A Review of Camping Hacks
This BuzzFeed article, “41 Camping Hacks That Are Borderline Genius,” has received a lot of buzz. The article has various tips and tricks to use on your next camping trip. The author, Peggy Wang, is a great media marketer. However, with “shopping and bubblegum” as her main interests, I’m not sure how much time she spends outdoors.
I want to salute her for putting that together. I also want to provide a little insight on what’s useful vs. what’s impractical. Here are popular camping “hacks” that we’ve tested in the actual wilderness.
1. Using tic-tac containers as a spice holder.
This one works out if you eat tic-tacs a lot. I don’t. I found myself buying a pack for $1.39, eating way more tic-tacs than I wanted to, and filling it with $.70 worth of spices. For this “hack,” just use a ziploc baggie, a tiny tupperware container, a used salt shaker, a dime bag, one of those tubes that glasses repair kits come in, or any of the countless other things that can hold small quantities. If you do have empty tic-tac containers lying around, go ahead and use them.
2. Twist-tying coffee in filters to make a portable “coffee bag.”
This is a very cool idea. You simply put a few scoops of coffee in a paper filter, twist it up, and use a twist-tie to seal. Then, you soak it in hot water as you would a tea bag. This is nice if you have room for a container to seal them in. It’s good to have good coffee in the backwoods. If you’re backpacking and going micro, however, stick with the instant coffee self-serve packs. The taste is pretty bland, but it saves a lot of room in your pack.
3. Using play foams pads to create a comfortable floor for your tent.
This “hack” is totally impractical. I’d rather save trunk/pack space with a portable camping mattress or compact sleeping pad. You don’t even spend that much time in your tent anyway. Skip the foam pads, invest in a sleeping pad.
4. Using a vegetable peeler to make single-use soap shards.
I’d advise against this, for ecology’s sake. Most soaps that we use are toxic to freshwater. Liquid biodegradable soap is not that expensive, and comes in a portable container. It’s also concentrated (usually), so you get a lot of use out of it. Do the fish a favor and skip this hack.
5. Bringing microfiber towels
Yes. They’re fast-drying, ultra-lightweight, and can be found at the dollar store. The only drawback is that they’re very uncomfortable if you have rough patches of skin. Other than that, very practical.
6. Using dirt to clean out cookware, plates, bowls.
This is a great one. Dirt is phenomenal at scrubbing cookware and eating-ware. Try rubing some sand and water around the pot, rinsing it, then using the biodegradable soap to sanitize
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Original #HMPYG hacks:
Now, here are some real and original tips from our staff!
1. Prepare oatmeal and pack in a virtually vacuum-sealed ziploc.
I do this about every time I go camping or backpacking. Oatmeal is dry, nonperishable, really good for you, and warming in the morning. For the spices/sugar, I usually use:
- a few dashes of cinnamon
- a tiny dash of nutmeg
- a generous helping of brown sugar
Mix it in a bag with a good portion of 1-minute oats. Stick a straw in the ziploc, zip up to the straw, and suck all the air out. (Be careful to not inhale cinnamon straight into your lungs.) Then close it up, and make sure it’s not by any objects than can puncture it.
2. Pack a can of Stillhouse moonshine whiskey.
Before one of my trips I was looking around for some booze that would be easy to pack. This immediately caught my eye. It comes in a metallic can that looks like a fuel canister. Expecting the product to taste like butane, it was actually incredibly smooth. You can pass it around with the homeboys, and then reuse the can for some much-needed spring water afterwards.
(Note: this article isn’t sponsored by Stillhouse, but totally should be).
3. For colder temperatures, stick a hand warmer in your sleeping bag.
From my experience, sleeping bag temperature ratings are pretty off-the-mark. For example, 30°F (0°C) bags usually leave you shivering in the 30-40°F (0-5°C) range. Adding the hand warmer is good for a little heating component. (Additional tip: if it’s too hot on your skin, put it in a sock.)
4. When traveling in a large party, bring a set of uniform bandanas.
Pick a brightly-colored bandana, and buy a set. This is a great way to signal others in your tribe. The bandana itself has many different uses. Protect your mouth/nose when hiking through dusty areas, wipe your sweat, use as a small tourniquet, soak it to cool your forehead, and so forth. But in a large group, this is a way to signal others where you are, signal for help, or just have some squad steez.
Use these tips and have a great trip!!!
Please use caution when you’re out camping. Don’t get drunk on Stillhouse and light your tent on fire while trying to wash cups of oatmeal with hot dirt coals. If these tips have been helpful, help fill our tip cup!