10 Camping Hacks from REI Experts

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After generations of sleeping outside, you tend to pick up a few tricks. Since 1938, REI employees and members have been creating and tuning pro tips to help make the outdoors a little more fun.

These may not change your life, but they just might save some time or impress your friends on the other side of the campfire.

1. Warm your sleeping bag with a Nalgene.

Some people were born with cold feet. To cope while camping, fill your Nalgene up with hot water and throw it in the bottom of your sleeping bag before bedtime.

2. Make your own lantern.

After sunset, turn any translucent jug of water into a translucent jug of ambient light. Just strap your headlamp to your water bottle with the light facing inward and tell your scary story that isn’t scary at all.

3. Pack the bottom of your sleeping bag with dry clothes.

If snuggling up to a bottle of hot water goes against your better judgment, try some dry clothes instead. They will soak up any moisture in the bottom of your sleeping bag and keep your favorite feet warm.

4. Line your pack with a heavy-duty garbage bag.

Use garbage can science to help keep your stuff dry. Line your backpack with a plastic garbage bag and fill ‘er up.

5. Keep one pair of your socks safe.

Learn to love sacred socks. Sacred socks are clean, dry socks that live in your sleeping bag for sleeping purposes only. It’s a beautiful thing.

6. Use silica gel packs in your cookware.

Save those little silica gel packs and store them with your cookware to help prevent rust. All it takes is one rusty pan for everyone to start calling you Rusty and you just never come back from that.

7. Pack a trailhead snack.

Send a gift to your future dirty, bug-bitten self by hiding your favorite snack in the car – only to be consumed upon completion of a successful camping trip. A little cookie can go a long way.

8. Stuff sacks make good pillows.

Pillows are for peasants. Rough it like you mean it by stuffing some clothes in your stuff sack and using that as a pillow.

9. Dry your shoes with crumpled clothes.

There’s no use crying over wet shoes. Remove your insoles and stuff a dry shirt or some newspaper in your boots overnight to dry them out. If you’re still feeling emotional, write some poetry.

10. Try a plastic disc for a plate.

Everything tastes better when you’re camping, and everything tastes super radical when you’re eating it out of a flying plastic disc. Forget your plates on purpose! What a world.

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