Backwoods Camping for Beginners
What Gear to Pack,How to Prepare and What Not to Forget.
A sound-off of important yet easy-to-forget elements in a first-time camper’s preparations, including details of terrain, and equipment must-haves.As with any hiking camping trip, an excursion along a backwoods trail demands that attention be paid to each of the above in great detail. Even among seasoned hikers there is no such thing as immunity to forgetfulness, while for the begininer, simple lack of experience necessitates a near-compulsive attentiveness while planning.
That Hill Looked Flatter on Paper . . .
Indeed it did. The problem though, is that when most backpackers first pour over a park map, they focus on the indicated length of the trail, and not the terrain it runs over. Always remember: Most park-maintained trails are designed to offer the path of moderate resistance, and that winding red line measures the distance from A to B as the crow flies – while you’ll be walking.A 10-kilometre trail traversing a park’s hill-strewn highland region can easily prove more taxing than a 15-kilometre route through gently rolling lakeland. Attention must be paid to the topographic contour lines that overlay the indicator for the trail itself, yet they are so often and easily overlooked by someone judging a trail’s difficulty on horizontal distance alone.
Cutting Weight Versus Cutting Corners
Anyone who’s ever carried so much as the lightest hiking pack on their back knows that lighter is the way to go, but some kit pieces are unquestionably worth the extra poundage. This is particularly important to keep in mind, as a few of these are often among the heavier items you’ll need along with you.Forgetfulness isn’t so much a problem here as is inexperience – know what’s mandatory and when looking to shed weight, give a thought toward Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Food, water and shelter above all else, followed then by what’s required for basic safety. In other words, whatever you do away with, adequate food, a means of producing heat (matches, flint, etc.) water and a pot to boil more in, clothing, tent and sleeping roll suited for nighttime temperatures and a first-aid kit all form the immutable core of your gear – look elsewhere when lightening the load.
Going it alone
Solo-treks are for the experienced and those wrongly accused of murder. While most newcomers are suitably unwilling to go it alone on their first time out, it isn’t so much that we forget to bring a friend along as it is that we neglect to bring more.Put plainly, the larger the group the better, and where a two-member party is the minimum, four would be truly ideal. This offers numerous advantages, including the dispersal of weighty communal items (cookware, tents, etc.) an increased party-presence that will help ward-off unwanted wildlife, and the reduced chance that a disaster along the trail will leave one member alone and immobilized while another goes back for help.
The Three Most Neglected Items . . .
Knife: There’s a reason why the first tools ever wielded had cutting edges. For all intents and purposes, a sturdy, sharpened knife will be one of the most oft-reached for items in your pack.
Matches: It’s the worst feeling in the world to sit hunched before your carefully included stove or readied kindling, only to realize you’ve forgotten a means of igniting it. On their first trip beyond car-camping, no one wants to find themselves re-enacting Quest for Fire . . . or Alive, for that matter.
Rope: You’ll be setting lines for your tent, binding things to the outside of your pack, stringing food high up in the trees at night, erecting tarps between fire and falling rain, replacing severed bootlaces . . . in short, you’ll need rope, preferably about 30 metres’ worth of the polypropylene variety.
Perhaps most important of all things to remember is that when embarking on such a self-sufficient endeavor as backwoods camping, care and consideration are paramount, as barring that of Nature, the most common Law in the life of a hiker is, often enough, that of Murphy.
A friendly reminder to all who love the wilderness
To ensure that everyone has a pleasurable experience in the backcountry, please respect Mother Nature by bringing out more trash than you take in. This will ensure that others who come after you will have a clean place to enjoy the outdoors for generations to come.