There is nothing better than the tips and hacks a seasoned camping veteran gives you. And this is exactly what inspired me to put together this ultimate camping hacks and tips post.
Many of you reading this don’t know any seasoned camping enthusiasts, or are first-generation campers in your family and simply don’t have anyone to ask. In my 20+ years as a camping enthusiast, I collected many camping hacks and tips and am ready to share them with you here. Simply scroll down and enjoy.
Table of contents
- Packing-related Camping Hacks And Tips
- Kitchen-related Camping Hacks And Tips
- Camping gear hacks and tips
- General camping hacks and tips
Packing-related Camping Hacks And Tips
Pack your car’s trunk the right way
To pack your car’s trunk the right way, when you’re going camping is very important. It is easy to make mistakes, some of which may cause you harm or injury.
- Start with the large or heavy objects and place them on the bottom of your car’s trunk. The last thing you want is to send your camping table or tent flying through the cabin every time you step on a brake
- Fill every gap and crevice that is left between large objects with items like towels, throws, tarps, jackets, etc
- Pack and transport multiple small items together e.g. in a canvas bag or a duffle bag
- Never pack higher than the back seat bench allows, unless your car is equipped with the safety mesh that separates your trunk and the cabin
- Use your car’s trunk baggage anchors to tie down your gear whenever available
- Leave enough room in your trunk to ensure sufficient visibility
Freeze water bottles instead of buying ice
Ice takes up a lot of space in coolers and can be expensive if you have to buy it at the store. Plus when melted, it will make your food in a cooler soggy.
A great hack is to freeze water bottles instead! This will keep your food cold and since the water in bottles is more compact, the cooling effect will last longer. Plus additionally, you will have bonus cold drinking water as the ice melts.
Seal clothes, blankets, and pillows in vacuum bags
Vacuum-sealed bags are great for packing clothes, blankets, and pillows. They take up less space in the car, and you don’t have to worry about them getting wrinkled.
Simply put your items in the bag, seal them, and then vacuum out the air. The need for space in your car cannot be understated, so use this hack to save as much space as possible!
Store eggs in a water bottle or a jar
If you’re planning on cooking eggs while camping, a great hack is to crack eggs and store them in a water bottle or a jar before your trip.
Simply add your favorite seasoning to the bottle and shake it up to make scrambled eggs. Just heat up a pan or a skillet, add your egg mixture from the bottle and viola your breakfast is ready.
Storing your eggs this a water bottle will save you space and ensures they are not broken while you are traveling. Just don’t forget to store the bottle in your cooler.
Organize your gear into bins or totes
Totes and bins are great for organizing your gear and food items. Simply separate your stuff into themed bins fitted with lids: cleaning bin, cooking bin, sleeping bin, general camping gear, etc.
It ensures, that you can easily find everything you need and more importantly when you need it. And as an added bonus it helps to keep your campsite more organized and tidy.
Bins and totes also make it easy to pack up your gear when you are ready to leave.
Kitchen-related Camping Hacks And Tips
Pre-plan all your meals in advance
Planning will make sure that you have everything you need and it will also save you time, as you won’t have to come up with what to cook on the go.
The best way to pre-plan your meals is to make a list of all the ingredients you need for each meal and then cross them off as you pack them.
If you want to make planning easier on yourself, you can research camping recipes online. There are plenty of easy recipes that you can make while camping.
Depending on the number of days you will be camping, you may want to consider packing some non-perishable food items as well.
Prep your food at home
One of the best ways to make cooking while camping easier is to prep your food at home. This means chopping vegetables, marinating meats, and anything else you can do ahead of time.
This will save you time and effort when you are trying to cook while camping. Another advantage of preparing your food at home is that it will help you avoid having to pack a lot of extra equipment.
Items that you can prep at home include vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry, fish, rice, pasta, and more. You can also pack some dry spices and herbs to add flavor to your meals.
Create coffee “tea bags”
If you are a coffee lover, there is no need to go without your morning cup of joe while camping. One way to make coffee while camping is to create coffee “tea bags.”
All you need for this hack is ground coffee and a filter. Simply put the desired amount of ground coffee for a single serving in the filter and tie it off.
You can then place the coffee “teabag” in a cup of hot water and let it steep for a few minutes. This method is quick and easy, and cleanup is a breeze.
Prepare pancake mix in a bottle ready to go
Pancakes are a camping classic for a reason. They are easy to make and they are delicious.
One way to make pancakes while camping is to prepare the pancake mix at home and store it in a bottle. When you are ready to make pancakes, simply add water and eggs to the pancake mix and shake it up.
This hack will save you time and effort when you are trying to make pancakes while camping. Store this mix in a cool and dry place and it will last for a long time.
Cook an omelet in boiling water and a ziplock bag
Omelets are another great option for camping meals. They are easy to make and you can add whatever ingredients you like. Prep the bags with omelet ingredients before your trip and save yourself the trouble of preparing everything at the campsite.
One way to cook the omelet is to place the prepped bags directly into the boiling water and let it cook for a few minutes. Alternatively, you can empty the prepped bags one by one into a pan if you prefer to cook your omelet this way.
This hack is quick to do, easy to prepare, and cleanup is a breeze. Your kids will love this camping breakfast hack.
Use pill containers or tic tac bottles to pack your spices
Packing spices can be a pain, but there is an easy way to do it. You can use pill containers or tic tac bottles to pack your spices.
Packing spices in this way will help you save space and get your cooking items better organized. Tic tac containers are also great for storing other small items like matches, hair ties, and more.
You can easily take the number of spices you need without having to bring the whole container. This hack is especially useful if you are camping with a group and everyone has their spice preferences.
Make popcorn in a soda can
One of the best things about camping is sitting around the campfire and enjoying nature and good company. If you are a fan of popcorn, there is no need to go without it while camping.
One way to make popcorn while camping is to use a soda can. Simply remove the top of the can and fill it with popcorn kernels. Place the can over the campfire and wait for the kernels to pop.
This hack is quick and cleanup is easy. And the popcorn from the campfire tastes so good.
Use spray oil to prevent food from sticking
Cooking while camping can be a pain if you don’t have the right supplies.
One way to make sure your food doesn’t stick to the pan is to use spray oil. This way, you can prevent your food from sticking and make cleanup a breeze. Simply spray the pan with oil before cooking and you will be good to go.
This hack is especially useful if you are cooking eggs or pancakes. Spray oil is available in every supermarket and it won’t take up much space, so in my opinion, it is the perfect addition to your camping (cooking) gear.
Camping gear hacks and tips
Pack a source of light and enough batteries for your trip
There is nothing worse than being in the dark, literally and figuratively.
A few flashlights or headlamps will help you find your way around camp after sunset, and it’s also useful for reading maps or spotting wildlife. There are many lighting options out there, so I suggest this article by AnacondaStores.com to you to make your decision easier.
Solar-powered lights are a great and eco-friendly alternative. They help you save space in your pack because you don’t have to bring the extra batteries. And pretty much ensure, you won’t run out of juice in your lights. To save even more space consider purchasing collapsible lanterns.
Save extra space by using collapsible camping gear
Invest in some good quality, collapsible gear to save space in your car or pack. These days, there is a huge selection of collapsible camping gear.
A collapsible water container will come in handy for hikes, and a collapsible cooler will keep your food and drinks chilled. You can even find collapsible camp chairs and tables, kettles, grills, pots, cups, lanterns, and many more.
Also, look for double-duty gear that can be used for more than one purpose. A beach towel, for example, can be used as a tablecloth, picnic blanket, or impromptu sleeping bag.
Keep your toilet paper in a Ziploc bag
This hack is essential for any camping trip because no one wants to deal with soggy toilet paper, so be sure to keep it in a Ziploc bag (or two).
You can also use a Ziploc bag to store your toothbrush and toothpaste.
Make a lantern of an empty gallon jug and headlamp
This is a great way to save space in your pack and have a bright source of light.
Simply strap a headlamp to an empty gallon jug and voila! You have a makeshift lantern that will provide plenty of light for your campsite.
This is crucial for setting up camp after sunset. If you don’t have a headlamp, you can use a flashlight or even your phone’s flashlight. Use a clear gallon jug for best results.
Use newspaper to dry your wet shoes overnight
If you’re caught in a rainstorm or your shoes get wet for any other reason, stuff them with newspaper overnight.
The newspaper will help absorb the moisture and will make your shoes more comfortable to wear the next day. Be sure to pack extra newspaper in case you need it.
Alternatively, you can use dirty clothes you are not planning on wearing on your trip.
Put a yoga mat underneath your sleeping bag
A yoga mat will do a good enough job if you don’t own a sleeping pad, so if you already own a yoga mat, you can save your money and buy other gear instead.
This hack is two-fold. First, the yoga mat will insulate your sleeping bag from the cold ground. Second, it will make sleeping in your sleeping bag more comfortable.
No one likes waking up with a stiff back, so this hack is essential for a good night’s sleep. You can also use a yoga mat as a makeshift seat or table
Use a candle as a tent zipper lubricant
If your tent zipper is stuck, rub a candle on it to lubricate the tracks.
This will make it easier to zip and unzip your tent. Be sure to use a non-scented candle so as not to attract insects.
General camping hacks and tips
Save the dryer lint and use it as a fire starter
Dryer lint is great for starting fires, it’s highly flammable and it burns relatively slowly, so it’s perfect for kindling. Dryer lint is a great replacement for your lighter fluid or newspaper.
Just put the collected lint in a Ziploc bag and store it in your backpack. You can also use cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly as fire starters.
Burn sage to repel mosquitoes
Sage has long been used as a mosquito repellent. The smoke from the burning sage will keep the mosquitoes away.
You can find sage (dried plant branches or leaves) at most health stores. Strip the leaves, tie them together and light it up, that’s it. The good thing about sage is that it also repels other insects, so it’s a great all-around repellent.
Burning sage is also thought to have cleansing properties. It’s often used in Native American ceremonies to cleanse a space of negative energy.
Freeze your food
Freezing food, that you don’t need on the first day or two, is one of my favorite hacks. Meat, prawns, bacon, fish, cheese, corn, ham, and others are all great options to get frozen before your camping trip.
Not only will your food last longer, but you can use frozen food to keep your cooler cold, and you can replace ice with it to save some money. And your cooler won’t be soaked in water as it is when the ice melts inside of it.
Simply put your food in Ziploc bags and freeze them. Then, when you’re ready to pack your cooler, put the frozen bags of food in it. The food will act as ice and keep your other food cold. This is a great way to save money and avoid having to deal with melting ice.
Isolate tent floor with floor mat tiles from inside
If you’re anything like me, the floor of your tent is never isolated enough. So you put down a floor tarp to keep the moisture out, now is the time to isolate the floor of your tent from the inside.
Use your kid’s old play floor tiles (or buy some) to isolate your tent from the inside, create a more homey feel, and make the tent floor soft and warm.
Set up your tent at home before you go
Set up your tent at home, a couple of days before leaving, to double-check you are not missing any essential equipment and that nothing is broken. Also, check for any damages or holes in your tent before you leave as well.
And if you do miss some equipment, or something got broken, you still have plenty of time to purchase it before your trip.
Never forget, practice makes perfect and it is valuable to brush off your tent building skills too.
You can never have enough blankets
Even if it’s not that cold, you’ll be surprised how much cooler it gets at night.
Make sure to bring plenty of blankets with you. It’s also a good idea to bring a few extra just in case someone gets cold during the night. As we discussed above, you can use vacuum bags so the space they take up should be no issue.
Hand warmers will make a cold morning much nicer
Nobody likes getting out of a warm sleeping bag into the cold morning air. But if you use hand warmers in your sleeping bag before you go to bed, it will make getting out of your sleeping bag much more pleasant.
You can also put them in your boots in the morning to heat them up before you put them on. The standard use in pockets is great too, just make sure you don’t put them too close to your skin as they can cause burns.
Just be careful with hand warmers as they can be dangerous if not used properly. Keep them away from small children and pets and make sure to read the instructions before use.
Create a living room area with a tarp
This is one of the best ways to make your camping trip awesome, even on a rainy day. The feeling you get when there’s raining everywhere around you and you are not limited to sitting just inside your tent is special.
Tie a large tarp to tree branches or poles in front of and over your tent, to create a “living room” area for you and your friends. It will keep the area around your tent dry and make your camping trip more comfortable.
You can set up your chairs and table underneath it and enjoy friendly gatherings, even if it’s raining.
Pack a pair of shoes that you’ll only wear inside of the tent
It’s a good idea to have a pair of shoes that you’ll only use inside the tent.
Just don’t forget to change your dirty, muddy shoes for your comfy slippers when you get inside your tent. This way, you can keep your sleeping area comfortable, clean, and mud-free.
Place an old rug by the tent’s entrance
An old rug will save your tent’s floor from getting muddy and wet every time someone enters the tent. It’s another good way to keep your sleeping area clean. In my opinion, a combination of the previous 2 tips (“living room” and tent shoes) works better and will take up less space in your baggage. However if for some reason, don’t like those two, this one is a good alternative.
If you don’t have an old rug, you can use a tarp or a piece of plywood. Just make sure to place it at the entrance of your tent so that people have to step on it before they enter.
Put a hot water bottle inside your sleeping bag
We already covered the trick with hand warmers inside your sleeping bag and this one is a variation of it. Instead of hand warmers, simply put a hot water bottle (or water bottle filled with hot water) inside your sleeping bag. Either place it there before you go crawl in or take it in with you when you’re going to sleep.
And you stay warm and toasty all night long. And make sure to always test them before you put them in your sleeping bag to make sure they’re not too hot.
The good thing about this hack is that you can reuse the hot water bottle the following night. So you don’t have to worry about the water going to waste.
Bring a smaller amount of duct tape
How many times were you camping and wished you had duct tape with you. May it be to quickly fix a hole or a tear in your tent, seal opened food, or anything else, a smaller amount of duct tape is always handy.
Since the whole roll of duct tape is too large and clunky, you can wrap up your water bottle with a small amount of duct tape. Preferably choose a more heavy-duty duct tape, just to be sure. This way you will have it always at hand and you don’t have to drag the whole roll with you.
Use Doritos as an emergency fire starter
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to start a fire but you don’t have a good fire starter, Doritos can come in handy.
The oils in the Doritos will help to get the fire going. Just make sure to pack a few extra just in case you need them
What to do next
What was the hack you liked most? Did I miss your favorite hack? Please let me know in the comment section below and please consider sharing this guide with your friends on social media.
If you are anything like me, you are itching to go camping and to try all (or some) of the above tips at the moment, just like I am.
So don’t waste this awesome excitement another moment and go give it a try. You can utilize tips from my article on how to find free camping, to find yourself a free campsite anywhere in the US.
Alternatively, check out the blog section to read more of my camping tips and guides.