One of the best ways to test your survival skills is to spend some time outdoors, without electricity, running water, and flushable toilets. This is not to say that every disruptive event will require you to live outdoors, but rather that such an event will require you to cope without modern conveniences. As preppers, our hope is that such an event will be short-term in nature, but, as the saying goes, “hope for the best and prepare for the worst”.
About a year ago I was discussing this topic with Phil Cox, the CEO of Buy Emergency Foods. For those of you that don’t know, BEF, as they are called, has been a sponsor of this website from the early days and is, what I like to call, a friend of Backdoor Survival. At the time, we were chatting about their new line of cook-in-pouch meals, branded Bannock Foods.
We were talking about camping and how campers were embracing freeze dried foods and meal pouches in much the same way the backpackers have chosen FD meal pouches for years. That got me thinking about camping and prepping and how one can beget the other. To me that makes perfect sense. What better way to learn to prep and have a bit of fun at the same time?
So, with that in mind, here are a few of the things you can learn from camping that can make you a better prepper.
Nine Things You Can Learn from Camping That Will Make You a Better Prepper
1 – Doh! I Forgot to Bring Something
Ever camped and forgot something important at home? Once you are there it’s usually too far to turn back. Take for example something as simple as mantles for your lantern. Not having these tiny replacement items handy can suddenly make many aspects of camping much more difficult. Often a quick trip to town can solve this oversight, but imagine simply not being able to get those replacements.
In a long term emergency situation not having important items can be dangerous. A challenging camping experience can help you re-evaluate your emergency supplies and maybe even get some backups for your backups.
2 – Doing Without Short Term Vs. Doing Without Long Term
When most people camp, they leave modern conveniences and technology at home. Living without these things for a few days is fine (even a welcome break), but imagine having to do without some modern conveniences on a long term basis, like a refrigerator, for example. Adequate sources of electrical power and fuel can make life much more pleasant in an emergency.
Camping teaches us how power dependent we all are for everything from telling time to food preservation to communicating to lighting. Re-evaluate your needs for fuel and electricity in an emergency, most people will find they are vastly underprepared in this area.
3 – Water Is More Important Than You Think
Water is heavy and bulky to carry. Camping is a great lesson in how much water we all use on a daily basis. From drinking, washing hands, cooking, cleaning dishes, brushing teeth, etc. It adds up and you use water faster than you think. For short term emergencies, stored water can get you by. However, camping vividly illustrates how you simply cannot store enough water for a long term emergency.
You must be able to find, transport, purify and store water on a long term basis. This means having plenty of portable water storage containers, chemical purification, mechanical filtration, hoses, manual pumps and more.
4 – The Differences Between Needs & Wants
Camping teaches you the difference between wants and needs. It also helps you realize the things that aren’t essential but would be really nice to have. Ever been on a backpacking trip that you realized you didn’t have something you needed, but were spending effort to carry stuff that you didn’t?
When making a list of preparedness supplies it helps to divide the list into needs, wants, and nice to haves, and then prioritize accordingly.
5 – Sanitation Becomes a Challenge Quickly
It’s one thing to camp in a managed campground with adequate and well maintained sanitation facilities. It’s another thing entirely to rough it with a large group of people.
Sanitation and hygiene has to be addressed from the very beginning. It can’t wait to be addressed after it becomes an issue. Proper sanitation requires advance planning and adequate supplies. Think about would happen if you had to live in your house for a few months without running water. You had better be addressing the problem of sanitation on day one, not day six.
6 – Food & Water Requirements Are Different When You Are Active
Some camping trips are a leisurely affair with hammocks and hanging out by the fire. Then there are the 20-mile hikes. One thing becomes clear when contrasting both situations; you need more food and lots more water on the very active trips vs. the more relaxing trips.
Most emergency situations are likely to be more active then sedentary, plan your need for consumable supplies accordingly. In a real emergency we’d all rather have too much food and water than not enough.
7 – Supplies Can Be Heavy
Nothing teaches you this like a backpacking trip. Now you might think this is an argument for packing light, but it’s actually the opposite. Unless you have planned exceptionally well, you’re likely to find that on a backpacking trip you wish you had more food, more water, and a warmer sleeping bag. A backpacking trip can very clearly illustrate just how much you need. Again, better to have too much than not enough.
8 – The Need to Live Off the Land
Sometimes camping is an end in itself. Sometimes it’s a means to a larger end… like fishing or hunting. If you’ve eaten fresh fish you caught that day you know you have the ability to really extend your food supplies. In an extended emergency having the skills and supplies to gather, hunt, fish, or garden may make all the difference. This understanding should inform how you approach prepping.
Does your emergency supply include long shelf life garden seeds, fishing supplies, extra ammo, edible flora reference? (Is that mushroom edible? How about those berries?) Do you know how to dress out a hunt (deer, rabbit, elk)?
9 – Convenience Matters
Making a camp dinner from scratch can be fun, delicious, and rewarding, but sometimes on a very active camping or backpacking trip, what you really want is good tasting meal that is fast and easy to prepare.
In an emergency situation the last thing you want to for a meal is to start with a grain grinder. Having nutritious, easy to prepare meals is more important than you might guess. Plan accordingly.
Making Freeze-Dried Food a Part of Your Camping and Prep Routine
Without sounding like an advertisement for freeze-dried food, I have to say that in terms of convenience, there is a place for freeze-dried meal pouches in every food storage pantry. Meal pouches are light weight, and, if you shop carefully (sample sample sample!), are tasty and nutritious.
Many brands, including my favorite Legacy Foods, are GMO and MSG free plus there are gluten free options. Just be aware that costs can vary widely so take care to ensure that the cost per meal/day promoted by the company are accurate and reasonable. If you have to, get out your calculator and divide the number of calories by 2000 to get the meal cost per day. And please, do not forget to include shipping when coming up with the daily cost.
For a more thorough discussion of comparative costs of freeze-dried foods, read The Myth of Serving Sizes in Packaged Emergency Food. And, please, as I have mentioned many times, try your food before setting it aside for an emergency. A reputable company will guarantee it’s product, or, better. still, will offer single pouches or sample packs so you can try before you buy.
The Final Word
There are lots of similarities between camping and prepping. In more than a few ways, a camping trip can be a great dry run for an emergency situation where you would have to rely only on your preparations. My suggestion is the next time you go on a camping trip, take a pencil and note pad with you and write down some of your observations on what you need to do differently when it comes to your emergency supplies.
It might make all the difference when and if a disruptive event occurs in your neck of the woods.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Spotlight: Sample Meal Kits from Buy Emergency Foods
I have made no secret of the fact that one of the first things I did when I got to Arizona last Fall was to order a 720 Meal Kit from Buy Emergency Foods. Now that I am facing another move, I recognize the value of moving food buckets full of freeze-dried food rather than heavier and bulker beans, rice, and grains.
There is a place for both (freeze dried and bulk foods) in my food storage pantry but honestly, it is my FD foods that allows me to sleep better at night. This is due its compact size and portability.
As of this writing, Buy Emergency Foods is offering a 15% Discount! Beat the Summer Heat discount by using code STAYCOOL15 at checkout. I am no sure how long this will last but this is a great time to sample some of the best tasting emergency food current available.
Bargain Bin: A good way to shop for camping (and thus prepping) gear is to go to the Amazon Top 20 in Camping & Hiking – Perfect for Preppers page. I added the “Perfect for Preppers part. Here some other items and for the record, I recommend them because I own them!
Rothco Type III Commercial Paracord: You can get 100 feet of Paracord for about $8. This is a real bargain but be aware that price can vary substantially depending on the color.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter: The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultra light personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2oz. making it perfect for the prepper. There is also a larger sized LifeStraw Family currently available with free shipping.
Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife: This “oh so sweet” knife is solidly built, stainless steel knife that comes razor sharp right out of the package. It will pretty much cut through anything the price is amazing.
Morakniv Craftline Q Allround Fixed Blade Utility Knife: Also known as the Mora 511, this is now my favorite knife. It is made of Swedish steel and is super sharp. Many Backdoor Survival have emailed me indicating this is now their favorite knife too.
BYBLight TML-T6: This flashlight is extremely bright, casts wide angle and, when zoomed, a very focused beam. I swear that if there were a rattlesnake out in the desert outside my back yard this flashlight would find it. It’s a sturdy thing with an aluminum casing that is not at all heavy. It has 5 built in modes including the standard high, medium, low plus a strobe and SOS mode. It includes a rechargeable battery and a charger plus an adapter to hold AAA batteries.
Windstorm Safety Whistle: This particular whistle can be heard a long distance away and above howling wind and other competing sounds. I collect whistles and while this one is slightly more expensive than the cheapies I own, this is the one I keep in my bug-out-bag.
Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets (Pack of 10): You will be surprised at how warm these will keep you. Be sure to test one out in advance so that you have the confidence to trust the blanket in an emergency. You will be amazed at how small and portable these are; a packet will easily fit in a back pocket. About $7 for 10.
Swedish Firesteel: Using this basic pocket fire-starter, you can get a nice fire going under almost any conditions. This is a small, compact version. Again, a bit more expensive than some of the “almost free” fire starters I have but for wilderness survival, this is my choice.
TETON Sports Mammoth Queen Size Flannel Lined Sleeping Bag (94″x 62″, Grey, +20 Degree F) : This is the sleeping bag I purchased. And yes, it is a double with room for Shelly, myself, Tucker the Dog and a weapon. Emergency Essentials also has some great sleeping bags that are well priced.
Preferred by Backdoor Survival. This is the Emergency Food I buy for my own use. It is non-GMO and MSG-free plus there are 100% Gluten-Free options. Shipping is always free. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.
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