those that want to really get back to nature,
and go beyond the somewhat civilized campgrounds of state parks and the like,
primitive camping is the answer.
Because of the setting and the effort required to get into the backcountry, where virtually all primitive camping takes place, close attention to logistical considerations is essential. This begins with equipment. It should be light, highly functional, durable, and easy to use.
The logical place to begin is with the backpack.
These have advanced light years in the last generation, with solid yet lightweight internal frames and designs that distribute heavy loads more effectively. Along with your tent and footwear, this is the gear that demands the greatest amount of thought. Get the best you can afford, and give careful thought to the type of climate and terrain in which you will be hiking. For example, areas that receive a lot of rainfall demand a waterproof backpack or one with a cover, which is easy to put on and is also waterproof.
choice of tent, ground cloth, and sleeping gear
also need careful consideration.
The temperature ranges in which you will be camping figure in prominently here. Whatever the climate though, your sleeping bag should be one which is equal to the task with at least 5 degrees F of leeway. Spending a cold, miserable night is a primitive camper's nightmare, with no vehicle to retreat to. The sleeping bag (and mummy types tend to weigh less, a vital concern for the back packer) should also be one which will not become clammy or hold moisture. And you need a good, compact pad to go with it.
Next comes clothing
Venturing into the backcountry for miles toting a pack demands comfortable, lightweight and waterproof hiking boots. You will want at least one change of clothing, and materials that offer warmth and dry quickly deserve special consideration. In rainy regions, good raingear also looms large. Throw in a cap or hat, or maybe a balaclava or hooded sweater for colder climates and you have the basics covered. Of course, additions to this list will be required depending on local weather. If in doubt, check with someone familiar with the area and its climatic vagaries.
All of this gear--tent, pack, clothing, footwear, sleeping bag and pad, and ground clot--should weigh 20 pounds or less. That leaves you another 20 pounds of weight for food, cooking gear and accessories. With careful planning you can keep pack weight to a total of 40 pounds or less for two- or three-day trips, although longer ventures will require more weight and extra planning.
Choices when it comes to cooking ware range widely
Compact fold-up kits, which have multiple uses, tend to be best, and you can cook some wonderful-one course stews, goulashes, or hearty soups in a single pot. Add a cup, a plate, and utensils and about all that remains to feed the inner man or woman is the actual food and a way to cook it.
Dehydrated foods are the way to go. Almost any type of pasta, with some dried vegetables, meat, and spices added, can make a delicious dish. All they require are an appropriate amount of water and cooking. Add dried fruit and/or some sweets, and you can stock up on plenty of calories without any sacrifice in taste. If you are in an area where fishing or hunting is possible, you have even more potential for a varied diet. Plan every meal, including snacks, in advance. If you have a menu and follow it, you'll be in good shape and can even anticipate the tasty treats that lie before you.
Cooking can be done over an open fire in many areas, but it demands greater skill and is not permitted in some areas. Arguments in favor of this approach include the simple joys of a fire and some reduction in pack weight. Generally speaking though, you'll do better in following the no trace ethic and in cooking if you use a lightweight stove and the appropriate fuel. Coleman, long a leader in the field, makes excellent one- and two-burner stoves, which add little weight to the primitive camper s burden. Don t forget water purification tablets or a pump with a filter, and it is best to treat even cooking water that will be brought to a boil.
Finally, there are the accessories
A first aid kit, reliable fire starters (a couple of cigarette lighters always reside in my gear), a small flashlight, soap, towel and wash cloth, any needed medications, and personal toiletries also belong in this category. So do necessary maps and trail guides, a compass or GPS, and a basic repair kit. While not essential, some reading material, a camera, and a personal luxury item or two can be added.
Whether you are highly experienced in primitive camping or a novice, make a point of maintaining a list of all the equipment you use. Fine-tune this list after each trip, and in time you will get packing for future trips down to a fine art. Even then though, there's one area that always cries out for some experimentation. There are few backcountry pleasures more satisfying than the simple acts of preparing and eating a fine dinner, and the avid camper always looks for tasty new additions to the menu.
Primitive camping, properly done, can be as comfortable as it is enjoyable. Add to that the fact that it offers the ideal escape from the hustle and bustle, the headaches and heartaches of our fast-paced world, and you have ample reason to take to the trail in any and all seasons.
A good topo map and understanding of how to use it is essential to those venturing into wilderness areas to camp.
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