21. ALWAYS SNAG THE PERFECT CAMPSITE
>> Study the map closely for flatter terrain near lakes or creeks (for water) or above treeline (for views). Use programs like Google Earth to fly over potential campsites pretrip.
>> Tap resources like guidebooks, online photos, and people who know the area. Wilderness climbers and anglers are good sources, and they often contribute to web forums.
>> The best designated campsites in parks get snatched up quickly–another reason to reserve a permit well in advance. But many parks with designated sites or camping zones (like Grand Teton) sometimes allow dispersed camping in off-trail areas, which harbor some of the best spots to pitch a tent. Ask the backcountry desk about it.
>> Adjust daily mileages and departure times in order to land at the best campsites early.
>> Carry a tent with a small footprint that fits on tiny sites–or sleep under the stars if skies are clear and there’s no spot big enough for a tent.
>> Be adaptable. Example: Camp in a spot without water if it promises killer views. Eat dinner at the last available water source, then carry two liters of water to the better campsite to get you through breakfast.
22. STAY DRY IN ALL CONDITIONS
>> Pack covers can get blown away by strong winds, and plastic trash bags belong in your kitchen. The lightest, easiest, most effective way to keep your pack contents dry is to use waterproof stuff sacks (we recommend Sea to Summit, seatosummit.com).
>> In a rainstorm, open your pack only if absolutely necessary–or under shelter.
>> To prevent condensation buildup inside a tent, open vents and vestibule doors enough to facilitate air movement without letting rain inside. Stake and guy the tent to enhance ventilation. Shake water off raincoats before entering the tent, leave boots and gaiters in the vestibule, and keep wet gear away from your sleeping bag and spare clothing.
>> Dry out shells and baselayers by wearing them in camp or while hiking at an easier pace, when you’ll be generating enough body heat to push the moisture out but not enough to perspire.
>> If you dunk a boot, dump the water out immediately and wring out the insole and sock; reacting quickly will prevent much of that water from soaking in, so the boot dries faster.
>> Stuff slightly damp (not soaked) clothing inside your bag at night. Your body heat will dry it.
23. STASH CELEBRATORY POST-HIKE BEERS IN A COOLER OR COLD STREAM.
24. CHALLENGE YOURSELF
Don’t get stuck in a rut–same places, activities, seasons. Here are seven ways to spice things up. >> Learn advanced navigation skills (at backpacker.com/skills/navigation, REI, or your local hiking club) and create routes that involve cross-country hiking or scrambling up an off-trail summit.
>> Hike at night, especially in open terrain under a full moon.
>> Instead of moving camp every day, set up a comfortable basecamp and embark on epic dayhikes.
>> Combine backpacking with another activity, like fly-fishing–or canoeing to a lakeside campsite and hiking from there.
>> Backpack in winter–or, for a softer introduction to cold-weather camping, in late fall or spring. Or use a hut.
>> Take a class and learn how to do something you’ve never done before, like mountaineering or canyoneering.
>> Hire a guide to help you get out of your comfort zone.
25. TREAT WATER THROUGHOUT THE DAY, NOT JUST IN CAMP. YOU’LL DRINK MORE AND CARRY LESS.