Hammock Camping: Relaxing in the Great Outdoors

by Donna 23. July 2012 21:22

The Appeal of Hammock Camping for the Backpacker

While using a tent is quite fun, backpackers often find that they prefer to use hammock tents after they’ve been trekking through the wilderness for a while. That’s because the shelters are convenient to set up and generally are more relaxing too. While these kinds of tents may seem to be rather vulnerable-looking at first, they actually are solid forms of shelter, provided, of course, you tie the ends to tree trunks that are solid and sturdy too.

A Preferred Way to Sleep

Of course, not every camper finds a hammock tent the most comfortable option, particularly if he is taller or heavier. However, many campers, when they get used to sleeping on a hammock, actually like it better than taking refuge for the night in a ground-erected tent. After all, a hammock does keep you from dealing with such issues as rocks or dampness. Therefore, many people who suffer from back pain will find some relief when using a hammock tent during backpacking or hiking trips.

Choosing a Campsite

Because a hammock tent is set up about three feet off the ground, you reduce the potential of being plagued by insects as well, or at least from being pursued by the crawling kind. If you like to hike in the woods, then, naturally, a hammock tent is the ideal shelter as you can find a number of spots in which to set up camp. That being said, you still have to make sure that the area where you establish your tent is not prone to high-level winds or isn’t too near a body of water, such as a pond or lake, which generally attracts large populations of mosquitoes and other insects.

Setting up Camp

Once you find the perfect campsite, establishing the hammock is pretty easy. Make sure that the trees that you use are far enough apart to accommodate your height. The trunks should have circumferences of at least two feet. After you’ve tied the tent firmly to the trunks, all you need to do is establish the fly over the hammock for coverage. Commercial brands offering hammock tents include Hennessy, Clark Jungle, Eagle’s Nest, Warbonnet, Lawson, Trek Light, Crazy Creek and Hammock Bliss, just to name a few.

A Practical Item for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Indeed, using a hammock tent is an ideal choice for backpacking and camping as it is a very light type of gear. Even if you are carrying a large hammock shelter in your backpack, it, still, on average, weighs far less than the standard tent. In fact, the very lightest hammock tent that features a rain fly and bug guard weighs in at only one or two pounds. Plus, a hammock shelter can be used in a number of ways – as a tent, as a chair, as a lounger, or as a means to hold gear. Therefore, this camping accessory is definitely one practical item for anyone who loves traveling and camping in the Great Outdoors.


Backpacking | Camping

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

Backcountry Travels: Staying Safe on the Trail

by Donna 19. May 2012 19:58

Check the Weather before your Leave on your Trip

Regardless of where your backcountry treks take you, you should always anticipate any potential hazards that you may encounter. So, before embarking on your journey, check the weather conditions of the area you’re planning to visit. If you are caught, for example, in an unexpected rainstorm, stay away from open fields and isolated trees, both which are magnets for lightning strikes.

Always Carry Rain Gear

As a sudden change in the weather can occur frequently in backcountry locations, make sure you are well-prepared to meet a shift in the climate by packing rain gear and wearing sturdy, water-resistant boots.

Don’t Drink from Streams unless you Filter the Water First

Staying safe on the trail also means carrying plenty of bottled water. Water filters are available that make backcountry water potable to drink as well. Although it may appear refreshing and inviting, don’t drink the water from a stream as any untreated water should be considered unsafe. Again, just make sure that the water you have at your disposal is consumable and will keep you sufficiently hydrated while you’re on the trail.

Stay Hydrated

To maintain your energy level and keep from succumbing to warm weather sicknesses like heat exhaustion or heat stroke, you should drink two to four quarts of water per day, depending on your activity level and elevation. Drink at least 8 to 16 ounces of water before hiking and drink water during your hike as well. Avoid cola drinks, coffee, and alcohol and take breaks in shaded areas when possible.


Protect yourself from the sun by wearing clothing that is lightly colored as well as loose and lightweight. Be on guard against hypothermia. The condition occurs when the body cannot produce enough heat to keep it from chilling.  In turn, the body temperature drops, which, if left untreated, can result in a life-threatening situation or even death.

Hypothermia often occurs when the victim perspires in a cold environment. Wind chill temperatures registering below 10 degrees Celsius or 50 degrees Fahrenheit often contribute to the development of the condition.  Symptoms can include shivering, exhaustion, drowsiness, and forgetfulness.  To prevent hypothermia make sure you stay hydrated and keep your skin and clothing dry.

Watch for Snakes on the Trail

Snakes can be a safety hazard on the trail, especially in the warm weather months. Be especially alert when you are going through areas containing underbrush as the reptiles love these areas. Wearing rugged hiking boots and staying on cleared paths should help prevent any mishaps or injuries with this guys.

Protecting yourself from Mountain Lions

In some areas you can come across mountain lions, particularly if you choose to trek over certain wilderness paths in the Rockies. If you do meet up with one of the big cats, don’t run from the animal. Otherwise, he might chase you. Instead, make yourself look larger by opening your jacket widely or raising your arms. Don’t crouch down or turn around either as it sends a message that you are an easy mark. If the cat attacks, throw dirt in its eyes or make use of your walking stick or trekking poles to defend yourself.  When a cat attacks, it's basically a fight to the death.  Either the cat or you isn't walking away.

Keep Away from Poison Oak and Poison Ivy

Quite a bit less threatening, be careful of poison oak if you are hiking in the higher elevations. You can identify the plant in the summer by its green, waxy leaves that feature three lobes.


Backpacking | Safety

Surviving a Desert Backpacking Adventure

by Donna 9. April 2012 23:05

Adjusting yourself to the Climate
If your backcountry adventures take you to the desert, then it’s good to be prepared, particularly if you choose to hike during the warmer times of year. For example, if you travel to southern Arizona in the month of June, then you’ll need to quickly make an adjustment to the much warmer temperatures – temperatures that can soar to the higher 90s on the Fahrenheit scale or 37 degrees on the Celsius gauge. Stay well-protected even in heat you consider insufferable. Wear cotton shirts designed with long sleeves, cotton blend pants, and a protective, wide-brimmed hat.

Water is a Priority
Indeed, the desert can be a warm and unfriendly place during the day, given its lack of vegetation and the relentless heat. So, it’s important that you pack the appropriate essentials if you must trek over this kind of terrain. One of the main necessities, of course, is water as you can become dehydrated relatively fast without even realizing it. Because the body is comprised mainly of water, any moisture lost must soon be replaced.

Typically, most people require eight glasses of water per day in non-desert settings. So, in the desert, the amount of water you need is based on your height and weight. Therefore, taller and/or heavier people require more H20 to keep their thirst quenched and hydration requirements met.

Don’t Eat Anything if you are Low on Water
Generally, it’s best to hike in the very early morning hours or toward the latter part of the day. Make sure, if you don’t have enough water with you, that you resist the temptation of eating, say, that energy bar in your backpack. While eating the bar may appease any hunger pangs, it will also increase your thirst. So, if you are lost in a desert environment or veer off the beaten track, you’ll want to keep this point in mind. Usually, locating a blade of glass and placing it in your mouth will keep you from getting too thirsty if you find that your water is low and there are no other available resources.

Watch out for Snakes in your Sleeping Bag
Fortunately, most snakes, such as rattlers, rest in the daytime and stay out of the scorching heat by hiding under shelters, such as rocks. Therefore, if you are camping in the desert at night, you should be on guard as you could find a snake sharing your sleeping bag. As temperatures in the desert dip after the sun goes down, a snake will find a sleeping bag to be a warm place to retreat.

Desert Clothing
To ensure that you are equipped for any desert adventure, you’ll need to be outfitted with a frame backpack that contains outdoor clothing such as fleece jacket and hat (for the cooler temperatures at night), a waterproof jacket (yes, even in the desert), pants made of a cotton blend or synthetic materials, long johns, thermal top, cotton shirt with long sleeves, wool or synthetic socks, and a bandanna.

Suggested Desert Camping Gear
In addition to the backpack, gear should include:

  • A screen tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Trekking poles
  • Canister stove and cookware set,
  • Eating utensils
  • Waterproof matches
  • Water bottles (32 oz.)
  • Tablets for treating water
  • Pocket knife
  • Sunglasses
  • First-aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Sunscreen (at least SPF 15)
  • A towel
  • Wide brimmed hat
  • Light colored clothes that breathe well

Tags: ,

Backpacking | Hiking

I love sharing the outdoors and that is why Backcountry Secrets is my full-time hobby.

I only wish it was my full-time job.  I hope you have benefited from the information you have found on our site today.

If you want to share a post, here our guest post guidelines.

Log in