Preparing for an extended camping trip involves more than gathering the appropriate outdoor gear. The right gear for the geography is important, but you must also know how to use the items you pack. When making your survival-camping checklist, remember to include what you need to learn along with what you will need to bring.
Make sure to tell someone where you're going and when you expect to return. Give this person a map marked with your route, and stick to your plan as best you can. This will increase your chances of being found quickly if you do get lost or hurt.
Before embarking on an extended outdoor adventure you should learn basic first aid as well how to build a fire, make a shelter and find water. Knowing these things will help you address your most basic survival needs: warmth and water. You can survive months without food, but without water you can die in as little as three days. A cold climate can kill you in as little as three hours. You may also enjoy learning how to hunt, trap, fish and gut animals or how to identify edible plants and berries. Other skills that will enhance your survival efforts include how to prevent bear, snake and mountain lion attacks; how to cross a stream or log with a heavy pack on; how to read topography maps; and compass reading or other navigation skills. Always know what dangers you are most likely to encounter based on your trip plans. Keep in mind that even in bear country dehydration, hypothermia or a sprained ankle are much more common than an animal attack. Know how to prevent and treat these problems.
Tools and Gear
A cell phone is useful when camping in remote regions, but don't rely on it too heavily for safety since cell phone reception may not be available in less-populated areas. A minimal survival kit should contain water purification tablets; knife; lighter; wooden matches in a sealed container; first-aid kit; lightweight high-calorie food or powdered drinks; and a plastic bag. In an emergency situation, a plastic bag can be used to collect rainwater or dew from leaves. Other items that may come in handy include a flashlight or headlamp, batteries, rope, duct tape, safety pins, whistle, flares, extra socks, maps, compass, bright tape, a signaling mirror, playing cards, a map of the area, pen and pencil, and a book or notebook. Playing cards and a book may seem frivolous, but they take up little space and can help keep you occupied if you get lost or hurt. All the items you bring should satisfy needs of warmth, shelter, water, food, signaling and mental well-being.
Your comfort in the outdoors will be greatly increased by packing a backpacking stove, backpacking cookware, utensils and lightweight foods such as nuts, nut butter, cheese, dried fruits, quick-cooking pasta, foods in foil-pouches, dehydrated meals, oil, seasonings and tea or coffee. Small lightweight containers are available in outdoor stores. Plastic storage bags also work well for many items. If you choose to truly rough it by fishing, hunting and gathering, be sure of your skills in the environment you plan to visit.
Pack appropriate clothing for the climate and season, and bring extra layers and extra socks. Cotton is generally a poor choice; it gets cold and clammy when wet and takes a long time to dry. Instead, choose wool or synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon or polypropylene. If you will be doing a lot of hiking, it is important to choose quality hiking boots to protect your feet and give you added stability on rugged terrain. You may also want to pack a pair of sturdy sandals for lounging at your campsite, for swimming in rivers or lakes and for crossing streams.
- Wilderness Survival School: The Science of Survival
- "Camping and Wilderness Survival: The Ultimate Outdoors Book"; Paul Tawrell; 1996