With summer right around the corner, here are some foolproof camping/adventure tips and tricks to keep you safe and only moderately frustrated when venturing into the great outdoors. Some are money savers, while others are ridiculous and probably based on completely made-up statistics. Remember, camping is where you spend a small fortune to live like a homeless person for a few days. It’s great.
→ Ever play “slap the bag”? Use the empty wine bag as a pillow. Alternatively, use a full wine bag for a pillow, drink it alone in your tent, and then inflate it immediately before passing out.
→ The proper way to put out a fire: Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible. Pour lots of water on the fire to drown ALL embers until hissing sound stops. If you do not have water, stir dirt or sand into the embers with a shovel to bury the fire. With a shovel, scrape remaining sticks and logs to remove any embers. Make sure that no embers are exposed and smoldering. Continue adding water, dirt, or sand and stirring with a shovel until all material is cool. Remember that if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.
**It is not recommended that one extinguish fire by peeing on them.
→ False: “If you treat bears like Santa Claus, they won’t attack you.” Leaving food out right next to your tent for them so that they become your best friends is not recommended.
→ Leaving all leftover food underneath your friend’s tent will not keep animals away from your tent. Store that shit in bear-proof coolers or containers for camping. Also, you should really only keep food inside of your tent if you enjoy having raccoons scuttling across your face in the middle of the night.
→ Don’t try to make friends with raccoons.
→ Your friend who told you, “Bears won’t eat other bears. So, look and act as much like a bear as you can and you’ll be perfectly safe from bears.” is lying to you.
→ Don’t keep wine in your tent at night. Similarly, don’t drink wine instead of water on an 85-degree day during an all-uphill hike. But DO have a separate platypus just for your Pinot.
→ When brushing your teeth, don’t spit it out the toothpaste near your tent or camping area. That toothpaste has aromas that could attract curious animals to your tent.
→ Don’t share a toothbrush unless you are willing to catch the swine flu.
→ To wash your hands without a sink, take a big gulp of water, hold it in your mouth, then slowly spit it out onto your hands.
→ If you are winter/spring camping and you find yourself in an emergency situation where you are low on water, DO NOT eat snow. Especially the yellow kind. In general, it wastes a tremendous amount of calories for your body to turn the snow into liquid, plus you are hastening hypothermia. Melt the snow before you consume it.
→ Duct tape solves everything. Paracord is handy, too.
→ Sleeping in the outdoors can be unnerving for some. Bring earplugs to drown out any of that annoying nature-y sounds.
→ Always bring extra working batteries and two headlamps: one to keep on your head and another to give to your unprepared friend that doesn’t own a headlamp. Rub in face often.
→ Save silica gel packs to keep inside your cook set and stove storage. This prevents moisture build-up which can cause mold growth inside your cookware/gear. Gross.
→ BABY WIPES. Bonus points for biodegradable wipes.
→ Never use anything with three leaves to wipe. Smooth river stones feel nice on your bum if you can’t find any good leaves. And always bring a shovel.
→ Bring a lot of Peruvian Valium in case you don’t get your weather window.
→ For women, we don’t always have a handy tree or rock to pee behind. If you’ve invested in a good old lady J or similar apparatus, PRACTICE IN THE SHOWER. They advise so on the packaging. (I’m not admitting that I’ve peed on myself, but understand that this is a risk and accept the consequences.)
→ Socks. Bring them. Bring a lot of them.
→ Cotton=bad. Don’t wear it. Invest in something synthetic or merino wool.
→ When you’re done packing for your trip, finish this sentence: “I’m in the middle of the woods, I’m fucking cold, and all I want is…”
→ Boil water for your Nalgene to sleep with overnight to keep your ass warm (especially useful in alpine conditions). Has the added bonus that it kills microbes and will be ready to drink in the morning! It is not recommended that you mistake this with your pee Nalgene.
→ Rub vaseline into cotton wool balls or dryer lint and put them in a zip lock bag. They make great fire starters and if your lighter runs out of fluid, you’re still good to go.
→ Bring trick/magic birthday candles that automatically relight when blown out. They can be quite handy, especially when you forgot your significant other’s birthday.
→ Also, Frito chips.
→ Use a large garbage bag with two holes for your pack strap for the ultimate backpack cover. It’s totally impenetrable to rain and you can wrap your bag in it overnight if your pack doesn’t fit in your tent. You can also use it to wrap anything dank or smelly, or collect trash. Be a hero and pick up an extra trash that’s not yours.
→ Hang a water bladder/reservoir from a tree branch for a convenient backcountry bidet.
→ Create a makeshift lantern by strapping a headlamp to a gallon of water to fill the entire tent with ambient light.
→ Avoid bringing big speakers and just stick your cell phone in cup to play music.
→ Use a handful of sand or gravel as an abrasive to scrub camp dishes clean.
→ Practice playing Tetris obsessively before a trip in order to pack your cooler like a boss. Hey, the more space you conserve, the more beer you can bring.
→ Don’t keep Oregano in a small, unmarked bottle with your cooking supplies. The police never believe you.
→ Pre-make pancake batter and freeze before a trip. It doubles up as ice in your cooler and can thaw out in time for you to make the best blueberry coconut pancakes come morning time. Additionally, if you freeze other food and non-carbonated beverages (such as OJ) before leaving, you’ll need even less ice in your cooler.
→ If you use dry ice to chill things, you can essentially freeze your food and bring ice cream camping. You’ll be everybody’s best friend.
→ It is recommended to help prevent heat-related illness during hot days, drink plenty of alcohol-free and sugar-free fluids. Simply stated, alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes you go pee more often than you usually would. Alternatively, just pregame your pregame with water, and then just drink one for one throughout the course of the night.
→ You can cook virtually ANYTHING IN FOIL. Wrap potatoes, onions, veggies, ground beef, salt and pepper, and some butter up in aluminum tin foil and throw it on the coals. The best part is that you can make these ahead of time and freeze them. “Hobo dinners” somehow always taste better than a meal at a five-star restaurant.
→ Take a banana and split that sucker down the middle with a knife (be careful not to cut through the backside of the peel.) Add chocolate, marshmallows, nuts, and whatever nuggets of goodness you please. Wrap it in aluminum tin foil and toss it in the fire until mushy. You can test mushiness factor with a stick. Unwrap and scoop with a graham cracker. Noms.
→ Add coffee in a filter, tie with dental floss, and use as a tea bag. No more gross cowboy coffee!
→ Bring a Frisbee for both a plate and entertainment. Note: rinse Frisbee before throwing.
→ Nature does not YOLO. Nature does not give two fucks. Always prepare for the unexpected. Check weather report, learn about security at your location, and always tell family and friends your plans. Bring supply kits that include a first-aid kit, compass or GPS, map, flashlight, and medications. Your friends might make fun of you for being such a boy/girl scout, but you can lord it over them for years when you’re the one who saved their ass.
→ Camping with your significant other wouldn’t be as fun without spooning. Many backpacking bags can be zipped together for couples, so make sure yours have zipper compatibility. It’s a less efficient way to stay warm, but the Beatles once said that love is all you need.
→ Everyone knows that setting up the tent is the true test of a relationship, so be aware when you pull into your campsite past midnight after driving for eight and a half hours and your significant other forgot to pack a headlamp.
→ Under no circumstances should you let your significant other go camping with his/her ex. Just don’t.
→ The bug spray isn’t going to work. Accept that before you decide to go camping.
→ The only thing you should take from the woods are pictures.
→ Leave it better than you found it.
→ Just don’t go camping. Camping is the worst.
This adventure tip post is brought to you by Deuter, making badass backpacks for you adventurous souls since 1898.
Unless stated otherwise, all photographs courtesy of Deuter.