22 Camping Hacks from REI Experts


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After generations of sleeping outside, you tend to pick up a few tricks. Since 1938, REI employees and members have been creating and tuning pro tips to help make the outdoors a little more fun.

These may not change your life, but they just might save some time or impress your friends on the other side of the campfire.

1. Warm your sleeping bag with a Nalgene.

Some people were born with cold feet. To cope while camping, fill your Nalgene up with hot water and throw it in the bottom of your sleeping bag before bedtime.Camping Hacks

2. Make your own lantern.

After sunset, turn any translucent jug of water into a translucent jug of ambient light. Just strap your headlamp to your water bottle with the light facing inward and tell your scary story that isn’t scary at all.Camping Hacks

3. Pack the bottom of your sleeping bag with dry clothes.

If snuggling up to a bottle of hot water goes against your better judgment, try some dry clothes instead. They will soak up any moisture in the bottom of your sleeping bag and keep your favorite feet warm.Camping Hacks

4. Line your pack with a heavy-duty garbage bag.

Use garbage can science to help keep your stuff dry. Line your backpack with a plastic garbage bag and fill ‘er up.Camping Hacks

5. Keep one pair of your socks safe.

Learn to love sacred socks. Sacred socks are clean, dry socks that live in your sleeping bag for sleeping purposes only. It’s a beautiful thing.Camping Hacks

6. Use silica gel packs in your cookware.

Save those little silica gel packs and store them with your cookware to help prevent rust. All it takes is one rusty pan for everyone to start calling you Rusty and you just never come back from that.Camping Hacks

7. Pack a trailhead snack.

Send a gift to your future dirty, bug-bitten self by hiding your favorite snack in the car – only to be consumed upon completion of a successful camping trip. A little cookie can go a long way. Camping Hacks

8. Stuff sacks make good pillows.

Pillows are for peasants. Rough it like you mean it by stuffing some clothes in your stuff sack and using that as a pillow.Camping Hacks

9. Dry your shoes with crumpled clothes.

There’s no use crying over wet shoes. Remove your insoles and stuff a dry shirt or some newspaper in your boots overnight to dry them out. If you’re still feeling emotional, write some poetry.Camping Hacks

10. Try a plastic disc for a plate.

Everything tastes better when you’re camping, and everything tastes super radical when you’re eating it out of a flying plastic disc. Forget your plates on purpose! What a world.Camping Hacks

11. Hand sanitizer works as fire starter.

Use hand sanitizer to start a germ-free fire in a pinch.Camping Hacks

12. Or even lint.

You can also bring some lint with you as a lightweight fire-starter. Unless you’re saving that lint for something really important.Camping Hacks

13. Pack trick birthday candles for matches and fire starters.

You know those trick birthday candles that everyone hates? Turns out, they make great weatherproof matches/fire starters. Now mother nature can hate them too!Camping Hacks

14. Hang your clothes up with bread tags.

Start stockpiling your bread tags. They make great clothespins and they’re kinda shaped like slices of bread, which is helpful.Camping Outdoor Hack

15. Make a new grommet out of a rock.

Lose a grommet? Twist a rock in the same corner to make a new anchor point. Give the rock a respectable name like Barnaby or Winifred.Camping Outdoor Hack

16. Candle wax makes great zipper lubricant.

Keep your zippers zippy by applying a little bit of candle wax from a very un-lit candle.camping outdoor hack

17. Bring your spices in sealed straws.

Flame-sealed sections of drinking straws make handy spice holders and terrible water balloons.Camping Outdoor Hack

18. Keep your down sleeping bag fluffy by drying it with tennis balls.

When drying a down-filled sleeping bag, include a few tennis balls to preserve loft.Camping Outdoor Hack

19. Put your drowned phone in a bag of rice. Cross your fingers.

Drop your phone in the river? Put it in that bag of rice your vegan friend brought. Leave it in there for two days and it just might save your phone.Camping Outdoor Hack

20. Make your own selfie stick with a real stick.

Want to experience life from a stick’s perspective? Attach your GoPro to a stick!camping outdoor hack

21. Use that stick to make a tripod with your trekking poles.

You can also make your own tripod with some trekking poles and that stick that you made friends with earlier.camping outdoor hack

22. Or just bring a smartphone tripod.

Alternatively, you can just bring a tripod for your smartphone. You’ll look way cooler than the guy with the stick.camping outdoor hack

  1. Have a favorite hack that makes camping better? Please share in the comments below.