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Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest—which is certainly the case with this collection of outdoor tricks and gear hacks that readers have sent us over the years. In the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing our “greatest hits” of those reader tips, starting with this list of camping tips. From a modified mousetrap to a toilet-paper protector, these tips are simply brilliant.

Make an Inescapable Mousetrap

A mouse trap with peanut butter on the trap.
A dab of peanut butter worked into yarn keeps mice from dining and dashing. Field & Stream

Here’s how to catch mice that steal the bait from a trap without setting off the trigger: Tie some yarn onto the trigger, leaving the cut ends about 1⁄4-inch long. Roll the ends to make them fuzzy. Work some peanut butter into the yarn and set the trap. The bait is tougher to get out of the yarn, and the mice will be more aggressive trying to get at it. —Richard J. Moncsko, Wilmington, New York

Split Firewood in a Tire

My least favorite part of splitting firewood is picking up pieces that fall off the chopping block and setting them back up for another swing. A while back though, I met an old-timer who had the perfect solution. He lays an old truck tire on the ground and stands round pieces of wood inside of it upright until he can’t fit anymore. Then he just whacks away until he splits every piece inside of the tire. The tire holds the wood in place so there’s no need to set up between swings. When he’s done, he just picks out the split wood and loads in another batch of round logs. —Steve Sanford, Maryland 

Keep Parachute Cord Tangle-Free

A jif peanut butter jar with a rope pulled out.
There are a billion uses for p-cord at camp—but it’s useless if it’s a tangled mess. Field & Stream

The best way to store 550 parachute cord is in an empty plastic peanut butter jar. Drill a 3⁄16-inch-diameter hole in the lid. Stuff the cord into the jar (careful not to overlap it), and thread the end about 4 inches through the hole you made. Screw the lid back on, and pull out as much cord as you need. Kiss tangles good-bye. —Jim Ratermann, Tipp City, Ohio

Keep the Back Door Open For Bears

In a wall-tent camp, the cook tent can be an easy target for bears. But the only thing worse than a bear stealing your bacon is a bear getting trapped in the tent that holds your bacon and tearing it to shreds while trying to get out. That’s why we always tie the back corner of our wall tent open when we need to leave our cook tent for a while. It gives any critter that ends up in there a way out, and keeps our stuff from getting destroyed. —Corey Goetz, Cody, Wyoming

Dry Your Boots with Newspaper

A pair of boots with newspaper stuffed in them.
Stuff yesterday’s news into your boots so they’re dry by tomorrow. Field & Stream

I stuff my boots with newspaper, which absorbs the moisture. Then I keep repeating with dry pages every 45 minutes, and they’re good to go the next day. —Marck Schwarze, Elk River, Minnesota

Clean a Cast-Iron Skillet Out With Salt 

Everybody treats cast-iron skillets differently, but this is the best way—period. When your cast-iron pan is dirty put two to three tablespoons of salt in it and a bit of cooking oil. (Never use soap, and never use hot water.) Then, use a paper towel or dish rag to grind the salt around the pan, picking up any bits of food stuck to the metal. Keep grinding until the metal is smooth and the salt looks dirty, then rinse with ice-cold water. You’ll know you did a good job if the water beads up on the surface of the metal. Dry immediately, and don’t let anybody else in camp use your pan. —Gary Hilman, Brownville, Maine

Boil Pasta in a Coffee Pot

I figured this one out on spaghetti night. After forgetting to bring a pasta pot, I found that my tall blue enamel coffee pot (the old-timey kind that looks like it fell off a stagecoach) fit spaghetti perfectly. Better yet, because it didn’t use as much water to boil the pasta, it didn’t burn up too much fuel. And when the spaghetti was cooked, the spout worked perfectly to strain out the water. —Kyle Jameson, Lincoln, Nebraska

Haul Firewood with a Ratchet Strap

A bundle of sticks tied with a yellow rope.
Use a modifired ratchet strap to haul a night’s worth of fire wood in just a couple of trips. Field & Stream

I took a broken 1-inch ratchet strap, cut off the end with the hook, and tied a loop at that end. I use this to gather firewood whenever I’m camping. I just lay the strap on the ground and pile sticks on it. Then I pull the male end through the female end and throw the bundle over my shoulder. I can carry twice as much wood in half the time. —Eddie Crane III, Richmond, Illinois

Keep Your Phone in Your Sleeping Bag

I try to unplug when I go to hunting camp, but I still like to use my phone for two things: the alarm clock and GPS. The trouble is, cold weather saps a phone’s battery in no time. If I’m going to be camping off-grid for a few days, I keep my phone in my jacket pocket during the day where it can stay warm, and I tuck it into my sleeping bag at night along with any other battery-powered gadgets I have. —Brian J. Matheson, Northville, New York

Protect Your Toilet Paper at Camp

A foldgers coffee cup used as a toilet paper holder.
Say goodbye to wet, or mice-eaten, TP in the camp outhouse. Field & Stream

Two of the most annoying problems at my hunting camp are wet toilet paper and mice getting into toilet paper. But there’s a solution. Cut a long slit in one side of an empty plastic coffee can. Stick a roll of TP in the can and pull a bit of the paper through the slit. Make a hole in the lid and the bottom. Run string through the holes and hang the can out of reach of mice. —Mark A. Clark, Colorado Springs, Colorado