20 Genius Camping Hacks Every Camper Should Know (2023)
After years of practice, we’ve come up with the best camping hacks every camper should know! Because for every magical campfire there’s one realization that you forgot the matches, but with these tips, you won’t be left feeling unprepared.
Best Camping Hacks
1. Make your own pillow with a pillowcase & clothes.
Space is always a problem when camping. Instead of packing an extra pillow, turn your clothes and a pillowcase into a pillow instead! The pillowcase makes a great replacement for an extra bag as well.
2. Make your own lantern with a headlamp.
Whether you need an extra nighttime lantern or just don’t feel like lugging along a heavy one for just one purpose, you can make your own lantern with a large water bottle and a headlamp. Just wrap the head strap around a large, clear plastic bottle with the light facing inward and turn it on!
3. Prep your meals at home.
By prepping your meals before you leave on your trip, you can cut down on cooking time and the resulting mess. If you know you’ll need to cut up ingredients for a meal, try chopping them beforehand.
4. Use empty Tic Tac containers for spices.
Camping food doesn’t have to be bland. Common spices such as salt and pepper, or even cinnamon, can be siphoned into these Tic Tac containers. These containers are the perfect size for just a little bit of spice, don’t take up much space, and can be securely sealed to prevent any spillage.
5. Use Doritos as kindling.
Fire won’t start? Not a problem! Skip the expensive fire starter sticks and reach for a bag of Doritos or Fritos instead. These dense, oily corn chips are easy to light on fire and will last for a long time, making them ideal kindling for starting a fire. Plus, they double as an emergency snack if you get cravings.
6. Bring Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Soap.
Replace most of your liquid or foam toiletries with Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Soap! This soap is all natural and can be used as shampoo, body wash, mouthwash, shaving cream, or even dish soap or laundry detergent. Because this soap is free of chemicals and biodegradable, it can be used without fear of harming the environment which makes it one of my favorite hacks for camping!
7. Bring microfiber towels.
If you’re carrying your equipment, weight can also be an issue for camping. Microfiber towels are lightweight and more absorbent than normal towels. Not concerned about weight? They’re also quick drying, which means you won’t have to worry about growing mold once they’re packed. Using these in place of paper towels reduces waste, which is also better for the environment!
8. Compact cooking sets are not just for backpackers!
Even if space isn’t an issue, compact cooking sets and mess kits can be a handy thing to bring to a campsite (We use this microdualist cookset). Cooking sets are durable, multipurpose, and easily stack, which makes cleanup and re-packing easier.
I love that this set has a lid with holes, which you can use for straining pasta as well as an easy way to pour hot water into a mug. I’ve eliminated the need for a tea kettle with this set!
9. Use block ice in your cooler.
Want to save money on ice for your cooler? Consider buying a large ice block. Because it has less surface area than individual cubes, it will melt at a much slower pace. If you want cubes to occasionally add to a drink, keeping your ice in the bag until you need a cube will help increase the ice’s lifespan.
10. Plan ahead! Keep a checklist.
Checklists are all-important necessities when it comes to all the packing, unpacking, and repacking that goes on in a camping trip! Preparing a checklist ahead of time and deciding what goes in which bags will make sure you don’t forget those important items like lighters or cookware that can make or break a great camping trip.
Here’s a peek at our camping checklist. Whether we are camping or backpacking, these are the essential items we don’t want to forget!
Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Liquid Soap
11. Use contact lens cases for small amounts of liquids.
My favorite camping hack is to use these contact lens cases for my liquids (it’s great for lotion!). I started using these on flights in my carry-on, but they work great for camping as well since they save a lot of space!
12. Easily make espresso with this compact container!
This portable hand-held espresso machine with detachable cup is a must-have for coffee lovers!
13. Make mini soap bars with a vegetable peeler.
Saving a bar of soap on the road is the worst! Using a vegetable peeler to make single use soap bars saves money and a huge mess.
14. Add bundles of sage to your campfire to keep mosquitos away.
It smells good too!
15. Use HotHands air activated warmers in your sleeping bag.
Sleeping somewhere cold? No problem! Use these HotHands air activated warmers at the foot of your sleeping back to keep you toasty warm all night long!
16. Use silica gel packs when storing your cookware & electronics.
Use these gel packs to prevent rust when storing your cookware and place them in your bag with electronics. These are a must-have in humid weather.
17. Dry your shoes with crumpled newspaper.
Grab a newspaper from your recycle bin and keep it handy in case your shoes get wet and stuff the newspaper inside your shoes while you sleep.
18. Use trick birthday candles as a firestarter.
Finally(!) there’s a good use for trick birthday candles.
19. Use candle wax as a zipper lubricant.
A great tent camping hack is to rub candle wax along your sleeping bag and tent zippers (no need to light) to lube them up.
20. Store eggs in a water bottle.
Fan of scrambled eggs? Pre-scramble the whites and yolks and pour the mixture into a plastic bottle or mason jar.
For more camping & packing tips, visit these resources:
Carry-On Packing Guide for Airplane Travel
Romantic Camping Ideas For Couples
Winter Camping Essentials & Cold Weather Camping Tips
8 Best Small Travel Trailers (Under 2,000 Pounds)
What to Pack for a Trip to Norway
Havasu Falls Travel Guide & Packing Tips
What to Pack for a Winter Trip to Canada
Packing List for Overnight Kayaking Trips
5 Amazing Places to Camp in California
The Ultimate Guide to Camping in California’s Channel Islands
I am an avid camper and backpacker in Colorado. I love to see other bloggers posting their tips when it comes to camping! I always use the eggs in a Nalgene trick and it works every single time and the hot hands in your sleeping bag work like a champ on those cold nights. Happy adventuring!
Wow I’ve seen a lot of things that are labeled genius, but these actually are! Thank you for the tips! My favorites are the chips and trick candles as fire starters, the sage to avoid mosquitos, the vegetable peeler soap, the tic tac containers for spices and the water bottle headlamp lantern! Genius!
Some neat practical ideas here. Thank you. 🙂
Also eucaplyptus essential oils with warm water, assists with keeping the bacteria stinkage to a minimum, with your body as well as cleaning your undergarments. Also mineral water may be a little more expensive, but it helps with stamina, as most of us are mineral deficient. The mineral water somewhat helps.
Neat wisdoms. I seek new friends to camp with, someday soon with a kindred lady.
Genius! A pillow case? Been using clothes as pillows for years, waking up to find them all over, but a pillowcase? Duh! Why was that not obvious to me?
Pure genius as all the simplest ideas are lol! Ta muchly for that 🙂
You and me both!! This is something I only recently discovered. lol
It’s like the cooking set you mention above. For years, (well decades almost!) we would set off with a full thermos, but then a friend introduced us to a compact spirit fueled cooker and we’ve not looked back. I like the sense of ‘ceremony’ that assembling the cooker and making fresh coffee gives at the peak of a walk etc. It adds to the sense of achievement of reaching the peak/destination somehow.
Plus of course there is the added benefit of actually cooking something! We make up pancake mix and pour it into a soda bottle, or sausages etc. etc. The kids love it.
The way I look at it (as I see others arrive, look around for a few minutes, swig a coke and head back down) is that it gives more reasons to stay and bask in the view for a little longer, before heading back to ‘reality’. Safe travels 🙂
Very useful tips and I think I’ve tried them all 🙂 I love camping and my kids are also very passionate about this so we’re always forgetting stuff at home and have to improvise.
We’re constantly forgetting stuff too. Keeping a checklist has been super helpful!