By Stephanie McHugh
Wilderness camping is the ultimate unplugged-in-nature experience. There is physical challenge involved because all of your needs are carried on your back. Being imbedded in nature is best enjoyed when you have essentials for survival. Many of the tips and tricks of a successful wilderness camping trip are learned by experience.
Preparation for wilderness camping
In addition to packing the right things for a wilderness camping hike, some steps in preparation are a bit more involved. The number one tip is to break in new hiking boots before you hit the trail; a minimum of 50 miles of walking beforehand provides good insurance against blisters. Other prep tips follow:
- If you have a new tent, set it up a time or two before your trip, to avoid possibly having to struggle during setup in inclement weather.
- Do some research on the types of dangerous wildlife you might encounter on your camping trip, and be prepared. For areas with a lot of bears, for example, wear bells on your backpack, to avoid surprising a mother with bear cubs. Also, be sure to carry some sort of campsite locker or bear bag so that at night you can lock up food and everything else that emits any type of scent, such as moisturizer, bug spray, and toothpaste.
- There may not be access to GPS or any other electronics in the wilderness. Learn how to use a compass, and pack one for the journey, along with a map of the area.
- A hydration system is another chief consideration, when wilderness hiking and camping. If there are plenty of water sources where you’ll be camping, you can depend on a purification system of some kind. A CamelBak system that helps you carry a few days’ worth of water may be needed, if you aren’t sure of encountering natural water supplies.
Essentials to pack for backcountry camping
The excitement of braving the wilderness can quickly lose its charm for a wide variety of reasons. Backpack space and weight is limited. Thanks to skilled campers, you can be sure of various items that are worth their weight. In addition to more obvious necessities, such as a sharp knife, you’ll want to find room in your pack for the following items:
- A ground mat is very lightweight and serves a great purpose. You and your gear can usually avoid being soaked, even if the ground becomes wet as you sleep at night.
- Pack extra plastic trash bags, which have many great uses. A trash bag can be used as a backpack cover, an emergency poncho, and a catchment system for rainwater.
- Include some binder clips on your backpack, to make it easy to hang clothing to dry at night or during the day, when you’re hiking.
- Bring a lighter and some dryer lint, for getting fires started. Lint is virtually weightless and yet serves as a great fire starter.
- Duct tape can serve many helpful purposes, such as patching holes and removing objects from your socks, such as cheat grass spines. Bungee cords also have many uses on wilderness camping trips.
- Bring along a whistle, which can be of help in many different circumstances. The noise can scare bears and help you find camping partners, if separated in the backcountry.
Be sure to share your secrets of enjoying wilderness camping. With the right kind of preparation, the experience can be positively – as opposed to negatively – unforgettable.