With today's technology, camping has really lost its roughness. Try these challenges on your next trip to help step up your game.
Not too long ago, going camping meant actually roughing it. You didn't have or need electricity to run gear or power your phone. Tents didn't pretty much set themselves up and folks could start fires without soaking wood down with lighter fluid.
We may have made camping a little too easy. A lot of basic skills that were passed down to each generation are now outdated and some have been forgotten except by select groups of people.
If you think you are an expert camper with all your modern gear, I have a few challenges for you to really test your skills.
1. Start a fire with a firesteel only using natural tinder.
One of the hardest skills to learn when getting into more primitive camping methods is getting a fire going with no matches, lighters, or man-made ignition sources. Just about anyone can get a fire going with enough lighter fluid and a match, but where is the skill there?
Your challenge is to make a tinder bundle from natural materials, rain sparks upon it with a firesteel, and blow it into a fire.
2. Cook all meals over campfire.
Leave the propane stoves and grills at home; it's time to get back to basics. Just about any meal you can prepare with a stove, you can prepare over a campfire.
The hardest part of campfire cooking is learning how to control heat. Learn to use the embers from the fire to cook with, like on charcoal grills. You have to learn when to raise pans higher and when to drop them lower to reach just the right temperature.
3. Gather or hunt down your meals.
One of the greatest skills that has been lost is the ability to correctly identify and harvest wild edibles. The sad part is, most of the things around us in the woods are edible to some degree or hold other special uses.
I highly recommend purchasing the "Peterson Field Guides: Edible Wild Plants." It is a wealth of knowledge on everything you need to know about finding, identifying, preparing, and eating wild plants.
I can't tell you the satisfaction you get while out backpacking or camping when you are somewhere that allows hunting. Small game will be your prime target such as rabbit, squirrel, and wild birds, when in season. There really is nothing better than smelling the fresh meat cook over a fire before sinking your teeth into it.
4. Gather your water from natural sources.
Most campsites have a community water source somewhere in the area. You just drag your five-gallon container over and fill it up without a second thought. Finding water, filling containers, and sterilizing it to drink is a whole workload in itself.
I know this is something many people are weary of due to the fear of getting sick from the water. With some quick filtering and boiling, there is nothing to fear. The filtering part is just to eliminate any large debris in the water. Boiling is almost 100% effective at eliminating anything that will make you sick.
Bring it to a rolling boil for at least one minute before letting it cool. If you are in higher altitudes you will need to let it boil for about three minutes before consuming.
5. Set up and sleep inside a canopy shelter or canvas tent.
Today's tents are a snap to set up. Most pop up with the use of fiberglass poles and are ready to use in minutes. However, a few decades ago it wasn't that simple; setting up a tent required some skill, time, and knowledge of knots to put up.
The easiest one to start with and set up is a basic ridgelined canopy shelter. All you need is a tarp, some cordage, two knots, and some stakes. Click this link to learn the knots and basic setup.
These five challenges are a perfect way to begin learning some new skills and help people get back into real camping.
Not to mention, these could come in real handy should you ever find yourself in any sort of survival situation.