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You’re no longer borrowing your friend’s camping gear, you have the camping checklist on lockdown and you even camp in remote areas without amenities on occasion. You know all about how to Leave No Trace, how to use a compass and what to pack for unpredictable weather. However confident you might be with your camping skills, there are always some tips, tricks and secrets that other campers have discovered along their journeys. Sharing is caring, so we gathered a whole bunch of tips of tricks from veteran campers from the office. Consider our ideas to enhance your camping experience!
- If you’re last pair of socks is sopping wet from the day, sleep with them around your midsection. It will feel chilly and weird at first, but your body heat trapped by your sleeping bag will dry them by morning.
- To dry out your boots, put them inside the foot of your sleeping bag. They can be loosely placed in a plastic bag to deter dirt from getting inside your sleeping bag. Your boots will be dry (and warm) by morning!
- Before cooking over an open flame, rub soap on the bottom of your pan. This will make for easy cleaning of the black scorching from the flame.
- If you have the same brand sleeping bag and it’s cold as heck outside, zip your bags together for one giant bag. You’ll be toasty in no time.
- To warm up your sleeping bag, fill a water bottle with boiling water, wrap it in a towel and place it in your bag before crawling in for the night.
- Channel your inner hippie by using pinecones and dirt to scrub your pots and pans clean.
- Remember that a fire isn’t totally out unless you can safely sift your hands through the ashes. Don’t mess around with the potential of starting a wildfire.
- When starting a fire without a fire ring, build it away from tree and underbrush root systems. Most people don’t realize that these can catch fire and the last thing you want is having to put out a root fire in the middle of the night!
- When packing your own food, discard any unnecessary packaging like cardboard. Instead, put your food in clear plastic bags that can be tied at the top. Better yet, shop in the bulk section of your local food coop for camping food where you’ll find minimal packaging (and lower prices per pound!).
- When camping at elevations above 7,000 it’s even more important to stay properly hydrated at all times (even when it’s cold out!). Three to five quarts a day will prevent dehydration and high altitude sickness. The last thing you want on a camping trip are headaches, nausea, muscle cramps, hypothermia or frostbite.
- Choose calorie dense foods (cheese, bars, peanut butter) so that your food doesn’t weight more than two pounds per person per day. If you’re hiking while camping, you’ll need an average of 3,500 calories per day.
- For a hot lunch, boil water in the morning and store it in a thermos. Then, pour the water over your dried meal of choice (like soup or macaroni).
- Go gourmet with your smores. Soak the marshmallows in cognac for 5-10 seconds then double bag them for travel. After roasting, serve with dark chocolate and shortbread cookies.
- Hard and semi-hard cheeses like parm, swiss, and gouda will keep for about a week in moderate temperatures. Waxed bricks or wheels keep longer than slices. Pack your cheese in the middle of your pack so as not to expose them to excess heat.
- Bring spices! A little onion powder, garlic, Italian seasoning, cinnamon and cayenne can turn boring camping food into a flavor explosion. Pack your spices in small camping vials.
If you have any camping tricks you’d like to share with us, please fill out the form below! Thank you.
A few quick and easy tips will keep your camping gear orderly at the campsite and at home. Cooking outside, playing outside 24/7 and ‘being on vacation’ can lead to a disaster zone that will take the fun out of your camping experience. Read on for our top tips on how to organize your camping gear…
- Utilize Zip Lock Bags – That’s right. Every size will come in handy. Zip lock bags are waterproof, durable, reusable and incredibly handy. Get your sharpie out and label away! Put each family member’s toiletries in a separate baggie. Put dried beans, rice, cereal and other snacks in baggies. It will take up far less room than conventional packaging. Zip lock baggies also make a nice and safe hope for cameras, cell phones and chargers.
- Organize Clothing – Remember that when you’re camping, you won’t be neatly putting t-shirts, shorts and socks in drawers at a hotel. Everything must stay in your bag 24/7, so be sure your duffel or pack is organized. Clothing that you’re least likely to wear, like an extra fleece or rain jacket, should be packed at the bottom. Keep tees, socks, undies and a light fleece near the top. Do your best to fold clothes before putting them back in the duffel! This will ensure a frustration free camping closet.
- Pick Up After Yourself – Part of keeping your gear organized at the campsite is cleaning up after yourself. If you whip up a mid day PB&J, put everything back where you found it and throw out all trash. Don’t let food scraps on the ground tempt bears! Once the sun hits high noon, put your fleece back in your duffel rather than tossing it on the camping chair.
- Storage Tubs for Car Camping – Car camping sounds easier enough, but that Subarau Outback will be packed to the gills in no time without some efficient Tetris skills. Large storage bins make for easy packing and quick access to your frisbee, headlamp or tarp. Put all of your food, cooking equipment, utensils, table cloth and anything else related to the outdoor kitchen in one bin. In a second bin, toss your tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow, tarp and anything sleep related. Save a smaller bin for campsite toys – frisbee, baseball mitts, slack line, collapsable hula hoop and anything else that you plan to bring. Duffel bags or packs with clothing can neatly fill in the gaps between the bins making for a super neat car for camping!
- Storage Tubs for Home Storage – You might need a few more storage tubs for your basement. Keep climbing and mountaineering gear in one tub – ropes, harnesses, carabiners and chocks. After thoroughly cleaning all of your kitchen cooking supplies at home, store it all in a separate bin. Packing up for your next camping trip will be a breeze!
- Properly Store Your Sleeping Bag – Sleeping bags all come with a stuff sack and a larger sack. The larger sack is intended for at home storage, so the down or synthetic down doesn’t become permanently compressed. It also gives the sleeping bag a chance to breath.
- Clean Up! – When it’s time to check back into reality at home, completely empty out your pack removing all garbage and all other contents. Wipe it down with mild soap on the inside if necessary. Same goes for the tent – open it up at home, shake out the dirt and wipe down with mild soap. Be sure to let it dry completely before storing.
Who says it’s time to sleep indoors when the snow falls? Certainly not the extreme outdoor enthusiasts. There are many special aspects of winter camping – the lack summer crowds, the quiet forest, no bugs, snuggling in when the sun sets early and appreciating everything Mother Nature has to offer. One of the most fun parts of winter camping is, of course, the food!
Like summer camping, the food can make or break the trip. Well thought out meals for a winter camping trip will quite literally warm your soul and keep you toasty, happy and satisfied. Since your body will be working hard to keep warm, it is recommended that each camper consume double the amount of calories normally consumed.
Despite what one might think, preparing a knock your socks off meal in the middle of the woods in the dead of winter is easier than one might think. One pot meals are ideal, so think curries, stews and soups. Prep as much as possible at home and place them in large zip lock baggies for each meal. Remember that fresh veggies will freeze and could get ruined on the trip, so opt for already frozen veggies.
A warm drink is a must for every meal, so bring plenty of hot chocolate, tea and instant coffee. Instant soups will also be welcomed on a winter camping trip, while a loaf of bread will fill a cold tummy. Macaroni and cheese, the ultimate comfort food, will turn any frown upside down on a winter camping trip. For breakfast, go big with oatmeal – add dried nuts, fruit, flaked coconut and brown sugar. And of course, don’t forget trail mix, granola bars, PB&J, dried spices and some tequilla to add to hot cocoa!
Compile a few of your favorite one pot meal recipes. Keep it simple, but tasty. Use dried ingredients like mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and split peas where possible. Here’s a handy winter camping food checklist that every winter camper should consider:
Hot chocolate mix
Electrolyte powder mix
Peanut butter and jelly
Bread (for soup)
Macaroni and cheese
Individually wrapped cheese
Pre-cooked chicken breast
Dried chili peppers