With averaging 45 nights of camping per year, our family has learned a few camping tricks and hacks along the way. Camping season is right around the corner, so I have decided to put together a list of camping tips to make your next camping trip even better. With the necessary camping essentials and this list, you are prepared for the best camping trip ever.
In this list, there are hacks and tips for car camping, RV camping, and tent camping. These tips and hacks are used by actual people who actually camp and I hope you leave here with some good ideas for your next camping trip. This post is divided up into the following sections:
- Camp Kitchen Hacks
- Camping Food Hacks
- Campfire Hacks
- Potty Hacks for Camping
- Tent Camping Hacks
- Camp Bedding and Sleep Hacks
- Other Camping Campsite Hacks
Camp Kitchen Hacks
Having a designated camp kitchen area keeps your campsite organized. I have found that the camp kitchen is a magnet for congregating, just like a campfire. I spend a lot of time cooking as I am usually the designated cook, so I like to have everything in it’s place.
Canopy With Bug Netting
I didn’t realize how important having a canopy is, until I accidentally got one. Someone left their canopy one day in the back of my truck and since then, it has become one of the most necessary things I take with me camping. Not only does it create shade, but it also keeps the bugs out and is an additional shelter when it unexpectedly rains. I have also found that it creates an actual kitchen area, and then I am less liking having to go around looking for dishes or picking up trash. It keeps everything together and it’s nice cooking in the shade without bugs.
Camp Kitchen Totes or Bins
To keep your camp kitchen organized, keep things in bins. I have two bins for my camp kitchen. One contains all of my cooking stuff like pans, dishes, and utensils. The other one contains my basic camping pantry, spices, and any food items that don’t require a cooler.
Having a washing station for hands and washing dishes is a must. I know people love the idea of camping showers, but I use mine for creating a wash station. I usually hang mine from a tree, or the canopy, or even the side of the camper or truck. Add soap on a rope or environment-friendly all-purpose soap and washcloths in a mesh bag next to it. For washing dishes, I get the collapsible tubs or buckets.
Food Storage From Animals
This isn’t necessarily a hack, but it’s a good tip for camping. Always keep your food stored away, especially at night. You don’t want to attract animals like bears and raccoons. Not only is it unsafe for you, but it is not safe for them either. These animals become food trained and sometimes have to be euthanized. It also causes campgrounds to be shut down. Keep your food in a durable animal-proof container or cooler or use a bear bag: a hanging system for food.
A simple way to organize your camp kitchen is to use a shoe organizer. Hang it up and keep all of your cooking utensils and camp kitchen gear like clothes, cooking spray, fuel canisters, and other smaller items so you don’t have to dig around in a box.
Looking for other great camping tips? Check out this post for camping essentials you actually need.
Camping Food and Cooking Hacks
There are many ways to reduce cooking time so you can spend more time hanging out with friends in family. I’ve included some tips for cooking food, preparing food, and storing food. Camp cooking should be fun and safe and anyone should be able to make delicious meals with limited resources, space, and mess.
Because cast-iron is durable, it’s a great way to cook food while camping. You don’t need lots of pots and pans if you have a skillet and a dutch oven. It’s easier than you think to cook over a campfire using cast-iron but is also healthier to cook this way. A good tip for keeping your cast-iron from rusting when not in use, is to coat it well with oil beforehand and pack it away with those little silicone bead packages that seem to come in almost every box nowadays.
Use a Liner for Your Dutch Oven
If you are cooking in a Dutch oven, use a liner for easy cleanup. You can use a disposable aluminum pan or use parchment paper for baking.
Prep Food Ahead of Time
Prepping some of your food at home saves a lot of time at the actual campsite. Veggies can be cut at home and stored in ziplock bags with a little bit of water to keep them fresh. Assemble your tinfoil meals at home, freeze them, and then it helps keep your food colder. Cook meats like chicken, sausage, hamburger, and bacon at home so you can just warm them up or you already have that part of the cooking process done. I think it’s easier to add the cooked meat ingredients into a recipe at the campsite.
One of the best ways to save time and from wasting food is to plan out your camping meals and menu before you leave. This way, you know you will have enough food, have an idea of how you are going to plan around cooking, and know what you need to bring when it comes to kitchen utensils and cookware. A great way to this is to know what recipes you are going to make while camping, and you can list out every ingredient you need.
Basic Camping Pantry
You should always have a basic camping pantry of items that don’t need refrigeration or in case everything in your cooler goes bad. Some of the best camping food staples are:
- Salt and pepper
- Pancake mix
- Instant potatoes or dehydrated hash browns
- Powdered milk
- Powdered egg
- Beef jerky
- Dried fruit
- Canned or dehydrated vegetables
- Peanut butter
- Bread in a can
This is genius. S’mores is a pretty serious thing in our family, everyone has a different idea of what the perfect s’more is. The one thing we can agree on though is having a s’mores box. This box contains all the ingredients that you need (cookies, chocolate, marshmallows, roasting forks) so that you don’t have to dig around in the coolers and totes looking for what you need.
Ice Blocks in Your Cooler
A solid piece of ice is takes longer to melt and is less messy than a bag of ice. Take gallon milk cartons, fill them with water, and freeze them the night before you leave. It’s a win when you don’t have to fish your food out of the water in your cooler.
Egg Hacks for Camping
Instead of getting your eggs are broken and your egg carton dissolving to the bottom of your, break them into a bottle or a jar. This is great for scrambling eggs or when you are adding eggs as an ingredient. If you like whole eggs like my husband, then use a plastic egg carton instead.
Condiment Hacks for Camping
You know all of those condiment packs that come with your rake out or you find at the gas station? Save them for camping. Its a great way to use them up, but also save space. If I don’t have a lot of condiment packets (because we don’t eat out), will make mini condiment bottles with silicone travel bottles. Not only does it reduce space, but who wants to mess around with broken bottles and leakage? GoTube is my product of choice and I have no complaints, but any travel-sized silicone bottle should work.
Because it can be hard keeping the cooler cold with everybody opening and shutting it all day, I have a snack box. It has fruit like apples and oranges, granola bars, sausage sticks, cookies, and other yummy goodies. It’s nice when you don’t have anyone digging around for snacks and letting the cooler heat up. I like to have a variety so there is something for everyone and I make sure everyone knows where the snacks are.
Quick Camping Cocktails
Looking for an easy way to make yourself a delicious drink? It’s sometimes nice to have something other than beer or wine. Add vodka or tequila to a bit of water and powdered electrolyte or juice mix.
Use an Onion to Clean Your Grill
The easiest way to clean a grill, grill basket or campfire grate, is with an onion. Cut an onion in half. Stick a fork into the round side and grease the cut side with oil or cooking spray. While the grill is hot, rub it with the greased side of the onion. Not only does it clean the grill, but it also greases it, making it non-stick. No grill cleaning brush required.
Make Your Own Chopsticks
In case you forgot the forks or you just want easy cleanup, eat your food with chopsticks instead. Find two sticks, whittle the ends as needed and remove bark, and throw them in the fire when you are done eating.
Cook On a Rock
If you ever leave your frying pan at home, or are practicing your survival skills, try cooking on a rock. It does require a bit of skill and there are a few safety tips.
Everyone knows that the best part of camping is the fire. It’s the center of activity and everyone gravitates towards the campfire. Please keep in mind before starting any campfire, that you have checked the current regulations in the area and always use an approved fire ring.
If you are planning on building a campfire, make sure you have the right wood and enough wood. Most campgrounds will have wood available. In case there is no firewood, it is usually sold at gas stations near campgrounds. If you are bringing in firewood, check the regulations in that area. Some areas do not allow non-native wood in, in order to prevent invasive and non-native bugs and species. Do not bring pallets or scrap construction lumber because it’s usually full of nails and screws and harmful chemicals like lacquer and paint.
For any camping trip, fire starters should always be brought along. It’s a quick way to get your fire starter, is a safer way to start a fire and makes lighting wet wood easier. You can easily make fire starters by using lint, wax, and egg cartons. You can also purchase them and there are a few we recommend. My favorite fire starter for all weather is the Pull Start Fire because it will work even when it’s snowing. If you need tinder or kindling or don’t have a fire starter, try using Dorritos or corn chips. Chips light easily because of the oil in them.
I like to be responsible when I make campfires. The best way to do this is to make a campfire kit. This would include everything you need to make a fire and put one out. The things that I have in my campfire kit are:
- Collapsible bucket for water
- Leather gloves
- Matches or a lighter
- Mini fire-extinguisher
Make-Your-Own Fire Starting Kit
If you choose to take matches camping, there are three hacks that you can use. Waterproof your matches by dipping them into was, pack them in a pill bottle or an Altoid tin, glue a piece of sandpaper to the lid, and include dryer lint or a cotton ball for tinder.
Fire Starting Hack With Batteries
A really cool camping hack is starting a fire with a 9-volt battery and #2 ultra-fine steel wool or AA batteries and aluminum foil to start a fire. Store batteries and aluminum foil or steel wool separately from each other.
Fire Tricks and Uses
Fire isn’t just for cooking or staying warm. It can be useful in other ways or just fun. By adding certain chemicals or household products like sugar to the fire, you can make cool colors or create sparks. By burning sage, black pepper, or lemongrass, you can deter bugs like gnats or mosquitos
Potty Hacks for Camping
Having no bathroom in the woods is a huge reason why people don’t go camping. I learned as a kid, if you can poop outside, it means more time in the woods. Even when we take the camper though, going outside can still be more practical because you only have so much water to flush in a camper.
Camping Toilet Hack
Make your own camping toilet with a bucket, a toilet seat, and a trash can liner. Add a pop-up changing tent and you have your own portable camping bathroom. If you don’t want to make your camping toilet, you can also get a mini port-a-potty.
Camping Potty Kit
If you’re going to poop in the woods, put together a potty kit. This should include toilet paper, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, plastic bags, and a potty shovel. If you choose to go potty in the woods, be sure to make a cat hole. No one likes to poop on their shoe and it also attracts wild animals. I usually hang my potty kit next to the hand washing station.
Toilet Paper Can
Use a coffee can with a lid to keep your toilet paper dry. You can also use it to put all of your potty kit together. I like to use the plastic ones because metal ones rust. Tie a cord to it and you can hang it up.
Camping Hacks for Tents
I love tent camping! If you are sleeping in a tent, there are a few ways to make it even homier and better. Tent camping isn’t for everyone, so maybe a few of these suggestions will help make your tent camping experience better.
Tent Stake Lights
I think that tent stake lights are one of the coolest things ever. It’s nice when you can see where your tent is at and also prevent tripping over the stakes. If you don’t want to buy stakes, wrap a glow stick onto your tent stakes instead.
One of the things that I always struggle with, is having dirt in the tent. I have found one of the best ways to prevent dirt, is to have a mat outside for kids to wipe off their shoes. This also works for an RV, and for RV camping I like having a big section of that fake grass stuff.
Another way to keep dirt out of the tent, is to have a shoe box by the door. Plus, who wants smelly shoes in the tent? And it’s also nice to not have to fish around for your shoes in the middle of the night when you have to use the bathroom.
To keep things organized inside a tent, try hanging everything up. Use para cord and carabiners to hang your gear up inside like a camping lantern, water bottle or other gear. Tie knots at intervals to keep the carabiner from slipping or tie loops in the cord. You can also use this same method in your camp kitchen to hang up utensils, a garbage or other gear.
Tent Line Covers
Most tents don’t have rope holding them down anymore, but this is also a useful tip for any guy line or paracord you have hanging or even the arms of an awning. Take a pool noodle and cut a slit all of the ways down. Cover the line or arm with the pool noodle. You can also use pool noodles to protect the tree if you are hanging up a hammock.
Camp Bedding and Sleep Hacks
Sleeping in a tent can be miserable if you get cold or you are uncomfortable. There are ways to be comfortable and warm when you are ready to sleep.
Hot Water Bottle
A warm bed is easier to be comfortable in than a hot one. You can fill up up a bottle with water and put it in your sleeping bag. Personally, I prefer to use an actual hot water bottle with a flannel cover, because plastic water bottles get really hot.
Sometimes an extra blanket is needed. Roll an extra blanket, flannel sheet or sleeping bag liner up with your sleeping bags. This way it’s there if you need it and you’re saving room by keeping it inside your sleeping bag.
If you don’t have a hot water bottle, use hand warmers instead. There are rechargeable hand warmers and also the disposable ones.
25 Other Camping and Campsite Hacks
There are a few other tips, hacks, and gear that make any camping trip even better. I have also included tips or gear that can be helpful and useful while camping. Here are some quick and easy camping hacks, tricks and tips:
- Put heated rocks or dry clothing inside wet shoes to dry them out.
- Hammocks can be used for a bed or just to relax in.
- Always bring duct tape because you never know when you will need it. Duct tape can be used to hold things together or repair gear. Wrap duct tape around your watermelon for quick and easy access and storage. For gear repair, GearAid makes a special tape for repairing tents, coats, and sleeping bags.
- A collapsible trash can is a must-have and stores very flat when not in use.
- Don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray. Our family really likes the bug repellent bracelets and bandannas with insect shield.
- Tinfoil is something you should never forget. It can be used to start a fire, cook meals, and even wrap up leftovers.
- Citronella candles, citronella tiki torches, and citronella incense help to keep away bugs.
- A camping stove is a good thing to have as a backup to cook meals if there are fire restrictions.
- First aid kits should always be red for easy and quick identification. Always make sure you have Benadryl and Aspirin.
- Bring a portable charger or solar charger with you to charge your camera, rechargeable lanterns, or phones.
- Plastic bags can be very useful for storing food, dirty socks, and human waste. My personal preference is SmellyProof Bags because they keep the scent in, are very durable, and come in a huge array of sizes and colors.
- A tarp is always a good idea. Use it over your tent for extra shade, tie it to a tree as shelter or put it under your tent as a moisture barrier.
- Soap sheets are perfect for single-use and are much smaller and easier to store than a bottle or bar of soap. You can also use a vegetable peeler and a bar of soap to make your own. Store them in a travel-size bandaid container.
- Baby wipes or combat wipes are a quick way to freshen up when you can’t take a shower.
- Always bring enough water with you, including some type of water filter or water filtration system.
- It never hurts to have bear spray if you are in bear country.
- Strap your headlamp onto a clear water bottle with the lamp facing inwards to create a make-shift camping lantern.
- Always pack extra socks and underwear. Designate one pair of socks for sleeping only.
- For the simplest security system for your campsite, use game camera for surveillance when you leave. Small game cameras make the best surveillance cameras, like Technaxx.
- Know the plants in your area that are harmful, medicinal, and edible. “Three and shiny not for hiny” is an easy way to remember how to recognize poison ivy.
- Coffee tea bags can be made using string and a coffee filter. Or you can buy coffee tea-bags already made like Steeped Coffee.
I am almost reading for camping season and have all of my camping gear ready to go. I hope that this year we break our camping record of 46 nights of camping in one year. It all depends on how busy we get this summer on the weekends. If you have any questions or any tips you would like to share, drop them in the comments below. And as always, be outside with no limits.