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When going on a camping trip, it’s essential to reduce weight and bulk in your bag, especially if you are going to be doing physical activities such as hiking, cycling or pack rafting. These brilliant but simple hacks will make your camping much more enjoyable and also save you money.
1) Always go for a slightly larger tent. If you are travelling solo, go for a 2-person tent (unless you are going ultralight). If there are two of you, go for a 3-person tent, and so on. This means you will be more comfortable and have room for your luggage. I have a Vango Banshee 300 which is a 3 man tent and is more than ample for me and all my kit, plus a friend if I’m travelling with someone. Mine has been all over the UK, in Hawaii, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand so has served me well in multiple climates. It weighs less than 3kg and is incredible affordable for a tent of this calibre.
2) Don’t take a pillow. Use the stuff sack your sleeping bag packs away in to and shove your spare clothes and towel in to it, saving space and weight in your pack. Alternatively, use a dry bag filled with trapped air.
There are a couple of great hacks for showering when camping. If you’re on a short holiday, the first tip is for you. If you’re on an extended trip and need longer lasting products, the second tip is best.
3) Make your own handy shower kit. Buy a lanyard and some miniature hand sanitizer gel bottles with carabiners. Once you have used the hand sanitizer, wash out the bottles and then fill them with shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. Then simply clip them on to your lanyard. When you jump in the shower, hang the lanyard off the shower head and you have instant access to your showering supplies.
4) Buy solid shampoo – it lasts for ages and packs neatly in to a small tin. Lush sell great and to put it in. After a few uses the shampoo can get difficult to get out of the tin. A little hack for this is to put a small length of ribbon underneath the soap and with one edge sticking outside of the tin so you can lift it out. You can also buy bars of soap and store them in a tin too instead of using shower gel.
5) Use a vegetable peeler to cut single use soap strips from a bar of soap. Now you have soap leaves perfect for one hand wash.
Food & Cooking
6) Spice it up a bit! Camp cooking can be a bit dull, and carrying excess cooking kit can weigh you down. However, a small pill box from a pharmacy, filled with herbs and spices is brilliant. Just use a sharpie to write the names of the herbs and spices on the lids. Mine has the days of the week printed on it so I know ginger is Tuesday, turmeric is Wednesday, and there’s a mysterious but delicious spice on Thursday!
7) This is a little bit cheeky, but you know those convenient sachets of salt, pepper and sugar you get in cafes? They are very handy for camping! Ditto for sauce, jam, coffee sachets…the tiny packs of butter are also great for cooking as an alternative to carrying cooking oil.
8) Keep your liquids secure. Buy little travel bottles and fill them with environmentally friendly washing up liquid, cooking oil and any other liquids you may need (I even have one for Tabasco!)
9) Cotton pads dipped in candle wax are great fire starters. At home, burn a few candles (you can even use scented ones if you want a nice smelling campfire) and dip the cotton pads in the wax. When dry, put them in a ziplock bag and take them on your next camping trip. A handful of them on a fire are brilliant for getting it going. Alternatively, Doritos have a similar effect, plus you can eat the ones you don’t need for the fire!
10) Use an old plastic prescription bottle to keep your matches dry. Glue sandpaper on the inside of the lid so you can light your matches. Use ‘strike anywhere’ matches for the best effect.
11) You can also make waterproof matches using one of these methods:
– dipping match heads in hot candle wax and letting them cool. Just before they are fully hardened, pinch the wax down towards the stick to seal them.
– dip matches head down in turpentine for about 5 minutes, then leave them to dry on paper for around 20 minutes.
– Dip the head end and 3mm of the stick in to nail varnish. Hold for a few seconds, then place them hanging over the edge of a table in order to fully dry.
This is a far cheaper option than buying waterproof matches from the store!
12) Use a water tight dry bag to store your dirty clothes in and when you’re ready to do your laundry, simply add water and laundry powder to the bag, give your clothes a little hand scrub and then seal the bag tight (using the roll and fold system) and shake it – hard – for several minutes. This has the same effect as a washing machine. Empty out the water with the laundry soap and refill the bag with fresh water. Repeat the shaking motion to get rid of all the suds, then empty again. Ta-daaaa – clean clothes! Remember to use eco-friendly laundry products for this.
13) Use dental floss as a clothes line for your nicely laundered kit. Dental floss packs down small, is super strong, and you’ll have a nice minty scent to your fresh clean clothes.
14) Make your own instant-access one-use first aid sachets. The small packages manufacturers make are expensive and large containers when camping are impractical. To get around this, get a selection of drinking straws and squeeze in anything you have currently have in your first aid kit which are in large tubes – for instance, antibiotic and antiseptic cream. Squeeze ¼” of one of these in to a straw and use your fingers to move the cream a little way down the straw. Using needle-nose pliers, grip the straw and use a lighter to seal the top end. Next, find where the cream is up to in the straw and cut off the excess, and use your pliers and lighter to seal that end. Finally, cut a little v shaped ‘easy open’ tear in one end. Hey presto! You won’t be carrying around excessive bulky packaging and have perfect one-use pouches for your essentials. Use a colour coding system so you use the correct cream. For detailed instructions and photos click here.
15) Organise your essentials into small tins (eg Altoids tins) or use old prescription bottles to store a mini first aid kit, q tips, safety pins or a sewing kit in. Wrap elastic bands around them to keep them secure.
16) Use microfibre towels for drying EVERYTHING! Dry off your tent in the morning, use it as a tea-towel, use one after a shower. They pack down small and light and dry super-fast so are perfect for camping expeditions.
17) Duct tape is an essential piece of camping kit but is so incredibly bulky. To get around this problem, wrap duct tape around your water bottles. This way, it’s always on hand and easy to access, without the weight and mass of carrying a roll of it.
18) Dry bags are great for organising your luggage, and for keeping it dry (obviously!). Dry bags come in a range of sizes and colours, so you can colour code them and know what each one contains. Use separate dry bags to store your electronics, clean clothes, dirty clothes and laundry, cooking kit, food, tent, shower and first aid supplies and a small one for miscellaneous ‘stuff’. This system is better than the packing cubes sold in camping stores, as not only is your stuff organised, but it’s protected from the wet, dust, sand and other elements.
What do you think of my camping hacks? In the comments, let me know what camping hacks you have!