From the time we were children, camping in the outdoors has been a tradition that most of us have shared with either family or close friends as often as time would allow. It is a wonderful way to escape from city life, even if just for a short time, and get back in touch with nature. As much as we would all like to say that we could make it on our own, a little bit of help never hurt. Here are 40 hacks to help ensure that everyone's camping trips go as smoothly and safely as possible.
As we are all quite aware, cellphones nowadays are much more like tiny computers these days than mobile ways to call each other. That's why when out camping it is more important than ever to make sure that there is always plenty of extra battery life waiting in the wings.
When the camping party is craving a bit of late-night music, but the company guitar player has already nodded off to bed, no one will be judging the person who brought a portable battery pack along into the woods. Those extra few hours of battery life are also quite important in case of emergency.
2. "Foiled Again"
There are a few things that absolutely must be brought with you when going on a camping trip. One of those things is aluminum foil.
Aluminum foil is the duct tape of camping. Pretty much anything that we need it to do, it will do. Need a fork? No worries. Need a plate? Got it covered. How about something to wrap the S'mores up in before tossing them in the fire? Don't worry, I brought the foil.
3. "Hangin' Around"
Whether paddling or hiking all day in order to get to camp, one thing that is usually on everyone's mind even before unpacking is food. A belt and a few hooks are enough to make everyone's future selfs so much happier.
The more organized the cooking essentials are, the easier it will be to find everything that's needed in order to cook that evening's 5-star cuisine.
4. "Make Like A Banana, And Split"
Pretty much everyone in North America has heard of S'mores. For those who have not, they are a delicious campfire treat that is composed of: graham crackers, marshmallows, and Hershey's chocolate. When graham crackers aren't available and that craving for melted marshmallows and chocolate kicks in, what's a camper to do?
Slice open one of the bananas that was being saved for breakfast, load it up with Hershey's chocolate and baby marshmallows, wrap it in foil, and toss it in the fire for 5 minutes. The result is almost better than the original...almost.
5. "Gotcha Covered"
When packing one's bag for a camping trip there are usually a few things that don't quite make the cut. As a general rule-of-thumb, usually, the items that become late scratches in the packing process end up being needed at some point on the trip. So choose wisely.
Even if the forecast is clear for the next 3 weeks, just bring a tarp. The weather can change on a dime and when that happens, it's much better to have a waterproof tarp than to not have a waterproof tarp.
6. 'A Bright Idea'
Every group of campers has one person who believes that they are one with nature, that they could find their way by the path the stars lead them on. That's a wonderful talent to have, but what if it's overcast?
Plan ahead and always bring a couple of flashlights. Headlights are usually the best choice as they allow for full use of one's hands while stumbling around in the dark. And don't be stingy. In the darkness of the woods at night, the more you can see, the better things will be.
7. "Just Like A Baby's Bottom"
Baby wipes! Baby wipes! Baby wipes!
No, I'm not trying to summon Beetlejuice, I'm just stressing how important baby wipes are in the camping world. They are great for wiping up before meals, as well as sanitizing pretty much anything that one may need to use around the campsite. I feel as though once we get to a certain age we realize how multi-functional baby wipes truly are. If they are safe to use on a baby, surely they must be safe and non-toxic enough to use on everything else as well.
8. "Every Last Drop"
The importance of drinking enough water should never be overlooked, but it's not always easy to find clean and filtered water while in the woods. There is an old saying that once we feel thirsty, we are already showing early signs of dehydration. It's best not to let it get to that point.
There are many different types of water purification tablets. Some take 5 minutes to work and some take 30. The bottom line is that no matter where we find ourselves, as long as we have a few of these tablets, we'll always have clean drinking water at hand.
9. "Spicing Up Our Lives"
Let's face it, camping food doesn't have the best reputation for being the most flavorful or having the most pizazz. Tic-Tacaholics out there, it's time to take out that collection of empty Tic-Tac cases and get prepping.
Tic-Tac bottles make for great portable spice containers. Labeling each one properly is essential though, mixing up the spices just may ruin this evening's campfire Rice-A-Roni.
10. "The Bear Necessities"
Coming face to face with a bear while camping in the North American woods is a problem that is all too real. In order to avoid unexpected visits from these massive creatures, it is a good idea to keep food as far away from the campsite as possible at night.
Keeping all of the food in ONE big cooler or food barrel is a great idea. Using some of the rope that was packed in order to elevate the cooler or barrel up in a tree is a better idea. And finding a tree that is a good distance from camp, probably the best idea in order to avoid a visit from some bears while trying to get some much-needed slumber.
11. 'A Lesson From The Hill'
Grab a little bit of that purified water from earlier, a handful of flour, and just a pinch of seasoning from the Tic-Tac boxes; mix them together into a stretchy dough, separate them into strips, then wrap the strips around a stick. Boom! Fire bread!
No plates and no cutlery needed, breakfasts have never been easier to prepare or clean up after. Got some bacon left from the night before? Wrap some of that hog around the S'mores stick from last night and...Boom! Fire Bacon!
12. "Leaf Me Alone"
Any true woodsman would say that anything that one could possibly need while camping they should be able to find naturally outdoors.
Camping is all fun and games until someone accidentally uses poison ivy to wipe up after going to the washroom. One thing that no one will ever regret packing is some extra toilet paper.
13. "Old Reliable"
The second thing on the list of things to never go camping without...duct tape. It can be used to patch holes, fix poles, or just to stick something to something else.
Aluminum foil may be the duct tape of camping, but duct tape is still duct tape. It pretty much fixes everything. Pack a roll or two and just know that it's there if...when it's needed.
14. "None Of Your Beeswax!"
The weather report shows clear skies for the next three days, great! But wait, just after setting out into the woods the sun has been hidden behind some frightening-looking clouds. That's right, the weather can be a fickle bitch sometimes, changing on a dime and potentially ruining a camping trip. If only there were some way to ensure that we'd be able to light a campfire even though our lighters are completely waterlogged...
Oh, there is! Matches can be waterproofed quite easily by coating them in wax before leaving on the trip...or while on the trip. And don't forget to bring a waterproof bottle stocked with sandpaper to strike the matches off of.
15. "Drop Pin Location"
One way to plan ahead is to ensure that just in case of emergency someone always knows where one's intended camp site is meant to be.
Be sure that someone back home has a map with the route as well as the location of each designated pit stop that is planned. That way, worst-case scenario, at least someone knows where to start looking.
16. "Kill Them All!"
The constant buzzing around one's ears at night and the incessant itching, as a result of those little vampires helping themselves to the blood banks that are our bodies, is enough to drive anyone mad. I think that most people can agree that mosquitos are only good for two things, spreading diseases and helping to retrieve dinosaur DNA in order to make Jurassic Park a reality. Both of these things will not end well for humanity.
It is unlikely that we would be able to stop a John Hammond-type person from repeating the mistakes made in Jurrasic, however, what we can do is light some sage incense to keep the mosquitos away. If we can't stop Jurrasic Park from happening, we can at least stop the mosquitos from transmitting deadly diseases to us while we're camping.
17. "Turn On The High-Beams"
Once the sun goes down, it can get to be dark and scary extremely quickly. The beam of a flashlight is usually the only light that one has while out camping. On an overcast night, when not even the stars can be leaned upon for a bit of extra light, what is one to do?
That's easy. Just point that one flashlight at a water bottle and take advantage of the reflection of the flashlight hitting the water, and voila...more light!
18. "Survivors Ready?"
When building one's shelter it is important to remember to build it far enough away from water so that the tide won't wash it away. Oh, and a roof is a little bit important as well.
Anyone who has ever had to build a shelter, or has watched "Survivor", knows the importance of a good strong shelter. It is not just meant to protect everyone from the elements but also the animals.
19. "What Kind Of Wood Was That?"
Sitting around the campfire eating S'mores and telling ghost stories is a favorite pastime for campers all over North America. No one wants to be the one to wander off around midnight into the woods because not enough lumber was collected earlier. Who knows what's out there waiting...
When chopping or collecting firewood, it's a good idea to collect 3 or 4 times the amount of lumber that one may expect to use. All the better if there is some leftover at the end of the night, it just means that there is less wood to collect in the morning.
20. "Pump It Up"
When water purification tablets are unavailable, the next best thing is a water pump. They are portable, easy to use, and great for any camping trip that is near a body of fresh water.
Just drop one end of the pump into the water and pump away. The filtration system inside will purify the water and send it through the hose on the other end.
21. 'Breaking The Ice'
Camping isn't just an activity for the warmer months of the year. A trip to the lake in the wintertime is perfect for some nice relaxing ice-fishing. Just be sure to know how thick the ice is, or a polar bear dip is on the cards.
Safety should always come first though. Learn this chart and bring a ruler on any ice-fishing excursions. 4 inches of ice can support about 200 pounds but four times that amount can be held up on just one extra inch. So maybe 'weight' for that fifth inch of ice for optimal safety while fishing and prime conditions for a bit of ice hockey.
22. "A Little Tied Up At The Moment"
As mentioned earlier, there are a few things that should never be left at home. Aluminum foil and duct tape were two of these items and now rope can be added to that list as well.
A rope can be used as a clothing line or as an anchor tied to a tree, in order to hold the tent in place. It can be used to repel down a cliffside or to help pull someone up who may have fallen. It won't even take up any space in the backpack, just tie it to the side and get going.
23. "That's Knot What I Meant"
Knot tying isn't just for people who are into magic and/or BDSM, but I'm sure they would be excellent at setting up campsites due to their extensive knowledge of ropes.
One wrong knot and given the proper conditions, everything could collapse. Knowing one's knots will be tremendously helpful when setting up and dismantling one's campsite or whilst securely strapping equipment to a backpack.
24. 'It Should Be Next To The Matches In The Front Side Pocket, Not The One With The Button, The One With The Snaps'
"Always be prepared", the Boy Scouts Of America didn't make it their slogan for nothing. Being prepared for any trek into the wilderness is probably a good idea, especially considering how many things could, and probably will go wrong.
There is no such thing as a camping trip where nothing goes wrong. A checklist is a fantastic way to make sure that all of the essentials are packed away and ready to go...just in case.
25. "Eating Like The Astronauts"
Taking unprepared foods out camping is just a waste of bag space that could otherwise be utilized for things like rope and a waterproof tarp.
In today's wonderful world of camping, there are a seemingly unlimited amount of pre-made, usually freeze-dried, meal options. They are small, take up little space, and actually taste pretty good.
26. "Those Ants Are Stealing Our Lunch!"
Camping is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the 'real world' and escape into the wilderness, even if it is just for a night or two. One of the things that people tend to forget about when going into the outdoors though, is that it is just that...the outdoors. There are bugs and that's just how it is. Deal with it.
Or get a whole bunch of bug spray. There is no such thing as too much bug spray!
27. "Fire Represents Life"
More important than almost anything else when going camping, is the ability to not just start a campfire, but keep one burning as well.
Keeping a fire through the night is important for keeping animals away from the campsite. Following these simple steps can help any camper build a reliable fire and turn a regular 'Joe Shmo' into "Survivor's" next 'Joey Amazing'.
28. "Chill Out"
The dog days of summer, although sunny and hot, are not ideal for keeping food unspoiled over longer periods of time.
Try freezing most of the food that is going to be packed for the trip. It saves space by not needed to pack ice and also keeps the food fresher for longer.
29. "Umm, That's Not Dirt..."
Wandering into unknown terrain can take someone on quite the roller coaster of emotions. On the one hand, it's exciting and exhilarating while on the other hand, it can be a little bit unnerving going into a mysterious new land with weird noises and strange shadows everywhere.
Although the chances of bumping into a bear or a bigfoot are slim, it's better not to take any chances. Learning some of the tell-tale signs of dangerous predators that may be lurking in the area can save a lot of unnecessary stress.
There are certain materials of clothing that are not as well suited for camping as others.
Cotton is one of those materials. Once it gets wet it likes to stay wet. Wearing cotton clothing while camping is a recipe for a chaffing disaster.
31. "It's Just A Flesh Wound"
The outdoors are a wonderful place full of beauty, untamed wilderness, and more than enough opportunities for an unprepared camper to get hurt.
These portable first aid kits are small enough to fit in the side pocket of a bag, yet are stocked up enough to ensure that almost any medical emergencies, that are incurred while camping, are taken care of.
32. "You Must Be Yoking!"
A breakfast of fire bacon and fire bread is not complete without a little bit of scramby eggs, but bringing eggs out camping always ends with a disaster, doesn't it? Not anymore!
Try scrambling the eggs first and then transporting them in a water bottle. A 375 ml water bottle can hold about 10 regular size eggs and still leaves enough space to add a bit of milk, salt, and pepper before frying it up in a pan over the fire.
33. "I'm Here. You're There. But You Want To Be Here. Squirrel!"
If insect repellants and sage aren't enough to keep those pesky blood-sucking mosquitos away, it's probably a good idea to find an effective means of fighting the agonizing itchiness that will inevitably follow.
There's no need to look any further than one's favorite antiperspirant for the solution. Just grab ahold of the closest Speedstick or Old Spice and start rubbing. "Eliminating itchiness and body odor in one fell swoop. I'm On A Horse!"
34. "Look But Don't Touch"
The North American wilderness is rich with millions of different types of trees, plants, shrubs, bushes, flowers, weeds, and so many other types of greenery.
When going out for even the most basic of camping trips, it's important to know beforehand which species of plants are common in the region. Better safe than sorry when it comes to poison ivy.
35. "Pancake Tuesday, Everyday"
An empty ketchup or mustard bottle doubles as a fantastic pancake bottle. Fill the bottle just past halfway with pancake powder at home, then at the campsite add a bit of water and shake vigorously.
The squirt top makes it easier to portion out the batter in the frying pan. To be honest, pancakes should just be sold in these bottles, to begin with. It would solve a lot of problems.
36. "Mama Said They Was My Magic Shoes"
One of the goals that everyone should have when going camping is to return home with minimal unwanted cuts and little to no new infections.
The bottoms of lakes and rivers are stocked full of jagged rocks and an assortment of bacterias. Water shoes don't protect us from infections, however, they do help to protect our feet from unseen sharp objects that could, in turn, lead to unwanted problems down the line.
37. "Know Any Good 20-Second Songs?"
Setting up a place in order to properly clean one's hands while camping should be important for anyone who thinks that hygiene of any kind is important.
With just a few minor adjustments an old laundry detergent bottle can be transformed into a campsite hand washing station. Fill the jug up with water, and let it do the rest.
38. "Stir And Drink"
A cup of coffee in the morning is an excellent way to start a regular day, but while camping there is just something about sitting by the fire or the lake and drinking a nice hot cup of coffee.
Instant coffee is a most wonderful invention, but individual instant coffee sachets are a camper's dream. With instant coffee there is no more worrying about coffee grinds sneaking past our clenched teeth as we try with all our might not to drink the sludge at the bottom of our cups.
39. "Nachos Anyone?"
After a long day of trekking through the woods with heavy bags, getting a fire started at camp seems as though it will be quite a tedious task. Life is made just a little bit easier thanks to a crunchy snack.
Doritos burn slowly and evenly and are fantastic to help get a fire started, but remember, kindling is not meant to burn all night, so make sure that there is plenty of other wood nearby to keep that scorcher going.
40. "Big Spoon Or Little Spoon?"
Doing the dishes at home can be tedious enough sometimes, no one wants to have to worry about cleaning dishes while out in the woods as well.
With this great hack, one water bottle can be transformed into spoons for all 5 members of the camping trip. The best part is that when dinner is done all the dishes can just be thrown away. For the next meal, just grab another empty bottle, and guess what? 5 more spoons.