Packing Basics for Backpackers

by Donna 13. July 2012 21:19

Place your Sleeping Bag in the Bag First

If you are new to backpacking, then, to make the most of the activity, you also have to understand some fundamentals with respect to packing. Once you understand these basic rules, you’ll be able to travel in the Great Outdoors with a lot more ease. Usually, it’s best to place the items you will be using at night at the bottom of your backpack. So, start off the process by packing your sleeping bag first, or placing it in the bottom of the backpack.

Keep Bears at Bay with Canisters that Snuff out Fragrances

Keep the sleeping bag away from any scented items or food as the bag can be a draw later for bears if they catch a whiff of any kind of odor or fragrance. To minimize the problem, a number of national parks currently require that backpackers make use of bear-resistant canisters. However, the canisters can also add to your load as well, so you have to make sure that you pack the container so it is optimally used and filled. Therefore, any part of the canister that doesn’t hold food should accommodate other scented items such as sunscreen. Pack the canister in the primary compartment of your backpack next to your back.

Insert the Heavier Items toward the Middle of the Pack

Again, all night-time items should generally be packed at the bottom as they are the last items needed during the day with the exception of your flashlight. Pack the lighting device so it can be obtained easily from your bag. The heaviest items in your backpack should be placed above the sleeping bag and next to your spine, such as the aforementioned bear canister, bottles of water, and, in some instances, your cooking items and stove. Some backpacks provide a sleeve for a hydration reservoir that can be inserted prior to packing, which also makes carrying your water supply an easier task as well.

Keep Everything in Balance

Therefore, the items that are heavier should go in the middle section of the pack to create balance and leverage. Placing heavy items too low in a backpack will cause the pack to droop while inserting the weightier items at the top will make the pack top-heavy. Backpacks are designed today to conform to the backpacker’s body. Therefore, it’s best to keep items that weigh more in the center and close to the spine to maintain the center of gravity.

Invest in a Good Backpack Cover

To make sure that your items are well-protected too, invest in a backpack cover. You’ll be glad that you did if you are caught in an unexpected downpour. Even though backpacks are made of waterproof materials, the zippers and seams on the packs can still cause your items to get sopped if it happens to rain. So, a backpack cover will ensure that anything that you carry will remain relatively dry and therefore safe from damage.


Backpacking | Hiking

Freeze Dried Foods for Backpacking and Hiking

by Donna 2. July 2012 21:10

The Freeze-drying Process

Freeze-drying, also known as lyophilization (yes you need to know that!), is a process where food is frozen quickly and deposited in a vacuum, making the food more condensed, lighter and still tasty. Therefore, these kinds of foods are often carried by backpackers because of their light weight and nutritional content. The majority of backpackers buy commercial brands, such as Backpackers Pantry or Mountain House, as the freeze-drying process can be quite expensive for individuals to pursue themselves.

Freeze-drying Removes a Food’s Water and Weight but Does not Destroy its Nutritional Content

Freeze-drying food maintains the food’s cell structure and therefore the colors and nutritional value of the sustenance is also preserved as well. Because all fresh foods contain water which adds to their weight, freeze-drying removes this excess water and, as a result, the weight. In turn then, backpackers can carry quite a large amount of freeze-dried foods in their packs. To rehydrate freeze-dried foods, you can either place them in boiling or cold water. Using cold water will merely increase the amount of time to reconstitute the food. You can also eat freeze-dried food in its dry state as well.

A Variety of Freeze-dried Foods are Offered for Use by Backpackers

Because freeze-drying uses minimal heat and primarily extracts the water in a food, the texture, taste, and vitamins and minerals stay intact. You can find a large variety of foods that are freeze-dried available for consumption. Choose from a number of entrees featuring meats, vegetables, and fruits to keep you energized while you are hiking, fishing, or camping. 

Practice Preparing Freeze-dried Specialties at Home before you Cook them at your Campsite

Not only are freeze-dried foods simple to prepare, again, they pack very light and take up little space in your backpack. Plus, the shelf life of such foods is measured in years, not for small time periods, such as days, weeks, or months. The foods provide maximum nourishment for backcountry adventurers, including biking enthusiasts, hikers, and backpackers. If you haven’t cooked freeze-dried foods before then, practice preparing them at home so you can expertly cook them with ease on your next backpacking or camping trip.


What are your favorite freeze dried foods?


Backpacking | Camp Food

Staying Safe in a Rain or Lightning Storm

by Donna 29. June 2012 21:04

Nature’s Clues

Veteran campers generally know when the weather is taking a turn for the worst without having to listen to the forecast. There are always those telltale clues – such as gusty wind or an unsettling calm. Fishermen often note that fish will bite more frequently before a rainstorm as well. Needless to say, those kinds of hints simply are nature’s way of preparing you for some rainy weather or, at worst, a blowing rainstorm.

Make Use of Plastic Bags

Therefore, it’s always good to be prepared for the rain whenever you journey into the backwoods. Make use of plastic bags—sandwich bags and trash bags. Use them to keep out the moisture from items such as camera equipment, fishing licenses, matches, or any personal documentation, such as a passport.

Carry a Newspaper in your Backpack

It’s also a good idea to take a newspaper in your backpack. Not only will you have something to read if you are caught in a rainstorm in your tent, the paper can be used as a fire starter or placed in wet shoes to remove the excess water.

Be Extra Careful if you are Hiking over Rocky Terrain

If you are hiking in a rocky area while it is raining, be very careful as the craggy terrain can suddenly become loose and slick. Even after a rain, the mosses on such slippery slopes only make walking just that much more of a hazard. To reduce your chance for injury then, make it a point to wear hiking boots designed with good ankle support and a ground-gripping tread. It doesn’t hurt to use walking poles or hiking sticks either. Pack your backpack so the items within it are evenly distributed so you can keep your balance and increase your traction too.

Taking Precautions against Lightning

Lightning often makes an appearance during summer storms as well. Its tines can light up the sky even after thunderheads have made their entrance and left. Should the weather take a turn for the worse and you are in a boat or swimming then, make a quick exit to the shore. Or, if you are hiking in a hilly area, head toward a lower elevation. You also don’t want to find shelter under a tree during a wind or rain storm. While you may not get struck by lightning, you may easily get hit by a falling branch.

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Summer Tips for Camping in your Car

by Donna 15. June 2012 21:00

Carry Plenty of Water

Not every backcountry enthusiast camps in a tent. Some outdoor adventurers like nothing better than camping inside their SUV or four-wheel drive. So, if you are new to this kind of camping, you’ll soon learn that carrying plenty of water is a priority.

Indeed, people who have not camped before—whether in their car or in a tent—may forget that their supply of water should extend beyond the amount they need for drinking. Therefore, make sure you have plenty of water available for cleaning, bathing, cooking, or a health emergency. In fact, take double the water of what you think you’ll need, especially if you are camping in your car as you have a way to carry the extra liquid.

Always Carry a First-aid Kit

Also, a first-aid kit is a priority as well, regardless of whether you are camping in your vehicle or trekking through the countryside with a backpack. Of course, it might defeat the purpose of carrying a first aid kit at all if you don’t have all the supplies you need. Therefore, before you set out on any camping adventure, make sure your kit contains all the essential items, including salve, bandages, and a painkiller medication. Include insect repellant, sunscreen, and lip balm as well.

Pack Bulk Staples

Since you are camping inside your vehicle, you’ll also want to make sure that you pack plenty of victuals. Most people, while camping, can get pretty hungry, particularly families with children or campers who’ve set their sights on fishing or hiking.

Pack some Rainy Weather Foods Too

So, buy the food for your car camping trip in bulk and pack staples such as cereal, rice, and pasta that are easy to cook and will not cost too much. You’ll want to include foods that are simple and quick to prepare in case of a downpour too.  Therefore, make sure you also bring peanut butter, bread, jelly, and energy snacks such as raisins and trail mix.

Bring along a Couple Fire Starters

Speaking of rainy weather, it’s not a bad idea to carry a couple fire starters either. Store matches in your glove compartment and bring along a couple of weather-resistant lighters. Store some dry kindling wood in your car as well in case it rains and you can’t use the wood at the campsite.

One Final Suggestion

Naturally, when you are car camping, it’s easy to become tempted and turn on the music in your car or truck. However, if you don’t want to scare away the wildlife and turn your camping adventure into a tailgating event, it’s best to listen to nature’s music instead.



Keeping your Campsite Clean: Organizational Tips

by Donna 4. June 2012 20:54

Keep your Tent Pleasant-smelling and Clean

It’s helpful, especially on rainy camping days, to make sure that you set up your tent so it will completely dry out in order to prevent mold and unpleasant scents. Brush off any moldy residue and clean your tent with a natural solution of a cup each of salt and lemon juice added to a gallon container of lukewarm water. Use the solution to clean your camping gear as well.

Use a Tarp Beneath your Tent to Make Clean-up and Packing Faster

It’s also helpful to place a tarp beneath the tent as a form of temporary flooring. That way clean-up is faster and easier. The tarp can act as carpeting underneath your feet and will help to protect the floor of your tent helping it to last longer.

Keep Sand out of your Sleeping Bag when Camping at the Beach

If you camp at the beach, you’ll keep sand from sticking to your feet if you sprinkle talcum powder on the mat at the entrance to your tent. That way you can sleep soundly without having to worry about the bottom of your sleeping bags becoming littered with sand.  Who likes sleeping with sand paper?

A Makeshift Paper Towel Holder

If you need a holder for your paper towel, why not use a wire clothes hanger? Simply snip off one end of the bottom wire and insert the role. Keep it close to where you cook and hang the towel holder from a small yet sturdy limb. Or simply use a regular hanger (wire or plastic) for your terry towels.

A Campsite Wash Basin

A campsite sink can be put to use by placing a jug with a spigot on top of a picnic table. Place a tub underneath the spigot to catch the water and some liquid soap next to the campsite faucet so you can conveniently wash your hands.

A Way to Keep Spiders from Sharing your Tent

If you are camping in a screened shelter with a concrete floor, you can disinfect the floor by adding one part bleach in water before washing it. The process will keep any spiders from sharing the space with you while you are camping or cooking.

Do you have any other tips you use to keep your campsites clean?



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