Alternative camping tips

2012-08-17 08:38

While being fully kitted out with all sorts of groovy gadgets is any camper's dream, the truth is building a collection could cost you a lot of time, not to mention money.

So, here are a few cost-effective, DIY tips to make your next camping trip a little more comfortable, inspired by TipNut.

Easy-on-the-eyes reading lamp (Level: easy, fit for the lazy)

A weekend away in the wild is the perfect opportunity to catch up on a bit of reading, and if your novel is a real page turner you wouldn't want to put it down when it's time for bed. However, manufacturing a satisfactory reading light in a tent is always easier said than done. It's always either too dim or too bright, or shining in the wrong direction, or in a sleepy tent-mate's eyes...

Well, not anymore! This classic problem can be solved quite easily using a large plastic milk or juice jug filled with water. 

What to do: Adorn it with your headlamp, light shining inward through the water... and voila! You have a lovely, warm, soft light.

Source: Listorama on Flickr

DIY Ointment packs (Level: intermediate, not recommended for lazy campers)

A comprehensive first aid kit that includes antihistamine, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory ointment is an absolute priority when it comes to camping. However, carrying large tubes of these on a hike aren't very convenient. 

Instead, make tiny tubes of your own using drinking straws and a lighter. 

What to do: Place the straw over the opening of the ointment tube and carefully squeeze in a small amount of the ointment. Use you fingers to squeeze the end of the straw so that it pushes the ointment further up inside the plastic straw. Clamp the end of the straw down with pliers and seal using a lighter. Cut the other end off the straw and seal in the same manner.

Check out for more comprehensive instructions and descriptions. 

Toilet paper protector (Level: easy to intermediate, fit for the lazy)

There really is nothing worse than finding your once fluffy two-ply toilet paper has morphed into a soggy, grimy ball of fluff on day two of camping. 

This dreadful dilemma can easily be avoided by protecting your toilet roll in a plastic tub. 

What to do: Find a plastic tub that's large enough (if you don't have one lying around the house, check out Plastic Warehouse or something similar), make an incision on the side, insert toilet paper and feed a feed the first square through the slit. 

Insect-friendly fly repellent (Level: easy)

So, you're the type who really does feel terrible if you happen to hurt a fly. That's really sweet, but not always conducive to creating an enjoyable camping environment. 

Relax, with this clever innovation you won't have to lift a finger against even the most hideous fly. All you will need is a clear plastic bag, some water... oh, and a tree. 

What to do: Fill a clear plastic bag with water, knot it at the top and attach securely to a nearby tree. If there is no tree, try something like a pole. 

Why it works: According to Lifehacker "houseflies, being highly edible and defenseless, are nervous types, and don't like to sit still when they see something moving nearby, because it could be a predator. The water bag acts a bit like a lens-try it some time-in which the movements of people in the area are reflected." Essentially this scares them and makes them fly away. 

Shoe organizer as camping cupboard (Level: easy)

Along with cellphone car chargers and sunglasses, shoe organizers pretty much come standard at most South African traffic lights... ag, okay... robots. 

So, dear avid camper, next time you're about to shoo the vendor away, beckon them over instead and invest in one of the best camping gadgets you will ever find. If Murphy is fond of tricking you, however, and you can't lay your hands on one here, stores like Mr Price Home would probably satisfy the need. 

What to do: Firstly find a shoe organizer with as many pockets as possible. Most come standard with hooks at the top, so once you're at the campsite, string a sturdy washing line/chord and attached your shoe rack. Fill the pockets with all the things you use most often: toothpaste and toothbrushes, toilet paper, cutlery, candles, first aid goodies...

Source: Margie Barnett on Pinterest

Dried toothpaste dots (Level: easy, but it takes patience and time)

It's late, the fire has just died out, your head's pleasantly fuzzy from braaivleis and wine and the last thing you want to do right now is rush to the glare of ablution lights to brush your teeth. But you're the considerate type and would have to have your fellow tent-dwellers gagging in their sleep. So, you break the magic spell and do it anyway.

Well, here's a tip that could revolutionise your campsite hygiene: dried toothpaste. 

What to do: Preparation will have to start about 4 days before your camping trip. Spread out a sheet of foil or wax wrap on a clean surface you don't use too often (e.g. on top of the fridge). Grab a tube of your chosen toothpaste (avoid the gel type) and start squeezing little blobs out onto it. Once the toothpaste has dried sprinkle a bit of baking powder over the dots so they don't stick together, package them into Ziploc bags and seal. 

Now all you will have to do is pop the dot into your mouth, rinse with water and you're good to go.

Source: Jermm's Outside

Tea bag firelighters

If you like doing the DIY thing, you might want to try making firelighters with dried tea bags.

What to do: Leave tea bags out to dry after using them, once dry, soak in paraffin, and package in an airtight container. Use in exactly the same manner as you would regular shop-bought firelighters. 

A bar of soap for mosquito bite itch (Level: super easy)

Among camping pet hates, the incessant itch of a mosquito bite is probably would probably come out tops or close to it. 

Well, apparently rubbing a dry bar of soap onto the bite brings instant relief. Try it and let us know if it works!

See more mosquito bite relief tips on TipNut

Waterproof matches (Level: Intermediate. Not recommended minors)

A box of wet matches is right up there with soggy toilet paper when it comes to things that could possibly turn a camping trip miserable. 

The good news is that there are ways of waterproofing matches... quite a lot actually. 

Substances you can use include turpentine, nail polish, candle wax and paraffin wax. 

What to do: We'll use the nail polish method as a case study. Dip the head of the match into clear nail polish far enough to cover at least 3 millimeters of the stick below the head. Allow to dry and place back in their box. For more advice check out Wiki How

And for the really brave...

Laplander stove (Level: Difficult. Only for the brave, the strong and the energetic)

Gain unbeatable camping cred by cooking on a Laplander stove.

What to do: Find a sturdy, medium-sized log. Cut slits into the top to form a cross-shape. Stuff slits with bark, sticks and leaves. Set alight and cook your food.

Source: Tomahawk's Adventure

Read more on:    camping  |  travel south africa  |  travel tips

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

SHARE: publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside Travel


5 scientific benefits of owning a cat

According to science, just the act of watching cats itself can bring about positive emotions – so it comes as no surprise then, that owning a cat has a number of benefits.



Why we love cats
8 great natural remedies for your pet
How to clean your dog’s eyes
This special pooch inspired his brother to learn to stand again

#FindYourEscape with Traveller24

Your insider guide to exploring South Africa and the world...
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.