Genius Camping Hacks Every Camper Should Have Under Their Belt

By: Lilli Keeve | Last updated: Nov 19, 2023

Camping can be a blast, especially if you have some tips to make your experience more comfortable. Saving space, staying warm, and keeping the mosquitoes away are all things that can improve a camping experience. We’ve collected some need-to-know tips and tricks for all of you outdoorsy types to help make your next adventure unforgettable.

Use Doritos To Start Your Fire

Turns out, Doritos are not only delicious, but they can keep you warm as well. If you find yourself needing some kindling for your fire, chips such as doritos, fritos, or any other corn-based chip will do the trick. The oil in these chips catches fire quickly, so they can serve as an effective fire starter.

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Throw some chips at the base of the fire because they catch easily and then add some dry sticks and twigs on top. Place your logs on that and you’ve got yourself a worthy fire. No need to spend on expensive fire starter kits. Plus, your leftover kindling will serve as the perfect fire-side snack!

Burn Sage To Keep Mosquitos Away

It’s hard to enjoy your camping trips with mosquitos buzzing around. You don’t want to be itching while you’re trying to enjoy the great outdoors. Fortunately, sage acts as a natural repellent to these pesky bugs. Burn some sage leaves or a bundle of sage in your campfire to keep the mosquitos away. We recommend keeping your bug spray with you as well (just to cover all your bases).

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Another option is to bring some sage in the form of essential oils. The theory is that the scent from the plant is what keeps bugs away. Put some on your clothes or around your sleeping area. Plus, enjoy the natural perfume given off by this fragrant plant. Win, win!

Use Compact Cooking Sets

One of the things most campers always find themselves struggling with is space. How can you possibly fit everything you need into a backpack? One way to save space on your next camping adventure is to invest in a compact cooking set. These sets can come with anything from pots and pans to simple plates, bowls, and silverware so you can select what works for you.

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These sets are usually stackable and durable. So even if space isn’t a concern for you, consider the time you’ll save packing when all your cooking tools fit neatly together. Also, these products are made specifically with campers in mind, so they’re made from durable materials that won’t easily break during your travels.

Use Solar Light Stakes To See At Night

As campers, we’ve all found ourselves waking up in the night and stumbling around in the dark trying to make it to the bathroom. Solar light stakes are a great way to help see if you have to get up in the dark. Plant them around your tent, camping area, or on your path to the bathroom.

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These will help light the way if you do have to get up in the middle of the night or early morning. Place them around in the daytime while you set your camp and allow them to charge in the sun. Then, let them guide you at night. No more stubbed toes and scrambling for the flashlight in the middle of the night!

Use Foam Tiles In Your Tent For A Softer Floor

Depending on your campsite, your tent might be set up on some uncomfortable ground rather than the tempurpedic mattress you’re used to at home. One way to make your sleeping environment a little more comfortable is to bring some foam tiles to lay on the ground in your tent.

Source: Pinterest

These will add some much needed cushion under your makeshift bed. You may remember these colorful foam tiles from elementary school. They detach and are easy to pack and travel with. You can order a pack on Amazon for less than $20. Campers find this to be a small change that dramatically impacts comfort while camping.

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Meal Prep Ahead Of Time

Eating while camping can be tricky. While you can make hot dogs and burgers over the fire a couple of nights, you might need some variety while you’re out in the wilderness. Meal prepping at home before you travel is a great way to minimize your stress during your trip.

Source: Pinterest

There are tons of simple meals you can make ahead of time that will be ready when hunger strikes: sandwiches, overnight oats, burrito bowls, pasta salad, and pulled pork, to name a few. You’ll want to prepare for some campsite meals as well as some on-the-go snacks. Like most camping tips, the key is to come prepared. When in doubt, make s’mores!

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Use Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Soap

One thing you can almost always guarantee about camping is that you’re going to get dirty. Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap is an excellent “all in one” option to clean almost anything. You can use it as body wash, shampoo, face wash and/or shaving cream. In addition, it can be used as dish soap and laundry detergent as well. Rather than bringing a bunch of toiletries, you can pack one bottle of this and you’re good to go.

Source: Instagram

This natural, unscented, vegan formula is great for camping because it’s safe to clean almost anything! It’s also biodegradable and chemical-free so it doesn’t harm the environment. Feel free to bathe in that lake!

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Turn Your Headlamp Into A Lantern

Unless you’re glamping (glamorous camping), you’ll most likely find yourself needing a lantern in your tent or campsite. Lanterns can be bulky and heavy so if you don’t have the space to pack one, we’ve found a helpful trick.

Source: Pinterest

Fill a plastic jug with water (ideally a gallon). If you have a headlamp, stretch the head strap around the bottle for a makeship lantern. Turn the light towards the inside of the bottle. This will reflect the water and plastic, spreading light throughout your tent.

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Use Tic-Tac Packages To Hold Spices

Camping food doesn’t have to be bland! If you plan on cooking while you camp, you might want to bring some spices to add flavor to your meals. Packing spices can be difficult because they take up space and you don’t always want to bring an entire bottle of oregano for one or two meals. A simple hack is to use empty Tic-Tac boxes as travel containers for your spices.

Source: Pinterest

This way, you can bring the right amounts of the spices you need. They’re small and compact, so they won’t take up too much space in your bag. The containers also securely seal so you won’t end up with salt and pepper spilled all over your stuff!

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Use Cotton Pads Dipped In Wax As A Portable Fire Starter

This hack does require some DIY spirit before you head out for your camping trip. Outside of Doritos, cotton pads dipped in wax make for an excellent firestarter. To make these handy firestarters, melt some wax in a pot over the stove. Use tweezers to dip the cotton pads into the wax until it’s completely saturated. Lay the cotton pads on wax paper or foil to protect your counters from hot wax.

Source: Reddit

Allow for the wax-dipped cotton pads to dry and then store them in a bag or container for your trip. These are a great backup to have in case your firestarter doesn’t work or you’ve eaten all your Doritos.

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A D.I.Y. Acorn Whistle Does More Than You Think

No matter how much of an expert camper you may be, you may still need some tips here and there to ensure you’re doing the right thing. This is especially true when it comes to safety and having some sort of alert signal handy in case you find yourself in a bit of a pickle!  

Source: YouTube

So, if you happen to get lost out in the woods and you don’t know what to do, we’ve got you covered. Don’t panic. Search around for some acorn caps and hold them the same way as in the photo. You simply blow into the cavity of the cap and it functions as an acorn whistle. How cool is that?

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Coffee Filters Have More Than One Use

When you’re at home, you’ve likely gotten used to making a warm cup of coffee at home and putting in your favorite creamer, and adding some sugar. Or, if you just like your coffee black, then that’s fine, too. Whether you have a day off and can actually enjoy your coffee or have to take it in a to-go cup, coffee is essential to get through the day.

Source: Pinterest

When you’re out in the great outdoors, there’s nowhere else you need to be. And, you can fully enjoy your delicious coffee. But, steaming your coffee can be a challenge, so here’s a neat trick: pop your coffee grounds into a filter and tie them up with some dental floss. Pour hot water into that puppy and simply relax!

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Keeping Your Sleeping Bag Toasty

You can’t go camping without a sleeping bag to keep you nice and warm during the chilly nights. We’re providing you with a neat hack to allow you to stay warm without working up a sweat!

Although you can keep a fire lit through the night, you don’t want to risk the possibility of it going out, and then you’re left being really cold. So, boil some water and keep them in a few bottles. Around half and hour before you go to sleep, just place them into your sleeping bag and voila! Your sleeping bag will be extra toasty and delightful. 

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Bread Tags Can Be Used As A Clothes Pin

It’s likely that you will have to do laundry before you go camping, so you don’t have to worry about a shortage of clothes, even though they’ll all just get dirty anyways! This helpful hack will give you an idea to dry your clothes. 

Source: REI

Depending on the length of your camping trip (and how lightly you packed), you’ll have to clean your clothes no matter how much of a hassle it is. Bring enough bread tags along to hang your clothes up on a wire so they can fully dry. 

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Keeping Lighter Items Safe And Sound

This hack will only be useful if you bring disposable cutlery and plates on your camping trips, and we hope it will be of service. Despite it not being so environmentally friendly, it still does the trick. 

Source: Hip2Save

When the wind blows everything around, this nifty hack will come in handy. On your next trip, don’t forget to pack a cake carrier for your disposable utensils. They stay clean, won’t get picked up by the wind, and those pesky bugs will leave them alone!

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Keep Your Keys From Getting Lost

Sure, most of you probably just leave your keys behind in your tent, but there’s another way to ensure that they don’t get lost. Here’s a cool hack to prevent you from misplacing or losing your keys. P.S., don’t chuck that wine cork from the empty wine bottle. 

Source: Indulgy

For this hack to work, all you need is a cork. Where it came from doesn’t matter, it just needs to be able to float your keys so they don’t escape! If you are going into shallow running water, we advise you to tie your keys onto something heavy so they will just sink to the bottom and not float away from you.  

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Make The Most Out Of Your Music

While we are always told to enjoy nature and take advantage of the quiet time, it’s hard to live without some good tunes. Let’s face it: when you’re a city person, you need to bring some of that into your camping experience. 

Source: Christine Gallary/thekitchn.com

Not everybody can simply relax out in the woods without their music or other city sounds, so this hack is perfect for those folks. Put your phone (with the volume all the way up) into a Solo cup and the sound will be amplified. Makeshift speaker mode activated! 

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This D.I.Y. Spoon Has An Amazing Function

There will probably be a few times when you lose an important utensil, or maybe there aren’t enough for everyone. This is where an empty soda bottle will really come in handy. You must make sure that you cut it so that you can handle it. 

Source: Pinterest

The bottom of this D.I.Y. spoon may be sturdy enough to hold food, but the handle shouldn’t be flimsy. Enter duct tape to the rescue! You just wrap the duct tape around the handle so that you can lift the full spoon without it slipping out of your hand.

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Move Over, Rice

Everybody loves rice and if they don’t, there’s something really wrong with them. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a hassle to cook (especially over an open fire) and is very time-consuming. You will be unable to alter the heat and will have to keep checking on it by lifting the lid. That’s a big no-no! 

Source: Chowhound

Couscous is a much better alternative. It’s simple to cook and takes only a few minutes until it’s ready to consume. Plus, couscous goes with almost anything! Simply boil some water and then you will have a meal prepared. 

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How To Trap A Thief

Anywhere you go in the world, certain dangers are always lurking around each corner. It can be snakes, bears, crazy drivers, or pretty much anything you bring to your imagination. We would be hasty not to mention other humans who can be just as dangerous (if not more) than wild animals.   

Source: Thehomesteadsurvival/ Pinterest

When you are camping, it’s crucial to keep your area safe and secure. All you need to do is attach a glow stick to a mousetrap and run a tripwire to the trap because anything or anyone that goes over the line will alert you with a startlingly loud crack and snap. Bear Grylls…who? 

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Frisbee Plates

This useful hack is perfect for playtime and mealtime! With that being said, it’s primarily for an in-case-of-emergency basis. Somebody may drop their plate on the ground accidentally or maybe it flies away in the wind. But, don’t fear! We’ve got a hack for that. 

Source: Pmags

Who knew that a Frisbee was more than just something to throw? Simply turn it over, and it will act as a plate. Its curved edges will keep food from falling out, and then after, you can wash it off, and play with it. Truly, this is a win-win situation. 

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Pool Noodles Save The Day

It’s funny because this hack is a bit ironic. While pop-up tents are obviously very useful and necessary when camping, they aren’t always the most reliably made. This is where pool noodles are heroes that come in and save the day. 

Source: Dobby Dobbers/ Pinterest

If it happens to rain while you’re camping, this neat pool noodle hack will be more than helpful. Just purchase a few pool noodles and put them at the top of the tent, as pictured above. Miraculously, the noodles will stop the tent from closing in on itself and also keep it safe from the rain. 

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Ticks No More

It’s already an annoying task to keep insects away from us, but nature always finds a way. This hack is not only a cure, it’s a preventative measure that is needed especially when you are in the woods. 

Source: Robinrealtygroup

The woods are where ticks reside, and they are rather unpleasant bloodsucking creatures. These little guys tend to want to attach themselves to your clothes and come home with you. Since you want to get them off you immediately, all you need to do is pack a small tube of liquid soap and tons of cotton balls. You simply soak a ball with the soap and then place it on the tick for about 20 seconds. Fingers crossed that it comes off without a struggle!

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Don’t Throw Away Those Silica Gels

When we buy items or products they come with silica gel packets which we often discard. Next time, don’t throw them away! There are more uses for them than you would think.

Source: REI

Silica gels absorb humidity, and humidity ruins lots of things. However, simply pop the gel packets into your pots and pans, and it will prevent them from getting rusty. Trust us! This hack works and will keep your pans from getting ruined. 

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Get Rid Of Difficult Zippers

Zippers are always the one thing that gives us problems, especially when we need them to work the most. They get stuck and break off and are not reliable. Don’t let irritating zippers ruin your camping trip, people!

Source: REI

We have a solution. You get a candle and rub it on the pesky zippers, which allows the wax to act as a lubricant. Your zipper problem should be fixed in no time and they should work as new.

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Handy Hand Washing Station

Camping is a very dirty activity, so that’s why hand washing is an absolute must, especially for all you germaphobes out there. Since there most likely won’t be any usable sinks around, washing your hands in a stream in the pitch-black night isn’t that safe.

Source: Onedio.com

Thankfully, there’s a handy solution to your hand-washing woes. Grab a bucket or jug of water and tie it to a tree. Then, gather your bar of soap, put it into a clean pair of pantyhose (which you can’t forget to pack), and strap it to the tree next to the jug. There you go! You have a portable hand washing station ready to use at your convenience.   

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D.I.Y. Matchbox Carrier

Matchsticks are an absolute no-brainer to pack when going camping. They are used for lighting fires, cooking food, and even acting as a general lighting source. Keeping them dry, however, can prove to be difficult.   

Source: Seattle Sundries

It’s easy to fumble around with matchsticks, considering how small they are. To avoid any precarious scenarios, locate a plastic container of any kind, get some sandpaper, stick it on the lid, and your matchsticks will remain dry and safe from any harm. 

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Using Muffin Tins To Serve Condiments

Using muffin tins as a condiment serving station is just another not-so-well-known hack. This especially comes in handy when you are barbequing and forgot to bring something else to serve the condiments in!

Source: u/heinderhead/ Reddit

There’s an individual place for mustard, ketchup, sliced onions, and whatever else your heart desires. The tins are easy to wash, and you can cover them with plastic wrap. Also, you can use them multiple times!

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The Kiddos Will Be Entertained

Kids always keep you on your toes, and when you bring them camping (that is, if you even have any of your own), it’s essential to keep them occupied with activities. This hack will make the little ones happy and all you tired parents out there can get a break, even if just for a short while.  

Source: Pinterest

You can create a scavenger hunt list or maybe even an interesting, nature-related bingo game. While you set up the campground, these games will distract the kiddos…hopefully! We hope you can also take a breather. 

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DIY Pot and Pan Holder

If you’re setting up camp for more than a night or two then you’re most likely going to need to make yourself some meals. Camping is most fun and effective when everything has its place. This includes a home for your pots and pans. This simple DIY pots and pans holder is great for those of us who plan on camping and cooking.

Source: Pinterest

Wrap a belt around a tree trunk and secure it. Then, add a couple hooks to the belt to hang your pots and pans simply. This is a great way to keep your pots and pans handy and hang them to dry after use as well.

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Store Your Eggs Like an Expert

Packing eggs is no small feat. Making sure those fragile eggs don’t crack while you pack and while you’re on the way to the campsite can be difficult. But, they’re a great option for breakfasts when you’re out in the wilderness. This egg storage hack is a better way to bring eggs on the trip with you.

Source: Pinterest

Crack some eggs into a water bottle to bring and make scrambled eggs with. You can even mix in some milk or salt and pepper if you want a prepackaged meal. Pour some eggs into a hot pan to scramble up in a few minutes.

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Don't Have Benadryl on Hand? Use This for Itch

Unfortunately, if you’re going to be camping out in the woods you will likely get a few bug bites. If you manage to escape all the mosquitos, you’re one lucky camper! Getting a couple bug bites is all part of the camping experience. If you didn’t happen to bring Benadryl or something other medicine for the itchiness, we have the perfect solution that we’re sure you brought with you anyways!

Source: WikiHow

Your deodorant can be used as medicine for that itchy feeling. The aluminum chloride in the deodorant pulls out the toxins from the bite, soothing the discomfort. You might consider stocking up on some travel size deodorants before you head out just in case.

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Don't Trip on the Tent Strings

Once you have the entire campsite set up and the tent propped up, the last thing you want to do is trip over those hard-to-see tent strings. This hack is especially helpful for those camping with kids who will be running around the campsite and might not see the tent strings.

Source: Pinterest

Cut up a pool noddle and cut a slit up the side of them. Simply wrap this around the tent strings at the base where they meet the ground. This way, you can easily see where the stakes are and you won’t trip or stub your toe.

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Shoe Organizers For All

You might remember these shoe organizers that likely hung over the door in your dorm room. These are actually a great space saver in a lot of ways. Some people use them to organize snacks in their pantry. Some people use them for actual shoes. And some campers use them as well!

Source: Pinterest

A shoe organizer like this one is great because it can be used for so many items and it doesn’t take up too much space. Lots of campers will stow their kitchen supplies. It’s a way to keep your campsite organized and have all of your cooking supplies in one place for when you need them.

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Revive Your Soaked Shoes With Crumpled Newspaper

Got your shoes wet while on a camping trip? Everyone knows how uncomfortable wet shoes can get; luckily, newspapers can come to the rescue. It is as simple as grabbing a couple of newspapers, crumpling them up, and stuffing a bunch of them inside the wet pair of shoes.

Source: Getty Images

Put them aside while the newspapers work their magic of absorbing the water in your shoes. You should wake up to much drier and comfy shoes by the next day.

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Creating The Ultimate Make Shift Pillow

For most people, a pillow is essential for their cozy night’s sleep. But what do you do when you are outdoors and you realize you packed a pillowcase but no actual pillows? It is simple, make one by stuffing a couple of your soft clothing into your pillowcase.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

There is also an added advantage of using the pillowcase as an extra bag for your clothes. That’s resourcefulness at its finest!

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A Portable Toilet For Nature’s Call

There is no doubt that the outdoors is an exhilarating experience for those that love camping. However, when nature calls, no one wants to get stuck without a suitable solution to handle one’s business; this is where a portable toilet comes in.

Source: ImpulsiveOgre/Reddit

With a few items, such as a trash can liner, a pool noodle, and a reliable 5-gallon bucket, you can make yourself a portable toilet in no time.

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Lightweight Microfiber Towels

Every weight counts when it comes to camping, which is why it is always advisable to opt for lightweight essentials. Towels are a necessity for any camping trip. However, they are sometimes very bucky and take up a lot of space.

Source: detailkingofficial/ Instagram

Lightweight microfiber towels are a good alternative in this case. They can be used to absorb water easily and can leave you feeling dry swiftly, plus they are eco-friendly.

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Space-Saving Solutions With Lens Cases

Contact lens cases are versatile, and this is how you can put them to use on your next trip. These compact cases are a space-saving hack for campers for essentials like lotion or any other small amounts of liquid.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

With these cases, you no longer have to lug around bigger and bulkier bottles. These are more comfortable pocket-sized options to try out and enjoy more space in your camping bag.

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