To make your tent/sleeping bag/jacket zippers buttery smooth, rub a little hard candle wax or chapstick along the teeth. It’s like zipper grease, and it’ll make your zippers open and close more quietly and with even less effort. Plus, it’s just plain cool to grease your zipper.
A properly tied and fastened tarp is essential to keeping your campsite dry. If it is not tight enough and angled steep enough, all you will be doing is accumulating huge puddles above that will make for a nasty surprise for someone. One way to avoid this is to feed the rope running along the middle of the tarp over a small stick. This ensures that the tarp doesn’t slide around and stays nice and tight.
Tired of your tentmates shining flashlights into your eyes while you’re trying to read? Bring an empty half gallon milk jug or clear water bottle and simply strap a headlamp around it, turn it on and you’ll have a soft, white lantern that will have everyone seeing the light.
Fire-starter is one of those things that can easily be forgotten about as you load up the car for a camping trip. With so many things (and perhaps kids) to keep track of, remembering to bring a fire starter often tends to take a backseat to everything else. One handy and inexpensive option for consistently starting fires is to rub cotton balls in petroleum jelly which can be stored in an old medication bottle. One standard size medication bottle can generally fit 5-6 cotton balls in it which will ensure you don’t get left out in the cold.
The only certainty in camping is that you can’t be certain of what will happen. Things are bound to bend, snap, break, or loosen and having a good repair kit close at hand is essential. Trying to streamline your packing? Wrap some duct tape around your water bottle to ensure you can fix any issue when in a pinch.
A buggy campsite is one of those things that can make or break a camping trip. Though it’s nice to camp right next to a water source, that often brings with it a horde of mosquitoes. One easy way to keep them at bay without having to bathe in deet is to burn a bundle of sage around your campsite. The scent, much like citronella, is one that mosquitoes cannot stand and will have them running for the hills.
If you tend to be more of a classical camper and prefer matches over butane lighters, make sure you don’t get left in the cold with a match striking pad that won’t light. Store your matches in a Mason Jar with some sandpaper glued to the underside of the lid, and you’ll always have access to dry matches and an ideal striking pad with just a twist of the wrist.
Camping with adventurous kids (or even with other adults!) is a recipe for messes. By hooking the ends of a bungee cord onto a tree branch, car rack, or even a tent pole, you’ll always have paper towels close at hand to help deal with the inevitable camp food incidents, splattered mud, and anything else that comes your way.
The day before your departure, squeeze dots of toothpaste onto a plate (two dots per day, per camper). Leave them to dry, then sprinkle with baking soda and toss them into a plastic bag. When it’s time to brush, just put one in your mouth, chew, add water, and start scrubbing.
Crumple up a mesh laundry bag and stuff it into your pack (don’t worry: it weighs almost nothing, and takes up almost no space). When you get to your campsite, hang it from a branch, and after your meal, fill it with wet dishes. When it’s time to eat again, you’ll have dry dishes.