Camping is always a great adventure. There are a bunch of hacks you can use to enhance your camp out experience. Here are our favourite hacks for you to use when camping.
Before packing for your very first camping trip, it is a great idea to do a practice pitch at home. A practice pitch gives you the chance to check that guy ropes, tent pegs and poles are all present and accounted for before you set off. It gives you time to get in replacements if they’re not. It also allows you the chance to learn the ropes in private before showcasing your skills on site. Even a pop-up tent is worth unfurling before you set off: it might take two seconds to pitch but it can be two hours to repack if you haven’t got the hang of it.
If you are going away for more than an overnight stay, you might want to take a blow-up mattress with you. You can get really good used ones for dramatically lower prices if you go on Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace. Make sure you always test it out first to make sure it isn’t full of holes!
When using your air mattress make sure you keep it away from the sides of the tent, otherwise you can wake up with a wet pillow from the sides of the tent.
You can also use foam floor tiles as a lightweight and non-bulky way of making your space more comfortable. These can also be used as an outdoor mat during the day.
Have cold feet at night? Fill a water bottle with hot water from your gas cooker and put it down in your sleeping bag to keep your feet nice and warm. Keep your socks on for added warmth.
Onesies are your camping companion.
Keep your tent from becoming unbearably hot by using a reflective blanket to deflect sunlight.
It is always super important to have a torch with you, for both inside and outside the tent. Make sure you bring spare batteries too.
Paint the inside of a jar with non-toxic glow-in-the-dark paint for an easy DIY lantern.
Fill your tent with a soft light all through the night by filling a jug with water and wrapping your headlamp around it. This will make the tent a not-so-scary place for kids who are afraid of the dark.
If you don’t want to make your own, then fairy lights can make a great light source in your tent too.
Solar lights outside the tent and on the way to the bathroom area will help you find your way around instead of fumbling in the dark.
Keep tent zippers from sticking by rubbing them with a wax candle. This will prevent you from getting stuck inside an old tent. This isn’t so necessary for newer models.
Bring a little book of poisonous plants (and animals) depending on where you are.
Mark where your guy ropes are with thin pool noodles or ribbons. You can also use high-viz material so you can see them if you are fumbling around in the dark.
Pack ear plugs. You might think escaping to the countryside means total peace and quiet, but nature can be pretty noisy! As can other campers…
Bigger is Better
Choose your tent size wisely. When tent manufacturers label their tent sizes, they seem to have very tiny people in mind. Tents labeled as ‘one-man’ are fine if you’re very slight and don’t mind sleeping with your arms pinned to your sides; ‘two-man’ means one; ‘three-man’ means two. Always buy at least two sizes up for a comfortable camping experience. Before you make the purchase, visit an outdoor retail shop or even a camping show, where you can see tents up and in action.
Remember that if you’ll need to carry your tent (if you are hiking) then check you can handle the weight.
Keep a shoe basket near the entrance to collect those dirty shoes and keep your tent floor tidy.
A she-wee can be useful for women in the great outdoors. You can even have a ‘fit-for-purpose’ bucket in the porch of your tent if you are worried about using the loo in the night. Especially if you are trying to avoid those festival toilets in the dark!
Keep your tent clean. When you get home tired and dirty, it’s all too easy to stick your tent straight back in the cupboard until next time. ‘Do that with a wet or dirty tent and you’re asking for trouble: next time you get it out, it’ll stink to high heaven! If it’s been a long time, it might have even gone moldy – which can damage the fabric.’
If you are allowed fires on your campsite, it is a great idea to bring a metal grill and an old-fashioned kettle. This way you can cook everything on the embers of your fire. This is fun and saves bringing a gas cooker.
Buy kindling and fire logs. If you want a great fire that starts easily and keeps going buy some wood for it. Collecting wood is great fun, but there will come a point when you are tired and will really appreciate that stash you bought. They usually sell it at the front desk of the campsite.
If you do bring a gas cooker make sure you have extra gas and that it still works before you set off.
BBQs can be more hassle than they are worth at a campsite. Only take it if you specifically want a BBQ not just as something to cook with. Gas cookers are far more useful and easier to tidy away.
Cotton pads dipped in wax is an easy way to make portable fire starters.
Add pancake batter to an old Ketchup bottle. Pancakes while camping is the best.
Pre-cook food and store in a cool box so it is ready to eat or heat up.
Add bundles of sage to a campfire to keep mosquitoes away. Citronella can be great too.
Choosing a Destination
Pembrokeshire may look like a great place for a weekend of camping – but if you live in London and want to leave after work on a Friday, you will arrive in the dark and have to try and pitch your brand-new tent in the dark too. Don’t make it hard on yourself: leave earlier than you think you need to and arrive in daylight hours or choose a destination that’s a little closer to home.
Get to the campsite as early as you can to get the best pitches. If you do arrive late, prioritise pitching the tent and finding loos and food before darkness, tiredness and hunger set in. Always put your tent up before going to the pub. It’s difficult – and embarrassing – trust me, we know.
Camp on higher ground. That higher ground might look windy and exposed, making that cosy little nook at the bottom of the hill all the more appealing, but a little overnight rain combined with the early dew can transform the area it into a small pond.
So, there we have it. All the hacks you will need to have a perfect camping experience