Going camping in your area is a great way to get closer to nature and learn more about your leaf-covered neighborhood. In an age of industrial pollution and stressful environments, camping has become a popular hobby for millions of people looking to get away from the concrete and embrace a more simple existence, if only over the weekend. Even residents in rural communities could use a little recreation time in the woods, whether you wish to polish up your woodsman skills, test your survival knowledge or simply pamper yourself with some much deserved “me-time”. When you live in the countryside and love the outdoors, your vacation destination lies literally just around the corner.
The following tips will help you get the most out of your camping trip, and make sure that you return safe and sound from the wilderness.
A Good Shelter
Daylight is a luxury when you’re out in the wild. It disappears all too fast and before you know it, night is upon you. This is when the temperature drops and all the creatures and critters come out to play, making a good shelter your number one priority. The best option is to have a lightweight tent in your pack. Most beginners make the rookie mistake of choosing one that’s too big and heavy. When you’re out in woods, whether you have a fire or not, your shelter only needs to keep you insulated from the cold ground and protect you from wind and rain. A small one-person tent has everything you need to cover the basics. You may not be able to stand up in it, but why would you want to? If you’re travelling in a group, everyone can carry their own tent. As with all camping equipment, be certain to give your shelter a good test run before you head out, and bring enough poles and cordage in case you lose or break some. If you don’t have a tent, a tarp and a good sleeping bag is a good substitute, but will often require you to use natural materials to protect you from the elements.
After shelter, a good set of clothes is your best line of defense. Dress in layers, with the outermost preferably being waterproof. A sturdy rain poncho, or even a garbage bag, works fine and should keep you warm and dry. Dressing layers will help you regulate your body core temperature and keep you from sweating too much. If you’re not used to walking in the bush, it’s easy to overexert yourself and you’ll soon find yourself sweating. While sweating keeps your body from overheating, it can also be dangerous once the temperature around you starts to drop. Wet clothes will drain heat many times faster than dry ones and can lead to hypothermia. This makes a proper pair of boots a necessity. When you’re hiking, your feet are your only means of travel. Take care of them by using worn-in boots. The last thing you want is having to deal with sores and blisters while you’re walking.
Water and Food
Hiking through the woods is a taxing activity, and you’ll most likely need more food and water than you think. You can bring bottled water with you, but many prefer to drink the water found in lakes or streams. A word of caution, though: Just because the water looks clean, doesn’t mean it’s not full of harmful bacteria or pathogens. The easiest way to make water safe to drink is by boiling it for a couple of minutes. You can also use sanitation tablets that can be purchased in any survival store. These stores have a variety of pre-packaged food supplies as well, most simply requires you to add water to them and they’re ready to eat. Freeze-dried fruits and vegetables and different kinds of jerky make for a good snack on the go, until you find a suitable camping spot.
Having a fire is always a welcome thing. But when you’re out in the middle of nowhere, it becomes more than just a comfort – it becomes more or less a must. Fire will dry out your clothes, keep you warm, ward off any dangerous predators and cook your food. But the most important aspect of having a fire is psychological. There’s something reassuring to sit by a fire once darkness falls, lulled into a sense of familiarity and security by the light from the flames and the crackling sound of firewood. Lighters or boxes of matches are easier to use for newbies, but make sure you keep them in watertight containers, or they become useless. A magnesium striker takes a bit more practice but is more reliable and will also last longer. You can pick one up in any decent camping supplies store.
Worst-Case Scenario Pack
This should be carried with you at all times. A small first aid kit, a good survival knife, a plastic garbage bag, some rope, a small metal container, a compass and a means to start a fire. Even if you’re only heading out a couple of miles and don’t expect to be gone for more than a few hours, you never know what could happen. Hoping for the best while preparing for the worst is a good mindset for any camper. There are plenty of stories of people getting lost in the woods and you should pack a bag for any possible mishaps. Camping is a lot of fun, but comes with certain risks. Keep your essential gear on you and exercise the proper amount of caution and you should have a great time out in the wild, no matter the location, weather or season.