Our Favorite Camping Hacks

If you tuned into our most recent episode of Toad Hacks on Instagram, you saw Toads Lindsay and Drew share a few of their most tried and true camping hacks. Because this is prime camping season (changing leaves and fall sunsets, yes please), and we want you all to enjoy it as much as we do, here are those hacks plus a few more.

Bring The Heat

A good central fire is key to any campout. Store charcoal briquettes in a cardboard egg crate before you get to your site, then light it to start your fire easily when you get there. You can also save dryer lint and put it in the middle of old toilet paper rolls.

Camp Kitchen Essentials (aka all the amazing things from home you can reuse)

We’d be lying if we said mealtime around said fire wasn’t one of the main highlights of every camping trip we take. So we mean business when it comes to our camp kitchen setup.

Breakfast – An unexpected plot twist for your condiment bottles: Save them to reuse on your next camping trip. Before you head out, fill them with pancake batter or eggs (shells off and pre-whisked) and pop them in the cooler. Come breakfast at the campsite, you’re ready to go with an easy meal (and impressive too, if that’s what you’re going for).

Lunch and Dinner – We love a meal in a cast iron pan because the possibilities are literally limitless. You can use it on the camp stove or over the fire, and you can cook virtually anything in it.  And anything that’s sturdy, durable, and lasts a lifetime is a win in our book.

Pantry Essentials  – On one of our Toad campouts, someone realized that an old toolbox makes the perfect camp kitchen kit. Who knew? It’s the ideal size for spices, utensils, bottle openers, and mini bottles of booze. Cheers!

toolbox

Cleanup – Take an empty laundry detergent dispenser, fill it with water, flip it upside down, and you have a hand and dish-washing station right at the campsite. Put a bucket below to catch runoff water. Whoever’s on dishes duty will thank you.

The Sweet Stuff

We recently learned an epic tip that will flip your S’mores world upside down (thanks to Toad Lindsay’s Mother-in-Law and everyone’s favorite Toad mom Kathy). Put the piece of chocolate in the middle of your marshmallow before roasting. It’s gooey and delicious and trust us, you’ll never look at a S’more the same way again.

fire

The Every Campout Checklist

Keep your checklist by your camping gear so you never forget the essentials. We don’t leave home without our headlamps – key for keeping your hands free for more fun things than holding a flashlight (see: S’mores and whipping up a stellar breakfast). Also important to the checklist: Mini first aid kit, microfiber towels (compact, quick-drying, and lightweight), and reusable cups and utensils. 

reusable cup

What We’re Wearing

Lindsay’s favorite is the Telluride Sherpa Jacket – “Not only is it two jackets in one, but it also makes a perfect pillow. The triple threat of eco-friendly jackets.”

telluride sherpa jacket

Drew’s loving the Epiq Jogger – “Fitted ankles keep the critters out and the Hemp and Organic Cotton blend makes them cozy enough to double as jammies.”

Epiq Jogger

5 Popular Campsites Within 60 Miles of Santa Barbara

 

Summer in California is still in full swing. Make the most of the good weather with our California Camping Series featuring campsite reviews from  TheDyrt.com – it’s like Yelp for public campgrounds. In Part I , we covered Los Angeles, and here in Part II we’re sharing 5 popular campsites within 60 miles of Santa Barbara. All reviews and photos come from real reviews from real campers. Write your own reviews on the The Dyrt and you could win some great gear through the end of September.  

1. Carpinteria State Beach
Distance from Santa Barbara: 12 miles

★★★★☆

“This is a truly unique campground that my family has been visiting for decades. You can walk into town and eat at the amazing restaurants that quaint Carpenteria has to offer. Or you can listen to the waves roll in from your campground as you cook something up over the camp fire. A great home base to explore Santa Barbara or Slovang too.” – The Dyrt user Megan B. See more here.

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2. Refugio State Beach
Distance from Santa Barbara: 23 miles

★★★★★

“Refugio state beach is a popular spot, but still very enjoyable, right on the ocean. Easy camping with flat pads and bathrooms. It was a great place for us to transition from backpacking to car camping after we had our first child.” -The Dyrt user Warren K. See more here.

3. Wheeler Gorge
Distance from Santa Barbara: 38 miles

★★★★☆

“We stayed in Campsite #70 and all the previous reviews said it was going to be terrible…in truth, this was one of the best campsites I had been to in a long time. An awesome creek runs through the middle of the campsite. The reason people didn’t seem to like our site was because of it’s proximity to the highway. Didn’t bother me too much… motorcycles zoom by maybe once an hour during the day. Nothing too crazy. The bathrooms are well kept and YOU CAN BUY FIREWOOD from the camp hosts!! Campsites come with fire rings, a grill, and a picnic table. Enjoy your time in the woods!!” -The Dyrt user Garret M. See more here.

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4. Middle Lion Campground
Distance from Santa Barbara: 50.4 miles

★★★★☆

“A great, secluded camping spot at the end of an old side road, it gets very little traffic. Two out of the three times I have been there it has been almost deserted. It can become busy on summer weekends. There are 9 sites here, each with a table/benches, freestanding grill and a fire pit. (Depending on the drought conditions though, fires may or may not be allowed). The only other amenity is a vault restroom. There is no potable water here, but there is a creek with water in it year round that runs along the east side of the campground if you feel inclined to filter your own. Most of the sites are well shaded by large deciduous trees, and the surrounding hills do a great job at blocking most of the wind, making it a very pleasant spot for a weekend of car camping. All that is required is a forest adventure pass, which can be bought at any near by outdoors store for $5 for a day and a night, or $30 for a year, and can be used at most any site in the forest.” -The Dyrt user Ryan P. See more here. 

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5. Leo Carillo
Distance from Santa Barbara: 56.7 miles

★★★★★

“I had spent many summers camping with friends at Leo Carillo State Park. Various campsites with easy access to one of the best beaches in Malibu. Close to everything fun in SoCal – Close to the pier, Malibu, Hollywood, LA and more. Camping under the oak trees and in a small canyon. Lots of local wildlife – deer, coyotes, hawks, snakes, bugs and tidepools on the beach. Camping in tents and RVs. Cold foggy mornings from overcast however it clears up. Cool or cold nights and mild days. Decent wading into the ocean and good surfing all around. Not too bad with rip-currents and is great for younger kids too! The rangers at this park love to entertain the kids and they have lots of Jr Ranger programs through the local surrounding areas! Look for them! One of the best beach camping locations in So Cal HANDS down! It gets crowded quickly so book early!” See more here.

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Reminder – You could win a $100 Toad&Co gift card when you camp California + review your campsites on TheDyrt.com. Learn more about our campsite review contest here. Contests end September 30th!

Feature image Hendry’s Beach, from Damian Gadal

5 Popular Campsites Within 60 Miles of LA

 

It may be after Labor Day, but California summers are long. To celebrate the Indian Summer, we’re launching a three-part camping series highlighting popular campsites across California with help from our friends at TheDyrt.com (think Yelp for public campsites!). In this first post of our series, we’re focusing on 5 popular sites within 60 miles of Los Angeles, reviewed and photographed by real campers in the LA area.

1. Malibu Creek State Park
Distance from LA: 35 miles

★★★★☆
“What I love the best about this place is that it’s local to me as I live in Los Angeles. I was looking for a beautiful picnic spot and found it here….You should definitely come and enjoy this beautiful area. …Even if you have a large group.” -The Dyrt user Roberto R. See more here.

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2. Thornhill Broome Beach
Distance from LA: 49 miles

★★★★★
“Do you like beach camping? I love falling asleep [next] to the ocean. You’re right on the sand. The campfire is in a metal barrel, you have a picnic table and you’re on the beach. There’s rocks to the left and right that are fun to explore. The plots are deep and noise wasn’t really an issue. Heads up, there’s no shade at the beach.” -The Dyrt user Garret M. See more here.

3. Sycamore Cove Point – Point Mugu State Park
Distance from LA: 60 miles

★★★★☆
“We hiked the trails behind the campground and used the facilities while there. Everything is covered by a forest of sycamore trees that shelter and shade the campground and the bathrooms. The trails lead up to a ridge above the ocean that has beautiful vistas and others go across Highway One to the long, wide beach itself. The camping area is small and compact, appropriate for tents, pop-up campers and small RVs. The weather is either cool and cloudy (high fog) or bright, crisp and warm. The area is arid and desert like with sand dunes, cliffs and escarpment, and rocky but easy trails. A small dry creek cuts through the campground on its way to the beach. It was practically dry in May, but probably would be flowing during rainy season months of December to April. Nice family environment and populated with a lot of day visitors over the weekend.” See more here.

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4. Horse Flats Campground
Distance from LA: 58 miles

★★★★☆
“There are a few campgrounds in this area of the Angeles National Forest. Horse Flats is not as popular as Buckhorn, and is a little less “green” with regards to the immediate scenery. It is also quieter for this reason, which is nice. The individual sites are large and spread out from each other, so it is easy to have some privacy. Make sure to get food and firewood before you start the drive up the mountain, as there is no place to purchase such supplies near the camps.” -The Dyrt user Leslie R. See more here.

5. Gould Mesa
Distance from LA: 17 miles

★★★★☆
“If you are in LA and looking for the back-country feel without a long drive, this is just a 3 mile hike or ride up the canyon from Altadena.” – The Dyrt user John M. See more here.

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Reminder: You could win a $100 Toad&Co gift card when you camp California + review your campsites on TheDyrt.com. Learn more about our campsite review contest here. Contests end September 30th, so get out there!