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Camping tips and tricks

By Tristan Tancredi, 23 Aug 2017 Outdoors

Camp tips and tricks main

‘Why didn’t I think of that?’

TINKERING with everyday products (think: MacGyver) to make life easier when miles away from the bright lights of the city is something 4x4ers have been doing for generations.

So to help jazz up camp life on a shoestring budget, we’ve assorted a selection of clever DIY travelling tips sent in by our readers.


Electronic keys are great, but they don’t like water. So just leave it behind and take a dumb key that’s attached to a necklace. The dumb key is bare metal and can be purchased at any locksmith (check it works before relying on it). It won’t start the car, but it will unlock it, so you can get the electronic key from its safe spot inside. Sandie Walters

The Dumb Key
Wouldn’t it be handy to have water to wash your hands or your feet after a recovery before you get back in and start driving? We have a Land Rover Discovery and my husband has taken off the fittings for the headlight washers that weren’t working for our model vehicle. He connected a hose to the pump for the headlight washers and added a switch, and we now have water on tap on the bullbar. It’s even hot water if you’ve been driving for a while. Allyson Watts

Land Rover Discovery bullbar tap
Don’t throw out your barbecue. If you’ve got your old Weber barbecue kicking about, you can take this out camping with you and give it a new lease on life as a camp fireplace. It works brilliantly. Ed and Donna Zerus

Weber Barbecue fireplace4: INDISPENSABLE
Here’s a homemade toilet paper or paper towel dispenser. The top of a two-litre soft drink bottle is cut off, retaining parallel sides a little longer than the paper roll. The inner cardboard tube in the roll is removed and the inner end of the roll poked down through the neck of the bottle. The bottle can be kept in a zip-lock plastic bag with a hole cut in the base. Anonymous

Toilet Paper dispenser
Tents can be uncomfortable to sleep on if you don’t have the right gear. Buying some foam tiles for the floor can add a bit of colour to your tent and also make it much more comfortable to sleep on. Plus, they’re easy to store away and don’t take up much space if stacked correctly. Eric Triton

Foam Matting
Every 4x4 adventurer needs more light. We rigged up an LED work light on a magnetic base and it can sit anywhere on the roof. Instead of mounting a permanent light, risking damage and fading, we just pop this out when needed, connect it with the Anderson plug to our external socket, and put it on the roof. The magnetic base sits up there tight and won’t budge. You can drive with it on here, too. We simply bought an LED work light from eBay, a magnetic base and an Anderson plug 12-volt lead. Attach them all together and presto! If you don’t have an external Anderson plug, no problems, simply use a 12-volt cigarette-socket style-lead in your vehicle and run the lead out the back door. Sally

Mitsubishi Pajero custom LED lights
Never mix detergent with your windscreen washing fluid. Always use clean water, because in an emergency situation this can be used as drinking water. Elias Martyn

Emergency drinking water
Storing tricky little things like spices, salt and pepper can become a real issue when travelling. The last thing you want is a plastic bag that rips and spills turmeric everywhere. Keep old Tic Tac containers and use these to store your spices. Bowe Liever

Camping sized travel spices
With your camping ropes, wrap all the different ropes up for storage and place them together in similar types – single, double and extra-long. Then on cardboard, lay out each type together and spray-paint a solid line across the group. Use a different colour for different types, that way when they are all together you know which one to grab. JP Hartill

Camping rope
Camping isn’t camping without some tunes, but lugging around a speaker system can be a real pain in the backside. A ceramic bowl or mug can be just as good. Throw in the phone and voilà, the sound carries. Pitman Brody

DIY music speaker