10 Unusual Tools To Take Camping (And Why)

Campers have their favorite things to take with them, to make setup and break down of the camp site easier. These 10 unusual tools to take camping,  and why, will give you some options for your campsite that you may have never considered before.

1. A pick mattock.

a mattock
A mattock comes in handy for all sorts of things when you’re camping.

You would be surprised how often you use a pick mattock when you’re out camping–especially when you want to make your own outdoor toilet. A mattock breaks down through heavy root and rocks.  You can use it to make a fire pit and to pry big rocks out of the way when you want to set up your tent on level ground.

2. a 2×4.

Several shorter pieces, in fact.  You can use them side-by-side as walkways over mud puddles, lay them on ledges and rocks for use as narrow shelves, and in a pinch they make great firewood. But the very best use I ever saw was this one:

3. a pool noodle.

pool noodle
pool noodles come in handy when camping

It seems that the world has looked at the pool noodle and seen something other than what it was intended for. You can slit them lengthwise and string them on your tent lines to keep yourself from tripping over them, place them around a laundry basket and stick them in the water as a kind of floating drink cooler, bend them into circles, fasten them with duct tape and make a giant ring toss; the ideas are endless.

4. toilet seat.

camping toilet
We thought we’d take a picture before disassembling. Note the duct tape hanging from the edge. Don’t forget the duct tape when camping.

Go to the store. Buy the cheapest toilet seat you can find. Then make the world’s greatest camping toilet by following these instructions. Makes for a shockingly comfortable camping biffy.

5. grocery bags.

plastic bags
they’re also great for picking up litter left by other, less responsible campers.

Grocery bags make wonderful tools!  You can stuff wet towels in them so the rest of your stuff stays dry, keep your clean and dirty clothes separated in your duffel bag, use them as emergency garbage bags, open them to make a temporary rain hat, gather foraged items, wear them over dry socks and inside wet shoes to keep your feet dry, stuff your pillow into them on rainy nights just in case your tent leaks–the list is truly endless. Just don’t leave any behind when you leave. That would be horrible.

6. fireplace logs.

For years I would take one fireplace log for every day I camped.  It was just so nice to go and get one the next morning to start the fire–you could take you time laying wood on it and even if the wood was slightly damp it would dry out and begin to burn because fire logs last 1-3 hours depending on what kind you buy. Stupid-simple to start a fire with them.

7. a 6′ folding banquet table.

These are starting to get expensive, but as soon as you can afford one, or if you see them on sale get yourself a six-foot folding banquet table. Invest in at least one, depending on how many people you camp with (we have three). They are easy to fold and store away at home, easy to pack and take with you, and all that surface space to work on almost brings tears of gratitude to my eyes thinking about it. Plus, they last forever.

8. door mats.

A couple of door mats, one inside and one outside your tent, will go a long way to keeping the woodsy stuff outside where it belongs.  Makes it so much easier when it comes time to pack up your tent and go home. I’m a huge fan of avoiding mess in the first place.

9. gardening gloves.

Heavy duty ones. They protect your hands when you’re adjusting the logs on the fire, grabbing the Dutch oven, clearing out the devil’s weed right beside your tent, etc.

10. duct tape.

duct tape
It may be the handyman’s secret weapon, but it’s also the campers best friend.

Granted, this is becoming less and less of an oddity when it comes tocamping and hiking, but there are many people out there who don’t realize just how handy this stuff is when you’re camping. It fixes everything from a leak in that air mattress to an emergency bandage for a really, really bad cut. Don’t waste time with that itty bitty bit they say to wrap around a water bottle.  Take the whole roll. It doesn’t take up that much room in the car, really. Stuff it in the glove compartment.

11. bonus item: large cup hooks.

Large cup hooks can be screwed directly into a tree trunk to hang your first aid kit on, string a clothes line between two trees, and generally act as useful hangy things. Plus, they’re easy to remove from the trunk and take back home with you, with minimal damage to the tree. And nothing left behind.

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