10 Ultralight camping hacks to save you space and weight

Our top 10 favourite ultralight camping hacks

Today on the blog we’re bringing you a roundup of our top 10 favourite camping hacks from around the interwebs. These hacks are aimed specifically at being able to shave space and/or weight from your pack, making it easier for you to get closer to an ultralight camping weight. So, let’s take a look!

#10 Individual toothpaste packets from plastic straws

Camping hacks #10: Plastic straw toothpaste containers
Plastic straws can be cut and have their ends burned to make perfect toothpaste containers!

Using only scissors, straws, a lighter, and a few minutes of your time, it’s possible to create these individual toiletry packets which are perfect for overnight trips. Of course, we’d only recommend using these if you’re in a tight spot, since plastic is no friend to the environment. Try to get a reusable container set if possible – this one from Nalgene (US link) comes highly rated and shouldn’t break the bank.

#9 Use your camping mat as your backpack frame

Camping hacks #9: Use your camping mat as a backpack frame!
A camping mat can be utilised to provide a frame for your backpack

Did you go for a frameless backpack because you’re trying to save on weight? Then why not use your camping mat as the frame! If you have a closed-cell foam mat such as the Thermarest Z-Lite Sol (US link here), you could also cut some of the segments off in order to shave a few extra grams from your pack weight.

#8 Using cotton pads as fire starters

Camping hacks #8: Cotton pad fire starters
Wax-dipped cotton pads make great fire starters

There are tonnes of camping hacks out there for how to start a fire in a hurry, but we’ve generally found that you can’t go wrong with the humble cotton pad. A normal pad will go up like a rocket, but – if you dip them in wax – you’ve got the perfect slow burner. 

#7 DIY Coke can stove

Camping hacks #7: DIY Coke can stove
The humble DIY Coke can stove has long been a favourite of ultralight backpackers

Yep, sorry, we had to do it! No list of camping hacks would be complete without a mention for the humble DIY Coke can stove. Using nothing more than a few household tools and an old Coke can, you can build your own super lightweight alcohol burner in no time.

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#6 Time to ditch that toilet roll cardboard tube…

If you’re taking a roll of toilet paper, then why not ditch the cardboard tube in the middle? It will save you a few grams, and make the roll nice and compressible so you can pack all your gear in a little tighter. You can also then store it in a ziplock bag, to make sure it stays dry!

#5 Water bottle lantern hack

Camping hacks #5: Water bottle and head torch lantern
Making a lantern is easy as long as you have a head torch and a water bottle!

Head torch? Check. Plastic water bottle? Check. Makeshift lantern? That would be a check as well. Simply point your head torch into a water bottle and, hey presto! A makeshift lantern, perfect for some night-time reading.

#4 Use tic-tac boxes to store spices

Camping hacks #4: Use empty tic tac boxes to store your spices
Mmm… cayenne

Trail food doesn’t have to be boring! In fact, spicing up your food is one of the easiest ways to make your trip much more enjoyable. So why not bring a taste of home with you by using empty tic-tac boxes as spice containers.

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#3 DIY Pillow 

If you’re desperate to save weight, why not ditch the pillow and just stuff some of your clothes into a pillowcase instead. It may not be your comfiest night’s sleep, but – let’s face it – that’s rarely guaranteed when you’re on the trail!

#2 Take a vegetable peeler to your bar of soap. No, seriously…

Camping hacks #2: Using a vegetable peeler on a bar of soap can help you create individual portions
Create individual portions of soap using a vegetable peeler. Use a ziplock to help them stay dry!

By using a vegetable peeler on a bar of soap, you can create individual portions of hand wash to ration out according to how many days you’ll be hiking for. By popping it in a ziplock bag, you can also make sure it all stays dry. Be sure to pack a little extra just in case!

#1 Use Doritos for kindling

Camping hacks #1: Doritos make a great source of kindling in a pinch!

We’ve all been there. Out on the trail after a long day’s walking, suddenly you’re struck by a craving: junk food! If you’re bringing a pack of Doritos with you to help keep the beast at bay, it may help any feelings of guilt to know that they also make amazing kindling. Just look at them go!

Well, that’s it for today folks: we hope you enjoyed this roundup of our favourite ultralight camping hacks. Is there a killer camping gear hack that we forgot to mention? Then drop us a line or let us know in the comments!

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*Disclaimer: Affiliate links may be used in this article, and it should be assumed that we have not personally tested or reviewed any of the gear mentioned here. Any camping hacks mentioned in this article are pursued at the discretion of the reader, and Thrifty Hiker assumes no liability for any consequences associated with following the links provided.

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