10 Multi-Tool Hacks & Tips for Camping

Do you remember the annoying kid who’d always turn up to scout meetings and school outdoors trips with a multi-tool or a Swiss Army Knife? Perhaps you were that kid – the one who took unquestionable satisfaction in bragging to everyone about the 47 individual functions that could be performed by his gleaming and clearly completely unused pocket-knife tool.

Eventually, someone in your group may have suggested one additional function he could perform with it.

Love him or loathe him that kid was telling the truth. There are a diverse array of uses to which multi-tools can be put – perhaps even limitless uses – and some of them are pretty cool.

This article will point out some of the best multi-tool hacks for camping so that, years on, that little boy can achieve his dream and actually impress someone with his favourite toy. Imagine that!

Our Top Ten Multi-Tool Hacks for Camping

In no particular order here are ten hacks you can perform in front of your friends that are guaranteed to make them say “Ah, that multi-tool has really earned its corn” – or whatever it is you imagine them saying when they finally relent and acknowledge the general magnificence of multi-function knives…

#1 – Flipping Bacon

Let’s start with something simple and what could be more simple than flipping bacon? Nothing, so long as you enjoying yelping and accidentally throwing the half-cooked bacon onto the ground as you jerk your hand away from burning fat. At home bacon causes few problems, but you’re hardly going to carry a pair of kitchen tongs with you into the wilderness.

If only you had some sort of pocket-tool that could help you out… Aha! As the Leatherman Tool Group, makers of popular multi-tools, point out, the pliers on your multi-tool would be perfect for gripping bacon and flipping it. They could help out with other cooking tasks, too. Whenever anything hot needs handling use your pliers instead of your fingers!

#2 – Throw Away That Hammer

Another useless, weighty item some people take camping with them is a hammer to knock in the tent pegs. Really? It’s worth carrying a two kilo hammer on a hike just to knock in a few pegs?

Smarter people use stones to do the job but this can often be awkward. Why not use your multi-tool? Remember, it’s not just the various blades that can help you out. You pay for the casing, too, and the chances are that case will have enough width and heft to give a pretty good whack to a tent peg.

Better still, you can also pull the pegs out without having to dig your fingers into freezing ground. Just hook one of your curved blades beneath the peg, fix it in place and wrench the peg out. Job done!

#3 – Light a Fire Without Scorching Your Fingers

building a campfire with dry twigsSimilar to the bacon flipping example above this is another situation where your pliers can help you out. Have you ever held a match that hasn’t burnt halfway through within a second of ignition? This leaves you with two unappealing choices: to squeal in front of your friends and toss the match before it has lit anything, or “man up” and take third degree burns to your fingers in exchange for toasted marshmallows.

What if, as gearjunkie and instructables suggest, you were to use the pliers on your multi-tool to grip the match? Simple! Ingenious!

#4 – Hanging a Bear Bag

When trekking in bear country it’s vital to get any food well off the ground at a safe remove from your campsite. Otherwise, the bears will come for it.

However, as this article from momgoescamping.com highlights, “hanging a bear bag isn’t easy.” For one thing, you’ve got to have a good throw. Another mistake people make is suspending the bag over a branch without anything to weigh it down – in which case a stern breeze can bring the bag crashing back to earth and into the grasp of a grateful bear.

A multi-tool can help with both of these issues. As Leatherman point out, if you tie a rope to the middle of your multi-tool before attaching the bear bag, it creates a throwable object that should also weigh enough to keep your bag up the tree.

Just make sure you tie the rope securely to the multi-tool – otherwise you’ll launch it into the sky and never see it again!

#5 – Zip Yourself Up!

Ah, multi-tool pliers. Is there any limit to their functionality? Imagine you’re out on a trek and the zipper breaks on your jacket or, worst of all, on your pants. What will you do? Walk around with an open fly for three days?

Someone at gearjunkie appears to have encountered this issue at some point – and found an ingenious solution. Your fingers may not be able to grasp a broken zip firmly enough to wrench it up, but the pliers on your multi-tool will do the job.

Just make sure that it’s the zip you grab hold of with the pliers!

#6 – Tighten Your Belt 

Most of us can only dream of the following scenario but, who knows, if you’re heading into nature for a really serious adventure – a Himalayan trek, maybe? a survival expedition? – you may lose weight and struggle to tighten your belt.

While this may seem like a nice change – discovering that pants are too loose for you – the novelty will swiftly wear off when you find yourself having to hike your waistline up every two minutes. What can you do, though? You can’t exactly buy a new belt halfway up K2.

Why not use the screwdriver head of your multi-tool to burrow a new hole through the leather of your belt? A hack worth remembering.

#7 – De-Splintering Yourself 

Any sensible hiker carries a first aid kit with them, but, as this Rolling Fox article highlights, it isn’t easy to find a balance between a thorough kit without carrying the proverbial kitchen sink with you.

Your multi-tool can help you out here, too. Why carry scissors and tweezers when your multi-tool can perform both functions for you? Wood splinters and porcupine quills beware! 

#8 – Start a Fire

As the thoughtful folks at instructables.com point out, if you find yourself in the wild with a flint but no striker your multi-tool can step in and fill the void. Flint won’t cause a spark if it is rubbed against a curved metal surface so it is suggested that you use the back of your saw blade to generate the spark. Combining the ancient art of fire-making with your ultra modern pocket tool is bound to impress your campmates.

#9 – Catching Your Dinner   

If you find yourself stranded in the wild for a prolonged period multi-tool tricks become more than hacks, they become essential for survival. Catching fish and small animals is all about improvisation and imagination. With the aid of your multi-tool you could cut rope or manipulate pieces of wire to rig traps or, as gearjunkie outline, twist found materials into fishing hooks and improvise a fishing line. Reconnecting with your hunter-gatherer ancestry (with a little modern assistance) could save your life.

#10 – Your Own Hack!

The nine previous hacks are fun and effective but also highlight how so much of outdoors life is about exploration and improvisation. That annoying kid was wrong, a multi-tool doesn’t have x, y or z numbers of functions, it has limitless functions – get out there and discover your own hacks!


We hope you enjoyed this top ten list and that it inspires you to find your own multi-tool hacks. It was human creativity and tool-making skills that elevated homo-sapiens above all other mammals in the food chain and creativity is boundless. Can you outdo your ancestors and come up with something new?

Let us know about your own multi-tool hacks in the comments section. Have we missed anything good?