Experience is the best teacher, but even seasoned campers don’t know all the secrets to a spectacular camping expedition. Before you head out on your adventure, there a few things to know without having to go through the trouble of learning them for yourself. These secrets can save time, resources, money and keep you safe while voyaging into unknown terrain.
There are a number of fire-starters you can use to help the flame gain momentum and to keep the flame going. A few splashes of hand sanitizer will do the trick. Lint, like the stuff found in your laundry filter, makes excellent tinder. Similar to the way a candle burns, wax can keep the flame going. Use birthday candles or cotton balls soaked in wax.
Food, including trash, attracts bears and other wildlife. If you are parked away from your campsite and there are no trash bins on site, be sure to tightly contain your trash and your food. For extra precaution, place up high on a tree by harnessing it to branches away from your campsite. Bears have a keen sense of smell but they won’t get into it if placed above and away from you. When it comes to using the bathroom, biodegradable, disposable toilet paper is your new best friend. Move several feet away from your campsite, dig a hole, do your business and wipe. Bury your toilet paper in the hole along with your waste. This protects the environment and prevents attracting bugs and other pests.
Remote places typically don’t have great service for cell phones. Best to not rely on it. Pay attention to trail markers, bring a map with you and have a compass handy. Yes, a compass. No compass? If you are camping in Northern Hemisphere locations, look towards the sky to locate the North Star, aka Polaris. The North Star is not the brightest star in the sky but it is easy to locate once you know what to look for. The North Star marks the end of the Handle of the Little Dipper. If you can’t find the Little Dipper, locate the Big Dipper. The two outer stars in the bowl of the Dipper always point to the North Star. Face the North Star and stretch your arms out. Your right arm points to the East and your left arm points to the West. About face and you are headed South. Getting lost in an unfamiliar place is frightening. Better to be safe than sorry.
Staying hydrated is absolutely necessary when camping. No matter the climate, our bodies need it to survive and to prosper wherever we may be. Carrying large jugs of water when your campsite is miles away is burdensome and sucks the enjoyment right out of the adventure. Invest in a water canteen. That is for the journey to your destination. If you find yourself near a water source without runoff from cities or urban areas, boiling water for 10 minutes removes bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and parasites. Water purification tablets containing the active ingredient iodine serve a similar purpose. They dissolve in water. Another way to purify water, especially if you are unsure of toxins from urban runoff, is a personal water filter. Some look similar to straws and other filters resemble pumps. You can use this filter to purify the water directly from the water source.
The wilderness gets dark. Very dark. If you are camping, chances are you are far from any artificial lights. A campfire does wonders for lighting up your campsite. But what if you are on the move? What if it starts to rain heavily? You can’t do much, if you can’t see anything. Bring multiple sources of light with you. Start with a headlamp to see directly in front of you at all times. Next, an oil burning lantern or solar powered lantern. These don’t require a battery, power outlet or electrical source. Did you know not all oil burning lanterns require kerosene? There are lanterns that can burn using multi-purpose oil. This will lighten the load if the oil can be used for other basics such as cooking.
Now that you know some of the best kept secrets for camping, you can make your own way into the great unknown with confidence. Just be sure to use these secrets and the necessary items to have the easiest, safest and best camping trip ever!