Humans invent; humans create, and humans hack. It’s something we’ve always done and will continue to do. We’re just never quite content with how things are. We’re always looking for new techniques, better ideas, and epic hacks. Anything to make our lives a little bit better.
We crave improvement progress in everything we do, and that includes camping.
Ever since man began sleeping under the stars, we’ve invented new ways to make camping better.
Heck, back in ancient times, “camping” was a means of survival.
When utilizing every tool with skill and efficiency was a matter of life and death.
Techniques and hacks were adapted to keep predators at bay, to travel faster, and gather more food.
These days, camping is a recreational activity for most of us.
But that doesn’t mean skills and attention to efficiency aren’t worthwhile goals.
Who doesn’t want to make camp chores easier and leave you with more time to relax?
A more organized camp setup makes it easier to find your gear and get things done.
Better cooking makes mealtime an event to look forward to, while fewer dishes make cleanup less of a drag.
Pack space, time, weight, and money are all precious resources in any camping situation.
Whether you’re practicing for a bug out or a relaxing weekend the following camping hacks matter.
They will help make your next great outdoors adventure that much better.
1 WATER JUG LANTERN
When cooking dinner in the dark or getting ready for bed, a lantern is better than even the best survival flashlight.
Lanterns create broad, even lighting.
So for specific tasks, full illumination is more helpful than a focused beam from a headlamp.
Luckily, you’ve probably got everything you need to MAKE a lantern already!
Just take your headlamp and wrap it around your water bottle with the beam facing inward.
Any clear or translucent bottle will work, even a milk jug from the cooler.
These makeshift lanterns work great anywhere you need ambient light – and you don’t have to carry any extra gear!
2 ROCK GROMMETS
When you’re setting up a tarp tent, it always seems like there are no solid grommets where you want to attach a guy line.
Even if they still exist, they’re often worn out beyond repair, leaving you no way to secure your shelter.
That is, until now.
You can add a tie point anywhere to any tarp with this camping hack.
Find a small round stone and place it in the location where you would like to attach a line.
Gather the tarp around the stone and tie your line around it.
This will capture the stone inside the “pocket” you’ve formed. Instant “grommet”!
Also, the line strain is more evenly distributed, compared to a metal grommet.
So the makeshift stone grommet ends up lasting longer as well.
3 WATERBOTTLE COOLER ICE
When you’re packing a cooler for a camping trip, it’s easy to run out of space for ice once you add all your food and beverages.
Besides, the ice often melts fast, leaving your cheese and brats floating in water together – yuck!
Instead of pouring in cubed ice, freeze water bottles or jugs at home and use them in your camping cooler.
As they melt, the bottles leave you with a supply of cold, fresh water and a much cleaner cooler.
This is is by far one of my favorite camping hacks because gross coolers are the worst! Not to mention it will significantly reduce your risk of food contamination.
4 DORITOS FIRE STARTER
I’ve been to a lot of campgrounds where it’s easy to find (or buy) firewood, but finding good kindling is impossible.
Before spending hours splitting firewood into matchsticks, use a common campground snack instead!
A handful of Doritos makes a surprisingly good firestarter and an “impress-your-friends” camping hack.
The corn oil in tortilla chips burns easily, while the structure of the chi acts as a wick to draw fuel into the flame.
Just make sure you leave some for eating or your camping partners might get mad.
This isn’t just a camping hack, this is also a survival hack as well.
5 PLASTIC STRAW SPICE STORAGE
When it comes to camp food, the thing you always hear is “bland.”
Most people don’t have more than salt and pepper in their camp kitchen.
The problem is finding small containers for spices that you only need tiny amounts of for each meal.
All you need for this camping hack are some plastic straws and a heat sealer. You can make single-serving packs of any spices or flavoring you want!
More curry for the noodles? Easy.
Some extra cajun seasoning for that freeze-dried jambalaya? No problem.
6 PACKING EGGS FOR CAMPING
While my daily breakfast is a cup of coffee and a granola bar, camp breakfasts sometimes call for more.
Eggs always seem to please a crowd, but bringing them on a camping trip is asking for trouble.
If they’re not protected in the cooler, they can crack – leaving you with a mess and no breakfast.
Instead of risking it, do a little prep at home and crack them into a plastic water bottle ahead of time.
This lets you pour out as much as you need and quickly cap the rest and toss it back in the cooler.
No mess, no risk, and faster breakfast? Sounds like a great start to the day!
7 EASY SLEEPING BAG WARMER
On a frigid evening in camp, it’s always hard to get into a cold sleeping bag (unless you have a tent stove).
Even in the summer, it always seems like your feet are freezing and take forever to warm up.
Rather than shiver, simply fill a water bottle with hot water just before you head into your camping tent.
Wrap it in a spare shirt or pair of socks and shove it down to the foot of your sleeping bag for warm toes all night.
Just be sure to secure the lid all the way – a wet sleeping bag quickly becomes a cold one!
8 HOT ROCKS BOOT DRYER
Wet shoes on a hike can be more than just uncomfortable.
They can leave your feet blistered and torn up, making it hard to keep up the pace or get around at all.
Drying them out in rain or humid conditions can be a real chore.
For this camping hack, remove the insoles from your shoes/boots and setting them aside. Then fill the shoes/boots with rocks heated in boiling water.
The rocks retain a lot of heat, allowing you to dry out even soaked shoes/boots easily.
9 MATCH HOLDER WITH SANDPAPER STRIKER
Even if you’ve got one of the best survival lighters, there are situations where a match is a better tool.
Lighting candles, a kerosene lantern, or a portable stove are far easier tasks with a survival match.
But most matches are fragile. It seems like something always goes wrong with them.
The box gets crushed, the striker wears out, or they get wet somehow – now they’re worthless!
Instead, protect those matchsticks using a small metal mint tin (the start of so many great camping hacks). Then just add a bit of sandpaper to the inside lid of the tin.
This quick DIY project ensures you’ll be ready when you need a match.
If you can find fine-grit sandpaper with adhesive backing, it’s even easier!
I like to keep a spare striker inside the tin, just make sure you keep is well separated from the match heads!
10 DIY WATERPROOF BACKPACK
It’s one thing to deal with the weather when you’re car camping and can call it quits early, and head home…
If you’re backpacking, retreat from the weather may not be an option, and dry camping gear can be a lifesaver.w
So before you pack your gear in your backpack, just line the inside of it with small trash bags.
Do this before loading all your clothes, sleeping bag, and survival tent.
It’s a simple insurance policy against a cold, wet night that could end in hypothermia!
11 STUFF SACK + SPARE CLOTHES = PILLOW
At home, I have a great pillow, but it’s far too heavy and bulky to take on the trail.
I’ve seen a lot of inflatable camp pillows on the market these past few years – and even tested a few myself.
While they work fine, they inevitably add bulk and weight to my backpack.
Instead, buy a stuff sack with a flannel lining and fill with your spare clothing.
A good drybag-style stuff sack will keep your clothes dry inside your pack all day.
Then convert to a pillow at night, serving double duty with no extra weight!
12 MAGIC BISCUIT FIRESTARTERS
If you’ve got a few extra candles laying around the house, this is a quick DIY camping hack project.
One that will leave you with all the fire starters you’ll need!
Just dip cotton makeup remover pads in melted wax and let them cool. Seriously, that’s it!
They’ll be nearly waterproof and light easily.
This gives you a clean, dependable flame to start your campfires!
If you want to make it even easier, pick up an inexpensive slow cooker to make melting the wax foolproof.
I got mine for $5 at a garage sale and just toss all our candle scraps in so they’re ready to melt when I need more magic biscuits.
13 DIY TOILET PAPER DISPENSER
When it’s time to go, its time to go. Unless you’re camping!
Taking care of business in the outdoors takes a little more planning than a quick trip to the restroom.
Way too often you have to deal with damp or squished rolls of TP and missing hand sanitizer.
Fix these problems by transforming a large plastic coffee can into a TP container!
It’ll make EVERYTHING much easier!
14 COOK EVERYTHING WITH FOIL
If you’ve been to summer camp, chances are high that you’ve cooked at least one meal wrapped in aluminum foil.
I know my first attempts leaked juices and came out a burned mess sticking to the foil.
Turns out there are some tricks to making “hobo meals” and preparing a feast over open coals.
If you can master these, dinner can be something to look forward to – WITH NO DISHES TO WASH!
15 HANG A BEAR BAR PCT-STYLE
I recently learned about hanging a bear bag in the PCT-style – and it’s a lot easier!
With my camping partner, every second counts when we’re getting the coffee started in the morning.
So I really enjoy the speed of getting this bag both up and down from the tree.
To make it even simpler, I use a reflective cord for my bear bag to make it easier to find in the dark.
16 DUCT TAPE YOUR LIGHTER
Everyone knows duct tape (or Gorilla Tape) can be used for just about anything.
I’ve even seen a boat made entirely of duct tape.
But making sure you always have some in your EDC kit is a little harder.
Carrying an entire roll is heavy and bulky to pack.
Wrap a couple feet of tape around your lighter, and you will always have a bit in a pinch.
I wrap some around my water bottle too, just in case!
17 FIX A STICKY ZIPPER
After a while, it seems like every zipper catches a little.
Cold weather tent doors are the worst offenders!
But it turns out that candle wax makes excellent zipper lubricant.
Rub on a little bit of wax, then gently heat it with a hair dryer and run the zipper back and forth.
Works like a charm!
18 KEEPING DOWN JACKETS / SLEEPING BAGS FLUFFY
There comes a time that you have to wash that down jacket.
You can do it on the gentle cycle in a front loading washing machine, but drying it is the trick.
The down often clumps when wet and doesn’t keep its loft.
Next time, toss a couple of tennis balls in the dryer with it.
They’ll bang around and make a lot of noise.
But the constant agitation will help the down feathers separate and fluff back up!
This camping hack works great with sleeping bags too.
19 DIY COFFEE BAGS
In the morning, the faster we get coffee handed out, the safer our camp will be.
This usually means anyone NOT drinking coffee has to wait for hot water.
Instead of brewing a whole pot of coffee, make individual coffee bags with a filter and dental floss.
This way, you can just boil water in a big pot and use it for coffee, tea, and oatmeal without delay!
20 SUPER EASY S’MORES
We discovered this new camping hack just this summer.
Instead of dealing with graham crackers and chocolate, just buy some Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies (or any fudge dipped shortbread cookies of your choice).
Quote from the Elite Survival Club’s Expert –
“It’s faster, easier, less messy and in my opinion tastes better.” – Nick
CAMPING HACKS WRAP UP
Every time I head out camping, I’m looking for tricks and tips that make my life easier.
From setting up camp to cooking meals or staying dry and warm in bad weather, every small advantage adds up.
Whenever I overcome some challenge, I win a lighter pack, better food, and more time to relax.
Even better, I win the knowledge that at least *some* these camping hacks could be a lifesaver someday!