There’s no better way to enjoy nature than getting out into the wilderness for a camping adventure. Whether you’re car camping or backpacking to a more remote location, packing the essentials and planning for contingencies is key to an enjoyable trip. For a few smart tips that go beyond the basics, here are nine camping hacks sure to make your next trip even better.
Camping Gear Hacks
Use Water Jugs as Lanterns
Instead of purchasing and packing separate lanterns, use a headlamp (essential gear for those midnight bathroom breaks) and a water jug to create the same effect. By wrapping the headlamp around the full jug with the beam pointed inward, the light will bounce off the water and illuminate a large area around you.
Bring Homemade Fire Starters
Finding kindling around a campsite can be tricky at times. Come prepared with homemade fire starters that are easy to make with recycled items at home. Fill each cup of a paper egg carton with dryer lint, sawdust, and shredded paper. Then, cover them with a bit of melted candle wax to hold everything together. Throw a few of these cups into your campfire to help kickstart your blaze quickly.
Make a Portable Toilet Paper Holder
If you’re traveling with a group that will want some of the comforts of home (such as toilet paper), use an old coffee container for a holder that will keep it nice and clean. Cut a slit in the side that’s big enough to thread the toilet paper through, then put a roll inside to keep it dry and clean!
Water and Food Hacks
Use Frozen Gallon Jugs Instead of Ice
If you’re bringing a cooler of food, you’ll need ice to keep it cold for the first few days. You also need plenty of water for the duration of your trip—not only for drinking but for washing and fire-dousing as well. Make both tasks easier by freezing a gallon jug (or two) of water and using that as your ice in the cooler. By the time it’s thawed, you’ll be ready to use it as drinking water and won’t have wasted the undrinkable melted ice cubes.
Campfire breakfasts are one of the highlights of a memorable camping trip, but packing delicate eggs is challenging. Instead, pre-crack the eggs and put them in water bottles. You can mix up a batch of scrambled eggs and add spices/cheese/etc. ahead of time this way for a quick omelet or scrambled hash.
Make Campfire Foil Packets
Instead of packing separate ingredients for dinners, pre-make foil packets with everything for a single serving at dinner. You can include meat, vegetables, spices, and even biscuit dough! Put the foil packets directly into the fire to cook. You’ve created a dinner that requires almost no prep or supervision while you’re enjoying the wilderness!
Sleeping Comfort Hacks
Stay Warmer with a Water Bottle
There’s a way to keep your feet nice and toasty overnight! Simply fill a thick, BPA-free water bottle with boiling water and place it inside the sleeping bag to help keep you comfortable as you fall asleep. Bonus: You’ll have non-frozen water to drink in the morning, a remarkable discovery if you’re camping in the fall or winter months.
Create a Makeshift Pillow with Clothes
Stuff your sleeping bag case with clothes instead of wasting space by packing a pillow (or using an air-filled model that’s very uncomfortable and will get cold). These are items that you’re packing anyway. And you’ll be able to customize how hard or soft your “pillow” is by adding and removing clothing. Bonus: The clothes will be warm in the morning when you change out of PJs!
Keep Air Vents Open
Even if it’s cold at night, keeping an air vent open is essential for waking up comfortably. Without this fresh air, the condensation from your breath will hang on the inside of the tent, and you’ll wake up with rain dripping down on you in the morning! Similarly, don’t cover your mouth with your sleeping bag overnight. You’ll breathe condensation into the bag and negate all of the warmth that’s building up from your body heat.
With these camping tips in mind, you’re sure to have a fun and memorable trip with friends and family in the wilderness!
This content is brought to you by Metroparks. One of America’s premier metropolitan park systems, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks have served the people of Southeast Michigan since 1940. Managed by the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, the Metroparks are made up of 13 properties in Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties. The Metroparks are open 365 days a year and encompass 25,000 acres of nature and recreational facilities. Each year more than 1.5 million people engage with the Metroparks to enjoy amenities such as picnicking, fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, nature study, biking, golf, disc golf, cross country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing and a diversity of outdoor programs and special events. The Metroparks also provide educational resources on science, nature, history and the environment. Learn more at Metroparks.com.