Seasonal Skills: Camp Kitchen Hacks

Getting out and connecting with nature is what camping is all about. For many, camping means “roughing it”—giving up some of the comforts of home as a trade-off for everything else camping has to offer. Of course, experienced campers don’t tend to find camping all that uncomfortable. That’s partly a matter of mindset, but it’s also because they tend to pick up ways to make their whole camping experience easier and more enjoyable.

Here are eight camp kitchen hacks even experienced campers might not always think of:

  1. Pack a spice kit. Many campers would never think to leave home without salt and pepper, but Scouts and Scouters alike will enjoy spicing up their meals to their individual tastes. What about hot sauce, chili flakes, bacon bits, lemon pepper and oregano? And don’t forget to pack some cinnamon and sugar for breakfast! Bonus hack: Reuse Tic Tac boxes for trail-size spice containers!
  2. Protect your matches. Soggy matches can be pretty dispiriting when you’re trying to light your camp stove on a damp day. Keep your matches dry in a waterproof container. Bonus hack: Tear a striker from a box of matches and keep it in your container. Even strike-anywhere matches can be a challenge when everything around you is damp!
  3. Try bamboo. There are many ways that we can cut back on our use of plastics, and our camping kits are no exception. Bamboo utensils are lightweight and easy on your non-stick pots—and they’re a little better for the environment than some alternatives.
  4. Stay sharp. A little counterintuitively, using a sharp knife is safer than struggling with a dull one. While so many of us intend to sharpen our knives between trips, there’s likely no better time for it than while seated and enjoying a campfire. Be prepared for this relaxing chore with a sharpening stone!
  5. Wash your hands! Camping is no excuse to let your personal hygiene slide (well, not too far, anyway). Set up a hand-washing station in your site (like a tippy tap), and be prepared with biodegradable soap. Bonus hack: Hand sanitizer, while not as thorough as soap and water, is a better-than-nothing alternative in a pinch. It can also make a great fire-starter on a wet day!
  6. Pack a fire extinguisher. While certainly not something most would pack for the backcountry, a small fire extinguisher can be a great addition to your car camping kit. Be prepared to put out burning camp fuel—water will only make that situation worse! A small fire extinguisher is about the same size as a can of bear spray—which is also a good bit of kit to have, just in case.
  7. Use your canoe as a table. When canoe camping, an overturned canoe can be a pretty serviceable table. Prop your canoe up with rocks and logs so that it’s stable, and use it as a surface for preparing food (not directly on the canoe, of course—use a plate or cutting board). While it may be tempting to set up your camp stove on the canoe, don’t—backcountry stoves are intended for use on the ground, and you wouldn’t want to burn your canoe!
  8. Be prepared for bears—with pulleys. Bear spray was already mentioned in this list, but there a couple of other ways to keep your camp kitchen safe from bears. When car camping, keep your food (and other “smellables”) locked up in your vehicle—especially overnight. In the backcountry, know how to set up a bear bag. Use pulleys when doing so to both save your ropes from friction and make hauling food bags much easier.

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