by Crystal Cockman
July 12, 2017
The LandTrust for Central NC has its annual thru hike backpacking trip on the Uwharrie Trail coming up on October 12-15. This is a 4-day, 40 mile backpacking trip, sure to be an adventure you will remember. (You can learn more and register here: http://landtrustcnc.org/2017/uwharrie-trail-thru-hike-2017/). Registration is filling up fast so sign up soon if you want to come along! Whether you join us for this trip, or head out on your own some other time, here are a few great tricks and tips for your next backpacking adventure.
Keep a dry pair of socks for sleeping only, and store them in your sleeping bag. There’s nothing worse than cold wet socks. However, you can stand to hike in those better than you can stand to sleep in them.
Get some of those small paper containers of salt and pepper from a restaurant to spice up your dinner. Alternatively, you can use cut up sections of drinking straws melted at the ends, or tic-tac boxes to store spices.
Keep bread tags for use as clothespins. Also keep a section of paracord with you at all times. Some people make bracelets out of it to be used when needed. You can use it to hang your food to keep it away from bears in areas where they are present, or you can use it to hang up wet clothes or those wet socks to allow them time to dry.
Strap your headlight with the light facing inward on a jug of water to create ambient light.
Use hand sanitizer to start a fire. Stuff used dryer lint inside of empty cardboard toilet paper rolls for a great fire starter log. Coat Vaseline on a cotton ball to use as a fire starter, it burns slow and for a longer period of time.
Add sage to a campfire to keep mosquitoes away. Dryer sheets are also supposed to work to repel insects.
Make a stove out of a catfood can or a soda can. Google and you can find instructions on how to make one, probably the lightest stove you can carry.
Stuff your extra clothes in a stuff sack for a pillow.
Wrap duct-tape around your water bottle. Purchase Gatorades and after you drink the Gatorade, then use them as your water bottles – they are super light.
Make sure to put the heavier items in your pack in the bottom, like your tent and sleeping bag.
Use a reusable cone shaped coffee filter for coffee. Or fill a coffee filter with coffee and tie with dental floss and use it as you would a tea bag.
Put a keyring on your zippers to make them easier to use. This is especially useful if you’re in cold weather and wearing gloves.
Carry a small tarp or tent footprint tarp, use this as a cover for your pack/emergency shelter/poncho/put beneath your tent to help with condensation and leaks from below. These are light and easy to pack. An emergency blanket works well beneath your tent, as well.
Carry a couple folds of tin foil. You’ll find a use for it.
Potatoes. A backpackers friend. 1 million ways to eat and loaded with energy, plus they won’t go bad in a pack.
Put toilet paper in a zip lock bag. Carry more than you think you need. Seriously. Carry more.
Put Listerine in a small water bottle. Keeps your breath fresh, mouth clean, and can be used as an antiseptic or to stifle the itch of insect bites and stings.
Carry moleskin for blisters. Carry crocs for use as camp shoes, they are lighter than flip flops and provide more protection.
Another hack of sorts is to wait until the last minute to pack, thereby decreasing the chances that you will throw extra stuff in your pack. I keep a list of what I need and take everything out of my pack and then check it off as I put it in the night before I leave for a trip.
These are just a few ways to hack your camp and make your next backpacking trip a little easier or more comfortable. Have your own tips? Share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to Michael Nye, Cody Fulk, and Don Childrey for their help with this article.