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Backpacker Magazine – October 2010

How's Your Camping Etiquette?

Take our etiquette quiz to find out if you're genteel or a heel.

by: The Backpacker Editors & Contributors

Illustrations by Chris Philpot
Illustrations by Chris Philpot

1. A big, muddy puddle swamps the trail. Your move?
    Walk off-trail, around the mud, to keep your feet dry
    Slosh on through. That's what Gore-tex is for.
2. Trail hygiene is tough. When the gorp gets passed around, you should...
    Dig in–the risk of spreading germs this way is wildly exaggerated
    Pour it into your palm, because who knows whether Joe 'Nose Blow' Schmoe dosed with Purell?
    Set a good example by not sharing your gorp at all. This definitely prevents contamination.
3. It's time to clean dishes. What's the minimum you should do?
    Lick your plates, and let partners (and Fido) lick theirs
    Wipe 'em clean with paper towels and air-dry. The exposure will kill germs by morning.
    Rinse dishes in boiling water to sterilize, and air-dry
    Boil water, add soap, wash dishes, then rinse them in a pot of purified water, and air-dry
4. You doused the campfire with a big pot of water. Now what? At established sites, you should...
    Leave the fire ring as is
    Scatter all of the ash remains and disassemble the fire ring
    Scatter the big ash pieces so the mess doesn't overwhelm the fire ring (but leave the ring so the next campers don't create a new one)
5. Skinny-dipping in a remote backcountry lake is...
    Illegal in 43 states
    Cool if you're fairly clean and other campers aren't nearby
    Uncool unless your name is Megan Fox or Robert Pattinson
6. When you need to whiz, you do it how far from the trail?
    6 inches
    100 yards
    Out of sight and 200 feet from any water source, except in specific situations
7. Pick the surfaces you should NOT walk on, either for safety or LNT reasons:
    Microbiotic soil
    38-degree talus slopes
    Lichen-covered rocks
    The midpoint of a cornice
    Baby moose or elk tracks
8. It's fire time and you break out the single malt. You should...
    Slug it, pass it around, repeat
    Taunt people who don't partake
    Hoard it–you carried it, after all
    Trade shots for Snickers
9. While tied into a rope team on Mt. Rainier, you really have to go–#2. You...
    Hold it, at great risk to your undies
    Unrope and traverse 100 yards
    Set to while your partners look away
    You're not wearing a diaper?
10. It's OK to trundle rocks if...
    You look and yell to make sure no one is in the line of fire
    Your friend rolls one first
    It's never OK to trundle
11. It's fine to throw apple cores, orange peels, and seeds into the forest.
12. When nature calls, what should you do with your TP afterward?
    Bury it six inches deep or burn it
    Pack it out
    Put it in your partner's top pocket
    What TP? I use leaves.
13. Pack out solid waste...
    On rivers
    In fragile desert areas
14. When two parties meet on a narrow, cliffside trail, who yields? Choose all that apply:
    People moving uphill
    People moving downhill
    Smaller party
    Larger party
    The party with the worst BO
15. On a weekend AT trek, you share a camp with two hungry-looking thru-hikers. You should...
    Keep a close eye on your food bag
    Make a big dinner and offer them some
    Give them your remaining food when you hike out
16. Because horses are big and harder to control, they must yield to hikers and bikers on the trail.
17. The best way to use a cell phone:
    Bluetooth in ear
    Secretly and away from others
    Never. This is the wilderness, dude!
18. You see a fly-fisherman casting at a secluded lake. You...
    Grab your rod and join him!
    Take a dip, then skip rocks
    Keep your distance
19. A brand new water purifier is just lying on the trail. Your move?
    Hike on. Who needs extra ballast?
    Grab it in hopes of finding its owner
    Pick it up and leave your iodine tablets behind. Hello upgrade!
20. In a campground, you should keep noise down until what time in the A.M.?
    8 a.m.
    9 a.m.
    All day. People go camping for the peace and quiet.
    Never. Loud noise (especially heavy metal) keeps bears away.
21. You're hiking on lands protected from hunting, and you encounter a group of camo-clad hunters. What do you do?
    Lecture time, baby!
    Say nothing, do nothing. They have guns.
    Politely ask to see their licenses. Nature can't protect itself.
    Ask to borrow some blaze orange
22. Bathing with soap in a river or lake is...
    Not OK. Collect water and bathe 200 feet away
23. You're brushing your teeth. Where to spit?
    Away from camp
    In the nearest stream
    On the fire
24. Dinner is done and only wash water remains. What to do with it?
    Bottoms up! You're an LNT master!
    Pour it down the privy hole
    Strain and pack out big bits; disperse liquid 200 feet from water
25. It's dark, rainy, and the lean-to is full. A soggy hiker approaches. You should...
    Pretend you're sleeping
    Move over. There's no such thing as a full shelter in rain.
    Send him away with your regrets. First come, first served.
    Tell him you think you saw another, less-crowded shelter about a mile up the trail

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