Remember what life was like before you realised you could light a campfire in seconds using lint from your tumble dryer? If that’s news to you, it’s probably about time you read up on our top camping hacks to make campsite life easy…
Make your own tinder box
If you’re a campfire fan, making your own tinder box with some essential fire-lighting kit can save you time and effort at the campsite. Use an old sweet, tobacco or golden syrup tin, and stuff it with things that will help you light a fire. Matches, a lighter or a flint-and-steel striker are essential. Then add some kind of tinder: lint from a tumble dryer is perfect and a great use of something you would otherwise be throwing away.
Use silver birch bark as a firelighter
If you arrive at the campsite and realise you’ve forgotten to restock the tinder box described above (or simply don’t have one), don’t despair. There’s no need to rush to the shops to spend your hard-earned cash on chemical firelighters; look to nature instead. The light-coloured, papery bark of silver birch trees is nature’s own firelighter and the fungus King Alfred’s cake, which grows on dead wood and looks suitably like charcoal, is also useful for firelighting.
Compartmentalise your packing
Unless you’re glamping or have a particularly well-organised campsite set-up, it’s likely you’ll be living out of a bag during your camping trip. One of the camping hacks that can make this aspect of campsite life easier is to use drawstring bags to separate undies from t-shirts, his from hers and clean stuff from the dirties. Fabric bags that pyjamas come in, laundry bags and old sleeping bag or towel bags are perfect for the job.
Stuff your coat in your pocket
Did you know that an insulated coat, light jacket or hoodie can be stuffed inside its own pocket or hood? It’s another neat trick that can save space when packing. Lots of insulated coats are specifically made for this – with a tab so you can turn them inside out and use them as a stuff sack. The best have zips with zipper tabs on the inside so you can seal them when you’ve turned them inside out. But it doesn’t need to be designed that way – the ‘pocket stuff’ works with most insulated coats and, given a squeeze, they will take up far less room.
Use your stuff sack as a pillow case
On a camping trip where space is paramount, things that have two uses justify their place in your kit bag. The bag your sleeping comes in fits in to that category as it can be filled with clothes to make a pillow. An insulated coat is an ideal filler. We’ve all tried using a jumper as a pillow only to wake up to find it sprawled across the tent. The stuff sack works as a pillow case to keep it all together.
Freeze tomorrow’s food
For weekend camping trips, it’s a great idea to freeze the food you want to eat tomorrow so it stays fresh and acts as an ice block. Milk or meat, bread or water – anything that freezes well can slowly defrost in your cool box keeping the whole thing chilled without taking up extra room and becoming a dead weight once it’s defrosted like an ice pack does.
Take a salt and pepper mix
Don’t leave home without salt and pepper! A bit of flavour can enhance any campsite meal and it’s annoying if you have to head to the shops to buy a whole tub of salt when all you want is a pinch. Likewise, for pepper, oil and herbs. We’d recommend filling a small jar with a freshly-ground salt and pepper mix. Those individual portion jam jars from hotels and restaurants are great for this.
Sleeping bag socks
Everyone knows that protecting your sleeping bag from damp is a basic rule of camping, right? If it’s the one dry thing you have after a massive downpour you can still get a good night’s sleep. You can increase its worth further by putting an extra pair of socks in your sleeping bag before you go away. If you’re walking or hiking and get wet feet on the way to your night’s pitching place or if the campsite is a bit muddy, having a pair of clean dry socks when you get in to bed can feel like a real luxury and help ensure a cosy night’s sleep.