10 Genius Camping Tips | Field & Stream

Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest—which is certainly the case with this collection of outdoor tricks and gear hacks that readers have sent us over the years. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing our “greatest hits” of those reader tips, starting with this list of camping tips. From a modified mousetrap to a toilet paper protector, these tips are simply brilliant.

Make an inescapable mousetrap

A mousetrap with peanut butter in the trap.
A piece of processed peanut butter on string keeps mice from eating and running. Field & Stream

Here’s how to catch mice stealing bait from a trap without tripping the trigger: Tie some string over the trigger, leaving the cut ends about 1⁄4 inch long. Rotate the edges to make them fuzzy. Put some peanut butter on the string and set the trap. The bait is more difficult to get out of the thread and the mice will be more aggressive trying to grab it. —Richard J. Moncsko, Wilmington, New York

Split firewood in a tire

My least favorite part of splitting firewood is picking up the pieces that fall off the chopping block and putting them away for another swing. However, a while ago, I met an old man who had the perfect solution. He puts an old truck tire on the ground and stands round pieces of wood inside it until it can no longer fit. Then he just walks away until he separates every part inside the tire. The rubber holds the wood in place so it doesn’t need to be placed between swings. When he’s done, he simply selects the split wood and loads in another set of round logs. -Steve Sanford, Maryland

Keep the parachute cord free of tangling

A jar of peanut butter with a string drawn out.
There are a billion uses for p-cord at camp – but it’s useless if it’s a tangled mess. Field & Stream

The best way to store 550 parachute cord is in an empty plastic peanut butter jar. Drill a 3⁄16-inch diameter hole in the cap. Stuff the cord into the jar (be careful not to overlap) and thread the end about 4 inches through the hole you made. Screw the cap back on and pull out as much cord as you need. Kiss tangles goodbye. — Jim Ratermann, Tipp City, Ohio

Keep the back door open for the bears

In a wall tent camp, the cooking tent can be an easy target for bears. But the only thing worse than a bear stealing your bacon is a bear getting trapped in the tent holding your bacon and tearing it to shreds as it tries to get out. This is why we always tie up the back corner of our open wall tent when we need to leave the cook tent for a while. It gives any creature that ends up there a way out and keeps our stuff from getting destroyed. – Corey Goetz, Cody, Wyoming

Dry your boots with newspaper

A pair of boots with newspaper stuffed in them.
Stuff yesterday’s news into your boots so they’ll be dry tomorrow. Field & Stream

I stuff the boots with newspaper, which absorbs moisture. Then I keep repeating with dry cheeks every 45 minutes, and they are good to go the next day. -Marck Schwarze, Elk River, Minnesota

Clean a cast iron pan with salt

Everyone handles cast iron pans differently, but this is the best way – period. When your cast iron skillet is dirty, add two to three tablespoons of salt and a little cooking oil. (Never use soap and never hot water.) Next, use a paper towel or dishtowel to rub the salt around the pan, removing any bits of food stuck to the metal. Continue grinding until the metal is smooth and the salt looks dirty, then rinse with ice cold water. You’ll know you’ve done a good job if water beads up on the surface of the metal. Dry immediately and do not let anyone else at camp use your pan. -Gary Hillman, Brownville, Maine

Boil the pasta in a coffee pot

I realized this on spaghetti night. After forgetting to bring a pasta pot, I realized that my tall blue enamel coffee pot (the old kind that looks like it fell off a stagecoach) matched the spaghetti perfectly. Better yet, because it didn’t use as much water to boil the pasta, it didn’t burn much fuel. And when the spaghetti was cooked, the spout worked perfectly to drain the water. – Kyle Jameson, Lincoln, Nebraska

Pull firewood with a ratchet strap

A bunch of sticks tied with a yellow rope.
Use a modified belt to haul a night’s worth of firewood in just a few trips. Field & Stream

I took a broken 1 inch strip, cut off the crochet end and tied a loop on that end. I use this to collect firewood whenever I’m camping. I just lay the belt on the ground and stack sticks on top of it. Then he pulls the male end through the female end and throws the bundle over his shoulder. I can carry twice as much wood in half the time. -Eddie Crane III, Richmond, Illinois

Keep your phone in your sleeping bag

I try to disconnect when I go hunting camp, but I still like to use my phone for two things: my alarm clock and my GPS. The problem is that cold weather drains the phone’s battery in a short time. If I’m going to be camping off the grid for a few days, I keep my phone in my jacket pocket during the day where it can stay warm and put it in my sleeping bag at night along with any other batteries. the tools I have. —Brian J. Matheson, Northville, New York

Protect your toilet paper at camp

A foldgers coffee cup used as a toilet paper holder.
Say goodbye to wet or rat-eaten TP in your campsite.
Field & Stream

Two of the most annoying problems at my hunting camp are wet toilet paper and rats getting into toilet paper. But there is a solution. Cut a long slit in one side of an empty plastic coffee can. Stick a roll of TP on the can and pull some of the paper through the slit. Make a hole in the lid and in the bottom. Thread the cord through the holes and hang the can out of reach of mice. —Mark A. Clark, Colorado Springs, Colorado

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