It’s always such a great feeling to arrive nowhere and call it home. Life on the road is one of freedom and adventure. It often involves searching out those places untouched by civilization – the ‘middle-of-nowheres’ and the ‘back-of-beyonds’. It’s necessary for us to visit the hotbeds of human life intermittently, of course. Stocking up on supplies is as much a part of the journey as sleeping under expansive skies while camping in the backcountry. The trick is to minimise the time spent doing one and extend time dedicated to the other. Here I’ve put together a few tricks to help you maximise your time away from towns, giving you the freedom to immerse yourself in a more natural way of living.
- Gather Firewood.
Scout out abandoned campfires. Usually, fires left to burn down will have created some useful pieces of charcoal. Collect these discarded remnants and use them to prolong your evening fire when your wood pile gets low. Stack wet logs around the outside of a lit fire to dry them enough that they will burn. Always be wearing your practical hat. If you’re out in the day and happen to come across a load of driftwood dried by the sun, that’s prime firewood right there. Gather what you can carry and take it back to camp. Make a note of where you are so you can come back for more over the next few days if needed.
- Forage and Fish
If you’re travelling in a van, an ideal thing to have as part of the furniture is a fishing rod. It can be easily stowed by tieing it to the roof inside and can add some vital nutrients to your diet if you’re in the wilderness for a while. If you’re camping in a tent, fishing rods that break down into sections are really handy. Along with the fishing, foraging for wild greens, herbs and mushrooms is a great way to supplement your meals. If you’re not already familiar with wild edibles in your area, take a foraging course and invest in a comprehensive book that can become part of your camping kit. Not only will this enable you to supplement your diet while out in the bush, but it will also connect you on a deeper level to flora and fauna around you. Foraging is a great way to hold a conversation with your surroundings and to get in touch with nature. I mean, that’s the reason we choose to leave society behind after all, isn’t it?
3. Triple Up
Cultivate an eco-mindset. camping is about making the most of everything you have with you. Many things can be used multiple times, sometimes for things that might not be immediately apparent. An example of this is to use one pot of boiling water to boil your eggs, steam your greens and brew your coffee. Think logically about your use of resources. There’s no reason water used for cooking boiled eggs can’t then go on to be used for something else, even if it’s just for washing up. I always use it for tea or coffee and will place a sieve over the top of the pan to steam greens at the same time. Not only does this save water, but it saves gas (or wood) by only boiling one pot.
4. Always Be Thinking
When we discovered our new gas bottle didn’t fit our stove, we were already far from the nearest town. By thinking ahead, we co-ordinated using our evening campfire to bake jacket potatoes and cook off other vegetables, which provided us with breakfast and lunch the following day. Always have a pot that can be used on an open fire – that way your wilderness heating system also serves as your stove. Creative thinking is a highly valuable skill for camping and will help you add a few more days (or weeks, if you’re smart about it) to your excursion into the wilds.
- Live by candlelight.Have the head torch for when you’re away from camp and for emergencies, but to conserve battery power live by the warm light of a natural flame. A hurricane lantern is a great thing to have packed – it keeps burning candles enclosed, safely away from highly flammable tents (and trees), and protects the flame from the wind (although hurricanes might be pushing their capabilities). Make sure to have a few lighters stashed in your backpack or van, in something that will keep them dry. There’s nothing worse than discovering you’re not able to light your candles, campfire or camping stove – that’ll certainly have you running back to civilization too soon.