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Camping Hacks

I hope you are enjoying reading about these camping hacks as much as I enjoyed trying them!

Part 5

Camping hack #21

Pack a mini first-aid kit into an old prescription bottle or Altoids tin.

The problem with this idea is that prescription bottles and Altoids tins are too small!

The only first aid items that would fit into my tin were a few bandaids and a pair of tweezers.

bandaids in Altoids tin

Why not really prepare? Pack some useful first aid items in a ziploc bag, or invest in a mini first aid kit like this one.

mini first aid kit

If you're going to take the time to be prepared, you might as well be prepared for more than just a splinter or a scraped knee!

The verdict: A handy way to carry bandaids, but that's all.

Camping hack #22

Make pancakes with premade pancake mix using shortening and dry milk.

I love any idea that has you do most of the work at home. This is a great one!

At home, just mix together a few simple ingredients.

  • 9 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup double-acting baking powder
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 cups non-fat dry milk

Cut in 1 3/4 cups shortening until the mixture has the consistency of cornmeal.

Put 2 cups of the mixture in a container with a tight-fitting lid. (Save the rest for another time by storing it in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to 6 weeks - or freeze it.)

Put on a label that says, "Add 1 egg and 1 cup water".

pancake mix in container

Pack the container in your food box, and be sure to pack some eggs too.

At camp, when you are ready to make pancakes, just add 1 egg and 1 cup/250 mL of water.

Shake the jar vigorously, and your batter is ready to pour!

pouring pancake batter

I used gluten-free flour, and my batter was a bit lumpy - but the pancakes were completely delicious! I'm guessing that wheat flour would produce a smoother batter.

I tested this at home in my kitchen, and I can't wait for next summer so I can try it at the campsite!

The verdict: A convenient and easy way to make pancakes!

It's important to use a jar with a tight-sealing lid! Here's what I use.

Camping hack #23

Put a battery-powered votive candle into an empty peanut butter container to make a portable lantern.

The photo says it all: this idea doesn’t create much light.

votive candle in plastic jar

This makes a nice little night-light, but that’s all. It’s not nearly enough light for reading, or even for finding your socks in your duffle bag. Perhaps there are votive candles that give lots of light, but I couldn’t find them.

By the way, a plain old battery-powered votive gave just as much - or little - light as a battery-powered votive in a jar.

The verdict: Cute, but not functional.

Camping hack #24

Make a portable washing machine with a plunger and a bucket.

Once again, the effort didn’t seem worth the results, so I didn’t try this one. If I need to wash something when I’m camping, I just use a basin and my hands.

What do you do?

The verdict: This seemed like a lot of work for no purpose, so I didn't try it.

If you don't want to scrub clothes by hand, try this: "the lightest and smallest washing machine in the world"! It weighs just 5 ounces!

Camping hack #25

Make an easy-to-carry fire starter with a cardboard-only egg carton and match light charcoal.

I don't quite get the point of this hack.

In the first place, a couple of pieces of dry newspaper work perfectly well for starting a campfire. The only problem is remembering to bring the newspaper - but if you use a good camping list, that's not a problem at all.

And if you can remember to bring the charcoal and egg carton, you can remember the newspaper!

But I tried it anyway. I brought six pieces of charcoal and a paper egg carton. I cut the egg carton in half and placed the pieces of charcoal in the carton.

charcoal in egg carton

(Sorry about the fuzzy photo! I think I was in a rush to start cooking my breakfast!)

I placed the carton in the firepit and lit the egg carton with a match. It took several matches, but finally the carton began to burn sluggishly.

I placed some small pieces of wood over the flames. They started to burn - but the charcoal did not! In a few minutes, the egg carton flame sputtered out and that was the end of the fire.

charcoal and egg carton fire starter

I ended up starting the fire with newspaper after all!

Perhaps this would work if I had soaked the charcoal with lighter fluid, but that really seems to be missing the point.

The verdict: Don't bother. Use newspaper, or try this idea instead.

Keep reading! My very favorite tip is in Part 6!

Did you miss the earlier parts of the series? Click here to go to Part 1.

Before you set off on your next camping trip, be sure to visit The Camping Family's home page.

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