If you are reading this, then like me, you love camping. Camping is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable, simplistic activities that you can do. There’s something about all the surrounding wildlife, star-gazing, and bonfires that touch our hearts, get us feeling warm and cozy, and provide us with that sense of closeness that we lose in our every day, busy lives.
However, despite how relaxing camping can be, it sure isn’t relaxing when you forget the firewood or have no idea what food you and your family are going to eat for the next five days in the wilderness!
Luckily, there are quite a few hacks out there to make camping a little easier. If you love the outdoors but hate hard floors, the dark, bugs, or aren’t the greatest bonfire-chef of all time, here are some hacks to make your camping fun just a little bit more fun… Or a lot.
Ok, so you want to know how to make camping easier? Here’s what we will cover to do just that.
Some simple camping food hacks.
When you love the outdoors but can’t live without your stove.
Camping Eggs in a Bottle
If you’re thinking ew, I was right there with you. However, if you want to spend your camping morning eating scrambled eggs, this is the best and most practical way to do it!
Just crack a few eggs and whisk them in a container and bring them along (don’t forget your cooking pan). When you’re feeling some morning eggs, pour the pre-packed mixture into your cooking pan and place it over a fire! BOOM scrambled eggs a la woods.
This hack makes it easier to store your eggs in an ice chest without worrying about breaking them. This also helps keep your hands from coming into contact with the eggs at the campsite. This will help prevent any unpleasant stomach problems.
To-go Camping Pancakes
I love morning pancakes, and if you’re bringing kids along, I’m sure they’ll appreciate this one! All you have to do is prepare some pancake mix and store it in a Ziploc bag.
This can also work with a cleaned plastic coke bottle or some other kind of plastic container. With a Ziplock bag or bottle, there are no dishes to clean.
Just be sure to dispose of the trash properly, or you might get some insect problems.
Storing it in a cooler with some ice packs makes it even better. When you’re ready for some pancakes, cut a small hole in the bottom of the bag and squeeze it out for each pancake onto a heated pan.
If you’re anything like me, you might keel over without your morning coffee. Stock some instant coffee and coffee filters in your to-go bag!
When you feel like you just can’t go any further without some caffeine in your system, tie a string (or use a rubber band or clean hairband) so that it makes a kind of coffee-tea bag. Then, just place it in a mug, heat some water, pour it in, and you’re all ready to rumble! Or hike.
Bark and Breakfast
This is another one where you’re going to need a pan, so don’t forget it at home or you’ll be sorely missing out on this one!
All you have to do is heat the pan, toss in some vegetables and your choice of meat (I like ground beef, but you can use sausage, chicken, or whatever else comes to mind) and saute ‘til mostly cooked, when they’re almost there, scramble in your eggs.
You can actually prepare the meat and veggies in a Ziplock bag before you leave on your camping trip. This makes it easy to merely empty them into a pan.
This is one of my favorite things to cook when out camping.
Here’s a favorite recipe of mine:
Spinach, red and yellow bell peppers, eggs, ground beef, onions, mushrooms, and sharp cheddar cheese.
Whoever thought of this is a genius! All you need are some oranges, pre-made muffin batter, and tin foil! Simply cut your oranges in half, pour in some muffin batter, and place on the tin foil over your fire pit.
Again, you can store the mix in a ziplock bag or plastic bottle and simply use a sharpy to mark what’s inside.
If you’re not feeling muffins, try brownies instead!
Tic. Tac. Spices!
This is ingenious. Use empty Tic Tac containers to store spices! No more shall the blandness of the food affect your camping experience.
Not only are these containers small and easy to store but easy to access with a pop-up top.
Canned Banana Bread Anyone?
I’m going to give you my all-time favorite recipe for this… Canned banana bread!
2 cups flour
1 tsp. Baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup butter
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ⅓ cup mashed bananas
Heat your oven 350 degrees. Lightly grease four tin cans (soup or vegetable cans work best) with cooking spray. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and stir.
In a separate bowl, combine butter and brown sugar and blend until creamy, then stir in eggs, vanilla, and mashed bananas. Combine flour and banana mix until blended thoroughly.
Pour batter evenly into tin cans and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow it to cool.
You can either keep the bread in the cans until you’re ready to use it, or you can gently “pour” it out of the can and serve.
Sticky-Stuck Cinnamon Rolls
Bring some pre-packaged cinnamon rolls (I like Pillsbury the best), poke a stick through ‘em, and roast ‘em over the fire like marshmallows! I also like to put the icing in a container and dip my cinnamon sticks in it.
If you want to get creative, try unwrapping the cinnamon roll and wrapping it around the stick, or use crescent rolls if you’re not feeling so sweet.
Take a tortilla and add in your stuffings. Think things like cheese, vegetables, pre-cooked meats, or even fruit (if you’re into that). Then, put it in tin foil and hold it over the fire. It’s simple and delicious!
For some added creativity, or for those who aren’t that hungry, simply spread some PB&J on them and use them as lightly toasted sandwiches. Or cold.
Banana Boats A La Mode
For those with a sweet tooth, this one is for you. Simply place a peeled banana in some tin foil, split it in half, and stuff it with graham crackers, mini marshmallows, and chocolate chips, then hold it over the fire for a few seconds. Now, you’ve got a s’more and a banana (so these are technically healthier anyway, right?).
Camping Tacos in a Bag
All you need is a bag of Doritos, pre-cooked and taco-seasoned ground beef, salsa, some chopped or shredded lettuce, diced onions and tomatoes, and shredded cheese (I like Mexican Blend, but you can use whichever is your favorite for tacos). I don’t know if I have to tell you to mix or enjoy them, but simply mix and enjoy!
Pre-cooked is the way to go.
This is more of a tip than a hack. Pre-cook and season your meats like ground beef, sausage, etc. This will save you time and hassle at the campsite and is much easier to store in containers in your ice chest.
Once you need the meat, mix it with the other ingredients to complete your meal.
Camping Light Hacks
Lighting can be a problem for those camper’s who have a hard time seeing, or being, in the dark.
Milk Jug Lanterns
Make some milk jug lanterns to bring along. Simply tape a head-lamp to a milk jug or a gallon jug of water.
If jugs aren’t your style, try painting some mason jars with glow-in-the-dark paint. You can even make a day activity out of this!
Then, at night, sit back and watch your very own light show with all the different ‘jarred galaxies.’
Make pocket-sized oil lamps from mini shampoo bottles. You can buy these at dollar stores and find them in hotels. You will need:
An empty mini shampoo bottle
Heavy, solid copper wire
A piece of a cotton towel
Canola oil (or any type of oil you have on hand)
Form one end of the copper wire into a circle shape that is relatively the same size as the bottom of the container. Form the other end of the copper wire so that it’s just large enough to fit into the large end of the socket.
Trim the length of a towel to size, fill the container with the oil, and insert one end of the towel through the bottom of the socket until it forms a type of wick.
Lastly, secure the socket over the bottle, gently adding the remainder of the towel to the bottle.
When you want to light it, simply light the end of the towel that sticks out of the socket!
Use cotton pads or cotton balls dipped in wax as an insanely easy fire starter! All you have to do is light them on fire.
Go solar and save batteries
If DIY isn’t your thing, never fear. There is always that worry about not having enough batteries for lanterns, but what if you didn’t need batteries? Presto! Buy a solar-powered lantern!
Altoid can hacks
Emergencies happen, both of the small and big variety. That’s why there is no such thing as being too cautious. Therefore, whether it’s a shampoo-because-I-got-bugs-in-my-hair or an I-cut-my-foot-on-a-rock emergency, you should always have a travel-sized emergency kit.
Altoid to the Rescue
Altoid cans can hold a surprising amount of stuff. These are great for small, on-the-go emergencies. Shove a few bandaids, some ibuprofen, wet cleansing wipes, and Neosporin in there, and you’re all set and ready for potential booboos.
Bugs and lighting. Two of the bigger problems with camping. Well, this hack works for both! All you’ll need is an Altoids can, wicks and wick clips (you can find these at any craft store), glue, wax, scissors, and essential oil (you can use a relaxing scent, citronella essential oil, or a combination)!
For information on other essential oils that are a dual bug-deterrent, see here.
[I thought we could ref. Back to an earlier article, I wrote on bug deterrents while glamping if you’re interested]
Secure the wick to the bottom of the tin with a wick clip and glue. If the wick isn’t waxed, wrap the end around a pencil and lay across the top of the tin.
Once that’s done, place a bowl over a pan full of simmering water and place your wax in the bowl until fully melted.
Let the wax cool for a minute and then pour in some essential oil of your choice (the best ratio is around 75 drops per pound of wax). Stir it thoroughly to mix and then pout it into your tin and let it cool overnight.
Once it’s cooled, trim the wick, add some matches or a lighter into your tin (a creative way to do this is ripping the striking surface off the box and gluing it to the lid of the tin) and you’re ready to go!
Survival kits are essential to the avid outdoorsman.
Try stuffing an Altoids tin with a compass, mini flashlight, whistle, ibuprofen, rubber bands, pocket knife or swiss army knife, firestarter, dryer lint (for starting a fire), water purification tablets, and a signaling mirror.
Never be caught off-guard and under-prepared again.
What’s great about this hack is that it’s so versatile. You can even make a prep kit for everyday life!
Stuff an Altoids tin with a few dollars ($5 – $10 usually works), some quarters, ibuprofen (because who can live without it?), a mini dry-shampoo, chapstick, a USB, hair bands, rubber bands, and some safety pins or paper clips.
Bathroom & Hygiene Hacks
No one truly likes using the great outdoors as their litter box (or maybe that’s just me). If you’re tired of giving up your bathroom privileges for outdoor fun, here are some hacks, especially for you!
Attach a toilet seat to the top of a 5-gallon bucket. Line the bucket with a garbage bag and pour some kitty litter in the bottom. Voila! A portable toilet all your own.
Use an empty coffee can (Folger’s works best) and cut a rectangle in the side (it doesn’t have to be big). Then, simply put a roll of toilet paper in the can and pull a sheet through the hole. No need to worry about dirty TP!
Works like a heavy-duty tissue dispenser.
Run a vegetable peeler across a few bars of soap and make soap petals for single-use hand washing.
You can easily store these in a coffee can or ziplock bag.
Use empty laundry detergent bottles for a makeshift faucet. You know the large ones with built-in spouts.
Just rinse them thoroughly and fill them with water. When you feel the need to wash your hands, simply push the nozzle down, wet your hands, wash them, and put it down again to rinse them off.
You can also use this to wash your hair!
Hold ‘Em Up
Use an old belt, find a good-sized tree, and hang up your pots and pans with a belt! This will keep your pots and pans from getting dirty or lost.
You can either find a tree that your belt will fit snuggly around, or you can use an old belt that you don’t use so that you can nail it to the tree. Whichever works better for you.
The great outdoors doesn’t really give you much of an option when it comes to hygiene and brushing your teeth. So, use this hack to your advantage!
Cut up a straw and fill the pieces up with toothpaste and/or antibiotic ointment. Your teeth and your family will thank you for sparing them the six-day morning breath spiel.
Camping Done Easy Hacks
For the more fundamental hacks of camping, such as easy planning and easy doing, this is the list for you!
Roll your clothes instead of folding them. This promotes optimal packing space and decreases wrinkles!
You can also use shower caps on your shoes to minimize dirt on your clothes, or a soap case to protect your camera to preserve all the wonderful pictures of you and your adventures!
Eliminate Funky Smells
Pack dryer sheets from bringing the many funky smells of the outdoors home. Open your bag and smell Downy or Snuggles instead of dirt and musty air.
Warm your Sleeping Bag
Warm-up your sleeping bag with a water bottle filled with hot water! If your feet get cold, especially at night, heat some water up, throw it in your water bottle, and shove it to the bottom of your sleeping bag to keep your feet nice and toasty.
Socks and more Socks
You can never have too many socks, according to camping experts. So make sure to keep one pair of socks safe from all harm, dampness, and dirt.
Wear them as “sacred socks” in your tent only, especially when you’re craving toasty feet.
Keep your Cookware Safe
Use silica gel packets in your cookware to keep it safe from pests, bugs, and rust.
Keep your Shoes Dry
Dry your shoes out with crumpled up, dirty clothes. This is great for when you get back from a rainy hike!
Make your own selfie stick with… a stick! Simply attach a GoPro to the stick and snap away!
Alternately, you can use sticks as a makeshift tripod for family photos! Place three sticks, relatively the same size, together to form a type of Tipi and place your camera in the center.
Never worry about not having a clue what to eat while camping again. No more late-night, hour-long trips to the nearest McDonald’s!
Create a complete camping menu to bring along! This will help make sure you have everything you need before you ever even leave your house.
Plan for the Weather
Make sure to pack a few different sets of outfits, just in case. Obviously, don’t pack shorts for the winter!
But, you should make sure to account for weather changes, especially rain, snow, high wind, and protection from the elements, wildlife, and surroundings (especially while hiking). This will significantly decrease the risk of colds and poison ivy or sumac upon your return home.
Camping is a fun and enjoyable experience for most everyone. But, if you’re going to go camping, why not make sure you’re enjoying the total experience?