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How to Do Everything – Camping

Find water anywhere, make a fire in five minutes, learn secrets for battling mosquitoes, and more.
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Hiking | Packing & Planning | Camping | Gear | First Aid & Health | Cooking

Water 101 | Build a Fire | DIY Grommets, Windscreen | Master Three Knots | Set Up Camp | Beat Bugs & Bears | Two-Second Tips

Show us a hiker who’s never had a tragicomic episode with a bear bag, and we’ll show you a hiker who’s never tried one. Use the counterbalance method for an effective–and easy!–fix.
1) Pack everything that smells–food, toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm, smokes–into a stuff sack.
2) Find a living tree with a sturdy, horizontal branch at least 15 feet above the ground.
3) Put a rock in a small stuff sack and attach it to one end of a 25-foot rope (try reflective Trip Tease; $15, Tie your food bag to the other end. (Leave a small ‘biner tied to your bear-bag rope and you won’t have to fuss with knots for either task.)
4) Toss the rock over the branch and pull the free end down so that the food bag is suspended midair. Make a counterbalance by attaching a second food bag (or weighted stuff sack) to the other end of the rope. Tie a loop on this end for easier retrieval. 5) Use a stick to push the counterbalance 10 feet above the ground. The food bag should be at least 10 feet above the ground, five feet below the branch, and 10 feet from the trunk. Retrieve by hooking a stick through the loop and pulling down.
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Video Tutorial: Learn how to get the job of hanging a bear bag done with our step by step tutorial.


  • Travel and cook when the bugs relent, typically in the coolest and hottest parts of the day and night–even if that means hiking five miles before sunrise.
  • Wear light colors, keep collars buttoned, and wrap a bandana around your head.
  • Head for high, dry ground. Wind helps, too–a breeze of 7 mph will keep them away.
  • Get clean. The chemicals in your sweat are like crack for mosquitoes.
  • Nuke ’em. A few spritzes of DEET always works. In Alaska, we’ve dropped trou to spray our cheeks and vitals before heading out to dig a cathole.
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