Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Beginner’s Guide to Bushcraft and Camping-Part 7

Bringing it All Together

So, in the past few posts you have seen me briefly go over some considerations, and in particular gear one might put to good use when making their first steps into the woods.

It is understandable that there will be apprehension, and a fear that you will do something wrong, but ultimately, with some common sense and a bit of practice, a summer overnight trip into the woods should not be a problem.

First, let us look at the total amount of gear we have.

Item Weight Cost
Day Hike Gear 15.8oz $68.00
Backpack 2lb 6oz (38oz) $30.00
Shelter 6lb 3oz (99oz) $188.00
Cooking Kit 11.5oz $17.00
Water Filter 1lb 1oz (17oz) $80.00
Toiletries 2.1oz $4.00
Total 11lb 7.4oz (183.4oz) $387.00

As you can see, our base weight (weight of the pack without food, water and fuel) is under 12lb, certainly a lightweight pack. With a first aid kit, the weight will go to a little over 12lb. We have managed to do it for under $400.00. Of course, as you noticed, it does not include the tools. I have left them as the last addition because they will be different for each person. There are many backpackers who never carry anything more than a knife, and do just fine. In that case, the tool list would not be a consideration, perhaps with the exception of a sharpening stone. On the other hand, the heaviest option that we discussed earlier would add another 4lb 5oz of the kit, bringing it up to 15lb 12.4oz, and the cost up to $477.00 (including the cost of a DC4 sharpening stone).

Remember, that this is not gear with which you will have to huddle by a fire to make it during the night, or have to spend four hours each day constructing a shelter, boiling water, or carving tools. With the above gear any backpacker should be able to spend an extended amount of time in the woods without any issue, and with equipment that does not need an explanation or require improvisation.

Of course, it is not all about the gear. Time in the woods will teach you small tricks that will make your stay much more comfortable. Before you know it, you will start to feel comfortable in the woods. You will no longer jump up during the night at every sound, you will figure out how and where to sit so that your back doesn’t hurt, or what wood to use to make your fire the warmest. There is no way I can cover that information here. That being said, there are a few posts that may be of some use to you. Check out:

Basic Tarp Configurations 
How to Make a Fire: A Beginner’s Guide
Cotton and Vaseline Tinder
Cheap, Lightweight Backpacking Food Part 1 and Part 2
A Beginner’s Guide to Hatchets  

The only tip I will give here, which I consider important, but don’t see too often, is to realize that some of your gear will get wet, while some of it will not. It may seem easy to place a plastic garbage bag inside your backpack and then place your gear inside. That will certainly protect it from rain. However, what happens when you pull out your tarp and it gets rained on? Do you put it back in the bag with all your dry gear? That is why I like to keep key items in separate bags. Stuff sacks are great, but a simple plastic grocery bag will do the trick just fine. Have one for your tarp, your shell layer, your ropes, maybe even your sleeping bag. That will make it a lot easier to pack up after it has been raining for a few hours. For a good low cost option for commercially available dry sacks, try the Outdoor Products Ultimate Dry Sack.

Remember, this is just a starting point. Each person will develop their own style of bushcraft and camping. You may decide to go more in the direction of using your tools to manufacture items you need, or you may decide that ultra light gear is the way for you, or anything in between. Your experiences and preferences will dictate what type of camper you will become, but the important thing is that you get out there and try it.

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