Friday, May 1, 2020

Backpacking and Camping Hacks: Part I

There are a lot of little tricks to backcountry travel. Some of these are not intuitive and so, in this series within our Wilderness Skills label, we are going to start looking at some of these baseline skills.

Even if you're a seasoned backpacker/climber/mountaineer/backcountry skier, there's likely something here for you.

Check it out:

Attaching a Guy Line to a Tent Stake

Here's a 30-second tip for campers...

Drying Clothes

Your sleeping bag is a clothes dryer for damp clothes. Soaked clothing, not-so-much. If clothes are soaked through, you just don't have enough body heat to dry them in your bag.

For example, if you have wet feet, you can put on a dry sock, then put the wet sock back on over it. Once you've got this system on your feet, climb into your sleeping bag. By morning, you will once again have two pairs of dry socks.

To increase the warmth and the drying capacity, it's possible to put a Nalgene bottle into your bag with you filled with hot water. This will keep you warm and increase the drying speed of items in your bag. If your socks are soaked through, fill the bottle with boiling water and then put the socks on over the bottle...this will dry them enough that they can go into the bag.

A warning though... Not all sleeping bags are the same. Some bags have a "water resistant" lining. If your bag has this, water can become caught inside the bag, you'll get cold, and you'll wake up wetter than when you went to bed.

Trash Bag Liner

Use a large heavy-duty trash bag as a liner inside your backpack. This will ensure that if it's wet out, your goodies won't get soaked through.

Start Cold on the Trail or on the Alpine Start

It's pretty common to get out of the car at a trailhead and for it to be chilly. The obvious response is to put on all your clothes while you get ready. The same is true for an early morning (midnight?) start on a mountain. But remember, as soon as you start walking, you're going to need to strip down.

Start cold at the trailhead or early in the morning, so that you don't have to stop five minutes into your trek.

You can never have too much Tea.

When it's chilly, or early, or you're stuck in your tent, there's nothing better than a warm drink. Coffee and hot chocolate are great, and should not be ignored if either of those are your drink of choice. But tea is really light, and worth its weight in gold if you're stuck.

This is minor, but if it's dry out, I often let tea bags dry before putting them in my garbage. Those little bags filled with water can add up. If it's wet out, I'll wait to dry them until it's dry out...

So there you have, a few backpacking and camping hacks to get you started. Stay tuned for more...!

--Jason D. Martin

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