Throughout my travels, I have often been forced to do things in an unconventional way, but some things always stay the same. Many years of scouting and my own experience with camping and the wilderness have helped me to stay clear in my mind when it comes to tricky situations. This is why I composed the ultimate guide for your backpacking off-the-grid camping trip.
Pack in, pack out and beyond
Leave-no-trace camping is vital to us as human impact increases on the nature around us. It involves you being proactive and a common phrase used is “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.” It is pretty obvious but often needs a reminder for the less conscientious. Therefore, when you walk in nature, try to stay on the path that is provided to prevent damaging nature. Additionally, when pitching your tent, leave the site as you found it. In the scouts we actually used to say, leave it cleaner than you found it.
Be bright and carry light
The less you carry the more you can move and save energy. This counts for food, material and everything else you might want to bring. A light-weight tent will cost you some extra bucks but will pay off very quickly. For food, we have the following recommendations to stay lightweight.
- Breakfast– Oatmeal, crackers, and cereal are good options: inexpensive, lightweight to carry, and easy to prepare. Measure portions ahead of time into zipper-sealed baggies for more convenience. Add a spoonful or two of brown sugar to make it tastier.
- Lunch– You might welcome lunch as an excuse to stop eating during the day, but preparing food on the trail can be a nuisance, so on-the-go foods like trail mix, granola or energy bars, or peanut butter are handy. For short trips, or for the first day or two of longer trips, you can bring semi-perishable foods such as fresh fruit or bagels.
- Supper– To restore your energy at the end of the day, freeze-dried foods are your most practical option. All sorts of pre-prepared dishes are available, mostly combinations of noodles, rice, chunks of veggies and meat, and sauce. Many can be prepared in the packaging they come in, making clean-up easier: just add boiling water, mix, and wait a few minutes. Especially with the sauce of hunger added, they can be quite tasty.
Water is the source of energy
Nowadays, easily solutions such as a life straw can be purchased to avoid sickness while traveling, so do your research prior to your trip. After all, it all depends on your location. As a general rule of thumb remember the following. It is safe to drink, if:
- The water was not standing, i.e.
- it comes from a stream that is rather fast
- the stream is big enough that it is not just a connection of puddles or ponds where the water rinses from one to the other.
- There are no sources of contamination upstream, thinkable sources are
- agricultural areas where fertilizers or herbicides could have been used
- meadows, where cattle were present
- (quite unlikely) the water runs through some geologic formation where harmful stuff gets washed out.
Better safe than sorry
The advice here is obvious, the more experience you have the easier these things get. There are however some general guidelines you should be following. It is vital to know your own limits, will only have one chance to jump 1m distance to the next rock on the cliffside. Moreover, being alone in the wilderness is always a great risk, so if you do have to go alone, bring your mobile devices and let your friends and family know where you start and your route.
In the same category, you should research the local wildlife. There are precautions to take for different animals, for example, hanging up your food above 3m on a tree will help you avoid bear encounters.