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Camping Shortcuts It’s OK to Take | Camping Tips

Last Updated on March 13, 2019 by Jody

Do you stress about not ‘camping right'? Maybe you were told that taking camping shortcuts meant you weren't ‘really camping'? Or maybe you tried a camping shortcut once and someone told you that's ‘not the way to camp'. Well, we are just going to nix those negatives right now. Here, in our ‘no judgement' zone the only wrong way to camp is to not camp at all!

So, with that in mind, here are some of our favorite camping shortcuts it's OK to take!

camping tips & shortcuts

Easy Camping Shortcuts

Sometimes you just want things to be easy. We completely understand! These camping hacks are simple and designed to let you relax and enjoy camping!

Cooking KISS

I used to be more of gourmand camper but toady I'm a minimalist camper: I only bring a primus, campfire set and cooking utensils. Food is dehydrated backpacking food. Backpacking dehydrated meals are easy to prepare, and dehydrated backpacking food is lightweight and easy to carry in our backpacks. An added bonus is also I don’t need to worry about keeping my food cool when we are out camping.  – Kari Svenneby, ActiveKidsClub.com

Get Kari's tips on making a camp kitchen


Potty Trained

One of my favorites for car camping was to bring along an old potty-training potty, even when our girls didn’t need to use it at home any more. I’d put it in the tent vestibule and then they could get up in the middle of the night and easily pee without having to trek to the bathhouse (and wake us up to do so). – Chez Chesak, Travel pro

Logged In

Light n' Go Bonfire Log. Camping Shortcuts

Because we often camp out of state and in state parks we run into a lot of wood bans. Since we know we will end up buying wood either on site or from an enterprising family nearby, we usually pick up a couple of Bonfire Logs before our trip. The cost is similar to what we would pay for a bundle of wood at a campsite and we know we have a product that will burn well for a couple of hours. (We've bought some really bad wood in the past so it's nice to have a consistent product.) Locally we have found these logs at Home Depot. – Jody Halsted, publisher Camping Tips for Everyone

Learn more about the Light n' Go Bonfire Log

Put a Spork in It

Spork Multi Utensil for Camping

Instead of hauling plastic or real silverware, we use spoon-fork-knife combo utensils. They are easy to clean, durable, and space saving. Saves time on clean up and they are fun for the kids to use. We bought ours at Eddie Bauer where they are sold near the registers. (Order on Amazon)- Vicki, That Was A First

Read Vicki's packing tips for your first camping trip

Cycle Camping Shortcuts

bike camping | Family Adventure Project

We cycle camp a lot and find bedding bulky so like to shave it where possible. Instead of five Thermarests we take four, lie them widthways instead of lengthways and leave our feet and ankles uncushioned. We also pack empty pillow cases, stuff them with our jumpers at the end of a day’s riding, and enjoy a night’s sleep with our pop-up pillows. – Kirstie Pelling, The Family Adventure Project

Read Kirstie's camping tips- from tent buying to wild sleeping, and everything in between.

Two Minute Tent

tent view

One of the biggest hassles for camping on my own or with my son is the time it takes to put up and take down the tent. With the popularity of ‘instant setup’ tents this problem is solved! Literally, one to two minute set up means more time to relax in the hammock and enjoy the outdoors. – Karilyn Owen, No Back Home

Get Karilyn's tips for camping with kids

S'more Shortcut

LU Cookies Le Petit Ecolier

This is a small shortcut but we swear by it. We buy chocolate topped cookies like LU's Le Petite Ecolier for making s'mores instead of the graham cracker/Hershey bar combo.  It’s more compact to pack. And it’s less unwieldy and likely to break into pieces when you bite it. Also the chocolate is better. – Eileen Gunn, FamiliesGo! 

Get Eileen's Tips for a First Father-Son Camping Trip

Dish Duty

Byer of Maine 22.5

“I love doing the dishes at the campsite“, said nobody.

Dirty dishes is one of those unglamorous but necessary tasks when camping. Fortunately, I came across this travel wash basin that has made this process extremely easy, so you can get them done quickly and conveniently. It contains 3 sections: One water-tight section for soapy water, one water-tight section for rinsing, and a mesh drying section. Just set it up next to your camp chair, fill with water, and you'll be done sooner than you know it. – Austin Gardner, Formative Adventures
 

Lather Up

Bar shampoo, particularly a 4-in-1 bar (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, shave lather all in one), is a great camping space saver. Pack one small bar instead of four separate products!

Pro tip: cut your bar into smaller pieces and take just what you'll need on your camping trip, saving even more space, as well as helping the bar to dry faster, which prolongs its life. Julie Ap, Open Wide the World

Check out Julie's Tips for Whitewater Kayaking

H2O to Go

Before you leave to go camping, freeze water in water jugs (check out Moosebag) and to take on your trip. While traveling we store them in the fridge and cooler to keep food items cold and then when you arrive, you have nice cool water that is ready for drinking because it's melted down some.

Reuse the same water jugs for future camping trips and it works great on saving space, time and money! – Thena Franssen, Hodge Podge Hippie

Read Thena's 10 Camping Hacks that are a Must

Map It Out

Most state and national parks and other places you camp and hike now have downloadable maps online, and some even have their own apps!

Check the park's own website and your phone's app store to see if your destination has one available. If they do, download them and have your maps on your phone ahead of time (perfect for pre-planning your hikes & activities!) Tip: be sure the map is accessible offline- just in case your location has no cellular service! – Lindsay Hindman, Siouxland Families

Read about Five Ridge State Prairie at Siouxland Families

What are your favorite camping shortcuts? Share your tricks in the comments!

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3 Comments

    1. Thank you for contributing!
      And ditto on the cookies! We will use Keebler Fudge Stripes- but I bet the Le Petit Ecolier are MUCH better!

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