Camping might be the best way to get up close and personal with nature, but a lot of people aren’t too keen on roughing it. From the bugs, hard sleeping surfaces, complicated tent poles, fire-starting challenges and more, some people just aren’t cut out to spend nights under the stars. But don’t give up on the woodsy fantasy just yet. Here are a few camping hacks that take the rough out of roughing it, and can make your stay in the great outdoors much more comfortable.
1. Make Lamps out of Jugs
Carrying a big lantern can be cumbersome, but you need a little mood lighting to brighten your tent before nodding off to sleep. Try filling up a jug of water (which you need anyway) and strapping a headlamp around it with the light facing the jug. You’ll have an instant homespun lantern for your tent. It won’t be a very strong beam, but it will give the tent a pleasant ambient glow.
2. Bring Microfiber Towels
Towels take up a lot of space, and they’re difficult to dry quickly. However, compact microfiber towels are an excellent alternative. They are designed specifically for campers and travelers who are frequently on the move. They might not be as large and comfy to use as a full-sized fluffy bath towel, but they’re certainly practical. They take up a fraction of the space of normal towels and can absorb twice their weight in water. Wring them out and use them again and again.
3. Build a DIY Shower
One of the most unpleasant things about backwoods camping is being unable to take a shower. However, you can make a simple, solar-heated makeshift shower with a large jug, watering can, chain-link, shackle and a braided poly rope. If you’re not adept at doing a bit of MacGyver-like DIY, however, you can usually pick up a solar-heated portable shower cheaply enough at a camping supply store.
4. Use Foam Floor Tiles
If you’re traveling by car and you have a bit of free space available, foam floor tiles, such as the ones made for children, can make the ground of your tent much more cushy. Alternatively, try unrolling a compact inflatable mattress to sleep on instead. This touch of comfort can help you lounge about and get a good night’s sleep, which always make a camping trip much more tolerable. Your back will thank you.
5. Use Sage to Shoo Away Mosquitoes
Being immersed in nature can be soul-uplifting, until you get plagued by swarms of mosquitoes. That sucks. Fortunately, you don’t necessarily need to cover yourself with toxic DEET-based insect repellent all the time. You can make a natural mosquito repellent using sage. You can either apply a homemade sage-based oil or simply burn it near your campfire to keep those pesky biters away. Lavender, eucalyptus and citronella oils are other natural repellents to try.
6. Bring a Makeshift Washing Machine
For those longer camping trips, having no fresh change of clothes amounts to some serious roughing it. However, there’s a very low-tech solution where all you need is a bucket with a lidded cover and a plunger. With the clothes and detergent inside the bucket, you can pump the plunger over the opening. The motion will keep the clothes spinning around in the water, just like in a washing machine.
7. Make a DIY Fire Starter
Being able to make a fire is an essential part of any serious camping trip, but having to cart along everything with you or go out into the forest hunting for kindling to burn is often not very convenient. Instead, try making a quick and convenient fire starter by placing charcoal into an empty egg carton. When you’re ready to start cooking, simply light it up for an easy-start fire.
8. Make Some Tick Repellent
When camping in the backwoods, ticks can be a problem. Given the diseases they can spread, you’ll want to take every step to avoid them. Some of the more effective natural remedies to keep ticks away include odorless garlic pills, which you can buy at your local pharmacy or health foods store. Neem oil, rose geranium oil and tea tree oil can also keep these pests on the run.
9. Keep Eggs in a Water Bottle
Carrying eggs around on a camping trip is an obvious recipe for disaster (unless you have an egg holder), but you don’t have to wait until you’re back home to cook an omelet outdoors. Instead, crack a dozen eggs and whisk them up, just as you would if you were preparing an omelet or scrambled eggs. Get an empty water bottle and fill it with the pre-whisked eggs, pack a skillet, and you have everything you need for the perfect campsite breakfast. Keep your liquid eggs on ice, use them within a day or freeze them to buy a little more time.
10. Buy a Two-Person Sleeping Bag
Sleeping bags are bulky things, and they’re often notoriously difficult to pack into a compact size. Unfortunately, they’re also a necessity for almost any camping trip. A cold night’s sleep is the very definition of roughing it. However, if you’re camping with a partner, consider getting a double sleeping bag instead. They take up a lot less space than carting around two normal-sized sleeping bags. Sharing the body heat makes things downright toasty in there.
What other camping hacks would you suggest?