When it comes to camping, no book or class can ever compare to experience and experimentation. There are lots of do’s and don’ts you can learn, but there are a lot of things that are discovered on accident through and trial and error. Here’s an interesting list of tips and hacks you can try!
CLEAN AN AXE WITH SAND AND OIL: One of the most important tools for deep woods camping is an axe. You want to keep your axe in good condition, sharp, and clean. One simple trick you can try will surprise you. Get a small bucket (but large enough to fit the axe head in) and fill it with clean sand. Then, get some motor oil (used or new, does not really matter) and pour it into the sand, probably about a quart if it does not wind up overfilling the bucket. Keep this handy at the campsite (or at home) and place your axe in it head first every time you are done using it. Swish it back and forth vigorously for a bit. This will clean the sand of dirt and other things will keep the blade oiled to prevent rusting, and will cause the handle to swell inside the axe head, making a tighter connection and giving it more power and stability when chopping.
SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE DIY TENT WEIGHTS: Be it a regular framed tent or a pavilion-style tent, your always going to face one common threat: powerful winds. It happens to everyone. You get your tent all set up, suddenly the weather shifts, and it becomes a parasail. With just a few things and a little prep you can make some weights that can help you with this. Make a trip to your local hardware store. You will need four 16 inch lengths of 2-inch diameter PVC pipe, four two-inch caps, four 12 inch eye bolts, and a bag of concrete. Mix up the concrete in a bucket or wheelbarrow. Place one cap on the end of each pipe. You can cement them on if you wish, but it is not necessary. Fill each pipe roughly halfway with wet cement, being sure to pack it down with a stick to remove the bubbles. From this point on the pipes need to remain vertical, so you might want to tie them to outdoor table legs or some other upright pole. Carefully insert the four eye bolts with the loops sticking out of the top of the pipe, try to get the bottom of the loop even with the pipe edge. Fill each pipe the rest of the way with concrete. Use a stick again to work out air bubbles, and use a trowel or a piece of scrap wood to level it at the top. Leave this sitting for at least 24 hours upright. You now have four sturdy weights that can be sat in the corners of a tent, or attached to supports or the tent itself with rope.
GET MORE OUT OF YOUR COOLER: Amust-have item for any camping trip is your good old trusty cooler. You put all your cold stuff in and hope it will stay cold long enough to keep the food from spoiling. If your trip is particularly long, however, the ice always melts before you want it to. The thing most people are not aware of is that many coolers have no insulation at all in the lids, just on the walls and the bottom! Check before you buy a new cooler. If you already have a cooler and don’t want to go get another, there is a simple way you can try. Get some spray insulation foam from your local store’s hardware, the kind that feeds in through a tube. Carefully with a knife or a drill (preferably a drill as cutting into thick plastic with a knife is tricky and can be dangerous) create a hole in the lid on the inside. Do this in the areas with the bigger “air pockets” inside the lid, the more open hollow spots. The hole needs to be large enough for the hose on the insulation can. Carefully fill the hollow with the foam. You may need to make multiple holes. Try not to overfill as this foam will expand quick. Allow 24 hours to dry. Your cooler will now be a bit heavier, but with the lid insulated things inside should stay cold almost 50% longer.
EASY CAMPFIRE STARTERS: One of the biggest pains sometimes is just getting your campfire lit. There are lots and lots of methods for doing so. This one requires just a little bit of preparation but is well worth it. You will need some discarded toilet paper or paper towel tubes, a bunch of dryer lint (should not take you long to save some up if you have a large family!), a pan, an empty tin coffee can, and some candles. To start, take each of the tubes and fill them with the lint. Roll it into balls small enough to fit, but then stretch it a bit to create some air pockets in it. Leave about a half-inch of space empty on either end of the tube. Once you have all your tubes ready, stand them up on end on a sheet of wax paper or tin foil. Place all the candles into the coffee can, then place it into the pan. Fill the pan with water around the coffee can. The weight of the candles should keep it from floating. Place the pan on the stove and bring the water to a boil. The wax should start melting. Make sure you are using oven mitts for safety. When the wax is melted, turn off the stove, and quickly but carefully start pouring the wax into the upright tubes. Try to keep the half-inch edge at the top of the tube clear of the wax. Once all the tubes are dry, they are ready for use. Store them in a large zipping plastic bag to keep them dry and pack them for your next outing. Place them sticking out at the bottom of a fire as you stack it up, and in most cases, you can light them with one match. As soon as it catches it will burn evenly and for a while, and will definitely help get your campfire started right.