How to use everyday items to survive minor camping mishaps
Regardless of whether we're a first-time camper or a seasoned adventurer, when we're out and about on the trail, more often than not, stuck in the middle of nowhere, we have to be resourceful. Because when things go wrong, and they invariably do, we look for solutions in the most curious of places, whether it's using old shoe laces to tie up your hammock or fishing line to hang your clothes from. Just take a peek in your kitchen, bathroom or the bottom of your rucksack and you will find a whole host of things that could help you out.
Having been on some epic adventures including supporting Sean Conway on his 4 1/2 month swim up Britain and Dave Cornthwaite on his 1001-mile swim down the Lower Missouri, on every occasion I've been surprised by what you can do with everyday items that have also proven to be lifesavers or just comforting. Here are a selection:
1. The answer to everything: Electrical tape
Electrical tape is beneficial for fixing holes in tents, boats, rucksacks, shoes and anything else you can think of. It’s also a great waterproof plaster when you need it. During our adventure on the Missouri River, everything had electrical tape on it by the end; including us.
2. Use garbage bags to stay dry in a pinch
Garbage bags are a simple yet useful camping supply to pack. Get your hands on the large, heavy-duty 55 gallon type, cut a hole in the top and you can use it as a windbreaker or water-repellant if you’re caught unawares by a storm. Obviously they can also be used to protect the goodies in your bag and to store all your garbage until the end of your trip. That way you never leave anything behind and are able to leave the place as you would wish to find it.
3. Dental floss: more than just for oral hygiene
Make sure you carry some dental floss in your bag. It barely takes up any room and is surprisingly strong. If you’re on a hiking trip with a pair of well-worn boots and the soles split, it can be a game changer. Don’t panic. You can weave the dental floss through the sole’s grooves and tie it tightly in place. Wrap your electrical tape (mentioned above) over the top and you’re good to go. Then when you get home, pick up a new pair of hiking boots for your next adventure! You can also use dental floss when putting together sticks and leaves for a fire.
4. Seam Sealer for an uninterrupted night's sleep
You’re certain to sleep better in the silence of the forest than you do overlooking the city – unless you prefer more comfortable camping and have a leaky mattress. Seam Sealer is a camping essential if you’re bringing an air mattress on the trip, just in case you happen to spring a leak. A dab of that with the electrical tape (again) will patch up the tear and make sure you have a comfortable night’s sleep for the rest of the trip.
5. An empty milk jug makes wonderful mood lighting
This definitely isn't a lifesaver but kids love this trick! Fill a gallon milk jug with water and wrap your headlamp around it. Make sure the light is facing inward and you will get a big, soft light to help you cook and eat your nutritious camping delights.
Packing extra shoelaces, making compasses from a wristwatch, using socks to start fires and catching rain water – the list goes on. There are hundreds of sneaky camping tips to keep you happy on your trip, but these are just a few camping essentials to help you sleep well, stay dry, and keep moving on a trip into the wild.