Camping is a fun and adventurous way to spend time outside, but it can also be stressful if you don’t know what you’re doing. Here are camping hacks that will help make your camping experience easier and more enjoyable!
1. Use mylar blanket to reflect campfire heat
Campfire is a blessing in the wild especially when it is chilling cold during the winter seasons. But, if you have been camping and making campfire for some time, you might have noticed that while your front facing the fire is hot, your back is always left out to face the freezing cold from behind.
What can you do to make things better?
First of all, select a fireplace in front of two trees that are a few feet apart. The fire pit should be no more than a few feet away as well. Now, hang your space blanket (also called mylar blanket) between the two trees in such a way that the reflective side is facing the fire.
Light up the fire and sit between the fire and the hanging blanket. The blanket will reflect back the heat from behind and keep your backside as warm as your front.
Enjoy your campfire without getting a chill breeze from the back.
2. Warm up your feet using hot water bottle
During winter camping, you can snug into a down sleeping bag and become all warm and cosy except for your feet. No matter how warm the sleeping bag or your blanket is, your feet are always cold.
There is a reason for that. Your feet are the farthest from your heart and receive minimum circulation of blood. Blood circulation is the way the body also circulate heat. Also, when your feet get cold, your brain further restricts the blood circulation to avoid the returning blood getting too cold and inducing hypothermia.
Here is a hack to warm your feet up using a bottle of hot water.
Before you get into your sleeping bag, boil some water and put that into a bottle and tighten the cap. Now put a woollen sock over the bottle (so that it retains the heat for a longer period and also don’t give you nasty burn) and throw it inside the bag and push it to the bottom near your feet.
Viola! you have a space heater just for your feet.
3. Carry emergency duck tape on your hiking stick
Duck tape can fix anything broken (except for a broken heart of course) so carrying some duck tape around out in the wild is always a good idea.
But you don’t need to carry a whole roll especially if you are backpacking and don’t have enough room.
You can just roll some duck tape around your hiking stick and carry it everywhere. It doesn’t take any additional space and when you need it, you can unwrap it from the stick and fix the broken thing. If you are not carrying a hiking stick, you can wrap it around any hard surface, even your lighter.
4. Keep your hands warm with ice melt pellets
If you have lived up north, you must be quite familiar with ice melt pellets commonly available online or in any hardware store. It’s basically a granular form of calcium chloride that when sprinkled over an ice sheet produces heat. The reaction of calcium chloride with water is an exothermic reaction that melts the ice.
We can use the same pellets to warm our hands (or feet) out in the cold.
Take a ziplock bag and fill it with some Calcium chloride pellets. Put a smaller ziplock bag of water inside and lock the outer bag. Carry that within your pocket and whenever you need some hand warming, just squeeze the bag to break the seal of the inner water bag and mix the water with the pellets. the reaction will give you instant heat.
5. Start your campfire with a small electric fan
Campfire is easy to maintain but very hard to start. You have to blow your lungs out in an awkward and compromising position to get the flames up all while risking burning off your eyebrows.
Here is a hack to start and grow your fire with ease. Just pack a small battery-powered fan in your backpack and use it to stoke your fire. It works great.
Alternatively, you can also bring along a 3/8 inch hose around 2-3 feet in length and use it to direct your blow without getting too close to the hot flames and smoke. You can also get one of those small collapsible pocket fire bellows (check this one on Amazon) if you have a few bucks to spare.
6. Bring a notebook & pencil for your thoughts
One of the reasons we go camping is to relax, connect with nature and contemplate and collect our thoughts. It’s a great place to come up with ideas especially if you are a creative person. During these moments, if an idea or thought hit you, you need something to write down.
For those special moments, pack a small notebook and pencil in your pocket that you can take out and quickly note down whatever you have in your mind. I personally love the famous Kraft paper Field Notes not only for camping but for everyday use as well. Their smaller and compact size makes them ideal for carrying in your pocket.
7. Take a cool shower during camping
Taking a shower during outdoor camping is not really an easy job especially if you don’t have running water nearby. Your available water resource is a prized commodity that you cannot spare to have a refreshing bath. So, what is the next best thing?
Here is a cool hack that I found in one of our Reddit camping subs (couldn’t track down the owner to give proper credit)
You will need a small plastic tub (usually comes with instant noodles or ice cream) and shampoo or body gel.
Step 1: Find a few such plastic tubs from your local hardware store or just ask your mom/wife to look in the pantry.
Step 2: Fill out 1/4 tub with water and squeeze in some body wash or shampoo.
Step 3: Make a homogenous mixture of the water and shampoo and freeze this completely in your freezer.
Step 4: Take out the frozen soap/water mixture and fill the remaining space with additional water (leave a little room at the top for expansion) and again put it back in the freezer.
Step 5: Take the frozen tubs with you to your camping site in your portable freezer. When it is time to clean up after a hike or other activity, take out the frozen cube from the tub.
Step 6: Use the soap/water mixture side to wash yourself and the other pure water part to rinse yourself. Dry yourself with a clean towel afterwards.
Viola! you just had a refreshing shower.
8. Make quick coffee with solid fuel tablets
Solid fuel tablets are lifesavers in the wild. Period. If you are not carrying a propane or butane stove or electrical or battery powered kettle, these fuels tablets can make you a good cup of coffee and quickly.
If you have been camping long enough you might have come across these white fuel cubes that are used to heat food without the need to collect firewood and start a fire. These white cubes are called Hexamine fuel or just fuel tablets.
Hexamine tablets are a blessing because they are lightweight to carry around, don’t need much effort to start a fire (just place them under your pot and light them up with a match stick), burn smokeless, and last long enough to boil a 250ml water pot to make your morning coffee thanks to their unusually higher energy density of 30 (MJ/kg).
Many companies are making solid fuel but the household name is Esbit. You can buy them from your nearest hardware store or order from Amazon (link here).
9. Vacuum freeze pre-cooked meals to reduce cooking time
During camping, one of our major concerns is having a good meal and having enough of it. Both require you to spend a considerable amount of your daytime preparing, cutting, cooking and serving your meal.
Not everyone wants to do that especially if you are not a particularly foodie person (like me). I don’t want to think about what I am going to eat later that day but I do want to eat right and enough to keep my strength in the wild.
So, here is a hack to have the right kind of meal without much cooking effort. Pre-cook and vacuum freeze your meals before leaving your house and you will thank me later. To do this the right way, head over to my detailed blog on how to prepare vacuum-sealed meals for camping
Some more camping hacks
- Bring large zip lock bags to keep dirty clothes separate from clean clothes and camping supplies.
- Bring a headlamp in addition to a flashlight for easier use at night.
- If camping with kids, bring small cheap glowsticks and tell them they can only break them out after the sun goes down- they’ll think its a treat!
- When camping, pack foods that don’t require heat or refrigeration- like sandwiches and granola bars
- Don’t forget to bring enough water for everyone camping with you- nobody likes a dehydrated camper.
- Keep a camping list with everyone’s camping necessities, so nobody forgets anything.
- Don’t underestimate how useful a camping chair can be. You can use them to sit on or as makeshift tables when camping.
- If camping during spring, summer, or fall in an area that has bugs, bring bug spray. [Read: How to keep scorpions away?]. Read my prevous blog on how to repel mosquitoes or how to keep spiders away from your camp.
- If camping during winter, make sure to bring a lot of blankets- it can get very cold at night!
- Bring all camping supplies in a camping bin for easy packing and storage when camping
- Make your own camping toilet paper roll holder out of sticks- super cute and totally useful!
- Put camping toiletries in a camping shower caddy to keep them separate and organized
- If you’re going camping alone, only bring the necessities you’re willing to lose in case they get lost or separated from you
- Bring two pairs of everything you bring hiking or camping so if one gets wet or lost you have a backup!
- Instead of using camping chairs for sitting, bring camping hammocks instead- super cozy camping gear!
- Use camping tripods to hang camping lanterns or plastic baggies over camping stoves to keep them clean and the bugs away
- If you’re camping and it starts raining, put a tarp down before setting up your tent
- Get some inexpensive glowsticks as an emergency light source if camping with kids at night
- Bring campfire cones as a quick alternative to campfire roasting sticks (they work just as well!)
- If camping with kids, give them camping whistles so they can find you if lost or separated
- Don’t forget camping duct tape and plasters to patch camping gear before it gets ruined during camping
- Bring camping sleeping bags that zip together for easy sharing camping!
- Bring a cheap inflatable pool along for the ride when you go camping; most campsites have water nearby!
- When camping, keep your most important items in one place by packing them separately from camping gear; the camping tip is to pack your camping wallet and camping phone in your camping pouch.
And there you have it: 33 camping hacks for beginners. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it! Thank you so much for reading, and don’t forget to share with those who love camping as well!
Recommended Camping Gears: I have compiled a list of my favourite camping gear in one place. The selection is based on my own personal experience using them for many years camping as well as feedback from fellow campers. Check them out on my Recommended Camping Gears page