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5 Expert Camping Hacks

5 Expert Camping Hacks

No matter how many times you enter the wilderness on a backpacking expedition, you are undoubtedly going to encounter some unexpected circumstances that will force you to think on your feet.  The trouble is that sometimes, when faced with situations like these, you may find yourself to be unprepared for what nature has laid before you. 

Thankfully though, there are a number of things you can do ahead of time that will help you to retain a little of your sanity and find some enjoyment in your current experience.    

Tip 1:  Ensure Your Shelter Tarp Stays Put

Building a shelter from a tarp can be especially frustrating whenever you are trying to get the tarp to stay in one place.  Thankfully, with the help of a few sticks and a rope, you can secure your shelter instantly and with confidence.

All you need to do is to pull the rope the tarp is stretched over up through the grommets on either end of the tarp.  Give yourself a loop about 2 inches across.  Next, slide a stick through the protruding loop of rope. You should then pull the rope taught.  By doing this, you are securing the stick in place and are making sure that the tarp will not move the entire time the stick is in place.

Need to be on your way?  Loosen the rope, push a little extra back through the grommet, and remove the stick. 

Tip 2:  Ensure Your Matches Stay Dry

This simple trick will help ensure that in even the worst rain or accidental dip into the river, you won’t lose your ability to light a fire.  All you need to complete this camping hack is at a plastic baby food container with a resealable lid and a small patch of sandpaper. 

Make sure the container is completely cleaned and dried before putting anything inside it.  Next secure a small square of sandpaper to the bottom of the container using some regular super glue.  Finally, fill the container with the matches you plan to take camping. 

What you now have is a waterproof container with a built in striker that will enable you to light a fire anywhere you should be no matter how wet the conditions.

Side Tip:  Dryer lint makes for a great tinder bundle in wet conditions.  It is highly flammable and easy to come by.  Consider putting some in a plastic bag and tossing it in along with your container of matches the next time you plan to head into the woods.  

Tip 3:  Sleep With Dry Warm Feet Every Night

One of my biggest issues is when I am camping is continually having to deal with wet feet.  When you decide to head off into the wood your feet can get wet for any number of reasons.  The honest truth is that while this happens quite frequently, your feet don’t need to stay wet! If you take a few simple steps you can help to ensure your own comfort every time you step into the woods.

First, make sure when you take your boots off at the end of your hike to fill each with anything dry that can help to pull the moisture out.  Something like a couple sheets of newspaper or an extra t-shirt will work perfectly for this task.  Keep this in the boots overnight and in the morning you will find that your boots have significantly less moisture in them than they had the previous evening. 

Next, pack an extra pair of socks in the bottom of your sleeping bag.  These are socks that are only used when you are sleeping so they will hopefully always remain dry and readily available.  Change out of them in the morning and put them right back into your bag.  Never take them out of your sleeping bag!

In my own experience, using these two tips makes life much better after a long day of hiking.  I know that no matter how cold and wet my feet may be when I return to camp, by performing these two simple things I know that I always go to bed each night with warm dry feet and wake up to dry boots each time. 

Tip 4:  Keep Mosquitoes Away

An easy way to keep mosquitoes at bay while backpacking is to use a bundle of sage.  This is an exceptionally simple process.  Once you have your fire going, just toss a bundle of sage directly into the fire.  The aroma from the fire will perform double duty here.  The scent will help to drive mosquitoes away while also making your camp and the surrounding area smell more pleasant that it may have previously. 

Tip 5:  Keep Ice Longer

If you are bringing coolers into a camping scene and don’t want to continually be forced to get ice, you have a couple options. 

Your first option is to freeze several jugs of water and place them directly in your cooler.  This will help ensure that your cooler remains cooler far longer since these large blocks of ice will melt far slower than traditional cubes of ice.

You can also buy block ice from some stores, though this may take up more room in your cooler.  If you do decide to buy block ice, consider leaving it in the bag to help retain some of the water and to help keep your food from soaking in it. 

This next tip was a new one to me this summer.  Buy several bags of ice from a local store at latest the night before you are set to leave.  When you return home with the ice, place it directly in the freezer and let it sit overnight.  This will force the ice to refreeze and will ensure that it lasts far longer than if you had bought it just prior to heading out. 

With hope, these tips will provide you with some useful information whenever you may decide to head off into the wilderness.  Backpacking is a tremendously rewarding activity that can offer a vast array of benefits.  However, it is just as true that this same activity can also provide you more challenges than you may be interested in overcoming. 

With the help of some of these tips and a little in the moment thinking, you will be better able to overcome more of the challenges Mother Nature may attempt to throw your way.

2 Responses


October 18, 2016

Good catch on the spelling of “taut!” I’ve been playing around with these hacks for a while and am always eager to hear what other people do. A lot of the old time campers have some serious tricks in their bags that they keep to themselves assuming it is just common knowledge. Never a bad trick if it can make life just a touch easier!

Ann Valentin
Ann Valentin

September 08, 2016

Hi, Janet,
These are awesome tips. The one about the dry sleep socks is a new one for me – great idea. Also, about freezing the bag of ice.

The one about the tarp should say “taut” instead of “taught.”

Oh yeah, the tip about the matches is super. Never thought of the sandpaper in the jar.

Wonderful – useful ideas. Thanks so much!

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