Psst, you. Unfold that crook scroller’s neck and listen up. We’ve got the best outdoor hacks in the business.
You’ve seen them at the campground. They effortlessly float through camp setup while you flounder around bending your tent pegs. It seems like they’re part of some secret society that knows where to get camping gear that actually works together and wood that actually burns.
Well rub the smoke from them daydreamin’ eyes because you know that ain’t true. What these people have isn’t just experience, it’s hacks.
Hacks have become a bit of a dirty word after every website on earth posted about ‘Life Hacks’ in the twenty teens, but they’re actually pretty neato. With just a few tips you’ll add years of experience to your camping resume and everyone will want to sleep with you.
We asked the We Are Explorers community Facebook Group what their favourite hacks were and they went bloody mental. Read on, towards enlightenment.
1. Head Torch Bottle Lantern
Suggested by Nathan McNeil
The method is simple, just chuck your water bottle on top of your head torch to diffuse the light through it, bonus points if your water bottle is a wild colour. #ravetent
Level Up: Bring a camping mug big enough to hold your water bottle. It saves space and by chucking the head torch in the mug and plonking the bottle on top you’ll have a lantern in less time than it takes to say ‘yeah I’m just really getting into minimalism’.
2. Cheeky Duct Tape
Suggested by Jonathan Gibson
This one blew my mind when I first saw it. Simply take a roll of your preferred tape (duct or gaffa are good all-rounders) and start wrapping it around your lighter, water bottle, EPIRB.. basically anything round. Now you’ve got a metre of bomber tape ready for quick repairs or bootleg blister protection (yep, there’s a hack for that below).
3. Spicy Pill Box
Suggested by Jo Cosham
I know, the last time you saw spicy pills was at Splendour, but this idea is pretty ingenious. Simply fill a pill box with all the herbs and spices you need to turn your camp cookout up to 11.
4. Hip Trench
Suggested by Mike Ashelford
If you don’t have a fancy thicc sleeping pad this one’s for you! Simply dig a shallow trench for your hip before you pitch your tent and lay down your mat, line those up somehow, and voila! Hip sleeping never felt this good.
Leave no trace: This one comes with a caveat; only do this if you’re at a campground where you’re allowed to disturb the soil and can easily fix it up when you go to leave.
5. Frozen Burrito
Suggested by Jonathan Gibson
This is raw stoke, I’m gonna let Jono explain it:
‘If you can have a fire at your campsite or hike in spot, buy your favorite burrito, wrap in more foil and then freeze it. On the first night, toss your semi-frozen burrito near some coals and bam! While everyone else is chewing down freeze-dried meals you can enjoy a tasty burrito. Maccas breakfast muffins also work well for this if that’s your vibe.’
6. Nalgene Hot Water Bottle
Suggested by Lorna Cartwright Hliounakis and many more!
There might not be anything more satisfying than making a bootleg hot water bottle while camping in winter. I’ve done this camping in the snow before and it’s certified top shelf.
Boil your water and pour it into your bottle. Screw it up nice and tight, then slide it into a sock and push it down to the bottom of your sleeping bag. It’ll be warm for hours!
7. Bootleg Blister Protection
Suggested by Stephanie Langridge
This one is pretty dire straits, but could save you a much much worse time down the track. If you’ve got a really bad blister, cut a little bit of foam from your sleeping pad (or keep some in your first aid kit), grab some of the duct tape from your bottle and stick it to the foam. It might just be the padding that saves ya.
8. Extra Sticky Blister Tape
Suggested by Laurence Kain
Say you’ve thought far enough ahead to bring an actual medical strapping tape like Leukoplast. Well hold ya horses sonny Jim, don’t go putting socks and shoes on just yet!
Once you’ve covered your hotspot, Laurence recommends running a lighter near the tape, letting it get so hot you can barely stand it, then letting it cool, before booting up. Apparently this glue-improving trick once helped him make one bit of tape last 10 days. Yikes!
Bonus Hack: Round the corners of the tape before applying, this will give it less edges to catch and peel off.
9. Turbo Campfire
Suggested by Ben Darwall
Struggling to get your campfire going? Wet wood, need coals in a flash, or just trying to light logs with a lighter? A cordless leaf blower or mattress pump can rocket your fire to life (and if it doesn’t stay that way after, you can well and truly give up).
Fire safety: This hack has the potential to spread embers everywhere, don’t do that. Keep the area around your fire clear of flammable stuff and don’t use this method (or even have a fire) when there’s fire danger or bans in place.
11. Lit Tent Pegs
Suggested by Wendy Elliott
You’ll have to find a new way to deck yourself around camp ‘cause Wendy’s solved this one. Simply strap a glow stick to any troublesome tent pegs and then don’t let your mates get too blind.
Bonus hack: My Dad, who’s a bit of a glamper, brings solar-powered garden lights from Bunnings, because he’s worth it.
12. Sleeping Bag Gas
Suggested by Peter Davidson
In really cold weather, the gas canister that works with your hiking stove might struggle to put out gas if it gets too cold. Don’t worry though, there’s a solution, and it involves cuddles!
Just chuck your gas canister into the bottom of your sleeping bag and get cosy.
13. Bargain Waterproof Gloves
Suggested by Rita Kurpiewski
Waterproof gloves are expensive, and permeable, and they come in such boring colours!
Rita’s got a hack, just chuck dishwashing gloves over your normal gloves! Sweaty, but functional! I know for a fact that Beau Miles does this, and he’s got credentials.
14. Toasty Booty
Suggested by Nick Fraser
Warm feet and legs from the fire but a freezing arse? Nick’s got a solution so elegant I can’t believe I’ve never thought of it. Put some hot coals under your camp chair!
Ok so obviously this hack could damage your chair or burn you, and definitely don’t do it in an enclosed area. But if you pull it off I can imagine the satisfaction is without compare.
15. Pre-Dug Poo Pit
Suggested by Michael I-i
We hope that you know how to poo in the bush, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get it wrong. Mike suggests pre-digging a hole (this could even be a cathole) so it’s ready to go when nature calls for a number deuce. You’ll be especially glad for this hack if the weather’s bad or someone gets sick.
16. Pre-Cool Your Esky
Suggested by me!
There’s no quicker way to melt ice (apart from Australian Government climate policy ofc) than making it do all the work of cooling your esky down first. If you’ve got your shit together, pour in a bunch of ice the night before and put any drinks in the fridge. It’s a total Dad move and I’m here for it.
17. Credit Card Cutlery
Suggested by Gary Roberts
Oh man, things are getting grim down in Hackville. This one’s from a time where Gary forgot cutlery and just ate off his Medicare card for a week. Hey, it’s ultralight! Onya Gaz.
18. Cereal To Go
Suggested by Owen Matthews
Don’t portion out your cereal or oats each morning, mixing in ingredients and long-life milk at camp. Do it at home! You can even put powdered milk in the ziploc bag so you just have to add water. I usually do oats, chia seeds, dark chocolate and some slivered almonds. Yom.
This option isn’t exactly plastic free, so I use these bags as rubbish bags when I’ve snacked down their contents. They’re resealable!
Oh and you know the mini cereal boxes you get at motels? You can also pour milk directly into them. No one can stop you!
The Dehydrated Food Packet Hack: Dehydrated food packaging usually has two rip points: one to open it, pour in the hot water and seal it up, and one lower down that turns it into a bowl. Don’t rip that second one! Instead, turn your used packaging into a resealable rubbish bag.
19. Get A Dehydrator
Suggested by Kate Donald
I used to think that hiking meant laying down $50 bucks for decidedly sub par dehydrated dinners and that was that. Then I found out that you can get dehydrators from Vinnies or Target and just DIY. Kate’s written a pretty stellar guide, get desiccating my dudes!
20. Full Bladder
Suggested by Amy Fairall
When driving, especially alone, chuck a hydration bladder on the passenger seat and drink from the tube. They’re huge and you won’t have to try and open a drink bottle all the time while you drive!
Some Words of Wisdom
Don’t worry, they’re not from me! Someone in the group just said this: ‘Less is more. If it doesn’t have a multipurpose, don’t take it.’. Deep down that’s at the core of all these hacks. There’s totally a very valid place for niche outdoor gear, but a lot of the time it’s totally fine to make do (and blow minds in the process).
You can join our community group and if you’ve got an epic outdoor hack we missed, comment below so we can add it to the list!
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