Guys Go Camping: Storing Gear at Home

Storing Gear at Home

Guys Go Camping: Storing Gear at Home

Photo by Anne LaBastill 1978

Nothing ruins an enjoyable camping trip faster than broken, dirty, or mildewed camping gear. If your camping gear is not ready to use and easy to find for each camping trip, then you are less likely to camp as often. Proper storage of camping equipment not only extends the life of your equipment, but it also makes it 100 times easier to gather the gear for next time.

If you store your gear properly after every camping trip, you will never regret it.

Clean Your Gear Before Storing

Before storing your camping equipment, all items should be clean and in like-new condition. This will prevent the spread of mold and bad smells, and will keep animals and bugs from getting into your gear.

Set up your tent in the backyard after you return home. Wash away any dirt with a hose and scrub brush. Spread the tent out to dry after cleaning. When the tent dries, use a vacuum to suck up any remaining dirt or sand.

Wash pots and pans in de-greasing soap. Make sure they have no stuck-on grease or food particles. Allow the cooking gear to dry completely before storing.

Any other wet gear that you have, such as shoes, sleeping bags, pillows, etc; place them on a drying rack to dry before storage. Remove any dirt from the gear before packing away.

Storing Your Camping Gear

Set up a dedicated storage area for camping gear. An indoor area is best, but a clean, dry garage or storage unit can also work. Try to choose a storage location that has a steady temperature and does not freeze or get above 80 degrees.

Use these ideas for storing your own camping equipment:

Electronics: Remove all batteries before storage to prevent corrosion. Place the batteries in a plastic baggie and store them nearby the equipment. Place all electronics into one airtight container, such as a large plastic tub.

Sleeping bags and blankets: Fold blankets and place on a shelf or in an airtight container. Do not store sleeping backs in the roll-up packs; this can damage the insulation inside. Use a pants hanger to store sleeping bags by hanging. This also prevents mildew and musty smells.

Cooking gear: Store cooking gear in a large plastic tub. Store larger cooking items, such as grills and washing basins on a shelf or the floor. Empty all fluids and dry the containers before storing.

Miscellaneous gear: Store all other gear, such as climbing equipment, special shoes and clothing, fishing gear, and any other equipment you have by storing with like equipment. For example, keep all first aid supplies stored in the same place, or all hiking gear in a single container.

Preparing for Next Time

As you store the gear, make note of any lacking supplies, such as matches, stove fuel, rope, and first aid supplies. Replace these items so you are ready to go for the next trip. Do the same with any broken gear. You can also make a list of supplies you wish you had and gather them for the next trip.

How do you store your camping gear? 

Guys Go Camping: Tips for Camping on a Slope

Tips for Camping on a Slope

While it is easiest to camp on flat ground, sometimes camping on sloped ground is inevitable. Sloped ground, embankments, hills, and mountainous terrain are not the friendliest areas for camping, but with a few tips and tricks, you can make the most of the angled ground and still enjoy yourself.

Guys Go Camping: Tips for Camping on a Slope

Photo by JJ Harrison 2010

Follow these tips to stay safe and comfortable on any sloped ground:

Choosing the Right Location

If you have a choice, set up your campground on the south side of the hill in colder months and the north side in warmer months. The south side of a hill has less wind chill, and the north side is cooler.

Pitch your campsite as close to the top of the hill as you can get, unless it is extremely windy. Pitch the campsite close to the bottom of the hill if the area is dry and windy.

Make sure your slope is not in the direct path of water flow or a creek. This can be a disaster when it rains because your tent will get flooded or completely washed down the hill.

Pitching the Tent

Position your tent so that the opening sits perpendicular to the slope of the hill. That way, if you do slip down inside the tent at night, you will run into the wall, rather than fall out the door.

Dig a small trench around your tent to catch any water that rolls down the hill and you will stay much drier if it rains. [Editors Note, best not to disturb the land if possible. But let safety dictate your actions.]

Position your head at the top of the slope and your feet at the bottom. Propping pillows and other elevating cushions under your feet can help prevent rolling and slipping. Place your sleeping bed as far up the slope as possible inside the tent because you will slide down some during the night.

Dealing with the Slope

Look for flat areas surrounding your sloped campsite. If possible, set up your camping equipment on a flat area. The top of the hill or the valley below the hill are better locations for fires and furniture.

If moving your equipment is not an option, bring equipment with adjustable legs. Many camping tables, chairs, stoves, and other accessories come with adjustable legs.

Use pieces of cardboard, bark, pieces of wood, sticks, or whatever else you can find to prop up your equipment.

Just because you are camped on a slope does not mean you will have a miserable camping experience. Use these tips to help make your sloped camping experience comfortable and fun.

How do you deal with hills or slopes while camping? 

Breaking in Hiking Shoes

Hiking is an enjoyable and healthy activity. However, with ill-fitting footwear, this beneficial activity soon turns into a nightmare.

by Brazzy 2005

by Brazzy 2005

Before traveling on any hiking trail, make sure your footwear is properly broken-in.

There are three basic types of hiking shoes: long distance hiking shoes, boots for backpacking, and boots for day trips. The breaking-in steps for each type of shoe is slightly different. For all hiking boots, however, the shoes should feel comfortable in the store. If any part of the shoe irritates you in the store, choose a different shoe model. No amount of breaking in will transform a poor fit into a good fit.

General Break-in Instructions:

Wear the shoes around the house with the socks you plan to wear on the trail. Watch for any signs of discomfort. Always lace the boots up firmly and keep the tongue aligned in the front of the shoe.

Take your boots out around town after wearing them in the house for 3-4 days. Gradually increase how long you wear the boots and

by Han-bich 2009

by Han-bich 2009

how far you travel in them. If you notice any pain at any stage, take a break for a while.

Add in a little extra weight (to mimic the weight of a hiking backpack) after wearing the boots out. Gradually increase the weight of the pack and the distance you travel. Your boots should fit comfortably at every stage. If not, take the boot to the store where you purchased them and ask them to stretch the boot to remove any remaining hotspots. Once your boots feel comfortable traveling several miles around town, you are ready to take them onto the trail.

Breaking in Lightweight Hiking Boots

In the store, look for shoes that have a flexible sole with an aggressive tread and as much cushioning as you can get while still

maintaining a lightweight shoe. The theory goes that one pound of weight on the foot equals five on the back, so lightweight shoes are essential for long hikes. Try to find hiking boots under two pounds, if possible. If any part of the shoe pinches or feels uncomfortable, choose a new style.

Breaking in Moderate and Heavy Weight Boots

Moderate and heavy hiking boots are perfect for hiking in tough terrain. However, they take longer to break in than lightweight hiking shoes. Expect to wear your hiking boots for several weeks around the house and town before they are ready to take out on the trail. You will know the shoes are ready when they flex easily and are slightly larger around your feet.

Proper preparation is the best way to break in any hiking boot. Do not try any quick breaking-in tactics, as these could ruin your hiking boots. Be patient, and remember that the more time you spend breaking in your shoes at home, the more comfortable you will feel out on the trail.

How do you break in your hiking boots?

Camp Beverages

by Aih 2006

by Aih 2006

An essential part of any camp packing list is a stock of beverages to stay hydrated during your stay outdoors. Packing beverages can be difficult, because liquids require a large amount of space to store. If your campsite has clean, running water, you can pack beverage powders and eliminate the need to transport liquids. If not, you will have to make room in your packing for beverage storage. You may also want to pack liquid beverages if you do not want to limit your drinking to powdered beverages.

So, what kind of drinks should you take on your camping trip? The beverages you choose depend on your personal taste, time of year, and activities that you want to do. Pack a large supply of water to keep hydrated even if you also bring other beverages.

The Ultimate Hydrating Drinks

Staying hydrated while camping is top priority. Water is the best option for staying hydrated, but there are also other options. When hiking or engaging in other physical activities, an electrolyte-replacing drink can help you maintain hydration. Flavored electrolyte tablets are hydrating and healthy. Avoid electrolyte drinks filled with sugar, or worse high fructose corn syrup. Pickle juice is hydrating and can reduce muscle cramps after strenuous activity.

The Best Camping Drinks for Kids

Always give children water to drink as a first option. I usually make my kids drink a cup or more of water before they are allowed to have other beverages. Healthy drinks for kids include juice and tea- either unsweet or lightly sweetened with honey. While cool-aid, soda, and Gatorade are all popular drinks for children, they are not recommended during outdoor activities because of their high sugar content. Soda is also a dehydrating beverage.

Drinks Just for Adults

Many people enjoy relaxing with a couple of adult beverages while camping. Beer is an ever-popular choice. If you bring beer, stick to aluminum cans to avoid scattering glass shards in the camp site if a bottle breaks. Camping cocktails are also popular, but require more storage space. Hard liquor can be added to other beverages, like tea, coffee, soda, and juice to give them an extra kick.

Powdered Drinks

If you want to pack lightly, pack beverage powders rather than liquid. Beverages that come in powder form include coffee, tea, milk, hot chocolate, and Gatorade. Pack the powder and add water once you get to the campsite.

Hydration is one of the most important safety concerns during a camping trip. With the right drinks, you can stay hydrated while still enjoying a variety of tasty beverages.

What is your favorite camping drink?

Water Purification: Survival Filtration

Some day, you may find yourself out camping or in the wilderness without any modern forms of water filtration and treatment. This does not mean you have to remain dehydrated. A survivalist water filter will clean the water sufficiently for short-term consumption. However, it is still possible that a few pathogens or bacteria will remain in the water after using these survivalist techniques, which is why you should only attempt them in a true  emergency.

In general, you have two options for purifying water in survivalist situations- boiling and making your own water filter. A combination of the two methods will produce the cleanest water.

Look for pure water sources

Before you filter or boil water, look for a pure source. Look for water features, such as:

  • Running water from a river or stream
  • Clear water
  • Sources away from roads, farms, cities, and other man-made locations
  • Water free of animal waste, dead plant debris, and dead animals

Building your own survivalist filter

Since it is nearly impossible to find fresh drinkable water in the United States, you will probably have to build a filter to strain out mud, tree branches, and other particles from the water. The easiest way to do this is with a sand filter.

If you have a plastic bottle or metal can handy, you can use that as the container for the filter. Otherwise, you will have to fashion a cone shape from bark or large leaves. Birch bark is ideal. Punch holes in the bottom of the plastic or metal container.

Fill the very bottom of the container with a 1-2 inch layer of small pebbles. You can also use non-poisonous grass or moss. Place a 3-5 inch layer of gravel over the pebbles. Fill the rest of the container with sand. If you have any charcoal leftover from a fire, place a 1-inch layer between the gravel and sand. Another filter recipe alternates layers of grass, sand, and charcoal. Use what you have on hand.

Pour water through the container and allow it to drip into another container. Keep filtering the water until it comes out completely clear on the other side. After filtering the water, boil it for safety. Boil the water for at least 10 minutes to remove as many pathogens, bacteria, and viruses from the water as possible.

Filtering water survivalist-style is not ideal. It is still possible to develop health issues from impure water using this filtering and purification method. However, a survivalist filter will produce cleaner water than simply drinking from a natural source, and you will have a much lower chance of injuring your body from impure water or dehydration.

What kinds of survivalist filters have you tried?

Sources

Camping Etiquette: Camping with Friends

by Philip Welles about 1957

by Philip Welles about 1957

Have you ever been camping with someone who ignored all rules of common decency and shirked all responsibility? Perhaps that person rusted your cast iron skillet or neglected to clean up their trash at the end of the trip.

Short of vowing never to camp with that person again, there is little you can do to prevent others from taking advantage of you. However, you can make sure you are not the one that others grumble about after you go to bed each night by ensuring you obey the following etiquette rules for camping with others:

Divide the responsibilities in advance

Divide the responsibilities of camping before you go. Assign tasks to each camper, such as who is in charge of which meal, who will bring which tools and equipment, and who will be responsible for bringing activities. Advanced planning will help prevent arguments and relationship strains. When everyone has a plan, the time together is more enjoyable for all.

Assign daily chores

Certain tasks, like disposing of trash, cooking meals, gathering wood, building a fire, and cleaning up after meals occur every day. Assign a few tasks to each person per day. Make sure the same person is not stuck with the same job each day. No one wants to have to clean up the dishes after every meal.

Establish a campsite schedule and boundaries

Find out what each person expects from the trip. Some campers may want to arise early and get started with the day. Others may wish to enjoy a leisurely-paced morning before major activities occur. Set up boundaries for sleeping, a loose schedule outline, and a daily quiet time, if necessary.

Show respect to other campers

When you share a space with other campers, it is important to respect their personal space and equipment. Never use someone else’s tools, equipment, or food without asking. Do not enter other’s tents or personal areas. This will prevent crowding and allow everyone to experience downtime, if they wish.

Maintain a clean campsite

In addition to following basic campsite rules and regulations, keep your campsite clean. Dispose of trash immediately, and respect the plants and wildlife surrounding your campsite. Show your fellow campers respect by keeping your equipment and space tidy throughout the trip.

Following these basic camping etiquette rules will go a long way toward making your camping experience enjoyable for everyone.

Have you ever camped with a disrespectful camper? How did you deal with the experience?

Camping Etiquette 101

By Rick McCharles

photo by Rick McCharles

There is more to camping than simply packing up some gear and building a fire in the country. Most campgrounds have both written and non-written rules and regulations that make camping more fun for everyone. Make sure you follow these basic camping rules next time you head into the wilderness!

Obey ground rules

This is the first rule of camping etiquette. If your established campground has official rules, make sure you follow them. Many sites have rules about quiet hours, trash and waste disposal, permitted activities, pet control, and more. Always follow these rules above all.

Think like a Boy Scout

One of the goals of the Boy Scouts is to leave an area cleaner than how they found it. This should be your camping policy as well. Try to improve every campsite you visit by cleaning up trash and leaving wood for the next visitors.

 Protect the water

A campground water source is important. Never dump any chemicals or waste products into the water, and if you use the water for bathing or cleaning, only use bio-degradable cleaners to keep water and wildlife healthy.

 Dispose of trash properly

Nothing is uglier than bits of trash strewn all over a campsite. Secure all trash carefully away from pets, wild animals, and wind. Take all non bio-degradable trash with you, or dispose of it into designated receptacles. Bury all other trash several inches below the ground, unless otherwise specified by campground rules.

 Keep fires safe

Fire can spread faster than many people realize, especially during dry weather. It is extremely important to follow fire safety rules to avoid creating wildfires. Always fence in your fire with rocks. Remove all grass and other flammable materials within a 12 to 24-inch diameter around the perimeter of the fire. Never leave a fire unattended, even at night. Ensure the fire is extinguished when you leave by dousing it with water and spreading the coals.

 Respect the environment

Leave as little impact on the campsite as possible when you camp. Try not to disturb nature or the surrounding wildlife. Leave plants and animals alone, and if you bring your own pet, keep it on a leash to protect the surrounding wildlife.

If you follow these basic camping rules, you will show respect for the campsite, environment, and yourself. Camping is an enjoyable activity for many, and following the rules makes it more enjoyable for everyone involved.

What are your favorite camping etiquette tips?

Hiking Etiquette

hiking-moyan-brennNothing is as invigorating as a brisk hike in the outdoor air. Hiking is an excellent way to view nature up close, exercise your muscles, and enjoy the beauty and scenery around you. Nothing ruins a good hike faster than someone who doesn’t follow appropriate hiking etiquette. If you are new to hiking, you may be unaware of some of the unwritten rules. However, even old hiking pros can still benefit from a refresher course in manners now and then!

Follow these basic hiking rules and you will maximize the safety and enjoyment of everyone during your hike:

Stick to the trail

Sticking to the trail is the first rule of a safe hiking experience. Trails are used for a reason, usually because they are the safest way to travel through a particular area. Going off-trail is not only dangerous, but it could harm the surrounding wildlife or plant ecosystem.

Share the trail

Chances are, you will encounter a fellow traveler at least once during your hike. Generally, slower travelers stick to the right and passing is done on the left, just like on the road. Bikers yield to hikers, horses, and motorized vehicles. Hikers yield to motorized vehicles and horses. Downhill travelers allow uphill travelers the right of way.

Keep things clean

Just like the Boy Scouts, you should always try to leave a trail cleaner than you found it. Always dispose of trash properly, and if you see trash littering the trail, pick it up and dispose of it. If you must urinate during your hike, take a few steps away from the trail to complete your business. Use biodegradable cleaning products, if possible.

Respect the atmosphere

Most people hike to get away from the hustle and bustle of life. Respect this desire by keeping loud chatter and activity to a minimum. Rowdiness can not only disturb fellow hikers, but it will also disturb the surrounding wildlife.

Know and follow regulations

Before starting on any hike, make sure you know the regulations for that particular trail. Rules for building fires, eating, disposing of waste, and other trail regulations vary from trail-to-trail. Make sure you know the rules for your trail to avoid causing unnecessary and undesired impact on the area.

Chat with others

Greet others briefly, when you pass them on the trail. This is polite, and it can also act as a safety measure. Getting to know others on the trail can help prevent accidents and increases the safety of all involved.

 

What etiquette rules are important to you during hikes?

 

Water Purification: Sanitizing

If you remember, from part 1 of this series, the CDC recommends both filtering and sanitizing water to remove the highest number of contaminants, bacteria, and viruses from the water.

If you do not choose to filter the water before sanitizing it, the source of the water that you choose is extremely important. Look for clear water sources free of mud, contaminants, and visible signs of problems. A running water source is best.

Water far away from roads, fields, and other marks of civilization will contain the least amount of pathogens and chemicals.

Choosing the Right Sanitizer

When it comes to water sanitizers, there are a variety of options. In general, you can choose between UV filters, chlorine, and iodine. All of these sanitizers are effective at removing bacteria, but not all of them can remove viruses from the water.

UV filters

SteriPEN SidewinderUV filters only work well with pre-filtered water. UV filters are effective at killing pathogens from back country water. Most UV systems work by sanitizing and killing bacteria through focused UV lights, much like UV filters kill unwanted bacteria in homes and hospitals. SteriPEN®, produced by Hydro-Photon, Inc., is the most recognizable brand. They have several models — most battery operated — but the Sidewinder is especially interesting since it’s crank operated so no worries about those long expeditions.

Chlorine Tablets or Drops

Chlorine tablets or drops are effective at killing most bacteria present in water. If the water source is clear, there is less need for pre-filtering. Adding 16 drops of bleach or one tablet to a gallon of water will kill most of the bacteria in the water. Allow the mixture to stand for at least 30 minutes before drinking. If using tablets check the manufacture’s directions for treatment time. The problem with bleach is that it cannot remove chemical impurities from water.

Iodine Tablets or Drops

Iodine tablets are an inexpensive and lightweight method of water purification. Just like bleach, the mixture must sit at least 30 minutes before the water is safe to drink. Check the directions included with the tablets to be certain of treatment time. Iodine kills most organisms present in back country water. However, some protozoa are resistant to iodine, and iodine can often add an unpleasant taste to the water. Some tablets will be sold with a companion tablet which can be added after treatment to remove the Iodine taste. Follow the manufacture’s timing instructions to the letter as treating with the second tablet to soon can make the Iodine treatment in-effective.

Boiling Water

Camp Fire

The most old-fashioned form of water sanitation is boiling. Surprisingly, boiling water is one of the most effective sanitation methods. All pathogens will die through boiling, including viruses. The water must boil for at least a full minute at sea level — altitudes can affect this time though so boil for at least 3 minutes to be safe. Unfortunately, boiling water is extremely time consuming, requires  fuel to bring the water to the necessary temperature, and a container capable of withstanding high heat. Boiling water usually works well at base camp, but can prove a big pain while on the trail.

Many adventurers decide not to worry about viruses, especially if in the USA, and focus mostly on filtration methods to knock out any bacterial or protozoa. But to be certain you’ve covered all the possible contaminants use a multi-step approach of filtration and sanitizers.

Next time, we’ll discuss filtering water in survival situations without the help of modern filters and sanitizers.

What techniques do you use for sanitizing water while camping?

Water Purification: Particle Filters

The modern camper has a wealth of resources for staying healthy while anywhere in the world. Water is an essential part of camping, and if you do not want to lug heavy bottles of water around, you must invest in some type of  water filtration or sanitation system while camping. According to the Center for Disease Control, boiling is the best option. However, a combination of filtration and sanitization is the second best form of water purification.

When choosing water to use for drinking, the source is important. Look for running water, such as from a stream or river. Avoid water with algae or in stagnant ponds and lakes. Stay away from water found near roads or agricultural fields. This water can have harmful pesticides or chemicals and contaminants like tar.

The modern camper has many choices when it comes to water purification.

  • Boiling
  • Filtration
  • Sanitization

Boiling

Done correctly, boiling kills off Protozoa and viruses and will always be the safest method of purifying your water. To properly boil water bring it to a rolling boil for one minute. Remember, at altitudes greater than 6,562 feet (greater than 2,000 meters), you should boil water for 3 minutes. I usually play it safe and boil for three minutes no mater where I’m located.

But, boiling isn’t always convenient. That’s why human kind has invented the portable water filter.

Camping with Filters

MSR MiniWorks EXFilters are mechanical purifiers, removing particles and contaminants from water by forcing the liquid through a porous material, physically blocking the contaminates. Filter material can be glass, ceramic and charcoal; many filter units use a combination.

Which type of filter you choose depends on the type of bug you want to remove. Bacteria can be filtered with a particle size of 0.4 microns or less. While a filter with a one micron rating will remove protozoa, like Cryptosporidium or Giardia, eggs, and larvae as well.  So rule of thumb, purchase a filter with the smallest micron rating you can afford. Check out the MiniWorks® EX from MSR®, it’s one of our favorites.

Viruses on the other had can’t be filtered and must be handled with a chemical disinfectant. More on those in our second post in this series.

Look for a model that weighs less than 20 ounces, is easy to use, and simple to clean. Units that offer a warning sign when the filter is at capacity can also help keep you safe while camping. A filter that is at full capacity can leech unwanted bacteria and contaminants into the water, risking your health. Depending on how many people are camping, the flow rate of the filter is also important. An average flow rate of one liter per minute is enough for a few campers, but if you have a larger group, you will want a greater flow-rate. Large gravity filters are ideal for larger groups.

Filtration pros: Effective at removing common water contaminants, lightweight,
inexpensive, and easy to use.

Filtration cons: Can be hard to locate new filters, may not eliminate all bacteria and
viruses, can clog and fail.

Look for part two in the water purification series soon!

What filter is currently in your pack?