camping at night
PHOTOGRAPH BY ZACHDISCHNER/GETTY

10 Ways To Have A Better Camping Trip

Sleeping in a tent doesn’t have to be a sticky, dirty, and smelly mess. With these cool tricks, you’ll be sleeping pretty.

September 3, 2015

1. How To Wash Clothes

Use a tip from New Mexico camper Peter Rice, author of the book Spandex Optional Bicycle Touring: Place the soiled clothes into a large plastic freezer bag. “The ones you can fit an entire chicken into do nicely,” Rice says. Add a teaspoon of vegetable soap and water. Hold the bag with one hand and knead clothes with your other hand—now a sort of mini washer—then rinse with clean water inside the bag. Hang wet clothes on a bungee to dry and reuse the plastic bag for more one-handed washing. 

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2. Skip The Pillow 

The last thing you want is to haul unnecessary bulk around with you. But it’s also nice to be comfy. Instead of bringing a pillow, stuff some extra clothes—a comfy old sweatshirt or a soft fleece works nicely—into the sack that held your sleeping bag. It makes a soft place to rest your head that won’t fall apart and provides an extra use for the sack when you’ve got the sleeping back out. Perfect! 

 

3. End Damp Camping

Some campers use towels or microfiber cloths to deal with a night of heavy dew or moisture inside the tent. Try kitchen sponges instead, suggests Matt Heid, a Massachussets camper and a blogger at the website Appalachian Mountain Club’s Equipped. Sponges are lightweight, absorbent, and reusable. 

Another must-pack tip from Heid: 1/8th-inch diameter utility cord, or paracord. This multipurpose rope can be used to hang food or a lantern inside the tent, makes a good replacement strap, and even works as a stand-in for shoelaces. 

 

4. Reach For The Water Warmer

On cold nights, heat water in a teapot or pan, and then pour the warmed water into a hot-water bottle, suggests Washington-based Lauren Braden, who runs the camping site Northwest Tripfinder. Tuck the bottle into your sleeping bag or air mattress for a heated accompaniment to dreamland. Extra hint: Placing tomorrow’s clothes in the bag or bed with you ensures a pleasantly toasty sunrise change. 

 

5. Master The Mason

Arizona-based Kim Hanna, who blogs at Camping for Foodies, uses mason jars as drinking glasses for fresh-squeezed lemonade. Jars can be used to shake and mix salad dressings, marinades, sauces, and other wet ingredients. Later, the jar’s tall walls shelter tealights during dinnertime and provide gentle illumination even on windy evenings. 

Related: 8 Crafty Ways To Upcycle Mason Jars

 

6. Sip From Stemless Plastic

Stemless plastic wine glasses are portable and non-breakable, says California camper Amelia Richmond. The cups are also legal in locations where glass isn’t permitted. 

Bonus tip: You can use the plastic cup as a speaker for your phone. Turn up the volume, and put it in the cup for instant sound magnification, she suggests. Prefer beer? Pack your favorite canned craft beer. Then cut off the top of the can, and reuse it to collect bacon grease the next morning. Don’t forget the bacon!

Related: 11 Things You Didn’t Know Organic Bacon Could Do In + Out Of The Kitchen

 

7. Break A Few Eggs 

Crack a dozen or so eggs into a Nalgene bottle for easier storage, and toss it into your cooler. No worries about transporting those delicate breakfast necessities on mountain roads, and you can dump the now-scrambled mix into the pan for near-instant grub. “It really is the best way to transport eggs when camping,” says Washington camper Ryan Ellis. 

Related: 15 Smart Uses For Eggs

 

8. Pack An Iceless Cooler 

At home, freeze water, coffee, or other drinks in milk jugs, BPA-free plastic containers, or freezer-friendly glass jars. Then use these iced drinks to pack the freezer, suggests Californian camper Adrienne Asher, and you won’t have the wet mess that comes with loose ice. Asher freezes mint lemonade, tea, water with lemon slices, veggie juices and even sangria. Having a jugful of cold-brew coffee on demand isn’t bad, either. 

 

9. Soap Up Smarter

Store bar soap in a mesh bag for washing hands, and hang it near your water source, whether a spigot or bottled water, suggests Oregon camper Amy Scott. The mesh dries well between uses—no more slimy soap—and keeps the soap dirt- and leaf-free. For easy handwashing, Washington camper Jessica Plesko reuses a spigot-equipped 2.5-gallon water jug, cutting a hole in the top for easy refill. 

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10. DIY Firestarter 

Put dryer lint in egg carton sections, and pour melted paraffin wax (available wherever canning supplies are sold) on top of each cup, suggests Meredith Lofberg Curtis, a Washington state camper. The wax holds the dryer lint in place. After it cools, cut each section apart, and you have a dozen combustibles that are portable and mess-free.

Tags: Hackscamping