Camping can be a great way to get away from it all every now and then. It can also be kind of a pain if you haven’t perfected the art of packing for your trip. Too many folks either overdo it and end up spending way too much time toting stuff and wading through it all to find what they’re looking for (and then have to lug everything back home and put it away again) or go to the other extreme and end up leaving too much stuff at home, taking “roughing it” to another level. Here are a few tips many seasoned campers have learned that we think can make your next camping trip the best one yet.
Make a lantern
For an easy-to-make lantern, strap a headlamp onto a full gallon of water or a clear 2-liter soda bottle filled with water. You’ll be surprised at how much light gets diffused into your tent. They’re also safer than flame-lit lights and stay put better than flashlights.
Keep the toilet paper dry
Wet toilet paper is really kind of useless. Use an empty coffee can or other similar-sized container to keep it dry and un-crushed. Just cut a slit in the lid or side of the container to make a handy dispenser.
Basil, peppermint, and rosemary can act as natural mosquito repellants. Keep some spread around your campsite, or throw some on the fire every now and then. Sage is a great choice for repelling ticks, and keeping ticks away is a very good thing.
Keep it cool
When it comes to packing your ice chest, your best bet is always going to be to chill everything first. Putting warm items in the ice chest will cause the ice to melt faster. If everything going in is already cool, the ice can work to keep stuff cool as opposed to making it cool. For food-safety reasons, consider putting uncooked items in their own cooler or making sure they’re in perfectly sealed containers, especially in the case of poultry or seafood.
If your trip involves chilly mornings, warm up tomorrow’s clothes by keeping them in your sleeping bag tonight. If you’re worried about rain, make sure dry clothes stay dry by keeping them in plastic bags inside your backpack. Make sure you bring extra socks so that you can keep your feet as warm and dry as possible.
Make zippers friendlier
This is another one for cold weather or those who have trouble with tiny zipper pulls. Attach a bent paper clip, key ring, or some twine to zippers to make them easier to grip, especially if it’s cold or you’re wearing gloves.
Bring aluminum foil
Aluminum foil can be used as a cooking vessel for pretty much anything you might want to cook over an open fire or grill. It’s cheap, it doesn’t take up much space, it doesn’t weigh much, and you don’t have to worry about cleaning it.
Protect your firestarters
Make sure your matches or lighters are stored in watertight bags or containers. You might also want to have your firemakers split into two containers, just in case one gets lost. For a quick and easy starter, wrap a Vaseline-coated cotton ball in aluminum foil. When you’re ready to start a fire, pull enough of the cotton through the foil (cut a slit in the packet) to twist a small wick. Once you light the wick, you’ll have about 10 minutes to get the fire going strong.
Bring the power
If you want more of the creature comforts of home, a portable generator can help. Just make sure you bring enough fuel to last through the trip and place your generator in a spot that lets it ventilate properly.