But what if you get stuck somewhere dangerous? This collection of tips has the potential to keep you safe when things turn sour on your next camping trick. You’ll be more comfortable, be able to start fires quicker, keep yourself dry, and much more. Pick up a new tactic for your next adventure.
Lay Down a Soft Layer
If you like to take a nap in a tent every once in a while, you know that where you set up can make a big difference. You have to go around and get rid of all the sticks, sharp stones, and other bits and pieces before you set down your temporary home. However, here’s a handy way to make things quicker and more comfortable.
Bring along a bunch of those interlocking foam pad tiles that are so common in preschool rooms or the like. You’ll want to trim them down to the size of your tent so they don’t get rained or snowed on, but they both add comfort and can block the cold ground from affecting you more than it has to.
Make Tin Can Bread
Hopefully, you’ve never been in a situation when you needed to find a fast food source. It’s not fun, and we’re here to make sure you have plenty of options if it ever does happen. If you happen to have the supplies for bread but nothing that you think can serve as an oven, try using a simple tin can.
You’ll need a smaller can, like a soup can, and a bigger one, like a coffee, can, big enough so the smaller can doesn’t touch the sides. Make your dough, and while letting it rise, layer some small stones on the bottom of the bigger can. Generously grease the interior of the smaller can and tip your dough inside.
Make a Quick Camping Dessert
If you’ve had a long, hot day of hiking through the forest and seeing the incredible sights that nature has to offer, there’s nothing like sitting down to a flame-cooked meal and relaxing. Here’s a way to make something sweet and tasty without too much effort. Take some croissant dough and roll it together onto a stick.
After that, roll the dough in sugar until you get a nice coating. Once that’s done, all you have to do is hold it over the fire until it’s nice and crispy. It’s bound to smell delicious, and bound to taste just as good, especially since you’re all tired out from walking around.
Create a Mobile Hand Washing Station
Keeping your hands clean is one of the things that a lot of us have gotten really used to. Here’s a simple way to create a mobile washing station if you want to stay fresh while camping, gardening, or doing any other kind of work outside. Get an old detergent container, thoroughly wash it out, and fill it with water.
Add a couple of ounces of chlorine bleach to keep anything nasty from growing inside, and you’re ready to go. As you can see in this picture, you can easily supplement it with a bottle of hand sanitizer and some paper towels to make sure everybody is as clean as they need or want to be.
Cook up Sweet Treats on the Fire
When you’re camping with your family, you usually have to take along only the essentials. Meat, potatoes, fruits, and veggies. Thankfully, there is usually a little bit of space in the cooler for some frozen treats. But what’s this? You can add a little bit of tin foil and cook those treats over the fires for a, frankly, mouth-watering sight that will delight campers of all ages.
You’ll have to take off all the original packaging first and totally wrap the chocolatey cones in foil before sticking them in the fire to soften them. You don’t want to destroy them over the fire; of course, just thaw and get them a little gooey.
Keep Mosquitoes Away Using Sage
If there’s one thing that every outdoor explorer knows about going camping or just hitting the hiking trails for a day, it’s that there are a ton of bugs. Everywhere. The outside is just chock-a-block with bugs! There are an estimated ten QUINTILLION bugs on the planet Earth! That’s one with nineteen zeros after it. Ew.
The most dangerous of them all are mosquitoes, which can not only bite you, but they can spread dangerous diseases. It turns out that a bit of sage is a handy way to keep them away. Throw a bundle of sage on the campfire to create a smelly blaze that a lot of bugs – mosquitoes included – won’t like to investigate. Plus, it smells good to humans.
Bring Along a Little Flavor
If you like to frequent places like McDonald's or Chick-Fil-A, you probably have a little collection of condiment packets in your home somewhere. Ketchup, mustard, mayo, and relish might seem like something that won’t make a camping trip all that better, but you’d be surprised. Take along a bag of these things, and you might just become the most popular person on your next camping trip.
Cooking burgers or weenies over the fire is one thing, and they taste great, but sometimes you just need a little taste of home to make the end of the day perfect. Who would have thought that the ketchup you picked a couple of months ago getting dinner for the family would come in so handy?
Set up Your Campfire Like a Pro
If you’ve done your fair share of camping, you probably know how to get a fire going using some sticks and logs, but have you ever made it look this good? Here’s how to up your campfire game if you’re going to be in a specific spot for more than one night. Create your fire and surround it with logs or stones.
Place a grille or grate on top of it, so you can boil water or cook soup or something like that. Jam a couple of strong sticks into the ground on either side of the fire and suspend a stick between them. There, you can hang animals you’ve trapped, socks that need to be dried, or anything else that needs a little bit of heat.
Build a Better Marshmallow Roaster
There’s nothing like roasting marshmallows over an open fire. Kids and adults love doing it since it lets them play with fire and enjoy a nice treat afterward, but those old marshmallow spikes you’ve been using might not cut it anymore. It seems pretty easy to make your own if you have the materials and a little bit of engineering know-how.
This person, for example, took an old skewer and a pair of long chopsticks and didn’t even need to use tape, glue, or any other kind of bonder. She could just stick the chopsticks through the circular metal of the skewer, which meant this was easy, and it gives kids a double amount of marshmallow-toasting space.
Bacon and Eggs Away From Home
If you’ve been avoiding going camping because it doesn’t afford you the niceties of living at home, have we got a surprise for you? As we can see in this picture, it’s simple to make delicious bacon and eggs over the fire while you’re living in a tent. You’ll need a muffin tin and a way to suspend it over the flame, but that’s about all you need except the very basics of camping.
And the food itself, we guess, but we assumed that was a given. Layer the bacon at the bottom and crack the eggs into the remaining space. Be sure to watch it carefully – eggs will cook and burn quickly, perhaps long before the bacon is done.
A Full Camping Kitchen in Your Car
Maybe you’re more in favor of glamping than camping – that’s camping, where you live in a huge tent and have everything ready to go. It’s barely camping, but at least you’re getting outside. The example we see before us is a little between the two extremes. It’s great to have if you know you’re going to be outside, but it is a little fancier than a lot of people like to go camping.
There’s a cabinet of supplies and a cooler in the back, a plastic tub cut in a hole for washing, and a small burner stove on the left to cook your food. You might have to custom-build the wood to get the right space and fit in your car.
Ever Heard of Cooler Corn?
Honestly, we hadn’t. But it turns out that it’s quite simple – you’ll need a cooler, your corn, and some boiling water, as well as a few other items if you wish. Fill up your cooler with raw corn on the cob, and then pour boiling water over it. Throw in a couple of sticks of butter (the recommended amount is two sticks per eight cobs) and butter to taste.
Close the lid and leave it inside for about forty-five minutes or until the corn is tender. If you’re worried about plastics, don’t be – coolers either use polypropylene or polyethylene, neither of which contain dangerous BPA, so it’s safe to do this. It seems like a fast and simple way to cook up corn for the entire camping party.
Pre-Scramble Your Eggs
Eating scrambled eggs gets you ready for any day, it seems. Whether it’s a busy morning, a lazy Saturday, or while you’re out in the wild, this classic breakfast food is a favorite for everybody. Still, it can use up a lot of space carrying all the supplies you need – do you really want to be hauling cartons of eggs that could easily get broken as you clamber over mountains?
No, of course, you don’t. So, why not pre-scramble your eggs at home before you leave? Make them to your desired recipe (with milk, cheese, etc.), and then use a funnel to pour the concoction into water bottles that fit into your carrying supplies so much easier.
Use a Sun Shade to Block Moisture
If you’re camping in a place that gets lots of rain – common enough in forests – then you have to have some ways to stay dry. One thoughtful camper realized that the sun shade for the car can do double-duty as a moisture blocker If arranged along the head of the mattress during the night.
This comes with a few caveats, such as the moisture is still going to collect and drip down to the edge of the mattress, perhaps making it wet enough to be uncomfortable, but it’s better than getting your head wet while you’re trying to sleep, isn’t it? Getting your head wet while you’re trying to sleep is maybe one of the most unpleasant things to happen to you.
Simple, Portable Fire Starters
If getting a fire started has never been simple for you, we have a solution you can prep at home with a little bit of work. Collect dryer lint during the winter, and store it in cardboard egg cartons. Get a little bit of wax from your local craft store or online. Melt the wax and spoon it over the lint in the egg cartons until you have little balls of lint and wax.
Let it cool for a couple of hours until it hardens, and then cut open the carton until you’re able to extricate the little pods. Just keep them in a bag until you need a quick source of fuel for your fire. It’s not like lint and wax are going to go bad.
Spread Light After Your Meal
No doubt you know to bring a couple of different light sources with you while you’re off on your own, but what if you’re getting sick of pointing flashlights at things? Build your own light diffuser by snagging a piece of thin plastic and folding it into a box similar to a Chinese takeout box. You might have to search around for the right kind of plastic, but it’s around there somewhere.
After that, hook a headlamp inside it, which creates both the light and a handy strap, as we can see here. The plastic is light, it will fold down to reduce required carrying space, and it will make your nighttime resting places a little more comfortable and a little safer.
Improve Your Night of Sleep
You might be used to catching some shut-eye in a sleeping bag by now, but the method does have a number of downsides. For instance, there’s nothing to keep your pillow from slipping out from under your head while tossing and turning. Here’s a simple solution: Pick up one of those non-slip rug pads at your local store and put it under your pillow.
Just like with a rug, the increased friction will stop the nighttime movement from pushing the pillow away from your head. You can even take this to the next level by getting a non-slip pad for your entire sleeping bag, in case you want to make sure you don’t move too much.
Vacuum-Pack Meals for Easy Camp Cooking
Usually, when you’re camping, you have to keep your meals simple. No big roasts, no pies, and no chili. Well, it turns out some of those might be a little more possible than you think. This person decided to cook up what is essentially chili stock and vacuum seal it in some plastic bags for easy transportation.
All you have to do to make these pouches into a meal is put a pot over a fire, boil some water, and add the stock to the bag. This example is white bean chicken chili, which sounds amazing, but you can pick any kind of dish you want, even if it isn’t something like soup or chili.
The Amazing Microfiber Towel
You probably have a couple of these lying around your house, so why not take one with you when you head into the wilderness? That’s right, the simple microfiber cloth that you use to wipe up water on the kitchen counter has plenty of uses while camping. Dry your hands off while you’re on the boat.
Keep it handy for getting moisture off your camera or other sensitive pieces of electronics, or grab it while cooking to prevent or clean up messes. They’re light – usually weighing only a few ounces, and there are plenty of ways you can take advantage of the super-absorbent material. Keep yourself dry and protect your other gear.
Stop Wasting Soap While You’re Out
If you happen to be taking a longer trip in the great outdoors, you have to be a little more careful about the supplies that you have. If you’re going to be spending days, weeks, or even months away from civilization, you can’t just go around wasting all your soap.
If you grab the whole bar, you’ll find that the thing has been rubbed down to a nub in just a little bit of time, especially if you need to use it to wash more than just your hands. Beforehand, you can use a vegetable peeler to shave off small shreds of soap that allow you to use as little or as much as you need. A little goes a long way.
Filters and Floss Help You Wake Up
So you’re away from the comforts of home, but you still have to wake up in the morning. The solution, like so many other problems, is coffee. But how do you enjoy that delicious bean juice from your tent? Grab a coffee filter and some dental floss to make things simpler every day of your trip.
Fill up coffee filters with about two ounces of ground coffee and tie them shut into little caffeine baggies using dental floss – preferably unflavored. Be sure to keep them dry, or your backpack will suddenly be full of coffee. Once you’re ready to get a cup of joe, use the pre-apportioned bag in a cup of hot water like a bag of tea.
Keep Pots and Pans Within Reach
Campers love to move around a lot, but there are some that will find a place and set up for a little while. That means they can make their spot of rest a little more set up than some other places. Or, maybe you’re the kind of camper that can’t pitch your tent without making a meal big enough for your whole family.
Attach a belt to a nearby tree and add a couple of simple metal hooks to create a quick and easy place to hang your pots, pans, and other cooking tools. Be sure to wash them thoroughly if you’ve used them because those smells could easily attract wildlife. But your bellies are sure to enjoy the foods you’ll whip up.
Enjoy a Cool Morning
The wilderness is a funny thing. You wake up one morning, it’s nice and cool, but then it gets hot! Will the madness never end? Don’t worry; we’re here to help you defend yourself from the oppressive heat of the sun. Get a big tarp, such as the one shown here, and layer one side with reflective tape or another kind of reflective material.
Point the reflective side of the tarp toward where the sun will rise, and you’ll have something that will block a whole lot of that heat. Scurry away from the heat of the day for a little while, at least. If you want to maintain a cool tent, you can move the tarp around to continue shading it from the sun.
Go On. Do It.
Mosquitoes are annoying, aggravating, and can even be dangerous in certain areas of the world. If you spend any amount of time outside, you probably have some insect repellent, but what if you run out or forget? Brace yourselves; this tip is wild.
Find a termite hill, grab a bunch of termites, and smash them into a paste, with which you will then cover yourself. Told you. Apparently, mosquitoes stay away from termite corpses. We have no idea why, and we aren't looking forward to trying this tactic out, but it might be handy if you have no other options.
The Rule of Threes
It's always nice to know some of the more important rules when wandering around outdoors, and one of the handiest is the Rule of Threes. This refers to how long an average person can survive in extreme temperatures without food or water. It goes as follows:
You can survive in extreme heat or cold for three hours before getting hypothermia or heat exhaustion. You can survive with no water for three days before dehydration. You can survive without food for three weeks before dying of starvation. Of course, different people will have slightly different numbers, but that's the general guideline.
Glue Cuts Shut
Small cuts are a natural thing while exploring the great outdoors, but you don't want them to sit open. They could become infected or continue bleeding, which you want to avoid. If you lack the necessities in your first-aid kit, like bandages, there's more than one way to stop bleeding.
Keep a tube of super glue handy. Make sure to disinfect the wound first, then apply a thin layer of super glue over the wound and hold it shut. Once the glue dries, the wound will be closed and will have a thin layer of protective glue as a bonus.
Put Out a Fire in a Flash
You might be tempted to throw some water on fire if it gets too large, but avoid this tactic with oil or grease fires – it can backfire badly. Instead, dump a bunch of baking soda onto the fire and cover it with a lid, or cut off the oxygen supply in some other way.
The baking soda will create carbon dioxide, which will extinguish the flame. With a lid, there's no way for the fire to get more air, and it will be out for good. We understand the importance of having a burning flame while camping. However, we also acknowledge the importance of staying alive.
Upgrade Your Matches
Taking matches with you while you're out camping is a standard tactic and a must-have item, but what if it's windy out? You might think they're impossible to light if the wind is gusting, but it can still be done! In fact, all you need to make it easier is a small, sharp object – a pocket knife is perfect.
Use the knife to cut pieces of the match close to the head. These small splinters will catch fire to create a bigger flame, which gives the match a better chance of staying lit. Notice we said better, not a hundred percent.
Keep Food Fresh Without Refrigeration
Ever heard of a pot-in-pot refrigerator? They've been used for millennia to keep food from going bad even without power. It's like this: take a porous outer clay pot, add a smaller clay pot inside it, and fill the gap between them with wet sand. The evaporation of the outer liquid sucks heat from the inner pot, which keeps the area of the inner pot cool.
It only requires pots, some water, and relatively dry air outside. It might not be so practical for a normal camping trip, but who knows? It might come in handy one day, and you'll appreciate it the day you read this.
Jump-Start a Fire
Being able to start a fire while you're away from all the modern conveniences is survival step number one, but here's a trick to make it a little easier. Soak cotton balls or pads in petroleum jelly or paraffin wax to create little power-packed starters that will make setting up camp for the night far easier and the meat on the barbie ready within no time.
Throw one of them onto a fire before you light it, and once it warms up, it will give you ample opportunity to arrange the wood to your liking. All that combustible energy means that this important step is easier than ever.
Duct Tape Is Your Best Friend
Duct tape is the kind of thing that you should always have around when in rough conditions. Let's say you're alone in the wild (or in an underground bunker after the world has ended), and you need access to whatever food jar you can find, except it's screwed on too tightly). Grab a roll of duct tape and salvage yourself.
You can make a small handle that will allow you to twist the cap off with enough of a strong pull. The problem is usually getting enough grip, so something that is sticky and grippy is sure to be a big help.
A Quick Raft
Rising water? What about an unexpected river that you need to cross? There are a number of situations when you have to deal with the wet stuff, but what if you didn't think to bring a canoe or anything of the sort? Here's a possible solution: You can make a raft by wrapping a collection of small branches in a tarp.
The branches trap air in pockets, and the tarp keeps it from escaping. This last-ditch effort might just work in an emergency situation, but we wouldn't trust it for more than one person if you have any other options.
More for Just Drinking
We're sure plenty of people bring cans of Coke along for a treat once they've set up for the night, but did you know soda cans can make for handy jet stoves? You can use any soda can you have. Cut a can in two horizontally through the center and poke holes around the rim, with an additional one through the center.
Crimp the edges of one of the bases inward, and fill it with cotton balls. Cover it with the second base, which has the same holes, and pour rubbing alcohol or something similar over it to soak the cotton. You're ready to go.
Preserve Meat on the Road
For some, hunting is a good bit of fun. For others, it's life or death. Transporting the meat you've gathered is an important part of the process. The best way to do this is to hang the meat over a fire to smoke it, which will dry it out.
This helps preserve the meat and also gives it a nice smoky flavor once you chow down. Obviously, this tactic won't make the meat last forever, and it should still be cooked properly, but you can keep your food supplies high or bring back a bigger haul after a hunting trip.
Create a Homemade Bug Trap
Even if you aren't far from home, spending time outside has a big drawback: bugs. Most of them you can deal with, but mosquitoes are annoying and potentially dangerous. They can carry some deadly diseases. There are plenty of sprays and candles to keep them away, but here's another option.
Mix water, brown sugar, and yeast together to create something that mosquitoes can't ignore. You can improve the trap with a two-liter soda bottle, cut in half and with the top reversed. The little scamps will gladly fly toward the interesting smell and CO2 and drown or get trapped in it.
Clean Wild Wounds
Getting snagged by a wandering branch or scraping a knee on a rock is a common enough occurrence while you're outside. Those scratches can be dirty, leading to infections, which can lead to a lot of bad things. Here's how to flush out a wound.
Take a regular bottle of water and poke a small hole in the cap. It's really simple, and you should only need a needle or something of a similar size to achieve this. Fill the bottle with water, and squeeze it to create a narrow jet of water with enough pressure to flush out the wounds you've accumulated.
Spread Some Colorful Light
If you're exploring an unfamiliar area, light is critical. If you're lost somewhere in the wilderness, it can mean the difference between life and death. Taking multiple light sources while you explore is imperative, but sometimes you run out of options.
Well, here's another: most crayons, if lit like a candle, can burn for about thirty minutes each. The crayon is just wax surrounded by paper, just slightly different than a wick in wax. This should be your last resort if you're stuck in the dark, but if you're the artistic sort, you can have an extra layer of safety.
Make Your Own Compass
Getting lost in the wilderness is a scary prospect, but most of us have things we can rely on now, like phones or compasses. But...what if you don't have them? You still have options. Maybe your cell phone doesn't have reception in the deep dark woods.
In that case, all you need to make your own compass is a needle, a leaf, water, hair, or a piece of clothing. Rub the needle against your hair or shirt to magnetize it (be patient here) and rest it on a leaf that is floating in the water. The needle should point north.
Carry Beans or Rice
If you're on a long, long trek, having the right food is critical. You might think it's smart to carry things like rice or beans with you, and you're not wrong – they're packed with nutrients and protein, and they make it easy to eat healthy on the road. But the sacks they often come in aren't exactly the toughest things around.
They're liable to split and spill your food all over – inside your backpack or onto the floor. Instead, fill up plastic bottles for safer transportation of the supplies you need to stay well-fed while you're taking on nature.
Swapping Out Batteries
Having some extra batteries in your pack is a good tip at any time, especially while you're away from electrical outlets, but what do you do if you've grabbed the wrong pack and have AAA batteries instead of AA batteries? Tin foil.
Power is power, which means that if you can get the batteries to fit inside the battery compartment, you can get power to your devices. Ball the tin foil up to fill the rest of the space between the battery and the appliance. It won't run for as long, but it can still be handy in a pinch.
Find Your Own Thread
Thread comes from plants, and if you spot the right ones, you can even make your own rope. It won't be as good as the modern rope that you could have brought along but will be a big help if you have nothing else and need to fish, make a snare, or string a bow.
Make natural fibers out of palm leaves or, if you're in North America, from the Yucca plant. The plant has big fat leaves and barbed points that you can cut down to make some thread. Braid the thread to make a rope. We have a feeling ancient people in ancient days used to do this.
Trashy Rain Protection
Rain puts a big damper on outdoor fun, especially if it's not planned, but most of the time, you can just run inside to get away from the storm. Not so if you're stuck outside or on a long camping trip. If, for some reason, you didn't pack any protective ponchos, you aren't totally out of luck.
If you happen to have some trash bags, they can be adjusted with a face hole to give you something that will block the rain. Even if you don't have them on hand, they're going to be easier to find at a store than plastic ponchos.
Proper Barbecue Technique
If you're in the great outdoors looking to cook up your latest hunt, make sure you're going about lighting the grill the right way, or things could get heated. If you're using propane, make sure to leave the lid wide open. Otherwise, the propane gas could accumulate and create a fireball when lit, and that is definitely something you want to avoid.
On the other hand, if you're using lighter fluid and charcoal, feel free to leave the lid down before getting it lit. No gas fuel means no danger. Or at least less danger. You still want to be careful whenever accelerants are present. Happy cooking!
Filtered Water Is Safe Water
Any experienced outdoorsman will tell you that you have to be careful with your water. Sure, you can carry a Brita filter with you, but what if you don't have the space? Here's how to filter your own water.
Create a pyramid shape with three sticks, and tie three pieces of cloth to the sticks on the inside, creating three levels of cloth. Fill the top with grass, the middle with sand, and the bottom with charcoal. Place something to catch the water under it all, and pour water over the top. This won't remove everything, but it will help.
Forge a Bike-Tire Bow
If, for some reason, you're stuck in the wilderness with nothing but a busted-down bike and your wits, you can still defend yourself or hunt for food with what you have on hand. Make a bow out of that old bike!
The metal wheel frames, without the spokes, can be used to make a rigid frame and grip for the bow. The rubber from the tires can make a flexible element that serves as something you can bend to add power. You'll have to produce some string and attach it to the contraption from somewhere else, but you can do it.
Bring Flavors Everywhere
Spices are handy little additions to all sorts of meals, but you can also use them for food preservation while you are out camping. Fill up old Tic Tac containers with all of your favorite spices to create simple items that won't pop open during travel, and get your bags smelling of paprika and dried oregano leaves.
The basics, like salt and pepper, will help with general preservation, and more adventurous flavors, like nutmeg, cardamom, and turmeric, offer a range of healing properties to keep your immune system strong. Sans refrigeration or regular medication, these natural alternatives will be a bigger health boost than you'd expect.
Create a Long-Lasting Candle
Yes, we all know that light is super important when you're out camping, especially with little children, but it can be hard to carry everything you need to keep your chosen area lit. While a candle might not spread a ton of light, you can create one that will last a long, long time.
A big jar of vegetable shortening like Crisco only needs a wick that goes down the bottom for a candle that will burn for hours upon hours. You'll have to do some work to get the wick into the jar, but sometimes the effort is worth it.
Taking a long hike? Good for you. Need to cross a river that doesn't have an obvious Ford or bridge? Careful now. There are plenty of reasons why rapidly-flowing water can be dangerous. If you need to cross a stream or river, throw a branch into the water first.
If it moves downstream faster than your normal walking pace, you need to find a different route or go to a different spot in the river. Of course, always be sure to watch your step while you're crossing. Slick rocks, moss, or even fish can be treacherous, and you don't want a helicopter being your only way out of there.
Stay Safe With Your Smartphone
If you're like a really high percentage of the world, you own a smartphone. Maybe even two. You might be tempted to leave your phone at home if you're going camping, but there are lots of reasons to take it if you're headed to the wild. Tons of apps can help you keep yourself alive.
These include GPS apps of varying quality, apps that will let you know if there's bad weather on the way, apps that will tell you what plants are edible and which you should stay away from, army survival apps, a knots app, and many more.
Glow Sticks Are Always Handy
Just because you aren't at a dance party doesn't mean you can't get some use out of glow sticks! They're incredibly handy items to keep around in case you need to be noticed, like when you're calling for help. Make sure everybody has one or two in their packs before heading on a hike.
If you get separated, crack them up to create something that will be much easier to see in the dark. Having multiple ways to stay safe during any kind of situation gives you the biggest chance of survival, and something as quick and easy as glow sticks are a good pick.
Spread Light Where You Need It
So you have a couple of votive candles in your outdoor supplies to make sure you have a light source when you need it, but they aren't that great at focusing on a specific job you're trying to accomplish. The solution is simple – take a beer or soda can and cut it open.
Peel back the flaps or wings to create a small home for your candle. The reflective metal will focus the light where you're working, perfect for building a bigger fire, setting up a tent, taking the little ones to the in-the-nature toilet, or something else in the dark outdoors.
It's Always Great to Have Chips Around
If you're going for long hikes or extreme and intense camping trips, you've probably got plenty of food with you. While you might or might not want chips around for that, here's a reason to include them in your list of supplies.
If you're trying to create a fire after a long day of tramping through the wilderness, then grab a couple of chips – any kind, really. The oils they contain make them great fire starters. Pile some wood on top of them and light them up, and you'll have a roaring fire in no time. Plus, they're quite tasty.
Finding berries in the wild while you are camping can be a huge boon to your survival in case you run out of food or forget to bring it with you. If you're out of food and wandering through the wilderness, grabbing a handful of berries can give you the sugar and water needed to keep moving.
You can find better food, get to some shelter, or stay ahead of the men hunting for you (no matter how unlikely that is). It's best to check beforehand which berries are safe to eat – you don't want to realize you're snacking on holly berries or something like that. Holly berries are poisonous, in case that wasn't clear.
It's Not Just for Hopscotch
Before heading out on your next hike or camping excursion, grab a piece of chalk and add it to your backpack. You have no idea how useful it is going to be. No, it's not for drawing pictures at the campsite – use it to mark trees and paths that you've taken.
On the way back to home base, you can use the marks to ensure you're on the right path. This can also prevent you from walking around in circles if you're trying to find your way to something – if you see something you've marked, you know that you AREN'T heading in the right direction.
Make a Rudimentary Gorge
A fishing gorge is a tool people used to fish before the hook became more useful, and you can make your own if you're stuck without food and need to get some fish or if you are bored, as this is a great activity when camping with children.
Take a small branch and whittle it down with a knife until it's about two inches long with a sharp point on each end. Cut a v-notch in the middle, and wrap a piece of fishing line, twine, or rope there. Spear some bait on one of the ends and dangle it in the water until you feel a tug.
Let There Be Light
So you forgot a big lantern to illuminate your campsite for the night. That's okay; there's another way to keep the place well-lit. Take an empty gallon jug, and fill it with water. Attach a headlamp to the outside, pointing into the jug's side. It creates a super-bright lantern that might actually surprise you.
Your headlamp will be out of use, but it's still a pretty good trade-off. The water can even come from a lake or river. Of course, you have to have a gallon jug with you, which isn't a common carry-on...but maybe it should be. We suggest adding it to your camping-must-take list.
Keep Toilet Paper Out of the Rain
Aside from preventing you from using suspicious plants in a delicate area, toilet paper can be used for fire kindling if you're out of everything else. Soggy toilet paper, however, will help neither situation. So, if you're in an area with a lot of precipitation, you might find your toilet paper getting soggy and useless.
Use an old plastic coffee canister with a slot cut in the side to stick your roll of toilet paper inside. Tuck the paper back into the slot while you're on the move (or the sky is threatening) to ensure you have something dry and comfortable to clean up with. Add a handle by tapping on some cord or wire for easier transportation.
Heat in a Pinch
We all know that being able to get heat and light when we need it is a big survival tactic, and here's a way to warm up, keep cozy, and that might escape you. Take an old Altoids tin (empty, obviously) and pack it full of corrugated cardboard.
You can hit the cardboard with a match or lighter to create a tiny fire that will give you a little bit of heat and light, allowing you to find your way out of a sticky situation, create a larger fire for the night, or heat up some food until it's safe to eat.
Use a Shirt as an Emergency Sling
Always pack an old T-shirt when going camping. Hopefully, you're never in a situation where this becomes necessary, but if your buddy breaks an arm or collarbone and you have an extra shirt handy (or a shirt in general), here's something you can do.
Pass the head (just the head, not the whole body) through the top hole, then put the injured arm through both of the shirt's armholes. Adjust as necessary for maximum comfort and keep the arm close to the body. It will work in a pinch, but it's best to find medical help as soon as possible.
Block Frostbite Using Baby Oil
Spending a long time outside in the cold is something we all have to do at some point, even if it's just shoveling the driveway. It's just part of the whole camping episode, and besides, you need something to complain about when you get home.
If you're the kind of person that will spend hours and hours in sub-zero temperatures, it might be a good idea to keep a bottle of baby oil on your person. Apparently, putting baby oil on your exposed skin can reduce the chance of getting frostbite, or at least reduce the severity if you do get it. Putting it on your toes, fingers, and other extremities will help the most.
No Magnifying Glass Needed
We all know that a bit of glass held at the right angle will focus the sun into a hot little point. You might not be using it on poor little ants anymore, but it's still a tactic for when you need to start a fire. If the sun is still out, you don't even need a “piece of glass.”
Just take your spectacles off your head and hold them at the right angle, and you should be able to get a flame going. A dry leaf or a piece of paper is the best item to focus on for kindling.
Nature's Mosquito Repellent
We cover a number of mosquito repellents in this list (some of which are pretty repellent in their own right), but here are a few more. You want to avoid itchy bites, but it's also nice to know you don't have to worry about the various and dangerous diseases that these little pests can carry.
And be sure, they CAN carry. If you're outside without any spray repellent, there are numerous wild plants that can help. Grab citronella, lavender, wild geranium, or rosemary and crush the leaves to produce oils that will ward off the most annoying bugs in the world.
Create Your Own Fire
Remember in “Castaway,” when Tom Hanks was oh-so excited to have created his own fire? You can get the same thrill, you don't have to be Hanks, and you don't even need to work at it for that long! Remember this next tip if you're ever lost outside with some old batteries.
You'll also need a chewing gum wrapper. All you have to do is connect the tinfoil side of the wrapper to either end of the battery. The small electrical circuit will start the paper side on fire, and voila! You have a little flame you can use to start a bigger fire.
Telling the Time
Devices are a substitute for a watch. They make it pretty easy to tell the correct time these days, but what if you're stuck without those things, and you need to figure out the hour? For a rough estimate, measure the distance between the horizon and the sun.
The width of each finger is approximately fifteen minutes of time before the sun goes down, but this will differ based on location, time of year, and the size of your hands. But, sometimes, an estimate is all you need. If you just have a pinky left before the sun goes down, it's time to get some shelter.
The Difference Between Snakes
Most snakes aren't really that much of a danger to humans. However, there are still plenty that might be a bother if they happen to sink their fangs into your skin. There are plenty of differences, a few can be seen at a glance.
But if a snake has a triangular head instead of a rounded or oval head, then there very well might be fangs hidden in the mouth. In addition, snakes with elliptical pupils are the ones to stay away from. Those with rounded pupils won't be looking to strike quickly, which means they aren't as dangerous.
Ready to Catch Some Dinner
So you're roaming across this beautiful world we call home, and you find a stream full of fish that look mighty tasty once they're roasted over a fire. You have string and sticks, but what about a hook? We've got you covered. After this, camping will forever be easier and more enjoyable. Trust us.
Grab some of the soda cans or energy drinks that you've been sipping on and take a pair of scissors to the hooks. With the right snips, you can create a quick hook that will work in a pinch to snag a little bit of dinner out of the water.
Waterproof Shoes For Unexpected Rain
Depending on where you’re camping, the weather can change pretty quickly, leaving you struggling to know what to pack, and rule number one is to always travel light. One good way to avoid having to pack an additional (and might we add, very heavy) pair of rain boots is either by packing waterproof shoes or boots.
Though many people buy products specifically designed to waterproof shoes, if you can’t buy or find that product but still need to waterproof your shoes, you can use beeswax. Beeswax provides the perfect protective film that repels water, keeping your feet dry and making camping easier.
Candy Containers With Multiple Uses
Besides providing much-needed breath freshening after a long flight, that little container of tic-tac mints can actually be really handy during camping. We don't care how much these tiny mints cost, they leave us with such a useful container, so they are worth every cent. Many campers swear by these plastic containers to hold bobby pins, safety pins, or other small items.
If you’re not a fan of mints, no fear; any small container or even an empty medicine bottle can work equally well when it comes to storing camping necessities. Not only are you recycling, but you’ll be thankful for this camping organization hack when you get to your destination.
Keep Clothes Smelling Fresh
Let's be honest; after a few days of camping, things can get a bit stinky. From long hikes to even spending entire doing nothing, it's only natural that our clothes will pick up some rather unpleasant smells. You want to avoid whatever is left of your clean clothes, getting infected by the rotten ones.
To keep things more fresh than funky, a good camping hack is to throw in a couple of fabric softener sheets into your bag. Not only do these dryer sheets impart a nice fresh scent, but gently rubbing one against your clothes can actually prevent annoying and embarrassing static cling.
Never Get Lost, Even Without Internet
When you're camping out of your familiar neighborhood and surroundings, having a stable internet connection can be a challenge. And while uploading to your “‘Insta” can certainly wait, there are times when you really do need to use your phone while camping, such as looking up directions.
Not everything is social media, no matter how cool you think you look outside of your tent. Thankfully, Google Maps allows you to still access their maps and other navigational features even if you have spotty or nonexistent WiFi by saving a map of a specific area. This is especially important since many of us are not that great at navigating!
Do Your Own Laundry
From food stains to sweat stains, our clothes can get pretty dirty when camping. Whether you like it or not, there comes a time when you just have to get down on your knees and wash your clothes by hand, like our ancestors did before the washing machine was invented.
Since taking heavy bottles of detergent is not recommended, toss a few laundry detergent pods into a plastic bag and into your suitcase. These concentrated capsules dissolve in water, so use any old bucket you have. Washing your clothes allows you to pack less, and let's be honest, smell better!
Bug Bite Balm
If you go outside in the summer, even if it's just a 5-second excursion to throw out the trash, chances are you might have a bug bite or two. Or, possibly, even more than that if you were out for a full-blown camping trip. The more time you spend outside, the more bites you are about to get.
In the event of having an itchy, throbbing bug bite, a blob of VapoRub over the offending area could minimize the symptoms and prevent the bite area from being scratched. This should only be used with insignificant bites such as mosquitoes or gnats. If it is a spider bite or worse, seek medical attention immediately!
Insects know no boundaries, and when the summer comes and the camping season begins, they appear in their hundreds. It is great to be one with nature and all when sleeping outdoors, but do we have to endure the buzzing bombardment of mother nature’s minute kamikaze pilots?
The short answer is “no” if you have a few jars of VapoRub on hand! The scent of the menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus ingredients is overpowering for insects, and they will generally avoid it at all costs. A good hack is to melt some VapoRub over the fire and leave it in small open containers around the table, as the aroma will deter any insects from getting too close.
Waterproofing Your eBook
Reading your favorite paperback or hardcover by the pool when camping is a classic way to get all of your relaxing done at once. While it's never fun to drop a book in the water or get it covered in dirt, dropping a reader full of sensitive electronics will leave you with a useless item.
If you can't keep away from those thrilling books even when you're in nature, slip your device into a plastic bag. As long as the seal is intact and there are no holes in the bag, your device will be fine even if it does land in the waves.
Nothing beats summer fishing while camping, and if you ever wanted to know a fisherman's big secret, look no further; you've come to the right place and at the right time. Many fishers have shared their secret to baiting fish with great success. This may come as somewhat of a surprise to you, but our handy product is the trick.
These fishermen claim that spraying fishing lures with WD-40 attracts more fish. We're not going to knock it till we try it! We have heard that after adopting this hack, camping will never look the same, and who doesn't look for improvements when we're out in the wild?
Pockets Full of Storage
When it comes to bringing all of your possessions to your camping trip, being smart about storage makes all the difference. One way to ensure that you have room for all your small items is by traveling with cargo pants or a jacket with many pockets. You'll be surprised by how many useless things you can get in them.
Cargo pants offer tons of storage for small items like socks or other things, leaving room for other important items in your carry-on or backpack. Scared of looking like a stereotypical tourist? Ditch the traditional khaki cargo and wear a pair of black discrete ones.
Stop Spills While on the Go
People who want to take their best makeup, favorite shampoo, or other liquids with them on a camping trip (don't ask us why) are aware that could mean messy spills. Try as they might, bottle manufacturers have been unable to make completely infallible openings, and there are few things worse than opening your bag to find a big mess.
Once again, it's plastic wrap to the rescue. Remove the caps and lay a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the opening. Replace the cap, and you'll have a much tighter seal to keep everything where it belongs. Now, the only question is, where are you going to wash your hair?
Fishing Pole Protection
Those of us who fish know how annoying it is to store your rod only to go back to it later and find it distorted or with a broken tip. Our next hack will save you the frustration and make your next camping weekend carefree. It's the small things in life that can make your time in the outdoors either a success or a failure.
But we'll have you know that pool noodles are the cure, once again! All you need to do is cut through the middle of a pool noodle, carefully slide it over the rod of your fishing pole, and voila! A fishing pole protector, reporting for duty. How awesome is that?
If you like to go camping, you are probably the proud owner of a canopy, and if you are not, this is the time to go and buy one. There's a lot to be said for canopies, but they're not the most rain-proof thing out there. If your canopy needs rain or wind protection to remain tight, stable, and refrain from being ruined, pool noodles can do the trick for you.
Just stick it under the corners of the canopy in a semicircle, and your canopy will be sure to weather any storm. Who would have thought that our summer swimming companion will come to our rescue when camping?