35+ Camping Tips, Tricks & Treats
Summer holidays are just around the corner and if you have a camping trip or two on your agenda, you might just find a new trick or two in this bunch!
I’ve put together a list of projects and ideas to help around the campsite, a list of must-have home remedies (for poison ivy, mosquito bites, etc.), plus a bunch of fun ideas for cooking you might want to try this year…and don’t miss the old-timer’s fishing weather poem and dependable rope knot examples at the bottom of the page.
Lots here and I’ll be adding more goodies to this page as I find them so you may want to bookmark it for future reference. Enjoy!
To start things off, here’s a recipe for removing mildew from tents:
Step 1: Mix 1/2 cup of Lysol in 1 gallon of hot water. Wash your tent with the solution (use a sponge) and let it air dry.
Step 2: Mix 1 cup salt and 1 cup concentrated lemon juice in 1 gallon of hot water. Wash again with this solution and let it air dry.
Although visible stains won’t be removed, it does kill the mildew.
General Maintenance Suggestion:
Remember, after use your tent should be thoroughly aired-out before being stored. Even if you camped in perfect weather, dampness from the ground, from condensation and from respiration will provide enough moisture for mildew to take hold. It will also last longer if you avoid storing it in its stuff sack. Instead, hang it up or keep it in a large and breathable storage bag.
Source: I published this previously here on Tipnut (January 25, 2007) from an online source that is no longer available.
Next is a batch of DIY projects and a few tips…
Clever Night Lamp: Make this with a plastic milk jug filled with water and wrapped with a headlamp.
Build A Mobile Kitchen: Make things easy by packing essentials in a box just for trips, includes a checklist to download.
Newspaper Logs: Make your own firewood with this trick using newspaper & water.
Try spraying “Original” Listerine around the campsite to repel mosquitoes. You’ll find more suggestions here.
Are wasps making their presence known around the campsite? Make a trap with a jar, some jam and a bit of juice. See instructions here.
Make your own ice packs with liquid dish detergent or fill empty juice boxes and milk cartons with water and freeze. More ideas found here.
Laplander Stove How-To: Slits are cut into a log then stuffed loosely with bark, twigs, pitch wood, etc.
DIY Laundry Kit: Made with a 5-gallon bucket (& lid) and a new toilet plunger. Hang clothes on a rope to dry.
Duct Tape Stash: Wrap a couple feet of duct tape around a lighter to always have a stash on hand without the bulk.
Gear Checklist: Free pdf printable on a single page listing assorted supplies to check off (Shelter, Cooking & Meals, Toiletries, etc.).
Quick Tip: Save the ashes from the campfire to use in the garden.
How To Make Waterproof Matches & Fire Starters
*First published March 26, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization
Here are different methods to waterproof your own matches and make fire starters, you should use wood stick matches rather than the cardboard sticks.
Although they’re waterproof, make sure to store them in a sealed, waterproof container. Ziplock bags, old prescription bottles, film canisters and small tins should work just fine.
- Dip the first half of the match in melted wax. You can use old candle stubs or canning wax/paraffin wax for this. Dry, then dip the other half to completely seal the match.
- Dip the first half of the match in clear nail polish. Dry, then dip the other half to completely seal.
- If you want to pack away some fire starters for camping or ‘just in case’ you get stuck in the bush when backpacking or biking, fill the holes of an empty egg carton with sawdust, or dryer lint, or fabric scraps. Pour melted wax over each and let cool. Store in sealed ziploc bags.
- To make waterproof ones, tightly roll newspapers or fabric scraps about 1 1/2 inches thick and 3 inches long, wind string tightly around the roll to hold the roll together. Completely submerge in melted wax. Dry then store.
After dipping the matches and rolls, lay them on a sheet of clean wax paper to dry thoroughly. After they are dry, place them in the waterproof container (or ziploc bag) and store away until needed.
- Nut Shells: Don’t toss away peanut shells or shells from other nuts. Store them year round in a big tub and take them camping. Toss the shells in amongst the kindling and they’ll act as wood chips.
- Lemon & Orange Peels: Save your peels from citrus fruits like lemons and oranges. You can toss them in the fire to give a nice, fresh smell.
- Alcohol Soaked Corks: Soak wine corks in rubbing alcohol (stored in a sealed glass jar). Toss a couple corks under the wood before lighting the fire.
- Candle Ends: Use the ends of candles by placing a couple in the middle of a wood pile and start the blaze with a little kindling.
From around the ‘net…
Made With Recycled Bits: These are made with egg cartons, dryer lint, shredded paper, bits of twigs and old candles.
Good To Know: First Aid & Remedies
Regular household vinegar can help with poison ivy (and oak), see more recommendations here (including a lard salve recipe).
A dot of mustard can help relieve the pain from a bee sting. See more suggestions here.
Pack a few bags of tea, they will come in handy if you get sunburned. See recommendations and more remedies here.
Recipes & Cooking
Orange Rolls: Uses refrigerated roll dough and bakes in halved orange rinds.
Fire Roasted Nachos: Ingredients are assembled in a foil pan, wrapped in foil then held over the fire for a few minutes to melt the cheese.
Gourmet S’mores: Suggests making these with (one or two of) peanut butter, Nutella, coconut, strawberries, pineapple, dried apples, candied ginger, banana slices.
Omelets In A Bag: Ingredients are mixed together in a Ziploc bag then cooked in a pot of boiling water.
Hobo Eclairs: Cooked on a broomstick! These are made with Pillsbury crescent dough and served with whipped cream.
Pancake Batter Idea: Prepare pancake batter at home and store in a plastic squeeze bottle for convenience.
Mushroom, Sun Dried Tomato and Mozzarella Dip: Cooked in a cast iron pan and served on a warm piece of toasted bread.
- 25+ Snack Mixes & Munchies: Lots of goodies in this collection, many can be made ahead of time and packed in plastic pails to be munched on later around the campfire.
- Quick Tip: Campsite coffee got you down? No need to settle! You can buy stainless steel french press pots (I use one at home) and the coffee turns out delicious every time! Here’s how to use one. You’ll need to grind coffee beforehand (at home) or if you prefer buying it, make sure it’s coarse ground.
- 13 Recipes From Sunset.com: Dutch Oven Braised Beef & Summer Vegetables; Pinnacles Scramble; Berry Camping Cake; Chili Lime Corn On The Cob & More.
- 50 Things To Grill In Foil: From Food Network, ideas include Jalapeno Poppers; Jerk Chicken Wings; Quesadillas; Mussels; Coconut Shrimp & more.
Campfire Banana Boat Recipe
*First published August 9, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization
Remember this childhood treat? Here’s how to make them:
- Peel back one strip of the banana peel (keep the peel attached on the other end).
- Slice the exposed banana in half lengthwise, but do not slice through to the peel on the other side.
- Fill the split banana with mini-marshmallows and Smarties (or chocolate chips or chocolate bar pieces).
- Fold the peel back in place and wrap the whole banana in foil.
- Place on the grill of a campfire.
- Once the chocolate and marshmallows are melted (you’ll have to keep checking–don’t overcook), remove from heat, grab a spoon and eat the hot gooey goodness between the peel.
Newspaper Fish How-To
*First published August 14, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization
Here’s a campfire favorite that can also be done on the BBQ. Doesn’t everything seem to taste better when cooked outdoors ?
What you’ll need:
Newspaper – soaked in water
- Gut and clean the fish then season the inside (you can also brush a light layer of oil on the outside if you like). Roll it up tightly in a couple sheets of wet newspaper.
- Place the wrapped fish directly on hot coals of a small campfire or on a hot grill. Cook for approximately 10 minutes on each side.
- Remove from heat and open the package, many times the skin will peel off with the newspaper.
- Cooking times will vary with the type and size of fish being cooked as well as how hot the heat is.
- Keep the head and tail on if you like. Use at least 2 sheets of newspaper when wrapping.
- If you don’t like the idea of cooking the fish in direct contact with the newspaper, wrap in a wet paper bag first.
- If you prefer, you can wrap with dry sheets of newspaper (tightly), and give it a good dunk in a pail of fresh water.
- Watch that the newspaper doesn’t get too dry and start on fire before the fish is done. Remove from heat before this happens, spray some more water on it and wrap another layer of wet newspaper. Return to the fire and finish cooking.
Depends on the type of fish being cooked, but some tasty suggestions:
- Lemon Pepper
- Onions, Cilantro, Salt & Pepper
- Lemon Slices (or wedges), Salt & Pepper
- Lemon Slices, Fresh Dill
- Lemon Slices, Rosemary
- Creole Seasoning
Fishing Weather Poem
When the wind is in the East,
‘Tis neither good for man or beast;
When the wind is in the north,
The skillful fisher goes not forth;
When the wind is in the south,
It blows the bait in the fishes’ mouth;
When the wind is in the west,
Then it’s at the very best.
Dependable Rope Knots, Hitches & Slings
*Source: Practical Helps For Farm & Home (1945)
- Bowline: Gives a loop that will not slip under strain, and can be easily untied when strain is released.
- Running Bowline: Passing long end through loop makes good slip knot.
- Bowline on a Bight: Makes comfortable emergency sling to sit in.
- Square or Reef Knot: For joining ropes together.
- Double Blackwall Hitch: For hitching rope to a hook for hoisting.
- Fisherman’s Bend: For fastening a rope to a ring or anchor.
- Wall Knot: Used to prevent unstranding and act as a stopper.
- Sheepshank: For shortening a rope or to pass by a weak spot.
- Timber Hitch and Half Hitch: For lifting spars. Can be easily loosened when strain is taken off, but will not slip under a pull.
- Clove Hitch: For fastening staging to upright or securing loose ends.
- Rolling Hitch: For hauling spar or large cable.