DIY Camping Hacks and Ideas

We love camping and we are sure you do too!

Get ready to transform your next camping adventure with our ultimate list of 31 DIY camping hacks, ideas, and tips! Unleash your inner MacGyver and discover clever ways to upgrade your outdoor experience.

Get ready to level up your camping game with these creative ideas.

1. The DIY Camping Lantern

Transform an ordinary gallon water jug into a makeshift lantern by strapping a headlamp around it. This will create a diffused, ambient light, perfect for illuminating your campsite without blinding anyone.

If you don’t have a headlamp, another great option is to use glow sticks or a solar-powered lantern.

2. Campfire Bacon

Rather than frying your bacon in a pan and having a large mess to clean up afterward, weave the bacon strips onto a skewer and roast it over the campfire. The bacon will cook evenly, and the skewer will catch any dripping grease, reducing flare-ups and making cleanup easier.

3. The Portable Washing Machine

Pack a large, sealable plastic bag (like a ziplock) and a few drops of biodegradable soap to create a portable washing machine. Add water, dirty clothes, and soap to the bag, seal it and shake for a few minutes. Rinse the clothes with clean water and hang them to dry.

We love this hack, but we also have yet to be successful with stains. It does help us with odors, which is great, but not stains and dirt messes.

Special Tip: Portable Heater

Mr. Heater Big Buddy Pro Series Propane Heater, 18000 BTU, Red
  • 4,000- to 18,000-BTU radiant heater for spaces up to 450 square feet. Approved for indoor/outdoor use;...

We never go camping without a portable heater. In fact, we have three of these!  Heaters are lifesavers, when temps take a nosedive at night or if you’re camping at higher elevations, even in the summer!

I remember this one time I went camping, and it was way colder than I expected. The temperature dipped so low that I could see my breath inside the tent! Thankfully, I had my trusty portable heater with me. It quickly warmed up the tent, making it super cozy and comfortable. I can’t even imagine how miserable I would’ve been without it.

4. The Pinecone Fire Starter

Collect pinecones from around your campsite, and dip them in melted wax to create simple, effective fire starters. These are perfect for starting campfires quickly and easily, and they’re an environmentally friendly alternative to chemical fire starters.

We suggest doing this before your trip unless you plan on bringing melted wax with you somehow. If not, be sure to bring a lot of candles or a wax warmer with you on your camping trip.

5. The Tick Deterrent

To help keep ticks at bay, mix a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spritz your clothes, gear, and the area around your campsite with this solution to help deter ticks.

Vinegar is also a great alternative to bug spray to keep the mosquitoes away as well. Mosquitos hate the smell and taste of vinegar, especially Apple Cider Vinegar.

6. The Emergency Whistle

Attach a small, high-pitched emergency whistle to your keychain or backpack. This lightweight, compact tool can be a lifesaver in case of an emergency, as it can be heard from a great distance. This is an excellent gadget for women who are camping or traveling solo.

7. The Solar-Powered Charger (Not DIY)

Invest in a solar-powered charger to keep your devices charged throughout your camping trip. Look for one with a built-in battery that can charge during the day and power your devices at night. Solar-powered lights are also a great alternative to flashlights and lanterns.

8. The Biodegradable Trail Markers

Instead of using plastic or fabric, use biodegradable materials like yarn or twine to mark your hiking trail. These materials will naturally break down over time, leaving no trace of your presence.

Another alternative option for trail markers is to use eco-friendly and waterproof paint. Mark these bright colors high up on trees to mark your location without damaging the environment around you.

9. The Egg Carton Fire Starter

Save your cardboard egg cartons and fill each section with dryer lint. Pour melted wax over the lint and let it harden. When you need a fire starter, simply break off a section and light it up.

This is a great idea, but you should note that all of these materials should be prepared beforehand, as you are not likely to have extra egg cartons lying around or access to a dryer or melted wax.

10. The Instant Camping Shower

A large, black trash bag filled with water can serve as an instant camping shower. Tie the bag to a tree branch and let it sit in the sun for a few hours to warm up. Poke a few small holes in the bottom for a gentle, warm shower.

Another great alternative for showering while camping is to attach a water bottle to a portable water hose, and poke small holes in the bottle. This works as a DIY shower head, and the water can be easily switched off and on.

11. The Portable Spice Rack

Repurpose a pill organizer or a small tackle box to create a portable spice rack. Fill each compartment with your favorite spices, and you’ll have everything you need to season your meals on the go.

12. The Campfire Popcorn Maker

A simple way to make popcorn while camping is to use a disposable pie tin. Pour popcorn kernels and oil into the container, cover with foil, and place over the campfire. Shake the container gently over the fire until the kernels pop.

13. The Shoe Deodorizer

Before packing your shoes for your camping trip, place a few dryer sheets inside to help absorb moisture and keep them smelling fresh. Replace the sheets each day to maintain freshness.

14. The Duct Tape Savior

Duct tape fixes everything! It can be used for countless camping repairs, from fixing a tent to patching a sleeping pad. Wrap a few feet of duct tape around a water bottle or trekking pole for easy access.

15. The Campfire Orange Muffin

Slice the top off of an orange and scoop out the fruit. Fill the hollowed-out orange with muffin batter, replace the top, and wrap the entire orange in foil. Place it in the hot coals of your campfire to bake a delicious muffin.

16. The Toothpaste Dots

Rather than lugging an entire tube of toothpaste on your trip, make toothpaste dots by squeezing small dollops onto a sheet of parchment paper. Let them dry, then store them in a small, resealable container. To use, simply pop one in your mouth and brush as usual.

17. The Mini First-Aid Kit

Transform an old, empty prescription bottle into a mini first-aid kit. Fill the bottle with essential items like adhesive bandages, tweezers, pain relievers, and antiseptic wipes. This compact kit is perfect for backpacking trips or as a backup to your larger first aid kit.

18. The DIY Cooler

Use a large foam pool noodle to insulate a plastic storage bin to save money on expensive coolers. Cut the noodle to fit the perimeter of the container, then secure the noodle pieces with duct tape. Fill the bin with ice and perishables; you’ve got yourself a DIY cooler.

If needed, you can also repurpose your duct tape and black trash bags here. Use the pool noodles as an outer edge, tape the bag to the noodle, and add ice.

19. The Camping Taco-in-a-Bag

Create a fun, mess-free meal by preparing tacos in a bag. Open individual-sized bags of tortilla chips, then add taco meat, cheese, lettuce, and your favorite taco toppings. Mix the ingredients by gently squeezing the bag, and enjoy your delicious, portable meal.

Doritos are another great alternative to tortilla chips!

20. The Rain-Proof Campfire

Use a large, upside-down terracotta flower pot on rainy days to protect your campfire from the elements. Place the pot over the fire, leaving enough room for airflow, and the pot will shield the fire from rain and wind.

21. The Sleeping Bag Liner

Bring along a fitted bed sheet to use as a sleeping bag liner. The sheet will add an extra layer of comfort and can be easily removed and washed when you return home.

Many sleeping bags come with removable liners already attached, but this is a great alternative if you have more of an older-style sleeping bag.

22. The Solar Light Pathway

Illuminate the path to your tent by placing solar-powered garden lights around your campsite. These eco-friendly lights will charge during the day and provide soft, ambient light at night.

We mentioned this in the above section too. So it is on here twice, just in different contexts 🙂

23. The Single-Use Soap Leaves

This is one of the most exciting ideas on this list! Instead of packing a whole bar of soap or liquid bottle gel, use a vegetable peeler to create single-use soap leaves. Store the soap leaves in a small container or ziplock bag, and simply grab one when you need to wash your hands.

24. The Snack Organizer

A plastic over-the-door shoe organizer is perfect for storing and organizing your campsite snacks. Hang it from a tree branch or the side of your tent for easy access to your favorite treats. Be sure to store it high up or locked in a sealed smell proof container to deter animals, such as bears.

25. The Marshmallow Roasting Stick Holder

Keep your marshmallow roasting sticks clean and off the ground by using a small, upside-down bucket with holes drilled into it. Insert the handles of the sticks into the holes, and the bucket will keep them upright and ready for use. This also helps with keeping your sticks less sticky and mess-free.

26. The Tarp Shelter

Always pack a tarp and some paracord to create a quick, makeshift shelter. If it starts to rain or you need extra shade, string the tarp between trees to protect your campsite.

27. The Repurposed Coffee Can

Transform an empty coffee can into a portable toilet paper holder by cutting a slit in the plastic lid, then placing a roll of toilet paper inside the can. Pull the end of the roll through the slit for a convenient, weather-resistant dispenser; think of a tissue box. Use duct tape to cover the hole when needed to protect from strong outdoor elements.

28. The Campsite Scavenger Hunt

Keep kids entertained by organizing a campsite scavenger hunt. Create a list of items commonly found in nature, such as pinecones or leaves. Provide children with a list and a small bag or container to collect their treasures. Set a time limit and boundaries for the search area, and let the kids explore and learn about their surroundings.

This activity keeps children occupied and helps them develop observation skills and an appreciation for the outdoors. You can even offer small prizes or rewards for successfully completing the scavenger hunt.

Afterward, use their found objects to create a DIY natural art masterpiece.

29. The Hammock Hangout

Instead of sleeping on the ground, opt for a hammock to enjoy a comfortable and versatile sleeping option. A hammock can be set up between trees, offering a unique way to relax while avoiding uneven terrain and bugs. Additionally, you can use a hammock as a makeshift chair during the day, providing a cozy spot to read, nap, or simply enjoy nature.

30. The Outdoor Movie Night

Bring a portable projector and a white bedsheet to create an outdoor movie theater experience right at your campsite. Hang the bedsheet between trees or on the side of your tent as a screen, and use the projector to play your favorite movies or shows. This is a fun way to unwind after hiking and exploring, adding a touch of luxury to your camping adventure.

31. The Pocket-Sized Campfire Grill

Invest in a small, foldable campfire grill to cook over the fire more effortlessly and efficiently. These compact grills can be easily packed in your backpack, providing a stable surface for pots and pans. Using a campfire grill, you can cook your meals evenly and avoid direct contact with flames, making your outdoor cooking experience safer and more enjoyable.

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