By Emmi Buck
Essential Oxygen Staff & Outdoor Enthusiast
These camping hacks will help you pack smarter and lighter, as well as reduce your impact on mother nature – all while making your outdoors trip the best experience possible!
#1: Freeze bottles of water to use in your cooler
This hack helps reduce the plastic you use (which usually becomes garbage on the trip), helps you bring plenty of water, and saves space in the cooler without bulky frozen pads. Fill up and freeze some re-usable water bottles at least 24 hours before your trip, and space them out in your cooler. As the water melts, you have nice icy-cold drinking water!
#2: Bring a travel sized container of biodegradable 3% Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide
This multi-purpose cleaner can be used to wipe down camp dishes, cleaning utensils or camping gear, get stains out of clothes, clean ears and wounds, and get rid of skunk smell in case you encounter one of those striped-smelly-sprayers! Since it’s biodegradable, you can confidently clean anything out in nature knowing that our biodegradable FGHP is good for you and for mother earth. You can also add a little to your ears to clean them out, or gently clean a cut to disinfect. Lastly, if your dog or yourself ends up on the wrong end of a skunk, making a paste with baking soda and a little FGHP will get the smell off fide or yourself!
#3: Pre-make most of your food
Whether it’s homemade pre-frozen breakfast burritos, a simple potato or pasta salad, or just washing and chopping veggies before you head out of town, these tricks help in lots of ways! You reduce the packaging/garbage you’ll need to bring with you, save time, and also save yourself the hassle of cleaning dishes while camping.
My favorite camping meal is healthy breakfast burritos, simple recipe below:
- 10 tortillas of your choice
- 10 organic eggs (look for local if you can!)
- 2 large potatoes (peel if desired and cut into grape-sized chunks)
- ½ a yellow onion (chopped)
- 4 cups fresh spinach
- 3 cups grated cheese (I prefer cheddar)
- 1 lb. MSG-free, organic sausage (local if possible again!) ***omit for vegetarian option and add more veggies if desired***
- Olive oil, salt, pepper, italian seasoning
- Aluminum foil
- Salsa (if desired)
- If using sausage (or another meat of your choice) season to taste and cook in a pan, then remove meat on to a plate, keeping the grease inside the pan.
- Using the same pan you cooked the meat in (or add some olive oil to a pan if you’re not using meat), add the chopped potatoes and season to taste with some salt, pepper and italian seasoning and fry on medium-high for ~8 minutes or until light brown. Add the chopped onion and reduce heat to medium-low, cooking another 4-5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Once thoroughly cooked, add the veggies to a plate, keeping some oil and seasoning in the pan for the eggs.
- Scramble the eggs in a bowl, and add to the same pan you’ve been using, cooking on medium-low heat until the eggs are thoroughly cooked, stirring as you go to give them some fluff texture. At the last minute, add the spinach and stir into warm eggs to help it saute down a bit.
- Lay out tortillas, filling them one at a time, with a small handful/layer of cheese first, then the eggs, then the veggies, and lastly some meat. Roll up the burrito and place on a sheet of aluminum foil, wrapping it tight.
- Once you’ve made them all, add to your freezer, and now the’re ready to reheat over a campfire or stove with minimum work and no clean-up in the morning! You can add some salsa for extra flavor and juicy-ness if desired before eating.
#4: Pack a 3-ounce travel size Organic Brushing Rinse
Not only is it a mouthwash and toothpaste in one, it is biodegradable, so it’s safe to spit out in nature. Keeping your oral care on track while camping/backpacking is crucial, so don’t neglect your pearly whites while you’re away from home. If you’re in a pinch, the Organic Brushing Rinse can also act as a cleaning product for your camp dishes since it has Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide in it!
#5: Bring pre-charged re-usable battery packs or small solar set-up
Whether you need to power a light, Bluetooth speaker, or charge your phone, you can mind many brands of small, lightweight battery packs or portable solar set-ups. Don’t forget the charging cables for any items you want to power-up! We love the Goal Zero mini-solar panels that easily strap to a back-pack and fold for transport.
#6: Extra bags, large and small
You’ll find so many uses for some extra bags. Whether it’s a wet towel or bathing suit you don’t want getting everything else wet in your bag, some dirty dishes you’d rather wash at home, or you find trash left by others (please pick it up!) you can always find uses from your old shopping bags. I also like to put my really muddy camping shoes in them once the adventure is over and I don’t want to dirty my bag or car.
#7: Repurpose shirts or towels for camping rags
If you have an odl towel or t-shirt you we’re getting ready to toss, cut it up into hand-towel sized rags and bring along to use for cleaning while camping. Whether you use it to scrub off pans/dishes/silverware, or wipe down dirty camping gear, these always come in handy and you don’t have to worry how dirty they get!
#8: Bring a small container of coconut oil
By now we all know there are a LOT of uses for coconut oil, and you’d be surprised how handy it can come in white camping! You can use it in cooking, and also on your body. Did you know coconut oil is ~5 SPF and has antioxidants in it to protect skin from sun? It’s also great for dry or chapped skin, soothing aching hiking feet, and softening unruly or damaged hair. Forgot your creamer? It also tastes great when added to coffee! Add some to a small jar for easy and light transportation.
#9: Think through your car/RV/tent/cooler placement
When you get to your camping site, check where the sun is rising and setting and look for shaded areas to park your car and/or set up your tent. Those extra hours of shade in the morning will help you sleep in by keeping your tent nice and cool. It’s never fun to wake up to warm drinks in a cooler, or melted chocolate bars in the car!
#10: Avoid cotton based clothing
Cotton can hold water really well, so if it rains or you fall in a stream – you’d be much better off wearing a synthetic material or wool which dries much quicker. This is especially important if you’re going to be camping where it’s cold or temperatures drop at night. Staying dry and warm can mean the difference between life or death in extreme situations.
#11: Map it out
Make sure you have a detailed printed map of the area your going or before you leave cell service, pull up a map and take screenshots on your phone. Even if you think you know the area well, downed trees, shifted rivers, overgrowth of new plants, or closed trails can always throw you for a loop. Be prepared with a back-up camping spot or route so you’re ready in case things change on the fly while you’re out of cell service.