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March 2014

Hike Smarter: 4 Ways to Camp in Comfort

Lean how to set up bear bags and a cozy camp. Also, how to protect yourself from wind and eat right.

1. Pitch the perfect camp

Choose a site 200 feet from lakes and streams. Camp at established sites and on durable surfaces whenever possible.

Hang your bear bag or stash your canister at least 200 feet downwind from camp. (See below right for bear bag tips.)

In grizzly country, cook 200 feet or more downwind from your tent.

In calm conditions, orient your tent door to the east for early sun.

Look up to make sure no dead trees/branches threaten to fall on your site (especially in beetle-damaged forests in the West).

Find a flat rock, preferably with a windbreak, for your kitchen.

Problem Fix
Stakes won’t hold in sand Use deadman anchors: Tie your chord to a thick stick or sand-filled stuff sacks and bury the “deadman” at least 6 inches deep (bury the stick horizontally).
Forgot tinder for the campfire Gather natural tinder- bark, dry grass, moss, pine needles-as you hike. If it’s wet, dry it with body heat inside your jacket.
Mosquitos swarming Camp on breezy ridgelines. Clean up; the chemicals in your sweat attract the bloodsuckers.
Forgot TP Snow, leaves, rocks, and smooth sticks-in order of tush-friendliness.

2. Protect yourself from wind

Spend extra time searching out a sheltered site, like in a low-lying forest. Above treeline, seek protection on the lee side of a rock outcropping or ridgeline.

Orient your tent so the smallest side is facing the wind. If it’s not raining, wait until the winds die down (often at sunset) to pitch your tent. You’ll reduce the risk of damage from a big gust.

Guy out your tent securely. Here’s how: Tie small overhand loops at each end of a nylon cord (4 to 8 feet). Pull one end through a guy loop, then pass the other end through the loop in the cord to fasten it. Anchor the other end tautly to a stake.

3. Hang a bear bag

Spend extra time searching out a sheltered site, like in a low-lying forest. Above treeline, seek protection on the lee side of a rock outcropping or ridgeline.

Orient your tent so the smallest side is facing the wind. If it’s not raining, wait until the winds die down (often at sunset) to pitch your tent. You’ll reduce the risk of damage from a big gust.

Guy out your tent securely. Here’s how: Tie small overhand loops at each end of a nylon cord (4 to 8 feet). Pull one end through a guy loop, then pass the other end through the loop in the cord to fasten it. Anchor the other end tautly to a stake.

4. Eat better

Five ways to improve the menu:

Pack a few lightweight, fresh add-ins to boost the taste of any dehydrated meal. Ideas: cilantro, jalapeno, parsley, basil.

Serve an appetizer. Soup is a no-brainer in cool weather
(we like Bear Creek’s hearty, affordable varieties so much we gave them an Editors’ Choice Award in 2012; bearcreekcountrykitchens.com).

Upgrade any lunch wrap with an avocado. Pack it in your pot to prevent squishing.

Add butter.

Use extra water in dehydrated meals. There’s nothing worse than not-quite-rehydrated stroganoff.

Flame control:
If you must cook in your vestibule during a storm, prime a liquid-fuel stove outside and then pull it in.  

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