Western Traveler

Tips and Tricks

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SOCK MITTENS – One of the not-too-great surprises you can run across while hiking is a dramatic change in the weather, which can be very problematic. If you get caught in conditions where the temperature “drops like a rock” and you don’t have gloves with you, try using your spare socks (which you should always have with you on any medium to long hike) as mittens. They can help prevent frostbite if used early enough.

MILK JUG LANTERNS – Here’s a cool tip for car campers who don’t want the noise of a gas or propane lantern in camp. Take your favorite LED headlamp and strap it around any gallon jug, facing inward of course. It produces a very nice, diffused and totally silent lantern that can light up your entire campsite.

TIN CAN BREAD – Try baking some bread in a tin can. This is a two-for-one deal, once you’ve eaten the bread you can use the can for a variety of other applications around camp; like scooping water out of a stream, hauling out compacted trash, etc.

MATCH LIGHTER – With almost no exception, the striker strip on your matchbox will wear out way before you’re out of matches. Try this, find a small waterproof plastic container for your matches. Then, glue in a piece of sandpaper to the inside of the lid. Now you’ve got a striker that’ll last. Once the paper wears out, just glue on another piece.

COFFEE PAPER? – If you’re car camping, many times you’ll find yourself walking to the nearest outhouse or vault toilet in the rain (always a good time). To keep your beloved toilet paper from turning into paper paste try carrying it in an emptied, sealed coffee can.

PARACHUTE CORD HOSE CLEANER – Ever been in the backcountry and found your bladder hose nasty inside?  If you carry parachute cord (which you always should) you can use a short section (about 2-3 ft.) as a hose brush. Just cut off what you need, remove the valve and run the cord through the hose and you’re back in business.

TIC TAC® SPICE RACK – Many backpackers and campers love to cook. What can really make or break your meal are the spices you have with you. A great way to carry an assortment of spices (with minimal space and weight) is to take your empty Tic Tac boxes, clean them out and pour in your spices. You can also make nice labels for them so you know what you’re pouring in.

STRAW MEDS – One of the big drawbacks to carrying a “good” First-Aid kit is the space issue. It’s always a good idea to have various ointments with you; such as antibiotics, burn creams, poison ivy meds, etc. To save space, get a new drinking straw and cut it into short sections. Take a match or lighter and burn one end closed. Then pour in your medicine into the straw and seal the other end. Make sure to label these so you know what you’re applying.

ICE SAVER – Before heading out car camping, save some money by freezing gallon jugs of water. Not only do they last longer than bagged ice, this gives you additional water for making coffee or whatever as they thaw out. As many primitive campgrounds have no running water, this is a great thing

TRAIL CHEESE – If you’re a cheese lover and hate leaving your dairy delight behind on a camping trip, don’t   Buy cheese packaged in wax and you’ll be good for up to a week.

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Last modified on: September 27th 2023.
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