Whether you’re a first-time camper or you head out as often as possible, camping gear can get expensive. Fortunately, there are countless DIY camping ideas and hacks out there (and many of them are simple enough, even for the non-crafty!).
Using some of these tricks, you may be able to save money or try out a version of a big-ticket item before committing to a large purchase.
10 DIY Camping Ideas for Your Next Trip
Here are 10 ideas, ranging from purely practical to more fun, and even some DIY camping gear tips.
Camp Kitchen Shoe Organizer
With an inexpensive hanging shoe organizer, you can put together the ultimate camp kitchen! Stuff individual pockets with cooking supplies, including everything from oils and spices to foil and utensils.
This allows you to keep everything organized and out of the way (hang it on the bathroom door!), plus it lets you easily move if you decide to cook outside one evening.
The humble shoe organizer is behind another of the best DIY camping ideas: for longer trips or with several people, use one for toiletries, entertainment items, or small clothing like socks.
Natural Tick Deterrent
If you camp in areas with ticks (the entire eastern half of the US, and particularly in areas with a lot of water and/or humidity), this DIY camping idea is for you!
Mix one part tea tree oil to two parts water in a spray bottle. Spray your socks, shoes, and pant cuffs. If you have a pet, spray them too — this solution is all-natural, so it’s pet-friendly!
Hot Water Bottle Heaters
For chilly nights, fill up water bottles with hot water and stick them inside your sleeping bag or bedding. Non-insulated bottles work best, such as the classic Nalgene style. This is great for both tent and RV camping on nights you don’t want to run the heat!
Homemade Fire Starter
Sometimes, due to wet conditions or none of the “right” type of firewood available, even the most experienced campers have trouble starting a fire. And what’s camping without the campfire?
Thankfully, some of the best DIY camping ideas include simple ideas for making your own fire starters. Dryer sheets or lint work very well, especially stuffed inside a cardboard toilet paper roll. You can also use pine cones dipped in wax, as The Crazy Outdoor Mama suggests.
Even though all Cruise America RVs have a bathroom, there are several reasons why you may want to do your business outside. It could be that you’re boondocking and want to conserve water, or you simply don’t want to make trips in and out.
Enter one of the simplest, most practical pieces of DIY camping gear: the 5-gallon bucket toilet. Simply line the bucket with a trash bag and leave some toilet paper and hand wipes nearby. You can even add a simple toilet seat on top, which is especially helpful for children.
Remember, you’re responsible for cleaning up the mess, which may include packing out your waste if you camp where there’s no trash service.
Just like with a camp toilet, there may be times you don’t want to shower in your RV, and all you really need is a quick rinse outside.
There are several camp shower models out there, but for a true DIY camping idea, make your own using a 5-gallon bucket and a simple valve. This step-by-step video tutorial walks you through everything!
Camp Laundry Machine
The simple 5-gallon bucket shines again for this DIY camping idea. This tutorial breaks down every step, but all you need is two buckets, two new toilet plungers, and biodegradable laundry soap. Not every camping trip requires laundry, but you’ll be thankful for this easy solution when you need it!
Hint: while they’re certainly versatile, don’t use the same bucket as your camp toilet!
Miniature Spice Containers
Repurposed Tic-Tac packages or pill organizers make excellent spice containers. It eliminates dealing with so many individual bottles, plus you have just the right amount of your favorite seasonings.
This also works well for mini First-Aid kits to hold band-aids, aspirin, and other small items.
Movie Night “Screen”
Sure, it may not be what you initially think of when you hear “DIY camping gear,” but once you start bringing your own personal movie screen along, you’ll wonder how you ever camped without it!
Get a movie projector and a plain, thick white sheet (look for a non-wrinkle fabric), and download a couple of favorite movies. Hang the sheet on the side or back of your RV, pulling it as taut as possible, and voila! — your very own movie screen!
We’ve all had those camping experiences: it’s absolutely beautiful outside, but spending more than a few minutes results in being attacked by biting insects. You want to take shelter inside, but then you’ll miss out on the amazing weather.
This DIY camping idea solves that problem: using three inexpensive items from the hardware store, you can create simple, removable window screens. Enjoy the fresh air while inside, without the bugs! Because the screen is portable, it works on any RV (even rentals!).
Go RV Camping With Cruise America
Pick up a reliable RV rental from Cruise America and hit the road! These DIY camping ideas will ensure you have an amazing experience exploring the great outdoors. We have over 120 convenient rental locations to choose from so you can travel the country in style. Contact us to get started.