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5 DIY camping hacks and projects for a smoother trip

5 DIY projects and camping hacks, like this utility kit, for a smoother camping trip | Iowa DNRGet that fire started faster - because no one likes waiting for s'mores.

Use these tips to make sure your next camping trip goes smoothly (even if something goes wrong).

Fire starters

  • Corrugated paper egg carton
  • Dryer lint or wood chips
  • Old candles

Fill the egg carton with either dryer lint or wood chips, melt the old candles, pour the wax over the lint, then close the carton lid and pour additional wax over the carton.  

To use, break off a section of the egg carton, place in the fire ring surrounded by small kindling and light.  

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No Mess Charcoal 

  • Old 5-gallon bucket with lid
  • Chimney
  • Charcoal
  • Newspaper
  • Matches/striker

Fill the chimney with charcoal, place all the items in the bucket and close with the lid.  Keeps the mess in the bucket and the coals safe from rain or water.


Block Ice

  • 5-Quart ice cream bucket, or 2-liter pop bottle or gallon milk jug

Fill up an old, clean container with clean drinking water and freeze it - you'll have a big ice pack for the cooler and when it thaws, extra drinking water.

Fill about three-fourths full and place in a freezer. It takes longer to make blocks than cubes, so start earlier and plan accordingly.  Allow air to escape the bottles - do not tighten caps.
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Emergency Tool Kit
Have everything you need on hand for those unpredictable little moments.

In a small tote/tool box, place: 

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Hammer
  • Standard/Philips screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • Utility knife
  • Electrical tape
  • Duct tape
  • Zip ties
  • Straps/tie downs

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Scavenger Hunts

  • Small tote
  • Small paper sacks

Make a list of a few items for a campground scavenger hunt. Have a child draw a paper bag from the tote. Each bag contains a different list of things to find. Keep it fairly simple. For little kids, cut out pictures from magazines or drawings from coloring books to show them what to find.

Or, print off a checklist (place it in a plastic binder sleeve and use a wet-erase marker to make it resusable). 

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Find more great ideas on our Iowa Camping board on Pinterest.

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