Camping Hacks that Will Make Summer Trips Perfect

Shannon Quinn - May 16, 2021

Are you looking for some of the best camping hacks to use this summer? With many options for vacation destinations still shut down, many people are considering going camping in their own local area. This might be the very first time that you have ever gone on a camping trip. So before you leave with your tent and sleeping back in hand, be sure to read some of our best tips and tricks from someone who camped every summer since she was a child.

These squares fit together like puzzle pieces, and make a more comfortable tent floor. Credit: Shutterstock

30. Foam on the Bottom of the Tent to Make it More Comfortable

If you’re going camping for the first time, you might not be prepared for how backbreaking it is. There are a lot of people out there who underestimate how truly uncomfortable it is to sleep on the ground. Maybe you have slept on the grass in the past, especially if the only experiences you have had were indoor camping, or a backyard tent. However, in most camping scenarios, you’re going to be camping on bare dirt. This can be very cold, and it’s often rock solid. Your sleeping bag is not going to be enough cushion to help you sleep at night.

This is why a lot of people will bring air mattresses with them when they go camping. Obviously, if you’re hiking through the woods and need to set up camp somewhere, you’re not going to have that option. You need an air pump connected to your car to fill up an air mattress, and it’s very too heavy to carry far distances. This is why a lot of people opt for foam squares that you can snap together like puzzle pieces. Many of you may be familiar with these if you have kids. These are light and easy to carry, and can be assembled and disassembled very easily to make a floor at the bottom of your tent.

This man has a camel bag with a filter hose attachment. Credit: Shutterstock

29. Keep Natural Water Clean With Tablets, Filters, or a LifeStraw

If you plan to go hiking or camping out in the middle of nowhere, you may need to prepare for the chance that you could run out of drinking water. There are a few ways that you can sterilize your drinking water that you get from a stream or a lake. You could boil the water, buy water purification tablets, or bring a Brita filter. You could also just remember to bring your own water bottles.

One of the most recent trendy camping hack products on the market is the LifeStraw. This works to purify your water as you sip it through the straw. There may be a scenario where you can’t boil water, use a cup, or any number of possibilities. So this life straw allows you to bend over a stream and drink directly from the fresh water source.

A solar lantern is an amazing frugal camping hack. Credit: Shutterstock

28. A Solar Lantern Never Needs Batteries Replaced

While doing research for this article, I came across a lot of camping hacks on how to make a lantern. People suggest using their headlamp and a water bottle, and so many other DIY ideas. However, there are a lot of issues with these ideas. Many of them are single-use, which is bad for the environment. Or, they depend on you having batteries for secondary lights. The most amazing camping hack I have ever personally come across when it comes to lighting is a solar lantern.

This recommendation comes from my personal experience, and I can’t sing the praises high enough. I’m not kidding when I say that this has saved me on multiple occasions. Obviously, it’s perfect for camping. But I also use my solar lantern when we lose power during a storm, when I’m having a backyard bonfire, and when I need to go into the backyard at night to take out the trash. It doesn’t really matter what brand you go with, so long as it’s a solar lantern.

Getting a food cover is one of the best dollar store camping hacks Credit: Dollar Tree

27. Use a Cake Cover From Dollar Tree to Protect Your Food From Flies

You should never underestimate the amount of flies that are going to attack your food when you go camping. One of the most important camping food hacks that you need to consider is simply buying a food cover. Thankfully, these plastic food containers are only a dollar each at your local Dollar Tree. And if they’re not in stock at your local Dollar Tree, it’s a very common item that you can find in stores like Walmart or Target.

If you and your family are having a meal around a picnic table, flies are less likely to attack your food if you’re holding it in your hands. But when food is sitting on a plate, they will immediately take a nosedive to try to eat your food. This is very unsanitary. So just make sure that you cover up your food whenever you cook. If you go on your camping trip and you realize that you have forgotten the food cover, opt for a paper napkin, paper plates, or literally anything that will stop flies from landing on your food.

Watch out for poisonous plants that will leave you with terrible rashes. Credit: Shutterstock

26. Know How to Identify Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac

If you are going camping in the United States and Canada, it’s important for you to be able to identify various poisonous plants. Even if you lightly brush up against poison ivy, oak, or sumac, You’re going to break out into a painful rash that doesn’t go away very easily. Just to be safe, I highly recommend packing poison ivy cream in your first aid kit, just in case someone accidently brushes up against the plants.

Outside of the United States, I’m sure that there are a lot of poison plants that are completely out of my wheelhouse. And in places like the Australian Outback, you’re going to find animals that are trying to kill you at every turn. So wherever you go camping, make sure you do your research to see if there’s anything out there that might hurt you.

This wash tub collapses down flat to make it easy to carry. Credit: Sammart

25. A Collapsible Wash Tub Makes it Easy to Wash Dishes and Clothes on the Go

Some people like to bring paper plates and plastic cups camping with them, because it eliminates the need to do any dishes in the wilderness. However, if you want to bring reusable cutlery, it may be a good idea to consider buying a collapsible wash tub. Sure, you could bring a regular wash tub from Dollar Tree. It could even double as a container to carry all of your dishes. But this collapsible sink takes up far less space when you’re getting ready to pack your car.

It also may be easier to take with you if you plan to go hiking into the woods with a lot of gear. Remember that when you’re camping, you should try to minimize the amount of trash that you leave behind, because it’s much better for the environment. So in a lot of ways, this may be the best thing you can do.

Water spigots like this work as a hand washing station. Credit: Shutterstock

24. Use a Container With a Spigot To Create a Portable Hand Washing Station

Washing your hands is more important than it has ever been in our lifetime. Even when you’re camping with plenty of distance between you and other people, you can’t be too careful. Besides the fact that we are in a pandemic, camping is also a very dirty thing to do. You’re going to be picking up things from the ground, and your hand sanitizer isn’t going to cut it. Most established campgrounds have bathrooms. But if you’re in the middle of nowhere, you want to have your own hand washing station.

You can find large water jugs with built-in spigots at stores like Dollar General, Walmart, and CVS. Or, if you already have an Igloo water jug with a spigot, you could fill this to the brim with water before you leave. I recommend having two containers- one for drinking, and one for washing hands and dishes. Use this sparingly, because you may need it more than you realize. This is especially true if your entire family is camping over the weekend.

Egg cartons with dryer link make an amazing fire starter. Credit:

23. Make Fire Starters With an Egg Carton and Dryer Lint

Do you plan on having a fire when you go camping? This can be more difficult than you think. One of the most common problems people run into is that they can’t get their fire started. This could be due to the wind, Wet wood, or you simply don’t have a lot of experience with building a good fire.

Most grocery stores sell starter logs during the summer months, which light up very easily. However, if you want to save money, a free alternative would be to make your own fire starters at home. All you need to do is take some dryer lint out of the laundry, and put it into a cardboard egg carton. Before you ask- No, styrofoam egg cartons will not work. Please don’t light those on fire.

Imagine cuddling in this huge sleeping bag. Credit: Sleepinggo

22. A Two-Person Sleeping Bag Makes it Possible to Cuddle All Night

If you’re planning a romantic camping trip with your significant other, you might be looking for ideas on how you can make listening more intimate. Aside from your standard bottle of wine and campfire, another fun thing that you can try is a two person sleeping bag. This is exactly what it sounds like. It’s an extra large sleeping bag that’s big enough to fit more than one person.

The only potential downside to a product like this that I could imagine is that it might get too hot. In the winter time, it could be a godsend and make you very toasty at night. But if you are camping in the middle of a summer heatwave, it would probably be a bad idea.

Extendable skewers are great for saving space. Credit: Shutterstock

21. Extendable Skewers Are a Must-Have

When I was a kid, we always found a stick in the woods to use as a skewer when I went camping. It didn’t matter if the stake had been on the ground for a long time, because it was all part of the experience. However, not everyone thinks that this is the most sanitary thing in the world. It’s probably better for you to get skewers that you can bring with you and wash before using them to cook your food. The only issue with skewers is that they can be very long and sharp.

That’s why these extendable skewers are brilliant. They shrink down to a very small and convenient size that’s great for travel. But that extends to be as long as you need them to be. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting far back from the fire, you’re likely going to still be able to make your s’more.

Silica gel packs will help keep your belongings dry. Credit: Shutterstock

20. Use Silica Gels to Keep Your Supplies Dry

Everyone is familiar with those silica gel packs that you get in products that are shipped to your door. You have most likely thrown away at least a thousand of them from Amazon Prime boxes. However, the whole point in those gel packs is to keep moisture out of the box. By keeping the area dry, it prevents mold and mildew from forming.

So if you plan on going camping in the near future, I recommend holding on to those silica gel packs in a ziplock bag. These are great for preventing mold from forming overnight in your tent. Just make sure to keep these away from food, and don’t let your kids accidentally eat them!

These plastic cups can double as DIY speakers. Credit: Shutterstock

19. Create a DIY Amplifier With Your Phone in a Cup

If you went to a lot of outdoor college parties, you may already be familiar with this next camping hack. When you’re playing music on your cell phone, you can place it inside of a cup, and it acts like an amplifier. This will make the music significantly louder than it was before. It is a lot cheaper than buying a portable speaker to bring with you on the trip.

I’ve personally used this camping hack multiple times. Whenever I do this in front of someone who is seeing it for the first time, they are mind-blown to see how well it works. So in a way, this sort of doubles as a party trick to impress your friends.

Sage can help purify your aura and keep mosquitos away. Credit:

18. Sage in the Campfire Keeps Mosquitos Away

Some of you out there may be familiar with burning sage, since it’s great for spiritual cleansing in your home. But did you know that burning sage is also a great way to keep mosquitos away from you? Just toss a bundle of sage in the campfire, and the smell of the smoke will help prevent them from coming anywhere near you.

Personally, I always reach a point with my smudging sage where I’m left with a nub that has already been burned down a lot. So I recommend that if you already own sage, this might be a great use for the leftovers that you already have at home. If you’re buying it for the first time, I recommend taking off a few of the leaves, and take your time with it before using the entire thing.

They make benches that fit two people. Credit:

17. This Love Seat Beach Chair is Amazing

One of the most essential things that you need to buy before a camping trip is a good set of chairs for every person. Most people already have foldable lawn chairs somewhere in their backyard. So you can always bring these, and that’s perfectly fine. But a camping hack I recently discovered is that bench versions of lawn chairs exist!

This is perfect for anyone who is trying to go on a romantic camping trip. Or, if you have kids, they would probably fit together on this bench. The one in the picture was $40 at Target in the summer of 2021. Depending on when you read this, you may be able to fund it on sale.

If you need to go in the woods, come prepared. Credit: GoGirl

16. This Hack Makes it Easier for Women to Pee in the Woods

When you’re living in the woods for a weekend, there is one crucial problem: Where do you go to the bathroom? Men can urinate pretty easily in the woods, but women can’t. That’s why this next camping hack is a device called the Go Girl, which helps a lady funnel a stream into the woods.

Is this ideal? Heck no. But it will do in a true emergency situation. On Amazon, a lot of people are also suggesting that this is a good product on long road trips, or going to concerts and festivals where there is a very long line to the porta potty.

If you’re going out on the water, make sure you have key buoys. Credit: Shutterstock

15. Going in the Water? Make Your Keys Float

A lot of people who go camping like to kayak on a river or lake before settling down for the night. The only issue is that sometimes, a kayak will flip over. And if you have your personal belongings with you, it’s very possible that your keys could fall out and be lost forever. So if you plan on boating at any time, consider buying a floating keychain.

Some bloggers have made a DIY version of this by attaching a wine cork to a keychain. I haven’t personally tried to make the cork version, but there are several tutorials available on Pinterest if you are interested in trying to make one on your own.

Frozen water bottles help keep food cool. Credit: Shutterstock

14. Pack Frozen Bottles of Water in the Cooler

If you’re going camping, you aren’t going to have refrigeration for at least 24 hours. Coolers do a good job of maintaining temperature, but they only work for so long. Instead of buying a lot of cooler packs, it is a lot more affordable and sensible to just freeze a lot of water bottles, and use them to surround your food.

As the water bottles melt, you have drinking water! It’s basically a win-win situation. To some people, this tip seems obvious, and you have already been doing this. But what makes it a hack is that most people buy a bag of ice from the grocery store to surround their drinks and other items. This can make things soggy over time. So the frozen water bottles really are the best way to go.

This kitchen tool key ring is one of the most amazing camping food hacks. Credit: Esie Houzie

13. Mini Kitchen Tool Key Ring

If you plan to do any cooking on your camping trip, you’re going to need a few kitchen tools. However, if you start carrying a lot of kitchen tools with you, it’s just going to weigh you down. That’s why I absolutely love this mini kitchen tool key ring. It has everything that you need including a cheese grater, a pizza cutter, a bottle opener, and a veggie peeler.

It’s small enough where you can put it into a backpack and you are ready to go. Aside from camping, I can also see this being very useful on a road trip. It would also be great for someone who is trying out van life for the first time.

It’s possible to attach your hammock to your car. Credit: Hammock Universe

12. Hammocks that Hang Off the Back of Your Car

When most people put up a hammock, they tie it between two trees. While you can bring your hammock with you camping, there’s really no guarantee that you will find the right trees to make it work. But a company called Hammock Universe creates a product that helps you hang a hammock off of your car. So no matter where you go camping, you should be able to relax and take a nap while suspended in air.

Sleeping in a hammock might be fun for reading a book or taking a nap, but just don’t sleep in it overnight. You could get bitten by bugs all night long, or even attract a predator. It’s important to still take shelter inside of a tent.

Instant stick coffee is great for drinking coffee on the go. Credit: Shutterstock

11. Use Instant Stick Coffee For A Quick Cup of Joe

Many of you have probably seen camping aesthetic posts on Pinterest that show adorable coffee makers. Some people like to use percolators or a French Press when they go camping, because it looks very rustic and cute. However, we can’t deny that bringing any kind of coffee maker is going to add more cleaning to your already busy schedule. And you’re also going to have to dispose of the coffee grounds somehow. In other camping hack blog posts, I saw people suggesting that you prep your coffee filters by filling them up with coffee, tying a rubber band around it, and letting it soak in water similar to a tea bag.

Personally, I think that’s a bit wasteful and over-the-top. The easiest way to drink coffee when you’re camping is to simply buy instant coffee. If you don’t want to buy an entire container of instant coffee, but the single-serve sticks. This way, all you need to do is heat up water over the campfire or on your portable cook top. Then you can pour the water and instant coffee into a mug. That’s all there is to it. These are available at most dollar stores, Walmart, and Target.

Duct tape is very useful when you go camping. Credit: Shutterstock

10. Bring Duct Tape (Because You Never Know if You’ll Need It)

Before you go on your next camping trip, be sure to buy a roll of duct tape. This is available at every dollar store, and it’s likely that you already have some in your junk drawer. All of my brothers went through the Boy Scouts when they were kids. The one piece of advice that I heard the most often was to bring duct tape.

Duct tape is waterproof, and it is incredibly strong. It can be used to help fix something, but it also helps hold things in place if you don’t have a hammer and nails. Some people even use duct tape to cover injuries if you need to keep a wound dry.

Keep your clothes dry to prevent getting hypothermia. Credit: Shutterstock

9. Stay Dry As Much as Possible

According to the US Forest Service, hypothermia can still occur, even in relatively warmer weather above 40 degrees fahrenheit. This is why it is incredibly important for you to stay dry at all times. Even if you are just sweaty from a long day of hiking, it’s important for you to take those clothes off and get into something dry. Before you leave for your camping trip, make sure that you bring enough clothes to change into.

Even if you’re only staying for one or two nights, bring double or triple the amount of clothes that you think you might actually need. This is especially true for your socks. You lose a lot of heat through your feet, so it’s important to make sure that you are keeping your toes toasty and prevent hypothermia from happening.

This tape will help stop you from getting lost. Credit: Presco

8. Never Get Lost With Biodegradable Trail Marking Tape

Over 2,000 people get lost in the woods each year. When you go to a family-friendly campground, it’s not likely that you’re going to get lost. Campsites are very obviously marked, and the attractions like the pool and the trail are very easy to navigate. However, if you’re going to go camping in the middle of nowhere, it would be a good idea for you to mark your trail.

This tape is biodegradable, so you can mark it on trees without having to worry about negatively impacting the environment. Some people will just leave a small strip of tape, while others tie it around a plant. Personally, I like it when people create literal arrows pointing back to the direction of camp. (Seeing someone else’s tape arrow has saved me before when I was lost in the woods.)

This tool has pretty much everything you need for camping. Credit: Shutterstock

7. Multi-Tool So You’re Ready for Anything

When you go camping, there are a surprising number of times when you need tools for things. You might need a hatchet for cutting branches, a hammer for nailing in tent stakes, and so much more. But you can’t exactly bring an entire tool box with you. (This is especially true if you’re hiking, and weight is an issue.)

That’s why this multi-tool is so cool. It has pretty much every tool you would need while camping. If you have this, you’ll never forget any vital tools at home. Something like this would make a really great Father’s Day gift.

Bring plastic bags to cover dirty boots and laundry. Credit:

6. Bring Plastic Bags for Dirty and Muddy Supplies

If you’re new to camping, you would be shocked just how often you things are going to get dirty. Even just hiking through the woods is likely to leave your boots very muddy. As soon as you get back in your car for the drive home, you are going to get the dirt everywhere. Same goes with dirty laundry inside of your tent. This is especially true if you are anywhere near a beach.

Wet and sandy clothing is never fun to mingle with your other belongings, and it can even lead to mold and mildew inside of your tent. Because of this, you should always bring plastic bags with you. Just hold onto the plastic bags you get whenever you buy your supplies for the camping trip. I promise they’ll come in handy later.

Canopies attached to RV’s and vans give you built-in shade. Credit: Canva

5. Attach a Canopy to Your Trailer or Van

For anyone who is thinking about camping in their car or van life, You may want to consider buying a canopy to attach to your trailer or van. This is a great way for you to get some shade even if you are in a bright and sunny area. It would also obviously come in handy if it started to rain during your camping trip. This would give you some shelter, especially if you want to store some things outside of your van or RV.

Sometimes, an RV will have a built-in canopy. But most of the time, you’ll need to buy your own. You can find these canopies almost anywhere, like Amazon or Walmart. The price changes drastically depending on the size.

This portable cooking stove is very useful for remote camping. Credit: Canaway

4. A Portable Camping Stove Helps You Cook From Anywhere

If you plan to cook on your camping trip, it might be more difficult than you can imagine. Many camping sites will already have a grill or a fire ring for you to cook on. This makes it very easy. However, if you plan to go somewhere remote and cook in the middle of the woods, that’s where you may run into problems. Some people like to have a portable gas cooktop, but this can be very heavy if you are trying to hike to a campsite.That’s why this little camping stove is perfect. It is small enough to fit in your backpack, and it is not likely to catch anything else on fire.

Depending on where you are camping, it might not be safe at all for you to create a fire in the woods. Because of this, you might need to get an electric hot plate to plug into a portable battery. If you plan to make a fire in the woods, please check out the US government’s forest fire prevention tips, first.

A wind shield will help you cook in bad weather. Credit: Shutterstock

3. This Wind Shield Helps Keep the Fire Going

If you have ever tried to start a fire on a windy day, you already know how frustrating that can be. In fact, if it’s too windy, I just completely give up on having a campfire. But if you planned out your vacation weeks or months ahead of time, you’re not going to know the weather. And unless you’re willing to eat cold food all weekend, you need that fire to start and stay lit. That’s where this wind shield comes in.

As you can see in the photo, it’s small, and is really made for one of the smaller cooking lamps that I mentioned earlier. I can totally imagine someone out there creating their own DIY version of a wind shield. Maybe that could be your very own camping hack.

Keep your knives away from everything else in this knife safe. Credit: CamCo

2. Keep Sharp Tools in a Knife Safe

If you plan to bring a cooking knife with you on a camping trick, transporting it can be tricky. I can personally attest to a time in my early 20’s when I put all of my kitchen utensils into a duffle bag to go camping, and the knife ended up ripping a hole through it. Not only is this dangerous, but it can lead to you losing your items everywhere.

There are a couple camping hacks you can use for this problem. First is to wrap the blade of a knife with cardboard and tape. Second would be to only use a pocket knife. Third would be to buy a knife safe. I personally like this product, because it would also come in handy if you were to ever start doing Van Life. It would also help a lot if you were moving somewhere, and needed to keep the knives out of the way.

This tiny survival card has everything you would need to survive in the wilderness. Credit: Liiiikes

1. Save Tons of Space With This Survival Card

Earlier on this list, I already mentioned a multi-tool that you could bring camping with you. But this next one isn’t just a camping hack. It’s just an overall very cool James Bond gadget. It’s called The Survival Card, and it’s in the shape of a credit card. So it can fit in your wallet, but it breaks apart into pretty much anything you would need in an emergency situation.

Since it’s so small, it’s perfect to take with you if you’re hiking in the woods or camping overnight. It’s nice to have something just in case. This might also be a great gift for Father’s Day.