Ready to head out on a camping trip, but think that first you need to spend some cash to gear up? Household items and a few inexpensive purchases can often make great cheap camping gear. Think outside the box and be creative as some clever ideas can work wonders in the great outdoors.

1. Pack Cover

Instead of spending around $30 for a pack cover, keep your stuff dry in a trash bag. At about 44 cents that comes a quite a bargain. Load your clothes inside and slip into your pack.

2. Camp Stove

Sure, it’s nice to have a fancy camp stove, but do you really need it. Remember you’ll also have to carry in fuel and there’s the frustration with lighting some of the liquid fuel models. Heck, people have been cooking and surviving off campfires for thousands of years. There’s no reason why a well-managed fire can’t do the exact same thing. The lightest, cheapest, and most convenient camp stove is tin can. With one can, a pocket knife, a pair of scissors and some medical alcohol you can make an efficient camp stove

3. Sleeping Pad

While you can spend more than $100 on an inflatable camping mattress like a Therm-a-Rest, you won’t really save that much space and weight as a simple foam pad. Another option that works like a charm: bubble wrap. Although it might keep you up at night when you roll over.

4. Water Purifier

We all know the best and most effective way to purify water is through boiling. But sometimes you don’t have time to wait. While iodine tablets taste horrible, bleach is another option that works great. Use the unscented kind, plain bleach only. Just put two drops into your water bottle and shake it up. If you’re always careful about your water sources, this trick works well. And it’s endorsed by the EPA.

5. Fire Starters

There are so many cool and unique ways to start a fire. You may not have heard of cotton balls and vaseline. Fill a baggie with cotton balls and add a scoop of petroleum jelly before mixing together. To light a fire, pull one out and apart to expose the cotton fibers to the spark. You’ll get a couple of minutes of 4-inch flame that’s enough to get any campfire burning.

6. Super Glue

For a nasty cut, just pinch it shut (make sure it’s clean first) and swipe a dab of super glue across the surface for instant stitches.

7. Waterproof Jacket

Laminated shells are expensive, ranging from $100-$500 for a good 3-layer option. You can save space with a light weight jacket that folds into a tiny pouch. But be warned: water resistant is not the same as water proof. Best to opt for a solid shell you carry just in case. You can really save money by opting for an $8 Coleman emergency poncho that weighs just 3 ounces in the package.

8. GPS

Fun, techie and cool, a GPS is also pricey at $100-$650 per unit. A compass costs about $15 and a topographical map of the area you’ll be exploring will cost around $6. Most cell phones can do anything a modern GPS can accomplish and more. But those batteries won’t last forever. You can buy a cheap hand-crank or small solar panel for your charging needs. 

9. Hammock/Waterproof Tarp

You can turn a pair of bed sheets into a hammock or grab some silicone from a home improvement store to turn sheets into a waterproof tarp. Pick up 30 ounces of mineral spirits and 10 ounces of silicone sealant. Mix in a 50 gallon bucket and then just jam in a sheet in the size of your choice and thoroughly cover it in the solution.

10: Bread bags

The cure for cold feet! Step into a bread bag – over your socks but inside of your shoes. The bag creates a vapor barrier that holds warmth in.

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