14 DIY Camping Ideas, Hacks, and Essentials

Camping tents in beautiful area

If you love to camp, there’s a good chance you’ve already MacGyvered some things and come up with a few of your own clever DIY camping ideas before. Isn’t it an amazing feeling when you do that and it just works?

To give you even more ideas and hacks that you can use while out in the wilderness, I searched the internet for inventive campers and found some really awesome homemade gear, gadgets, games, and camping essentials made mostly with supplies you can find at home.

Use these as inspiration or make them just as they’re seen below!

1. Camping Toilet

DIY camping toilet

Starting out with what I would call an essential, this DIY camping toilet will transform your wilderness bathroom breaks. It’s comfortable, easy to transport, and it even holds the toilet paper for you. Super clever!

Clean-up for this bad boy is easy too. As long as you use a biodegradable bag inside, you can just remove it, bury it, and you’re good to go. The bucket will stay clean and so will the environment.

Oh, and you’re probably wondering about the smell. The DIYer recommends using a container of sawdust to absorb liquids and odors. It’s a bit gross, yes, but it works!

Get the full tutorial from Mother Earth News.

2. Tic Tac Toe

Outdoor tic tac toe game

To get your mind off of toilets and onto something a bit more fun, here’s one of my favorite DIY camping ideas: homemade Tic Tac Toe! It’s not necessarily an essential, but it is a great time passer! The painted rocks give it a nice outdoorsy camping esthetic too, which I love.

Get the full tutorial from Tater Tots and Jello.

3. Homemade Fire Starters

Firestarters are definitely a camping essential if you want to have quick, worry-free fires at your campsite. There are a few different ways to DIY these for cheap too, and you probably already have the supplies!

Method 1: With Toilet Rolls

Toilet roll firestarter

If you’ve seen our toilet roll crafts, you may already have a stash of empty toilet rolls at your disposal! Now all you need to do is fill the rolls with dryer lint, then pour candle wax in the middle, and then wrap them in wax paper and store them in a dry place.

These are so easy and extremely effective. Get the full tutorial from Cascades.

Method 2: Egg Cartons

Egg carton firestarter

This method is identical to the one above except instead of toilet rolls, you’ll be filling an egg carton. Fill the singular egg slots with lint, pour wax over, and then cut out each egg slot for a single firestarter. Easy peasy!

Get the full tutorial from DIY Projects.

Method 3: Sawdust Squares

Sawdust firestarter squares

If you have some sawdust, this is a neat way to make firestarters with it. Just line a baking sheet with parchment paper, fill it with sawdust, and then drizzle melted wax overtop. Once dry, cut the big sawdust rectangle into smaller square firestarters.

Get the full tutorial from The Art of Doing Stuff.

4. DIY Kitchen Utilities

Even if you typically pack cooking supplies with you while camping, making a fun DIY stove can not only be a fun project, but it can also teach your kids how to be more resourceful, which is an important skill to have while surviving outdoors.

Here are two cool ways to make a stove and a grill out of common supplies:

Method 1: Tin Can Stove

Tin can stove cooking an egg

This first one is a cool little tin can stove that is quite easy to make and perfect for cooking small things.

Get the full tutorial from Makezine.

Method 2: Tin Can Grill

Tin can grill with hot dogs cooking

This DIY grill has a bit more surface area for cooking bigger things like hot dogs, kebabs, burgers, vegetables, and more.

Get the full tutorial from Dian Thomas.

5. Convenient Food

Cooking foil-wrapped burritos on the campfire

While we’re on the topic of DIY grills, let’s talk about actual camping food! Having pre-packaged, easy to cook meals is such a stress-reliever and you can enjoy some AWESOME food in the great outdoors if you take a bit of time to prepare.

For convenient foods, try these campfire breakfast burritos, foil-wrapped potatoes, summer sausage dinner, and foil-wrapped taco nachos. You can also pack snacks like homemade trail mix bars. Also, you’ll definitely want to try these campfire eclairs for dessert!

For more ideas, check out our other camping recipes.

6. DIY Lantern

Milk jug lantern

Whether you’re trying to read without waking up everyone else or you need a mellow light to find your way to the bathroom without blinding yourself, this dull DIY lantern is perfect. It gives off a nice glow that isn’t too bright, yet still lights up enough for you to see where you’re going.

It’s super easy to make too. All you need is a gallon jug of water and a headlamp! This is one of those super-clever DIY camping hacks that I would never have thought of on my own.

Get the full tutorial from HowDoesShe.

7. Travel-Sized Water Resistant Matchbox

If you need to light up your firestarter or one of your cooking utilities, matches are just about the easiest method to do so. They’re reliable too…until they get wet that is!

This travel-sized DIY matchbox solves that problem by keeping your matches safe from water and all you need is a tic tac box and some other common supplies. The size perfectly fits in a survival kit or other camping kit too!

Get the full tutorial from Fabulessly Frugal.

8. Handwash Station

Girl using DIY handwashing station

Even out the wilderness handwashing is a must! If you want to stay clean and save as much water as possible, this DIY handwashing station should be in your arsenal every trip.

All you need to make it is a gallon jug, a golf tee, some ripped tights, and a few other things. When you’re ready to wash your hands, pull the golf tee out of the hole in the jug, and use the bar of soap in the ripped tights to get clean.

Everything is kept together and it works like a charm! Get the full tutorial from Crafting a Green World.

Extra tip: If you want to save on soap, try this one time use soap shaving hack.

9. DIY Roasting Stick

Person roasting a marshmallow over a fire

When I think of roasting sticks I instantly think of marshmallows, and that’s typically what these are for, but they’re also great for things like hot dogs. And when it comes to roasting things over a fire, having a personalized, DIY roasting stick always makes the food taste better.

Get the ultimate guide to DIY roasting sticks from Barbeqa.

10. Citronella Candles

Burning citronella candle

One part of camping I’d get rid of if I could is the bugs. Trying to relax and enjoy the outdoors is pretty difficult when you’re getting eaten alive! These citronella candles should help remedy that a bit.

Get the full tutorial from Candle Science.

11. Dryer Sheet Bug Repellent

Another way to repel bugs from your tent, RV, and even your body is with dryer sheets. We mentioned this little tip in our uses for dryer sheets post. All you have to do is place the sheets around the areas you want to keep bugs away and you’re good to go!

12. Natural Bug Spray

Person spraying bug spray

Can you tell I hate bugs? That’s 3 DIY camping ideas related to bugs in a row! Here’s one last solution for the real bug magnets out there. You can spray this one directly on your skin to repel mosquitos, flies, gnats, fleas, ticks, and all sorts of other bugs.

Best of all, the ingredients in this bug spray are totally natural. I’m adding this to my list of camping essentials!

Get the full tutorial from Wholefully.

13. Portable Washing Machine

Portable washing machine setup

If you’re going on a longer camping trip, washing your clothes is just something you’ll have to do. While in some areas you could drive to find paid utilities, why not save some money and keep in the camping spirit with a DIY washing machine!

All you need for this are two buckets, two plungers, and some other supplies. Once they’re finished they’re easy to use and even the kids will want to give it a whirl!

Get the full tutorial from Let’s Camp S’more.

14. DIY Camping Shower

DIY camping shower hooked up to a tree

Although this may not be necessary at every campsite, it’s a DIY solar-heated portable shower unit. How cool is that? Definitely one of the more inventive DIY camping ideas on this list!

Making one of your own is actually simpler than it may sound too. And once you’ve made it, you can bring it on every trip!

Get the full tutorial from Instructables.


If you’re the type of camper who likes to be inventive and resourceful, the ideas above should suit you perfectly. Who knows, you might even find ways to make them better! Enjoy your camping!

What are your favorite DIY camping hacks? Any must-bring gear you can’t go without? Share your camping tips in the comments!

More Camping Ideas:

Check out our archive of camping posts for more ideas!

DIY camping ideas for inventive campers

Types: Crafts, Adult
Categories: Outside The House, Summer

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