I often bump into eager wilderness seekers holding a pole in one hand and a peg in the other, looking more confused than a wallaby on astroturf. Camping, for many, can be wrought with frustration, mishaps and teeth-gritting thoughts of ‘woulda coulda shoulda’s’.
For some though, it seems to come as naturally as hopping does for kangaroos. How is this possible? Do these people carry a mutant camper gene? Are they descendants of MacGyver, the secret agent in the iconic 80’s TV show?
Of course the answer is no. Camping is a game of trial and error, and every time you experiment, you’ll learn and improve. It’s as simple as that.
These 10 camping hacks will have you camping like a #boss.
Don’t get lost - can you read a map?
Know where you’re going and how to get there. Being able to read a map, use a compass, translate a GPS and let others know your trip plans back at home; all vital ingredients that can make or break your adventure.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to keep your maps dry or they disintegrate, so laminate them or use a map holder).
Firestarting shortcut - watch out for fire bans
If a fire ban isn’t in place (check NSW National Park fire bans here), there’s nothing more soul-warming than a campfire after a long day on the trail. Many, but not all, campgrounds provide designated fire and cooking areas but starting one can sometimes be a chore, especially in soggy conditions.
Pro tip: save yourself some frustration and don’t forget to pack a few firelighters – you’ll get your fire crackling far quicker! A reminder: collecting firewood is a no-no, you’ll need to BYO firewood – as not all campgrounds have a supply of firewood. Even better, bring a portable campstove, so nothing gets inbetween you, a hot meal and a cuppa.
Bug off - don’t let mosquitoes drive you mad
Snakes and spiders strike bone-rattling fear in many would-be campers, yet it’s actually quite rare to bump into one. Mosquitoes on the other hand, have a habit of bugging you to near madness, and you’ll bump into many of them in the summer months.
Pro tip: Natural insect repellents such as citronella, lemon eucalyptus, cedarwood and patchouli oil are not only pleasant in scent, they also don’t contain the harsh chemical DEET found in most common insect repellents. Lots of organic and natural insect repellents are now available in most stores.
Minimise your weight - quality over quantity
Buying cheap sleeping bags and roll mats may seem a money-saving manoeuvre at first, but you’ll probably find yourself slugging up the trail with an oversized, overweight backpack. If there is one thing you should spend half-decent money on, it’s your sleeping gear. Ditch the long camping list and focus on lightweight, quality essentials. Trust us, when you’re galloping up the trail you won’t regret it.
Duct tape - a camping lifesaver
Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side and it holds the universe together. From fixing a broken tent pole to waterproofing your hiking boots, the life-saving uses are quite remarkable. Carrying a full roll is unnecessary so instead wrap a length of it around a pencil to save weight.
Even if you’re positively sweating while you’re packing at home, trust us and throw in your beanie. It packs really small and you’ll probably regret it otherwise. While you’re at it, don’t forget your hat and sunscreen – a sunsmart camper’s a happy camper.
Zip lock bags - the ultimate weight saver
These will quite literally save your neck. Not only do they enable you to repackage bulky food items into smaller space-saving pockets of joy, but also act as a drip free bin bag for your rubbish the next day. #jackpot
Cotton off - synthetic on
Cotton is a bad choice for campers and hikers; it traps sweat and moisture which dries slowly and encourages the dreaded chafing. Always opt for good quality synthetic clothing that is soft, lightweight and most importantly absorbent.
Pro tip: Use woollen socks when bushwalking. Cotton socks absorb moisture and cause your feet to rub giving you bad blisters on your feet. Another trick is to duck tape your socks around your ankle to prevent them slipping down.
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I am terrible at remembering how to tie knots. I can get by with the basic techniques, but there are several companies that make pocket sized knot guides you can tie onto your packs to help remind you how to tie a better knot.
Nalgene bottles - the multi-functional water bottle
Not only are these a highly trusted water carrying vessel, but if you put your head torch in an empty one it’ll double up as an impressive communal lantern. What’s more, if you plonk your phone in there you’ve got yourself a hot new music speaker.
So you’re now armed with a very particular set of camping skills the questions is – where are you going to go first?