January 4th, 2015
Let’s say you want to go camping. No, I mean real camping. Not that racket where you’re out in the woods but are still surfing the web, watching episodes of The Office, and charging your iPhone. I’m talking about honest to goodness “sleeping-on-the-ground-miles-away-from-an-outlet-or-Wi-Fi-signal” camping or as some might call it, “primitive camping.”
There’s an undeniable thrill from roughing it that morphs into pride in yourself once the excursion is over. If feels good to be able to tell people after the fact, “I spent an entire weekend in the wilderness on my own with only the bare necessities.”
Mind you, however, that primitive camping is no small endeavor, and it certainly shouldn’t be approached with a slap-dash mentality. If you’re up to it, like any challenge, do it right, or run the risk of being miserable. And while the degree as to how primitive you intend to get may vary, there are several fundamental considerations that should be addressed.
Think in terms of layers and bring a warm, waterproof parka or jacket even if you aren’t expecting extreme weather. In many remote camping areas nighttime temperatures can drop drastically – especially in very high or very low altitudes. Bring a pair of jeans or lightweight cargo pants for your hike, even if it’s hot. Keeping your legs covered will help protect from danger in the brush as will the proper footwear.
Plenty of Water
Water is definitely essential, and you’ll need 2.5 gallons of drinking water per person per day. Generally this will cover a weekend-long trip and any cooking you might be doing. If you plan a trip to a warm climate, adjust your needs. If you’re really adventurous, buy a water filtration devise at a camping store or bring along iodine water purification tablets. The water may taste terrible, but it’s better than being seriously dehydrated.
Shelter is an important consideration that will make your adventure a whole lot easier if a weatherproof tent and warm sleeping bag are included. To some, though, even the tent is sort of a luxury for many months of the year. Many a primitive camper has enjoyed the starry skies above with no tent at all as they rolled out their bags right on the ground.
Have a fire starter kit so you won’t be stumbling around the dark woods for dry fuel. Building an outdoor fire can sometimes be difficult in moist or windy conditions, so be sure to include an adequate and abundant form of kindling to get your fire started. Waterproof matches are also a must. The alternative to a fire would be a small propane cooking stove which can come in sizes as small as a soda can. Be warned, however, to never use these inside your tent or the results can be fatal.
An old pot or two that you can cook food or boil water with over your heat source will be handy. Aluminum foil makes for a easy-to-carry cooking dish too. One sharp knife/multi-tool and a couple of tablespoons are all you really need for eating and cooking utensils. You can also fine inexpensive sets at sporting goods or military surplus stores.
As with anything, safety first! Always keep a well-stocked first-aid kit on hand for any accidents or emergencies. Pack a waterproof container with aspirin, eyewash, Band-Aids, gauze, Neosporin, Benadryl, and a few old strips of fabric to make a tourniquet in the event of major blood loss from a limb. A flashlight will also keep you safe from trouble in the dark.
The underlying premise here is to have a plan. Prepare ahead of time and roughing it won’t seem so rough when you’re in the thick of things.