Camping is easier today than it’s ever been in the past. We have mobile devices, niche equipment, and all sorts of gear to handle any conceivable situation that could happen on the trail. The most important thing you can take into the woods, though, is knowledge. So before you head off for adventure, here are a few tricks that make your next expedition a little easier on you.
Hack 1: Sage Repels Mosquitoes
There’s nothing quite like sitting in the woods, relaxing around a campfire. Of course, that picturesque image is immediately ruined when you consider how many mosquitoes are going to be trying to drain you dry. Typically we cover ourselves in chemical sprays to drive off these miniature vampires, but there is an option that will keep them away from your entire campsite. Take some sage, and toss it into your campfire. The smell in the smoke will help keep mosquitoes away.
It won’t keep all of them off of you, of course, but it will make the evening much more comfortable for you and any of your camp mates.
Hack 2: Get Rid of Ticks With Soap, and a Cotton Ball
Liquid soap and cotton balls are two things you should always bring with you out into nature. Among their many other uses, they can help you get rid of ticks. If you find there’s a tick trying to make you into a meal, dip a cotton ball in your liquid soap, and press it over the tick. It will take about 20 seconds or so, and when you pull it away, the tick will come with. This prevents parts of it from being left in you, and you’re free to go on your way.
It is a good idea to store the tick for testing, if you’re worried about Lyme disease.
Hack 3: Bring Hygiene Products in Small Containers
Cleanliness is important, especially when you’re being exposed to everything nature has to offer. However, space is at a premium in your backpack, so you don’t want to be hauling around an entire bottle of shampoo, soap, and conditioner, too. Instead, refill smaller, sample size bottles so you can easily carry them with you.
These tiny bottles are great for keeping other, small necessities in one place, too. Whether it’s bobby pins, Q-tips, needles, band aids, or any other small objects, find a little container that organizes them. Old film roll containers are ideal, but toothbrush travel cases, pill bottles, and other cases are quite functional as well.
Hack 4: Bring Your Own Striker
Most of us know to bring matches with us when we head out into nature. Those of us who are clever will keep our matches in a small, watertight container to make sure they survive the elements. If you’re really clever, though, you should tape some sandpaper to the underside of the lid. That way you always have a dry place to strike your matches on.
Hack 5: Keep Your Toilet Paper in a Coffee Can
One of the modern comforts we take for granted is toilet paper. If you’re going out into the woods for any length of time, you should really bring your own. Of course, getting it wet makes it useless, so put it in an old Folger’s tin to keep it dry. And if you’re a crafty sort of camper, screw an eye hook into either end, and tie a string between them. If you cut a small notch in the tin, you now have a toilet paper roll you can hang off of a nearby tree branch.
Hack 6: A Hand-Powered, Portable Washing Machine
If you’re going to be off the grid for a while, you’ll need to wash your clothes. If you have a bucket with a lid, a knife, and a plunger, you can make a simple portable device. All you need to do is cut a hole in the lid for the plunger handle, fill the bucket with water, soap, and your clothes, then lock the lid in place. Grab the plunger, and churn the contents until your clothes have been scrubbed. Then rinse the suds off of them, and hang them up to dry.
Hack 7: Keep Some Doritos on Hands… You Know, to Start a Fire
It’s always a good idea to bring some snacks with you into the forest, but if you have corn chips they can do double duty as kindling. Just toss a couple of Doritos chips into the fire pit to get your blaze started. Then, once you’ve got the fire going the way you want, eat the rest. Or save them for the next time you need to start a fire, if you’re a forward-thinking sort of trailblazer.
Hack 8: Keep an Altoids Torch on Hand… Just in Case
If you have an Altoids tin on hand, you can easily turn it into an emergency torch. Take a length of cardboard, coat it in wax, and fold it up inside the tin. As long as you have matches on hand, you can light the cardboard, and let it burn like a big candle. Great for seeing when all your batteries are dead, or for starting a bigger fire if that becomes a necessity.