ll stay shiny and like-new the whole way home. If you have specific camping cookware, always keep these packets handy.

47. Use a Hothands in your sleeping bag on cold nights

hothands in your sleeping bag for warmth

Looking to stay warm in your sleeping bag?

Hothands are designed to slip into your pockets and keep them warm during the winter, and are most often used by construction workers and snow plow drivers, but you can pop a couple in your sleeping bag to up the internal temperature in no time.

Just be careful to follow the safety instructions, and you’ll stay toasty.

48. You can be frugal without compromising on quality

Ever heard of minimalism?

We’re not going Marie Kondo on you, but if you’re spending a week on the campsite, you don’t need to pack up half of what you own.

Look for minimalist techniques like the ones we’ve covered in other guides, and understand that less can be more.

Decrease your carry weight without minimizing your options.

49. Repurpose an old belt to hold pots and pans

old belt holding pots and pans with s hook

If you’re in it to win it, and you’re spending a week at the campsite, then you’re going to be cooking over the grill most of the time.

Grab an old belt that’s been stretched out or frayed, and strap it around a tree.

Get a pack of S hooks (stainless steel hooks are a few bucks per dozen), hang them from the pre-cup loops, and hang your pots and pans over them.

Simple organization that looks like you’re roughing it.

50. Make a hand washing station out of a water jug and paper towel holder

There’s a ton of ways to get this done, but the most effective is to get a 2.5 gallon water jug with a plug tap on the end, and glue a paper towel holder on top of it.

Put a hand pump of Dial soap next to it, and you’re good to go.

Just be certain to have something to catch the water in so the soap doesn’t pollute or damage the soil below.

On Your Way to Camping Success

camping with success

Every single piece of gear at your disposal is a tool waiting to be put into play.

What defines a good camping hack is imagination, as you can see from this list of the fifty best hacks to use on your next camping trip.

If you can repurpose an item or make your next trip more efficient, then there’s no reason not to do it.

If you’re light on gear, check out our buying guides to get the best loadout for your next trip.

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