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September 2005

Secrets of the Guides

Camp like a pro with 83 field-tested tips and techniques from experts who earn their paychecks in the backcountry.

Insulate your water against cold
You know to fill a Lexan bottle with boiling water. Now slip a sock over it for perfect warmth, not scalding heat. Stow the hot-water bottle in your sleeping bag and you’ll have nonfrozen water in the morning.
- Kathryn Hess, Jackson Hole Mountain Guides

Keep your dry socks dry
If your boots are wet when you get to camp, put on dry socks and then slip your feet into plastic bags before putting your wet boots back on. Your socks stay dry, and if you’re out of the rain, the heat from your feet will actually start to dry your boots. If the rain persists, put the wet pair back on in the morning to preserve the dry ones.
- Andy Bartleet, Outward Bound

Get a close shave
Not only can aloe vera soothe sunburn, but it also works well for shaving. A small amount of aloe vera lotion will cover a large area, and there’s no need for aftershave.
- Craig Van Hoy, Go Trek & Expeditions

Make a warmer fire
To get more heat from your fire without using more wood, hang a space blanket a few feet behind the blaze, either from a tree or using trekking poles. This will reflect the heat back at you.
- Tammi Hinkle, Adventures Through Kayaking

Dry drenched fleece
Vigorously swing wet fleece in circles overhead. The water will fly right off.
- Gail Green, Living Adventure

Warm numb digits fast
Quickly swing your arms in a circle and kick your feet back and forth. Don’t stop until you feel your fingers or toes throbbing.
- Kathryn Hess

Dedicate a pair of socks
Keep a pair of socks in the bottom of your sleeping bag so your feet spend at least 8 hours a day in a dry environment. Wet skin is blister-prone skin.
- Caroline Blair-Smith, Outward Bound

Match your batteries

Try to purchase an MP3, flashlight, and GPS that use the same battery type. This makes it easier to pack spares.
- Kathryn Hess

Give a hot rock massage
Look for several smooth, small rocks – orange- to grapefruit-size with flat sides are ideal. Place them in the coals of your fire to heat them, then roll them out with a stick. When they’re cool enough to handle, place them on your fellow camper’s back to soothe sore muscles. Caution: Stand away from the rocks as they heat up in the coals. Moisture inside can make them crack open.
- Gail Green

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