26 cheap camping tips

Backpacking and camping are awesome frugal activities. It costs nothing to take a hike. It costs a bit more to camp overnight, but even that can be done inexpensively. While browsing the web for camping stuff, I stumbled upon a great list of frugal suggestions that were originally posted to the Usenet group rec.scouting on 03 December 1994!

According to the original poster:

These low-cost equipment/ideas/fixes for Scouting and camping in general [were] originally found on a F-Net Scouting board and [were] reposted on Fidonet on Nov 11/92 by Steve Simmons. The file evidently originated with BSA Troop 886 in the USA.

This list is HUGE. Here are my favorite ideas:

  1. Channel lock pliers make good pot holders.
  2. Nylon rope can be used as shoe laces.
  3. Use a large zip lock plastic bag, filled with air, as a pillow.
  4. A plastic bottle makes a good latrine for cold weather camping. (You don’t
    have to ‘go’ very far from your sleeping bag). Keep it just outside the tent flap.
  5. Carry several pieces of lumber cut into two-inch squares to summer camp and
    use these to level platform, tent, and cot.
  6. Old shower curtains make great ground tarps.
  7. Waterproof matches by dipping them in nail polish.
  8. Waterproof matches by dipping in melted paraffin.
  9. Make fire starters by filling paper condiment cups with saw dust and pouring
    paraffin into the cup.
  10. A length of chain and a piece of coat hanger bent into an S-shape will allow
    you to hang your lantern from a tree limb.
  11. Keep batteries in prescription bottles.
  12. Prescription bottles also make good match safes.
  13. In fact, prescription bottles (or 35mm file containers) make good storage places for small items of all sorts.
  14. A frisbee will add support to paper plates when the plate is placed inside
    the frisbee.
  15. Laundry lint makes good tinder.
  16. Keep the water in your canteen cooler by wrapping the canteen in foil.
  17. When it comes time to pack up at the end of a camp, a wet toothbrush, face
    cloth and bar of soap wrapped in foil won’t dampen the other things in your
  18. To prevent batteries from wearing down if a flashlight is accidently nudged
    on while you’re traveling, put the flashlight batteries in backwards.
  19. To protect your feet from blisters, smear soap on the inside of your inner
    sock at the heel and underneath the toes. Carry along a bar of soap and,
    when you feel your feet become tender, give it a try.
  20. To keep mosquitoes away rub the inside of an orange peel on face, arms and
  21. Wrap fishing gear in foil to keep line from tangling and hooks from rusting.
    By lining the compartments of a tackle box with foil, you can prevent rust
    damage to plugs and other equipment.
  22. To remove musty smell from canteen, put three teaspoons of baking soda into
    the canteen with a bit of water. Swish it around and let sit for an hour,
    then rinse out the canteen.
  23. An empty plastic soda bottle, cut off to a convenient height, will work as a
    camp bowl. You may want to sandpaper the cut to smooth the edge.
  24. Save inner cardboard tubes from kitchen and toilet rolls, stuff with waste
    paper and use as fire-lighters.
  25. Use zip-lock bags for mixing foods, be sure it is closed tight and the top
    is held shut before shaking or kneading.
  26. Duct tape can be used to repair most everything on a trip. Use it to patch
    tents, mend poles, hold up schedules, patch torn shoes, hold poles for
    mosquito nets to cots, etc.

If you like these, check out the entire list.

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