Recently we discussed seasonal camping and its many benefits. Now lets take things up a notch and look at some amazing camping hacks (aka little tricks usually involving everyday items) that will make your next adventure all that much better and elevate you to the “James Bond” of campers status. Impress your spouse, kids, friends, neighbours and family dog with any one of the following hacks and keep them in your camping repertoire for years to come!
1) Make an “Amplified” Camp Light!
It’s easy! Find an old empty gallon jug, fill it with water, strap a head lamp onto it and voila! An instant, bright lantern with a nice range thanks to the diffused light through the water! Much safer inside tents versus lit candles or lanterns, no worries of rain putting the light out, and easy dismantle….just pour the water out and recycle the jug when you’re done.
2) Frisbees – A Game of Many Uses
Frisbees help pass the time during hot and lazy summer days! They go hand in hand with the beach and are a light, portable game to bring along without the worry of batteries, moving parts or weighing down your gear. But Frisbees are more than just a circular piece of molded plastic. They’re instant paper plate holders to catch hot or drippy messes from your campfire creations and can hold up to a good knife cutting, unlike their paper counterparts. For this reason, a Frisbee makes a good little portable cutting board, as well!
Fido thirsty? Just grab the Frisbee for a quick and convenient water dish. You can scoop water from a stream for a quick drink yourself, or leave one out to collect fresh rainwater for different purposes. They can double as an emergency canoe paddle, a digging device, a fan for your face or even a makeshift distress signal if you have a bright one to wave around. Keep your bottom dry by using it as a seat at the campsite picnic bench after the rain or as a wind blocker while trying to light a fire, stove or candle. Who would’ve thought!
3) Fire Starter!
This falls into the category of “No Way!” Did you know that Dorito’s and crayons burn for a few minutes when lit and act as handy dandy little portable fire starters if you ever find yourself in need. Cotton balls covered in Vaseline or hand sanitizer also make excellent substitutes for fire starters. For the more seasoned or serious camper, here’s a little hack that takes a bit more preparation but lasts for a long time and works like a charm:
A Fire Starter That Will Last for Years
“I have come up with a fire starter that works every time and can be stored in your camp box for years if needed. Go to your local cabinet shop and ask for a coffee can full of sawdust from under their table. When it’s time to go camping, melt a cube of wax and pour over the saw dust. Once mixed, press the mixture into egg cartons. Make sure the mixture is pressed firmly in to each egg holder and as full as possible. Let it cool and cut the individual egg holders. Each fire starter will burn for a good 10 minutes and only requires one match to light.” (Credit: http://tnoutdoorforum.com/threads/unconventional-fire-building-methods.142/)
4) Tic Tac Toe!
We’re all familiar with good old Tic Tacs….the tiny one calorie breath mints. Everyone’s Mom or Aunt or Grandma has a box floating around in the bottom of their purse. Bet you’ve never considered the multitude of uses for those clear tiny containers with a click shut lid, but these little suckers are the MacGyver of the camping tool kit. Some of their uses are:
- waterproof match box
- spice containers or Parmesan cheese holders
- carrying fresh fish bait
- holding extra AAA or AA batteries
- containing a small supply of prescription medications
- holding pins, needles, bobby pins or toothpicks
- keeping ear buds (small headphones) detangled and dry
- storing rings, necklaces or earrings while you take a dip in the lake
There are surely a thousand more uses for these empty mint boxes, so be sure to keep yours instead of throwing it out!
5) Sage Advice!
Add some fresh sage to your campfire or firepit to keep bugs away! You can buy sage sticks at most health or holistic stores for a few dollars and they’ll last through many, many fires. Just light a stick like you would an incense and let it smoke away while you tell ghost stories or roast marshmallows and hot dogs.
6) Coffee Can Toilet Paper Dispenser
All campers have been there. Especially during the dew filled mornings that camp surroundings usually bring. The soggy, warped sad roll of toilet paper. It’ll do in a pinch, but it’s not the optimal way to deal with cleaning up your business while swatting away bugs and spiders. Try the following hack for a quick, convenient and DRY roll of Charmin in the woods!
If you really want to ritz things up a bit, try this hack as a nice compliment to the one above- a DIY camping potty:
It’s pretty simple and super handy- and a lot more appealing than some of the pre-existing options at campsites. Just take a big bucket, line it with a garbage bag and fit a measured piece of pool noodle around the edge for cushy comfort. You can attach a roll of toilet paper to the bucket handle or use a piece of twine to attach the “sheltered” coffee can version above. Who needs a five star hotel when you’ve got this kind of high end lavatory at your fingertips!
7) Whistle Away Your Worries
If you’re camping with kiddies, always make sure to bring a whistle for them to carry. If they wander off into the woods and get a little lost, or trip on a branch or rock and get injured, you’ll be able to quickly follow the sound of a blowing whistle. The sound of a human voice, especially a small child, could be difficult to hear or track and time is of the essence should an emergency situation ever arise. A basic little contraption like a whistle could be the key from a small mishap turning into something far worse.
8) “Hangin’ Out” in the Woods!
A brilliant yet childishly simple way to keep your pots and pans clean and organized around the campsite is to bring a belt equipped with some S hooks. That’s it. Just fit the belt around a nearby tree, slip some S hooks around it and bam! A perfect pot and pan holder at your fingertips! Just be sure to hang the dishes AFTER they’re washed so as not to attract unwanted guests to your campsite!
9) Single Serve Soap Sliver – Say THAT Five Times Fast!
Instead of worrying about carting around a full sized bar of soap, which lets face it, after it’s wet it’s a tricky little sucker to hold, why not use this fast and simple trick to make single servings of soap! No more worries about laying a wet bar in the dirt or the hassle of getting it in and out of a zip lock each time you need to wash up. Simply take a veggie peeler and carefully peel a bar of soap just like you would peel a carrot. Safely store the peels away in a waterproof container (even the aforementioned Tic Tac container for small jobs!) and you’ll be squeaky clean and ready to go in no time!
10) Not All Boats are for the Water!
We would be remiss to leave you without a yummy food hack, so here’s our favourite campfire gooey delight known as a “Grilled Banana Boat”! These yellow slices of heaven are sure to replace their traditional, albeit boring cousins, the *yawn*…s’mores. Oh yes, once you’ve indulged in a G.B.B. there’s no going back! A pleasing way to wind down the day over a fire for even those with the most discriminating tastes! Here’s the recipe:
- 4 lg. bananas unpeeled
- 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips divided
- 1/2 c. trail mix divided
- 1/2 c. miniature marshmallows divided
- Place each banana on a 12-inch square piece of foil; crimp and shape foil around bananas so they sit flat.
- Cut each banana lengthwise about 1/2 inch deep, leaving 1/2 inch uncut at both ends. Gently pull each banana peel open, forming a pocket. Fill pockets with chocolate chips, trail mix and marshmallows.
- Grill bananas, with grill covered, over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until marshmallows are melted and golden brown.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the array of camping tips and tricks above and invite you to try them out at our Santa’s Whispering Pines Campground! Happy Camping, Everyone!