7 creature comforts for camping in the great outdoors

Just because you're out in the wild doesn't mean you can't enjoy some creature comforts. To take a little piece of home with you on your next great escape, keep these tips in mind.

7 creature comforts for camping in the great outdoors

1. Take a drop cloth along

Been spending your spare time painting the house and doing other messy home repairs? Finally getting a chance to go camping? Well, leave the work behind, but do bring some of the painter's drop cloths you used to protect floors and furniture.

  • Choose one that more or less matches the dimensions of your tent floor and pitch the tent on top of it.
  • The drop cloth will prevent dampness from seeping in and keep the tent cleaner.
  • You might want to bring another drop cloth (a new plastic one — they're cheap!) to use as a tablecloth; campsite tables are often covered with pitch, sap, bird droppings and other unappetizing debris.

2. Make pill bottle salt and pepper shakers

No need to eat bland food just because you're roughing it.

  • Pour salt, pepper and any other spices you like into separate small screw-cap pill bottles and label them.
  • Because these containers are airtight, moisture won't cause the contents to dampen and congeal.

3. Save those plastic bottles!

Before you pitch plastic bottles into the recycling bin, consider the ways you can put them to good use on camping trips and picnics:

  • Make a bowl: Cut off the bottom portion to make a bowl of any depth you want; you might want to tape the edges to make them less rough.
  • Dispose of liquids: Good for used cooking oils and other liquid trash.
  • Create an ice pack: Fill a bottle with water, freeze it, and use it to keep a cooler cold. Or put it in a backpack to keep food cool on a day hike.
  • Serve as a makeshift latrine: Keep it just outside the tent so you don't have to wander into the woods in the dark.

4. Freshen sleeping bags with soap

Sleeping bags tend to become musty, but you can freshen a bag by putting a bar of soap or a fabric softener sheet inside.

  • Do it after you crawl out of the sleeping bag each morning, then zip the bag shut.
  • The next time you slip in, remove the bag freshener, then drift off into sweet-smelling dreams.

5. Bubble-wrap mattress

Pack a six-foot length of bubble wrap and lay it under your bag. Those air pockets are not only soft, they'll also protect your sleeping bag from dampness.

6. Make a hula-hoop privacy protector

Need a little privacy from other campers? If you have a hula hoop, some rope or twine, an old shower curtain or table cloth, and a few large metal binder clips, bring them along — to build your own portable cubicle that's great for changing, washing up, even showering under a bucket.

Here's how to make it:

  • Suspend the hula hoop from a branch with the rope or twine.
  • Drape the shower curtain or tablecloth over the hula hoop, fastening the material on the hoop with binder clips or any other fasteners you might have.
  • While your creation probably won't be a thing of beauty, you'll welcome the chance to disappear inside it whenever modesty is in order.

7. Make a bug-shooing hanky

Fabric softener sheets aren't as cool-looking as a lot of outdoor gear, but you'll be glad to have some along when mosquitoes start swarming around the campsite. Just pin or tie one to your clothing to keep the pests away.

Getting up close and personal with nature is always healthy, refreshing and fun, and roughing it doesn't have to be unpleasant. These creative tips will help add an element of comfort to your next camping trip.

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