Summer is here and camping is awesome, but there are some safety tips to keep in mind – especially if you’re new to camping and your trip will involve visiting a wilderness area that is well off the beaten path.
And, what better way to review safety tips than to point out the mistakes of those who have gone before us?
Here’s our Top 5 list of first-time backcountry camping flubs, <em>from least to greatest</em>:
<strong>5. You forgot your sunscreen / bug spray / hand sanitizer.</strong>
Oh, how the little things add up! These items are obviously not essential to survival, but you’ll find your comfort level greatly diminished if you leave any one of them off the list for a summer camping trip.
Go to one of those big-box stores and raid the travel-size bins for tiny bottles of each, or spring for the big bottles if you don’t mind shouldering the extra weight. Dollars to donuts says you’ll be a hero to at least one person in your group who failed to stock up accordingly.
<strong>4. You forgot the TP.</strong>
While also not essential to survival, forgetting the TP will ratchet up your uncomfortableness to near-intolerable levels – especially if you couldn’t resist ordering the Mucho Burrito Platter the night before the trip.
Don’t bet on getting a helping handful from your campmates, either. TP is like gold in the wilderness. Just make sure you remember it in the first place.
<strong>3. You didn’t bring enough food.</strong>
Now things are starting to look a little dicey. Numerous records are available detailing the efforts of strikers and fasters who have gone weeks without food, and Gandhi famously fasted for 21 days during a war protest, taking only sips of water throughout the ordeal.
REMINDER: <em>You</em> are not Gandhi, and <em>he</em> was not stuck in the wilderness. The real problem with not bringing enough food is that it can weaken your body to the point where you can’t hike out of your predicament. Pro hikers recommend between 2,500 and 4,500 calories per day on the trail, although you may get away with less if your camping trip is less strenuous.
<strong>2. You didn’t tell anyone where you were going.</strong>
This is a big no-no. James Franco illustrated this point by sawing his own arm off in the film <em>127 Hours</em>, which was based on a true story about a guy who was so awesome he didn’t have to tell anyone where he was hiking. Or, so he thought.
Don’t be that guy.
<strong>And, the #1 mistake newbie wilderness campers make …</strong>
They don’t bring enough water. And, while you may still make it out alive by flubbing the last four, this one can most certainly get you killed.
It’s hard to appreciate how thirsty you can get when a) you have ready access to potable water at any time and b) you’re not exerting yourself. Reverse those facts and you’ll realize very quickly how badly you need water – <em>all the time</em>. Here are some tips to keep hydrated:
- You should always be hydrating with a liter of water with an extra liter of water in your pack at all times; so, a minimum of 2 liters to start.
- Consider carrying a filtration system or chemical purifiers so you can drink water on the trail.
- Remember that you can boil water to purify it.
- Rainwater is potable before it hits the ground.
- <em>Never</em> drink straight from the stream, lake, pond, etc.
We hope your next backcountry camping trip is full of adventure and anxiety-free.