Ah, camping. The sights, the sounds, the smells. Nothing finer than that time-honored tradition celebrating nature and your insignificance in it. Pale-white skin that hasn’t seen the sun in months. Too-loud-for-their-own-good campers. The taste of charred hot dogs. But it doesn’t always have to be that way! With a little work, you can make a decent weekend out of it despite all the things actively trying to kill you. And so without further ado, I present to you these simple camping hacks that will make you miss the safety of your couch only about half of the time.
1) How to approach Thorny Situations
With all that wood out there you’re bound to get a splinter or two eventually. This can be annoying if your new sharp wooden friend gets stuck so deep in your skin that tweezers won’t be able to help. However, if you have a banana peel then you’re in luck. Simply slap a small piece of that peel on your skin above the splinter with a Band-Aid on top and in a day or two it’ll be out.
2) What a Bright Idea
Once the sun goes down you’re mostly faced with two options for light. Pitch-black or deer-in-the-headlights bright. Find a nice, in-between balance with this camping hack. Strap a headlamp to your water bottle with the light facing inward and you’ll create ambient lighting that’s not too harsh on your eyes but enough to keep the bears away.
3) Stay Away from Over Bear’ing Guests
Speaking of bears, be careful not to leave any food in your car unless you want some unexpected visitors. Bears have been known to thoroughly investigate a car for food and, upon finding it, for even more food. There’s nothing worse than coming back to a wrecked vehicle at the end of your camping trip. Be sure to hang your food in trees or better yet, in an air-tight bear canister.
4) Burn Clean
Starting a fire can be difficult. Make it easier by pouring a little hand sanitizer over your kindling to really fuel those flames. Just make sure you leave enough for after your meal. And try not to get too close if you’re wearing certain synthetic fibers. No need to turn great camping hacks into camping hazards!
5) Or Burn Junk Food
Another backup plan is to use potato or corn chips (any kind) to help start a fire. This is one of my favorite camping hacks because someone almost always brings some heavily processed corn product to snack on and they can make the difference between shivering through the night and cozying up to the warm glow of a campfire.
6) Your Portable Sud Station
Unfortunately, cleanliness is not always the priority while camping. With a little bit of future planning, this trick can be one of your greatest camping hacks for all of you germaphobes. The next time you go through a container of laundry detergent, don’t throw it out! Save it for your next camping trip as a simple hand washing station. Because there’ll still be soap residue inside, you can just fill it with water for a fine mixture that keeps hands clean.
7) Ice, Ice, Baby!
Rather than wasting money and space on bags of ice, freeze a couple of gallons of water and bring those in your cooler. They’ll keep your other food cold and become a handy source of drinking water later on.
8) Solving the Comfy Bunk Puzzle
Let’s face it; the forest floor is not the comfiest place to sleep on. It’s why beds were invented. Instead, try padding the bottom of your tent with foam tiles so that you don’t have to feel every stick and rock underneath your feet. Even if you’re not lying directly on the ground, you’ll appreciate this camping hack’s charm for not having you walk on the cold, hard ground at night.
9) Don’t let the Fun Times Sink
At some point you might be forced to go in the water. Whether to get clean or to finally escape all the bugs and mosquitoes, it’s a good idea to hook your keys up to a wine cork or similar flotation device. That way when you finally drown in the water, intentionally or on accident, your keys will at least rise to the surface so your friends can get home.
10) Fight Itching and Cavities at the Same Time
Unfortunately, no matter how many camping hacks you employ, you’ll never be able to escape from every last insect that wants a piece of you out in the woods. At some point, you WILL end up itchy. Try toothpaste. It works wonders as a soothing cure once you’ve been made a meal of.
11) Always Pack a Spare
Congratulations. You’ve somehow reached the end of your camping trip without falling off a cliff or setting the woods on fire (probably). Well you don’t want to go home looking and smelling like a hobo do you? Make sure to always keep a set of clean clothes and some deodorant in your car for the journey home to make you feel a little better or in case you decide to stop for food on the way home. Your fellow diners will appreciate it, trust me.