Like many of us I am constantly searching for hacks to make my life easier and cheaper. Camping is no exception. After a few years of car camping and backpacking I began searching and thinking of some creative hacks to make my adventures lighter, easier and cheaper. A good hack should be one that’s easy to do or make and upcycles things that you probably already have handy. There are thousands of camping hacks out there, but here are a few of the ones that I use the most and have found the most helpful.
1) Homemade fire starter.
This one is one of my favorites. Before using fire starters I would waste so many matches and always burn my fingers before I got the wood to light. Sometimes tinder is scarce and that’s when these fire starters really come in handy because they are made with candle wax that burns slow.
You will need and empty egg carton, some dryer lint and a candle. Keep in mind that your fire may smell a bit like what ever candle or candles you use so if you are using the end bits of a bunch of different candles, like I usually do, it will smell like a mixture of them all.
Cut up the egg carton as shown.
Place extra pieces of cardboard from the top of the carton in the bottom because it helps the candle wax leak less when you pour the wax.
Add small chunks of the dryer lint. Cut up the candle and put the candle in a microwave safe dish. Microwave it for one minute at a time until it is melted. Make sure to protect your hands, the dish is probably super hot.
Pour over the egg carton. Some candle wax will leak out of the sides. Let it harden and bring them on your next adventure! When you want to light the fire, I recommend putting the fire starter down and balancing three pieces of wood in a tee pee shape over it. Light the fire starter and watch as it catches the bigger pieces of wood on fire!
Pro tip- if you would like an extra layer of mosquito protection, get the wax from a citronella candle.
2) Hair brush hack.
Some of us have really long, tangly or curly hair but don’t want to bring a big heavy brush on our backpacking trip. For this hack you need to be a little choosy on which brush you use. The brush must have a soft base that can be easily cut.
Grab a spare brush or get a super cheap brush from the dollar store and a knife and cut out the brush part like in the picture.
3) Chapstick replacement.
This hack is good for deodorant, anti-chafing sticks, sunscreen sticks and anything that is a solid that can be melted down. The purpose for this hack is to cut down on weight by repackaging these things into smaller chapstick containers. Save any used chapstick containers and when you are ready to try the hack, clean out the chapstick container with soap, water and a brush. Next twist the container down so that it is set up for a new product to be put in it. Next use a knife and cut off pieces of the deodorant. Chop it up into small flakes and put those flakes into a microwaveable container.
Slowly melt it 15-30 seconds at a time. When it is completely melted cover your hand so you don’t burn yourself and pour into the container. Wait for it to set before using.
4) Soap cubes.
I have found that when camping I like to bring things that have more than one purpose. Castle soap is great for that reason. It works great as a dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, body soap and an all purpose cleaner. This hack is pretty simple. Just get a bar of castle soap and cut it into small cubes. Cut how ever many cubes you will need for your trip. It just takes a little bit of planning to figure out how many showers you will take, dishes you will do etc. By cutting the soap up into small pieces it will prevent having to carry around a wet piece of soap and unnecessary weight.
5) Straw packets.
This hack is good for storing small bits of lotion, seasonings and pretty much anything else that you want to repackage. I like using this hack for face wash sense my face wash comes in a huge pump bottle that is super messy to bring anywhere.
Use pliers to pinch the end closed. Then use a lighter to melt the plastic around the pliers until it is melted shut.
When it is dry add the amount you need for one serving or one use. Then cut the straw and seal up the edge the same way. Label the packets using a sharpie.
6) Emergency blanket.
This one does not require any prep ahead of time. Sense you most likely keep an emergency blanket in your pack you might as well get some uses out of it instead of just saving it for an emergency. An emergency blanket has tons of hacks that it can be used for, such as cooking, cleaning and braiding it into a rope but most of these require you to get a new emergency blanket for next time. My favorite hack for the emergency blanket is to use it as extra insulation while sleeping. You can either wrap your sleeping pad in the blanket or use it inside of your sleeping bag. Just make sure that the silver part is facing you because that is the side that will keep you the most warm.