10 Camping Hacks to Try on Your Next Trip

2 hikers make camp in an open area with trees and mountains in the background

A hack can be really anything that makes life easier, simpler, or a task take less time. Outdoor hacks are no different. Take them with you outside, or leave them in the gear closet, these might just make being outside that little bit more awesome.

1. Garbage Bag Pack Liners for Backpacking

Typically, your overnight pack isn’t waterproof. Tangentially: in the Northeast, if you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes. There’s nothing worse than getting your dry clothes and sleeping bag wet. Lining your pack with a black garbage bag is a cheap and effective way to keep it all dry—simply twist or fold the top and hit the trail!

Although more expensive, dry bags come in many different sizes and materials. Larger-sized Sil-nylon or Dyneema dry bags are ultralight, easy to line your pack with, and don’t take up too much extra space. If you are an organizational guru, you and the Virgos can rejoice when using multiple dry bags for organization on a whole other level. Each set of your items compartmentalized—in gloriously dry fashion.

A pack with a kitchen trash bag sticking out of the top

2. Plastic Bags For Your Feet

Need a quick and easy way to ensure your feet stay bone dry?

For those super wet days, this one can be a life-saver. Sure, waterproof hikers are awesome. But there will be those times where they aren’t enough. Plastic shopping bags in the mix will literally keep your feet dry in the wettest of conditions. Remember: it goes SOCK, then BAG, then HIKER. Nobody wants a weird plastic moist foot.

3. Corn Chip Firestarter

Just for fun, or a key to survival?

Yeah, you heard that right. Bill Nye the Outdoor Guy (like the science guy, but uh, outdoors). Corn chips like Fritos and Doritos are covered in oil. Hold a flame to them and you’ll have a decently long-lasting fire starter. It will burn for longer than a match to give you more time to get that tinder bundle lit. Worse comes to worse, it might save you in a pinch. If not, at least you’ll have a silly campfire party trick.

4. Hot Water Nalgene in your Sleeping Bag

We’ve all been there: you’re exhausted from a day on the trail and can’t wait to get some well-deserved shuteye. But it’s a cold night, and you’re tossing and turning, trying to keep warm.

Enter the Nalgene.

Nalgene water bottles can withstand extremely high heat. You can put boiling water into them and toss that into the bottom of your sleeping bag or hug it when sleeping. These are a game-changer for warmth on those chilly nights.

5. Stuff Sack Pillow

That sore neck due to a weird sleeping position might be a thing of the past.

Sleeping comfortably in the outdoors does take little time to figure out. Each person has their comfort level dialed in a different way. Camping pillows are great, but in a pinch, or if you want to bring only the bare essentials to lighten your load, try putting excess layers in a stuff sack for a quick and comfy pillow.

A stuff sack filled with clothes on top of a sleeping pad

6. Sleep Socks

They’re like pajamas, for your feet.

This is an underrated hack—always having one pair of sacred socks. When you sweat all day, beating those feet on the trail or in the boat, sliding on a pair of dry and clean socks is amazing. These are for sleeping only, not even an around-the-camp sock. Sleeping socks for the win.

7. Sage as a Bug Repellent

Those pesky bugs and mosquitos hate strong-smelling herbs, so burn some in your campfire! Sage works wonders, as does lavender. Give it a try!

A bundle of sage on top of a campfire

Also great for fending off demons lurking near your campsite

8. Toilet Paper Tubes + Lint = Fire

Sometimes those kindle bundles need a little help to get that fire going. Sometimes the corn chips are for eating.

Lint from the dryer in your house is highly flammable, as is cardboard. Combine the two by stuffing a TP tube full of lint and throw it in your pack for an easily-lit, fire-starting cigar!

A toilet paper tube stuffed with lint on top of a campfire

Also great for attracting demons to your campsite

9. Nalgene Lantern for Your Campsite

Got a clear or colored plastic water bottle? Got a headlamp? Wrap that headlamp around the bottle and face the light inwards. Boom, DIY camp lantern. This can be great if you forget the lantern at home. It’s great mood lighting for the tent or the picnic table, too (just remember to bring extra batteries if you’re giving this a go).

10. Wrapped-up duct tape for on-the-go repairs

Duct tape can fix pretty much anything. Wrap a bunch of it around the bottom section of a Nalgene or your trekking pole so you don’t bring the whole roll. The amount of uses for it is mind-blowing: fix a leaky pad, patch a tear in your jacket, or slap it on top of blisters for protection. You’ll be glad you have some, just in case.

A small amount of duct tape rolled around a trekking pole

Whether they save your next trip or just make it more comfortable, we hope these hacks find their way into your outdoor life. Save some fritos for us!

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Published:May 3, 2022

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