When you want to go camping, it’s hard to take with you everything you need. Store-bought gear is most of the time expensive, and easy to improvise at home or in the wild. You can try our easy DIY camping gear ideas, if you want to save some money.
You can make your camping much more comfortable, and if it happens that you forget some gear at home, there are chances you can improvise something in its place.
Much more convenient to make it yourself from recycled items, or cheap substitutes, if you lose them, you won’t be that upset about the money you spent on them.
DIY camping gear is great for thinking outside the box. When you find yourself in a situation to need a specific camping gear, knowing these tricks will help you solve your problems out in the wild.
DIY Kitchen Camping Gear in the Wild
Very important to your survival in the wild is going to be the food. A few tips on how you can store it, and how you can cook it using DIY solutions, will make a big difference to your camping experience.
How to keep fresh eggs in the wild
Camping omelet, or sunny side eggs, are the best, let’s face it. Boiled eggs are easier to bring and store, it’s true. But having options, when it comes to eggs it’s nice.
You don’t have to worry about storing them without breaking their shell, if… you give them a new shell. Instead of bringing them whole, you can crack them at home and put them in a bottle using a funnel. Easier to whisk too, just give it a little shake.
Store the bottle in your cooler, and when ready to cook, spill them in your pan, nothing easier than that.
DIY stove using a can
The metal can will spread the heat equally to your food, and you don’t need to spend extra money on camping stoves.
- Thick work gloves
- A sharp cutting tool
- 1 large, empty can
- Aluminum foil
Steps to make it:
1. Put on some thick construction gloves for safety.
2. Place the can on a flat, stable surface with the open side up.
3. Make several even and vertical cuts in the can. Start at the open top and cut down the side of the can. Stop cutting about 2 inches from the bottom. Continue until the entire can is cut evenly around the circumference.
4. Carefully bend the strips backward until they are fanned out like a flower.
5. Place 2-3 layers of aluminum foil and shape it like a bowl so it will rest in the open can strips.
6. Place charcoal onto the fire to create a small barbecue pit, and light your fire. Place a portable griddle or cook-top over the coals, if you have one, so you have a cooking surface. If not, you can use sticks to hold the food over the charcoal fire.
Keep your food cold with drinking water
Stop lugging around those blue plastic ice packs. They melt quickly and then you’re stuck with heavy, liquid filled plastic pieces for the rest of the trip.
Instead of ice packs, keep your coolers chilled with frozen water jugs. The jugs of water contain drinking water, so you can consume them once they melt.
Now your food can stay cold and your group will never go thirsty. The best part is, you will be carrying much lighter equipment on the way home!
DIY Comfort Gear to Help You Feel Like Home
The camping experience can become uncomfortable sometime, due to not having the comfort of your home in the wild. Which, to be fair, it’s something to be expected.
But don’t be too upset, as I can show you a few tricks of how to make your adventure much more comfortable, with these DIY gears.
DIY air conditioning
Don’t call me crazy just yet. You can have air conditioning in your tent, to cool it down during hot camping days, and it’s something you can make yourself.
- Ice (in blocks or cubes)
- 1 large plastic storage container with lid
- A battery or solar operated fan
- A knife or sharp cutting tool
- Duct tape
Steps to make it:
1. Cut one hole in the lid of the container. This hole should be the exact size of the fan cage you are using.
2. Cut a second hole at the top of one side of the container. This hole should be roughly 4 inches in diameter.
3. Secure the fan to the container by taping the edges to the lid. Remember not to block the back of the fan with tape since this is where the fan gets its air to blow.
4. Place ice in the container and close the lid. Turn the fan on and enjoy the cold air that comes out the hole in the side.
DIY wilderness sink
We still need our hands clean when eating or cooking in the wilderness. The lack of running water can be problematic, so it’s best we make sure to find a way to wash our hands.
This washing station is the most useful trick you need to keep yourself, and your buddies, clean. And not only for your hands, but for your cooking utensils as well.
- 1 large bucket (A plastic 5-gallon bucket is recommended)
- 1 large jug with a pour spout
- 1 plastic paper towel holder
- 1 pack of paper towels
- Bungee cords or duct tape
- Environmentally-friendly soap
Steps to make it:
1. Fill the jug with water and place it on an even surface.
2. Place the paper towel dispenser on top of the jug and use a fastener to secure the holder in place. Put the paper towels into the holder.
3. Put the bucket underneath the waterspout so that it catches all of the water and keeps your campsite dry.
4. Keep the soap nearby so everyone can easily reach it. Don’t forget to empty the wastewater bucket every once in a while.
Please use soap that will not harm the environment when you dump it out. It’s always best to empty the water in a bathroom if your campsite has one.
DIY camping heater
I talked about air-conditioning in hot weather, but now I can tell you that you can have a heater for the cold nights.
- Long burning candle.
- Bricks from home/Rocks from wilderness.
You can use rocks you find any around your campsite, but if you travel by car, you can take a few bricks with you, to make sure you have some at hand.
You’ll need a long burning candle for your DIY heater. You’ll use it to warm up the rocks or bricks you brought with you.
I’m recommending bricks because of their stable shape. You don’t know how unstable the rocks in the wilderness might be, and it’s best you don’t risk it.
Steps to make it:
1. Place the large candle, inside of your tent, at a safe distance from the walls.
2. Make a circle of bricks, or rocks, around the candle. Stack them up.
3. Light the candle in the middle and balance a brick above it, so the flame burns right into it.
4. After the bricks have heated up, you can now blow off your candle, and then go to sleep.
This heater will keep you warm for hours after the candle is extinguished.
DIY camping toilet
Maybe you don’t want to talk about physiological needs, but they happen, and it’s not always easy to find a good place and be comfortable.
So I got a perfect solution for you, to not be afraid of snakes hunting your bottom from the bushes. Or is that just me? I always feel them watching…
Women can avoid being too close to the ground with these urinal devices made for them. But for other cases, in which you need to sit in order to do your thing, I have the perfect solution for you. Camping toilet comes to your rescue.
- 1 large, sturdy bucket with metal handle (a 5-gallon bucket is the most comfortable.)
- 1 pool noodle
- A shark knife or other cutting tool
- Sawdust (optional)
- A roll of toilet paper (obviously)
Steps to make it:
1. Take the lid off of the bucket and measure the circumference.
2. Cut the pool noodle to the same length as the circumference of the bucket.
3. Place a heavy duty trash bag into the bucket just like you would any other trash bin. Secure the bag in place by placing the pool noodle on top.
Use the ridge in the noodle to fit into place on the lip of the bucket. If there’s no ridge, you can cut down the length of the pool noodle to make one.
4. Detach one side of the handle. Put the handle through the roll of toilet paper and close the handle back in place.
5. If you want to make a less smelly composting toilet, add about 2 mason jars worth of sawdust to the bottom of the bucket.
Feel free to bring the sawdust with you and add it when you get to your campsite to avoid any possible messy spills on the way there.
6. Now you’re ready to use your outdoor toilet. The pool noodle makes the seat nice and cozy to sit on.
When you want to clean it, simply remove the noodle and tie up your bag. You should take these home if there are no garbage receptacles near your campsite.
DIY Navigation Tools
Although this is an article about making your own equipment, it’s important to note that something as important as a navigation tools is not something you should make on your own.
A do-it-yourself compass should only be made if you really need one, in an emergency survival situation. It’s too dangerous to risk your life with a handmade compass.
Always buy a good quality, reliable compass before venturing out. For tips on how to adjust compass declination, see our must-read article.
The needle & leaf method
Place a needle on top of a leaf and gently set them on top of a motionless pool of water. Don’t touch the leaf. Wait for the leaf to stop turning. It will find the north/south line and you can follow that.
DIY Medical Equipment Kits
There are many store-bought medical kits out there. Most of the time they cost a lot of money because they look nice, and it is already put together by someone else.
But, as you will notice, they all have things you can easily find in stores, and buying them separately might cost you less if you go for larger packs.
DIY first aid kit
The good thing about making your own first aid kit is knowing what’s inside, and adding more of what you know it is used more often. Like if you have kids, you know they are prone to scrapes and bruises.
Store-bought first aid kits don’t know about medication your family and friends use. The kits are generic to fit most people. But you know best, and will have to add what you know might come in handy.
A reliable waterproof container that seals, with has organizers, will help you store your medication in order, keep dry and safe, ready to be used when you need it.
Best containers to use are: fishing tackle boxes, scuba mask containers, or even toolboxes. Or if you already bought a first aid kit in the past, just replenish that, and add to it to make it suited for your needs.
First aid kit list:
- Good quality, waterproof bandages of all sizes
- Gauze pads
- Gauze roll
- Spray adhesive bandage
- Wet wipes/alcohol wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Antibiotic ointment
- 2 Ace bandages
- Instant cold packs
- Cortizone- 10
- Allergy medication
- 1-2 pills of prescription medication if necessary
- Medical tape
- 1 + rubber gloves
- Bug spray
- Waterproof, sport sunscreen
- Aloe Vera ointment
Make a list first, of everything you need and might need in case of accidents. Gather everything inside, and put the list on the inside of the container.
When you use something from it, drag a line over it on the list, to know you used it and put it back when you go back home.
This way you’ll never run out of necessary items in you DIY first aid kit.
DIY mini first aid kit
You won’t always need a really big first aid kit when you go camping. If it’s only for a short time, and the area you’re going to is not dangerous, then you might need just a part of the normal first aid kit.
Just find a small box to fit the basic stuff. It’s best if it’s light and small so you don’t have to carry much, or doesn’t take much space.
Mini first aid kit list:
- a few Bandi-Aids
- a small piece of pre-cut medical tape
- safety pins
- Alcohol swabs
- Neosporin straws
- dental floss
- cotton balls
DIY Fire Starters Kits
Besides water and food, fire is the most important tool to have with you when you go camping. And it’s best you have what you need at hand to make sure you can get it started.
Wet environment can give you a hard time when it comes to starting a fire. But these kits will save you from the headache.
Quick tip: With a pencil sharpener you can have tinder in just a few seconds. Find a thin stick and shred it in.
DIY single-use fire starter kit
Those small basket-shaped containers in the egg cartons give you a perfect tool to re-purpose them into single-use fire starters.
- An empty egg carton
- A decent amount of dryer lint
- Candle wax
- Double boiler (or 1 large bowl that fits on top of a small pot)
Steps to make it:
1. Fill each empty egg holder in the carton about ¾ full with dryer lint.
2. Melt whatever candles you’re using in a double boiler
3. Pour the melted wax into each egg holder, soaking the lint with the melted wax.
4. Wait for the wax to cool.
5. Depending on the length of your trip, take the entire carton and rip it apart as you need to make a fire. Alternatively, you can cut it apart before leaving on your trip and take what you need.
6. To light the fire, light the paper carton first. The flame will be strong enough to catch on the lint and use the wax to burn more slowly.
DIY mini fire starter
- Empty pill bottle
- Cotton balls
- Petroleum jelly
- Sealable sandwich bag
Steps to make it:
1. Take the pill bottle and wash it thoroughly, inside and out, don’t leave the label on either.
2. Place about two spoonfuls of the petroleum jelly into a sandwich baggie.
3. Lightly shred some cotton balls by pulling them apart.
4. Put the cotton into the bag of petroleum jelly. Seal the bag and knead everything together. Be sure that all of the cotton has plenty of petroleum jelly on it.
5. Remove the soaked cotton balls from the baggie and place into the empty pill bottle. Close the bottle and label it as a fire starter.
Feel free to tape matches to the outside of the bottle, but remember that they are not waterproof. You can learn how to waterproof your matches here.
DIY waterproof match box
A fire starter kit should have matches too. But they tend to get ruined first if the environment is humid.
Steps to make it:
- Remove the striking strip from a box of matches.
- Glue the striking strip to the inside of the lid.
- Place the matches inside and close the lid.
These DIY camping gears saves you money, provides you with the items you need, and increases your survival skills. Whenever you can, try making your own items, improvise, but take all safety precautions when you make something on your own.
More tips on how to prepare for hiking here. It’s good to be ready for whatever you encounter, you never know when you’ll need these ideas.
Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.