Sunday, 31 August 2014

Valid reasons to change your clothes whilst camping

I've mentioned, MANY times, the value of packing light for camping trips, yet most people STILL feel the need to pack a change of clothing for every damn day!

So, because I am a kind and helpful sort, I have compiled a comprehensive list of reasons you may actually need to change into different clothing during your camping trip.

  •  It got too hot
  • It got too cold
  • It started raining
  • It started snowing
  •  It stopped raining
  • It stopped snowing
  • You got something that stinks more than you can stand or that will unduly attract wildlife on your clothing and you need to go to the river and wash them
  • You've been wearing your clothing so long they're physically uncomfortable or too stinky to stand and you need to go to the river and wash them
  • You're going to bed and don't want to sleep fully clothed
  • You just got up and need more clothing for outside of your sleeping bag/tent

Wilderness camping pro tips!

These are a few "helpful hints", culled from years of experience going camping with people who don't go camping, and presented in snippets of actual conversation. 

  • You only need boots and sandals/water shoes. What are you going to do with one ENTIRE suitcase dedicated to shoes? IN THE WILDERNESS!!??
  •  No, there is nowhere to plug in your curling iron. Why the hell did you bring a curling iron camping!? You brought your hair dryer too!? Seriously? Nevermind, I need more coffee!
  • Of course the ranger got annoyed with you when you actually WHINED to him that you NEEDED a place to plug in your curling iron and hair dryer, and he should let you use the ranger station. And yes, you are extremely lucky I didn't disavow any knowledge of who you were right then and there!
  • No, you can't pop microwave popcorn by holding it on the pigsticker over the fire.
  • No, the ranger station doesn't have a microwave you can use.
  • No, we can't get a propane powered microwave.
  • No, you can't run a microwave, hair dryer, curling iron, or any of that other crap from my car battery!
  • No, I am not going to try and figure out how to cook your Lean Pockets. I told you not to bring anything that couldn't be cooked in the woods with no electricity. What part of NO ELECTRICITY did you not understand?
  • We TOLD you it was going to be VERY cold and you needed a layers, warm clothes, boots, and a sleeping bag rated for 0° at least. The $20 sleeping bag from Fred Meyer, that says it is rated for 40° WILL NOT CUT IT. Sweats and a sweatshirt with a light jacket are NOT "warm clothes" unless they are layered with other clothes, and your "cute outfits" and 5 pair of open toe shoes are useless.
  • No, I'm not cutting my trip (that cost lots me of money to put together and drive for) short to take you back to civilisation because you didn't follow my instructions. We'll make a trip into the nearest town in 5 more days for supplies and you can buy something. You'll have to make do until then.
  •  DO NOT waste my propane trying to warm your hands over the damn burner! Put on gloves. If you're still too cold, go gather and cut more wood and I'll build up the fire. I'm not cold, so I'm not cutting more wood. Cutting wood will warm you up.
  • No matter HOW many times you check to see if your phone has signal, it is STILL 10+ miles to the closest hope of cell range. 
  • Your tent is not "defective" and it doesn't "have a leak". I told you to stake it out tightly and keep everything away from the walls. No, you're not sleeping in my tent. Next time, follow directions. (this has got to be the #1 "conversation" I have with people when camping!)
  • We're 6,000 feet up Mt Rainier in November. Of course it's cold. What the hell did you expect!? Quit your whining and keep up.
  •  Yes, I'm very serious. You REALLY do have to stomp around and around all over that space in the snow to make a tent platform. 
  • I TOLD you you needed to make a tent platform. No, you can't use my "extra" (dry clothing/sleeping bag liner/other dry things) and you're not sleeping in my tent. Get out there, stomp out your platform, stake out your tent properly, and build up the fire to dry your own gear. I'm going back to sleep. 
  • No, you don't need the 967 lumens lantern just to go to the BIFFY (that's the outhouse/pit toilet/latrine, for the uninitiated)! Use your flashlight. What do you mean your phone is dead? What does that have to do with anything? WHAT? I told you to bring a FLASHLIGHT! That did not mean rely on your cell phone, which requires plugging in to recharge.

This is only a very small sampling, and, sadly, I didn't make ANY of it up! I'll add to it as I remember/collect more snippets. 

Do feel free to add your own experiences in the comments!

Friday, 29 August 2014

How (not!!) to pack for a camping trip

Despite the title, this helpful post will also provide plenty of information on how to pack for camping in addition to how not to. 

This is for going camping for the sake of camping. It doesn't necessarily apply to events where there will be camping, as a means of lodging. 

Kink events, Highland Games & Faires, Renaissance Fairs, SCA type events, and anything else where garb, costuming, or other fancy getups are the norm get a pass on cute shoes and wardrobe insanity.

Now then...

First off,  clothing...       
Whether you're going camping for a weekend, a week, or a month or more, you never need to bring any more than: 
  • 1 pair of socks per day, plus 2 (max 16 - you can hand wash beyond that)
  • 1 pair of underwear per day, plus 2 (again, max 16 - hand wash)
  • 2 bras for those who need them
  • 2, (maybe 3 if it's going to be 2 or more weeks) pair of jeans/BDUs/other durable long pants
  • 2 pair of sweats
  • 2 sets of long underwear
  • 2-3 t-shirts
  • 2 tank tops
  • 2 long sleeve shirts (a LS T-shirt and a flannel shirt are great for layering)
  • 2 pair of shorts (sturdy, comfortable ones with pockets, not "cute" ones!)
  • 1 sweatshirt or light jacket that can be worn under heavier jacket
  • 1 heavy jacket and/or cloak (cloaks are great! they double as blankets, pillows, carrying sacks, etc)
  • 1 pair swim trunks or swimsuit
  • 1 pair sturdy, waterproof/resistant boots, suitable for hiking. (combat boots are good all-purpose boots)
  • 1 pair sturdy sandals or mesh shoes
  • 1 pair sneakers (if you must)
If all your clothing you plan to bring (other than shoes and jackets) won't fit in one large duffel bag, you need to leave some at home. Small children who aren't fully toilet trained can (and should) get away with double the above amounts of everyday clothing.

 You should also bring:
  • A GOOD flashlight. (NO, the one on your phone doesn't count!!)
  • Spare batteries & at least one spare bulb. (most good flashlights have a space to store an extra bulb in the body)
  • insect repellent
  • SUNSCREEN!! (SPF 40 or above advised)
  • After sun care (plain old aloe or a product specially designed for it like this one)
  • a tarp and/or tent (even if someone else is bringing tents, bring a tarp!)
  • a sleeping bag rated for at LEAST 10 degrees colder than it is expected to get where you will be
  • enough of ALL your regular medications for the length of time you expect to be gone, plus 1 week's worth. 
  • A towel
  • Personal toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, brush, hair ties, unscented lotion, unscented or camping soap, etc)
  • A good hunting, diving, or survival knife. More than one is better. 
  • a knife sharpener - I particularly like the Smith's PP1 Pocket Pal
  • A para-tool. I prefer S.O.G. but any high end one is good.2 is better than one
  • Flint and magnesium fire starter. (strike with a steel knife blade)
This is by NO means a complete list, but those are a few basics that you should never go camping without, even if other people are bringing  "all the supplies".  Personally, I keep all of those things in my go-bag and vehicle at all times, and advise you to as well, but that's a different article.

You should absolutely, positively, never, ever, fucking EVER (femes, I'm looking at YOU here!) bring :
  • High heels of any sort. The only thing they are good for when camping is getting ruined and breaking your ankle (or worse!). 
  • "Cute outfits", unless they are sturdy, functional, and you don't care if they get trashed.
  • "Cute shoes", unless they are  one of the kinds of shoes mentioned in the "bring" list.
  • Jewellery or similar accessories (the stuff you always wear, even when you sleep and bathe is an exception) 
  • Perfume, cologne, aftershave (witch hazel works great if you must shave), pretty scented lotions or other body products. (Exceptions: lavender, cedar, rosemary, citronella, catnip, mint, & any other scents known to repel insects)
  • Hairspray, gel, or any other sticky, bug attracting hair products. (bees & wasps LOVE hairspray! Just sayin'.)
  • Your makeup kit. If you must bring something, keep it simple. If it won't all fit in a 1 quart ziplock bag, it's too much!
  • Any food or drink that requires a microwave. You won't have one and the bears won't let you use theirs.
  • Curling, crimping, or straightening irons. (REALLY!?? WTF were you thinking!?)
  • Hair dryers
  • ANY other kind of electricity using hair styling device. 
  • Your computer (dirt is bad for your computer, there's probably no cell/wifi signal, and you don't need it in the wilderness anyway!)

You are going out to the middle of nowhere to sleep in a tent or under the stars (this is camping, not RVing!). You will be tramping about outdoors for at least most, if not all of the time. There is dirt outside. LOTS of dirt!
There will most likely be a campfire, which produces smoke and soot.  Soot is a lot like dirt, only more persistent. 

This means that whatever clothing you put on at the beginning of the day is going to be dirty - probably even filthy - within a couple hours at the most. Just accept this. Breathe. Embrace the dirty. BE the dirty. Seriously. Just deal with it. If you can't handle getting dirty and wearing dirty clothes, stay home or do hotel vacations.

It's not a fashion show. Even if you're hoping to meet the man/woman of your dreams out there, s/he is camping too.  If they're not an idiot or an asshole, they won't be looking or expecting you to look like you're ready to hit the dance floor. If they're real, they'll appreciate that you share a love of the outdoors and are sensible. If they're phony, eeww! Best to weed them out early!

The people you're going camping with presumably already know what you look like sans beauty routine. If they don't, it's a great way to bond. Again, they're camping too. You'll all be dirty, bedraggled, fuzzy, frizzy, and such after the first day or so. It's not a big deal. 

The ones most likely to appreciate the froufrou smelly stuff out there are more interested in stinging, biting, and sucking your blood in a very non-consensual way. Also, your fellow campers will NOT appreciate you attracting bees, wasps, and other unpleasant things.

I may add to this post as more comes to me. Suggestions for additions welcome. 
I plan on posting more camping hints in future. Topic suggestions or requests also welcome and encouraged.