Camping Hacks From Experienced Campers

Updated: Oct. 27, 2023

Hack your camping trips with these clever ideas, tips, and tricks. These fun camping ideas take your outdoor adventures to the next level. Plus: discover storage ideas for camping equipment you'll wish you'd been using all along.

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Family Handyman

Fishing Rod Storage

This is for all you fishing addicts out there. When the season ends and the gear comes out of the truck, where do you store your rods? You can buy a fancy storage rack or make one of your own. But either way, you’re giving up precious wall space until spring. Here’s a quick solution: Screw short sections of wire shelving to your ceiling. If the handles don’t fit, just clip out some of the wire with bolt cutters. Your rods will be safely out of the way until your next fishing trip. You can also use PVC pipe for fishing rod storage.

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Family Handyman

Slip-Free Drink Holders

We love to read and sip a cold one in an Adirondack chair while camping, but if we set a drink down, even the littlest movement would send it sliding off the edge. To solve the problem, we drilled a hole in the arm of a chair with a 3-in. hole saw. We took two short lengths of heavy-duty strapping, crossed them at the bottom and used two-part epoxy glue to attach the straps under the arm. We compiled the best options for camper storage that will keep you organized on your next camping trip.

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camping tips
Family Handyman

Spring Sledding

A plastic snow sled is useful in the off-season, too. We’ve used ours to haul yard debris, bags of concrete and plants. The sled slides over grass, sand and gravel with ease. We’ve even used it to haul camping gear from our car to our campsite

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fishing rod pvc organizer
Family Handyman

Fishing Rod Organizer

We got sick and tired of our fishing rods getting tangled, so we came up with this easy fishing rod organizer. All you need is a length of 3-in.-diameter PVC pipe and a foam swimming pool noodle for this DIY garage storage system. Drill 1-in. holes spaced every 4 in. in the PVC pipe. Use a utility knife to cut slits in the foam noodle, spacing them 4 in. apart. Line up the pool noodle on the wall so that at least two of the slits sit over studs. Pull those slits apart, slide in a fender washer, and screw the noodle to the wall with 2-in. screws. Then screw the PVC pipe to the wall beneath it at a comfortable height and insert your fishing rods.

P.S. Don’t forget your camping survival essentials to prepare you for every emergency.

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FH10JUN_TINKER_01 swiss army knife
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Swiss Army ‘Tinker’

I have a multi-tool that I love, and a gorgeous super-sharp folding knife. They go camping and fishing with me. But the knife that stays in my pocket every other day of the year is the classic Swiss Army Tinker. It’s affordable for most campers, so losing it isn’t traumatic; it’s light and compact; and I find myself using the Phillips-head screwdriver about a thousand times every weekend. It’s not perfect (I wish the knife would take a sharper edge), but it’s ‘the one that gets used’ in my DIY life.

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pvc knife holder
Family Handyman

PVC Knife Holders

Carrying kitchen knives safely for picnics and camping trips is challenging. So one reader made knife containers out of 2 pvc pipes and caps. He glued the cap on one end and marked the unglued cap with an ‘X.’ That way he always knows which end to open.

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Family Handyman

Backwoods Repair Gear

‘I spend a lot of time outdoors: canoeing, backpacking, fishing, camping? you name it. And as a DIYer, I feel compelled to carry a repair kit wherever I go. Of course, the kit varies depending on the trip, but here are a few items I often carry. Some are pretty obvious, like duct tape, paracord, zip ties and a multi-tool. But the others aren’t: A piece of aluminum tube that can slide over a broken tent pole can be a trip saver. A lightweight magnifier will actually allow you to see what you’re doing when you make small repairs. And thin wire is one of the most useful items you can carry. Wrap it, twist it, ‘sew’ with it…. It’s strong, heat proof and doesn’t stretch. I’ve used it dozens of times, for fixing everything from my boot to a canoe.’

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Family Handyman

Pizza to Go

For the person who loves to make pizza, there are propane-powered pizza ovens easy to take camping, to the beach, tailgating or your weekend place.

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Rechargeable Lantern on the Go

Portable lanterns can illuminate your nighttime stroll or your dinner table when you’re eating out under the stars.Get a rechargeable LED lantern that last hours on a charge, perfect for a night of camping. Dim it or turn it off to conserve the charge until you need it. You can also take it along camping and use it to light up the tent while you snuggle in a sleeping bag.

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Family Handyman

Beer Can Chicken Accessories

A hot trend in grilling is beer-can (most commonly called ‘beer-butt’) chicken. Here’s the recipe: Open a can of beer or soda, put it in the middle of the grill and stick a chicken (egg-laying side down) over the can. The liquid in the can is supposed to keep the meat moist and impart some flavor (I can’t taste any difference, but at least the bird stays moist). Easy process, but the whole rig has a tendency to fall over and spill the beer or soda. That’s where the Beer Can Chicken Holder from Old Smokey Products comes in. The rack supports the chicken over the can and has a wide base to prevent rollovers. It’s a must-have tool for all beer-can chicken chefs.

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Family Handyman

Knot-Free Tie-Downs

Securing a load of lumber, a kayak, camping gear and other stuff on your vehicle with rope can be a pain, especially if you’re an unskilled knotologist. It’s even more of a pain when it’s time to untie the knots. The Figure 9 by Nite Ize makes the tasks fast and easy. Wrap the rope around the aluminum bracket (instructions are engraved right on the device), and the rope is held securely in place. Figure 9 also works great on rope used for pitching tents and holding down tarps. The small tie secures 50-lb. loads. The large tie secures 150 lbs.

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FH11NOV_CAMPER_01 duct tape camping
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Camper’s Classic

Want to take along a small amount of duct tape ‘just in case’? (In case your tent leaks, your jacket rips, you get a blister, whatever…) Wrap some around a water bottle or any other cylindrical object, and there it’ll be, right at hand.

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Tarp Tie-Downs

You have them. Everyone does. Those ubiquitous plastic tarps with the metal grommets. But it seems like the tarps are always too big or too small. The grommets are never in the right place for tying down, and besides that, they tear out if the wind blows. The Grabbit Tool Co. has a cool system for dealing with all these headaches. The EZ Grabbit Tarp Tie Down lets you splice together enough tarps to build a circus tent or just cover a big woodpile. Because these tie-downs can grab a tarp anywhere, you can keep on using a tarp even after the grommets have torn out. Another style, the Dog Bone, lets you attach a tarp to a structure for example, to make a lean-to or to weatherproof after a roof tear-off.

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Family Handyman

Sharpener for Fishing Gear

We bought a couple of diamond stick sharpeners for our camping tree and use them to keep things sharp in our fishing tackle box. Stuff like hooks and pocketknives sharpen up fast.

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Grill on the Go

A lot of grills are called ‘portable’—usually that means they’re just small. But Char-Broil’s rugged Grill2Go was actually designed to be hauled around. It has a sturdy base, a top that snaps closed for transport and it runs on portable propane bottles. For those big grill-outs, it can run on larger propane tanks using an optional hose and adapter. It comes with an infrared grill surface, which makes sense because of the close proximity of the burners to the grate. It’s a perfect grill for camping, tailgating and road trips.

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Family Handyman

Tough Labels for Soft Bags

If you carry around soft-sided bags like camping duffels, sports bags and tool cases, you’ll want labels that stand up to being squashed, mashed, soaked, yanked, dropped and rolled around. They can be tough to find, but a good solution is nylon webbing (found at camping and fabric stores) or short lengths of tie-down straps. Just tie the webbing around the handle of your bag and label it using a waterproof marker.