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Camping is a great way to reconnect with the outdoors, but the enjoyment you get is partially dependent on your planning. Use the following tips to keep your trip hassle-free—it might make you more inclined to go again!
A bad night’s sleep can throw a damper on your day. To get the Z’s you need, even on uneven or rocky ground, bring foam floor tiles (like you’d see in a kid’s playroom) or a yoga mat to put under your sleeping bag. These also make your sleeping bag less likely to slip around in the night.
Floor tiles for camping on Pinterest
To keep your sleep spot smelling fresh, sprinkle a pinch of baking soda inside the sleeping bag and line it with a bedsheet. This will reduce the amount of sweat and oils that get on your sleeping bag and extend its life by letting it go longer between washings. Putting tomorrow’s clothes in the sleeping bag with you gets them nice and toasty for morning too.
If you’re going to spend any time in or by the water, make sure you don’t have to dive for dropped keys. Just hand-screw an eyelet screw into a wine cork and add it to your key ring. Champagne corks are a little bigger and float a little more strongly, but each cork can only hold a few keys so you may want to test your float before you hit the lake. Just remember not to soak an electronic key fob while testing!
Cork keychain on Pinterest
If you’re already hooked on fishing, that’s great—but keep the hooks out of your hands. To prevent them from running around the tackle box and surprising you, organize hooks by stringing them on a safety pin. Use a different pin for different hook sizes, and face the J of the hook towards the bottom of the pin so they’re easier to take off when you need them.
Safety pin hook keeper on Pinterest
If you don’t already have a Frisbee in your camping gear, add it right now. Sure they’re bulky, but flying discs have lots of uses—classic catch, fire fanner, emergency paddle, unbreakable plate or paper plate holder.
Frisbee plate holder on Pinterest
Instead of bringing several tiny bottles of medicine for all the “what-ifs” of camping, get a weekly pill organizer or two and label the days with the medicines you want to bring and their expiration dates. This keeps all your remedies easy to find, and you can easily see when any slot needs to be refilled. Just don’t store it in the garage, as weather and humidity changes can lower the effectiveness of medicine over time.
Fire is a must when camping, so store matches in a waterproof container and glue a strip of sandpaper to the outside so you have a striking surface. You can even waterproof individual matches by coating them in candle wax, but avoid lighting them accidentally by blowing out the candle flame before coating. Speaking of candles, include a few trick party candles in your fire starting kit. That way your firestarter will definitely stay lit, even in wind. Bring other scraps from home like old newspapers, dryer lint, egg cartons, toilet paper and paper towel rolls for kindling.
Match holder on Pinterest
Especially if you’re aiming to pack light, bring a few bread bag tabs. They make great compact clothespins, pan-scrapers, or plate-identifiers and are easy storage for hair ties, rubber bands, or cords like earbuds. Lastly, if you get stung by a wasp or bee, you can firmly slide the flat side over your skin to remove the stinger.
Full-size shampoo, conditioner and body wash containers can be a pain to carry across the campground, especially when they get wet and slippery. Make your morning easier by assembling a lanyard shower caddy—simply fill reusable keychain bottles with the products you need, string them on the lanyard and hang the lanyard over the shower head.
Lanyard caddy on Pinterest
To keep your cooking supplies organized and clean, secure a belt or ratchet strap around a tree trunk and use s-hooks to hang your pots and pans from it, being sure not to damage the tree. On the side nearest to where you’re cooking, hang a shoe organizer to keep utensils handy. If you want to cook up a fast feast of franks, bring a burger basket so you can cook them all at once. When you pack up your pans, store them with a few silica packs to prevent rusting.
Tree kitchen on Pinterest
If your tent zipper starts to stick, rub an unlit candle against the zipper’s teeth. The wax will help keep the metal teeth from sticking or grinding against one another. To make the zipper pull easier to find in the dark, attach a keyring with a bell. That way the pull will jingle if you tap the tent door, and the pull is easier for sleepy fingers to find.
Tent zipper hack on Pinterest
Another full-size thing you don’t need to bring—toothpaste. Instead, bring mini tubes like the ones you get from the dentist or make single-serving toothpaste buttons by squeezing out the amount you regularly use on a plate and sprinkling it with baking soda. Let dry overnight and store in a waterproof container. To use, simply pop a button in your mouth and allow it to rehydrate. This only works with paste varieties, not gel.
If you’re recreating with a group, give everyone a whistle to blow in case they become lost. That way other groupmates can hear and find them easily. This is particularly useful for children who may wander off.
For more ideas, try our Iowa Camping board on Pinterest.