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Camping

How to Cook Over a Fire

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There’s nothing quite like cooking over the blazing flames of a campfire. Whether you’ve roasted marshmallows or charred hot dogs, they seem to taste a bit better when you fire them this way.

This food-preparation method appears to be pretty intuitive — you light a fire, then cook over it. But it’s not always that simple, especially if you plan to prep something more involved than a s’more. So, keep these five tips in mind before your next camping trip to ensure your campfire cooking pursuits are successful.

1. Wait Until the Fire is Perfect

As soon as you see orange, you might think it’s time to start cooking. However, the right fire for cooking requires some patience. In general, you want a base of smoldering coals with just a few logs on top to keep the flames burning. If your fire just started, you might have to wait anywhere from a half-hour to 45 minutes for it to calm down to cooking temperatures.

2. Don’t Rely on an Open Flame

That vision of roasting a marshmallow by plunging it directly into the pyre is a cooking method that works for that type of food only. The rest of your campfire-ready eats will require more careful preparation, or they’ll quickly burn and char. In many cases, you can place a camping grill over the flames, a perfect resting spot for burgers and hot dogs so they don’t touch the fire directly. The same goes for pots and pans in which you’ll heat up or cook meals. You can also set aside some hot coals over which to roast veggies or other roast-ready foods.

3. Planning Is Key

Even if you’re camping in the woods and therefore have trees and logs surrounding you, you might not be able to use any of them in your campfire. SSome campgrounds prohibit you from using the resources around you as kindling. So, be prepared and bring along high-quality firewood. Not only will this ensure you’ll have the resources to start a fire, but it’ll also make life so much simpler for you — these logs will easily and safely light up and burn for a long time. You’ll have plenty of time to cook your meals and stay warm around your campfire.

4. Build It Slowly and Steadily

Some fire-starters will dump all their logs into the pit at once and light them up. But this won’t start a sustainable campfire — it either won’t light, or it’ll burn out all of your resources rather quickly. So, pace yourself and build your fire correctly by using only a few logs with plenty of kindling beneath them. This method gives you a nice, hot base for your fire, and you can continue adding logs on top as you go to keep it burning. Plus, the temperature will remain steadier, making cooking simpler, too.

5. Add In Rest Time

Finally, you need to remember the foods you prepare over an open flame will cook at a higher temperature for longer. In other words, when you pull your foodstuffs out of the flames, they will continue cooking because they have taken in so much heat. So, take everything out just before you normally would if you were cooking with traditional appliances. Then, let your food rest and finish cooking. Finally, you can serve breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Campfire cooking is certainly an acquired skill, but these five tips will make it easier for you to become a skilled outdoor chef. And, with that, you’ll be eating well whether you’re at home or in the middle of nowhere with only a small fire to help you.

Seven Tips for Camping by Yourself

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Camping with friends and family is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and connect with others. Sometimes, though, a camping trip by yourself is just what the doctor ordered. You can take more time to relax, experience nature, reflect on life and do the things you want to do — all without the stress of group disagreements and worrying about others.

Solo camping is a different beast than group camping, though. You have to do everything yourself, and you need to be more careful because if something happens, no one will be around to bail you out.

With proper preparation, a solo camping trip can be an ideal way to get away. Here are seven tips for going it alone on your next excursion.

1. Work Your Way Up

Going by yourself for your first camping trip is not a good idea. You should have some experience with others under your belt before you try to go solo. Reading camping books and other educational materials can’t prepare you in the same way that experiencing things firsthand can. Make sure you’ve logged some solid camping hours, have learned from someone with experience and are confident in your abilities before striking out on your own.

2. Brush up on Your Skills

In group camping situations, whoever has the most experience in something tends to take charge whenever that task comes up. If you need to navigate while hiking, for example, the person who knows their way around a map or compass best usually leads the group. Unless you make a conscious effort to learn the skill of navigation, you may have never really had to do it.

When camping by yourself, you’re going to need to take charge of everything. Brush up on your outdoors skills before you head out for your trip so you know you can do everything. Even if it’s something you’ve been around before, practice to make sure you can complete the task yourself with no direction or help from others.

3. Let Someone Know

You should never leave for a camping trip without letting someone at home know about the details of your trip. Tell a trusted friend or family member when you’re leaving, when you’re coming back and when you’ll be able to check in throughout your trip. You should also tell them your location, and if you’re hiking, give them a route plan. If you don’t check in when you said you would, that person can try to contact you and alert emergency services if necessary. Because they know your location, they’ll also know where to look for you.

4. Pack Light

When you’re out in the woods by yourself, there’s no one to help you carry your pack if it gets too heavy. Because of this, it’s especially important to pack light when going on a solo trip. Consider bringing a hammock rather than a tent, water purification tablets instead of a filter and other lightweight options.

5. Plan for Emergencies

It’s important to be prepared for emergencies whether you’re camping in a group or on your own. The difference when you’re solo is that you need to carry everything yourself. Don’t skimp when packing first aid materials and other emergency supplies — you don’t want to be caught without them. You should also bring a signal whistle and an emergency communication device such as a satellite phone or personal locator, so you can call for help if you need to.

6. Bring a Book — or Write One

When camping on your own, although you might strike up some conversations with fellow campers, you won’t reliably have someone to chat and share stories with. You might also end up with spare time, especially when the weather is bad. While one of the joys of camping solo is the time you can spend quietly enjoying nature and reflecting on life, sometimes you might want a break from that, especially when the sounds of nature get a bit creepy as you’re trying to fall asleep.

A good, uplifting book is the perfect remedy for all of that. You might even want to bring a journal to jot down your thoughts and some notes about your experiences.

7. Prepare Yourself Mentally

When camping solo, you’ll be spending a lot of time alone with your thoughts. And when you don’t have someone else to help calm you down, difficult situations can be even more stressful. Before you head out on your trip, it’s important to take some time to prepare yourself mentally for these challenges. Find something that helps keep you calm, whether it’s deep breathing, thinking about fond memories or whistling your favorite song, and keep that antidote in your back pocket so you can pull it out whenever you need it.

Camping by yourself is an experience that comes with different challenges than camping with others. With a bit of preparation though, you’ll be ready to clear those hurdles and experience the many joys that are unique to solo camping.

How to Survive in the Woods With Nothing

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For most people, getting lost in the woods without any tools or supplies to help them survive is something out of a nightmare. It freaks people out so much that Hollywood has gotten a handful of reality TV shows out of it — even if they’re a little bit scripted.

So — just in case you ever find yourself as a character on a real-life episode of Lost — how can you survive if you find yourself trapped in the woods with no supplies?

The Three Necessities

When it comes down to it, there are only three things you really need to survive in the wilderness: water, shelter and food. Warmth may qualify as a fourth item — but not if you’re lost in a hot climate. You can survive for a couple of weeks without food, but you can only survive for two to three days without water.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can find each of these three items that are so necessary for survival.

1.      Water

Your priority, assuming you’re not injured or unable to move, should be to find water. There are plenty of ways to do this, including the following:

  • Look for Natural Water Sources: Lakes, rivers and streams are your friends — they provide a source of water in a pinch. Remember to take steps to purify the water. Even water that looks clean can harbor bacteria that could get you sick and make survival more difficult. Thankfully, it’s possible to purify water even if you have no tools available.
  • Collect Dew: Early in the morning or late in the evening, you can use a cloth to collect enough dew to wring into your mouth.
  • Dig: If you find a dry stream bed, there may still be water under the surface. By digging down, you may be able to find some — though you’ll still need to purify it.

Once you’ve secured your water source, your next step is to find shelter.

2.      Shelter

The shelter you find or make will depend on where you’re stranded. Caves are a great option, as long as other animals do not already occupy them.

If you can’t find a cave, a fallen tree can provide proper shelter if it’s stable. Find a fallen tree you can take shelter beneath and use branches, palm fronds or large leaves to create a makeshift shelter. It won’t be perfectly weatherproof, but it will be enough to keep you out of the elements and help you stay warm at night.

3.      Food

Food can be tricky, especially if you’re out in the woods in the winter. In general, you’ve got three options:

  • Animals: If you’re wilderness savvy, you could try to make some snares for small game like rabbits or squirrels. Ideally, these snares would be made of wire. If you don’t have any wires handy you can use just about anything — your shoelaces, strong vines or the headphones in your pocket. Fishing is also an excellent way to get food if you’re stuck out in the wild.
  • Insects: In a pinch, you can also eat most bugs. It sounds gross — and it might taste gross, too, if you’re eating them raw — but it can keep you alive if you can’t manage to secure any other food sources. Just remember what Simba said in The Lion King: “Slimy, yet satisfying!”
  • Plants: Unless you’re absolutely sure the plant you’re thinking about eating is edible, don’t eat it. It could get you sick and make it harder for you to survive.

No one wants to think about getting stranded in the woods, but if it happens, it’s better to be prepared.  If this is something you’re terrified of, keep a multi-tool or pocket knife on you at all times. Even if you don’t use it for anything other than opening letters, it could mean the difference between life and death — or at least help you survive until help arrives.

Here’s Everything You Need for Solo Camping

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Camping can be a memorable way to enjoy the great outdoors and get a little bit of extra Vitamin D in your system, but planning a weekend away with the buddies isn’t always the easiest thing to manage. We all have work schedules and family obligations to navigate when planning getaways. If you’ve just got to get out of town, camping solo can be a sound option — but it requires a little bit of preparation. If you want to try your hand at camping on your own, here is everything you need to get started.

Pack Smart

When you’re camping on your own, you don’t have anyone to help you carry your supplies, so it’s up to you to pack smart. Choose small, lightweight equipment, and don’t carry anything you can pick up at the campsite, like firewood. You also don’t need a big tent if you’re by yourself — a lightweight pop tent or a single-person tent can keep the rain off your head and won’t add a ton of extra weight in your backpack.

Choose a Site

Picking a campsite when you’re camping on your own is much like picking a campsite when you’re camping with other people — you just don’t need as much space when you’re going alone. When you arrive at the campsite, it’s easier to set up your tent or lay out your bedroll in a secluded corner of the forest where no one will bother you.

Let Someone Know

Here’s one key difference between camping with friends and camping by yourself. Always, always, always let someone know where you’re going and when you’re planning to return. If you’re worried about letting someone know you’ll be alone and potentially vulnerable, choose someone you can trust — a close friend or family member.

This step is for your own safety, as much as it is for the safety of others. If you don’t check in or make it back on time, your contact can let park rangers or campsite staff know you might not be safe.

Keep Important Information

While you’re out camping on your own, it’s important to keep your vital information somewhere a rescuer can find it easily if you’re injured or unconscious. Info like your contact data, the phone number of the person who knows you’re camping by yourself, your medical history and your blood type can all be life-saving in the event of an emergency.

Stay in Contact

You may not need it — and you may want to disconnect from social media for a while — but it’s always good idea to keep some form of communication device with you. It could be a cell phone, a CB radio or smoke signals, but you’re going to want to be able to get in touch with someone in case of an emergency. You can even invest in a device that allows you to call or text without a cell signal if you’re going to be way out in the woods.

Stock Your First-Aid Kit

Finally, stock up your first-aid kit before you head out for your trip. You may never need it, but it’s always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it, especially if you’re out in the woods on your own. You don’t need a full-blown trauma kit, but having the basics — bandages, alcohol wipes and other simple supplies — can save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

 

Camping on your own doesn’t have to be intimidating — and in fact, it can be amazingly liberating. Just make sure you prepare, and that you let someone know where you’re going so you can enjoy your solitude, but still be safe.