We love camping. Being outdoors, sleeping under the stars, no access to phones or technology…that’s living! Even ramen tastes good in the woods! But when you spend as much time camping out as we do, you learn a few tips and tricks to make the experience more comfortable (or at least more interesting). So, without further ado, here are 10 backcountry camping hacks for your next outdoor adventure!
Don’t buy those expensive firestarters at REI; bring or make your own with stuff you have around the house )and that could also pass as an evening snack). Doritos or Fritos, cotton balls dipped in wax, and wine corks soaked in rubbing alcohol all make excellent fire starters. (Read more about building a campfire here.)
Zip two sleeping bags together
Putting two sleeping bags in a tent? Want to get cozy? Most sleeping bags zip together even if they don’t advertise that they do. Only downside? One bag might be upside down. Which I actually find cozier, so I guess it’s not a downside for everybody.
Connect two sleep pads
If you are zipping bags together, tape or velcro your sleep pads together, too, so they don’t slide apart in the middle of the night. A couple’s camping hack if I ever saw one.
Attach your pillow
Also, keep your pillow from sliding around by stuffing it inside an extra shirt and then sliding the top of your sleep pad into the shirt, too. It will keep them connected throughout the night. You can also just stuff that shirt with spare clothes if you don’t want to carry a pillow.
Keep warm at night
If you have the extra fuel, heat some water and put it in a water bottle like a Nalgene that won’t leak or spill. Then put the warm water bottle in the bottom of your sleeping bag. If you can’t spare fuel, warm rocks next to your campfire instead.
Make a lantern
Don’t bring a heavy lantern. If you want some light for the camp at night, just drop a headlamp into an empty (clear-ish) water bottle or milk jug. Ta-da! Lantern. Yay for cheap backcountry camping hacks!
Stock up on spices
Nab single-serve packets of spices from your local fast food chain. Salt, pepper are usually the only ones in compostable packaging, but ketchup, mustard, mayo, even relish are nice shelf-stable seasoning options.
Pack small quantities
For other spices, soap, sauces, oil or the like, utilize tiny containers you probably have around the house. Think film canisters, contact lens cases, tic-tac containers, prescription bottles, etc.
Repel insects naturally
Skip the deet. Instead, toss dried bundles of sage on your campfire to keep mosquitos away and spray 1 part tea tree oil to 2 parts water on your socks, shoes, or pant legs to repel ticks.
Bring the duct tape
Don’t bring a whole roll (obvs). Just wrap a few feet around an old water bottle, lighter, knife handle, etc. so you always have an emergency supply. (It’s great for patching tent holes, re-adhering shoe soles, even as an emergency bandage.)
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Alisha is a freelance outdoor journalist and photographer based in Ogden, UT. She loves backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and snowboarding (even though she’s terrible at it). She’s also pretty sure she’s addicted to coffee. alishamcdarris.com