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Fast Track Tip #9: Test Your Preps Camping!

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: June 27, 2019
Fast Track Tip #9: Test Your Preps Camping!

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There is no reason that prepping has to be a drudge or a chore.  As a matter of fact, preparedness can be combined with a hobby and actually be productive and fun at the same time.

What kind of hobbies?  Some examples include fishing, hunting, biking, hiking, crafting (for example with paracord), reading (survival fiction!) and of course, camping.  I know that I tend to be repetitive when it comes to extolling the virtues of combining hobbies with prepping but the fact remains, doing so is the very best way to coast a reluctant spouse, partner or family member into the preparedness lifestyle.

Test your preps go camping

Each of these hobbies, in one way or another, helps hone a skill that could become valuable in a post SHTF world.  Even reading can be considered skill-building.  As you get into the mind of someone who must make life or death decisions, you are challenged to think about the actions you would take if faced with a similar situation.

But I am getting off track.

Today’s Fast Track Tip is all about the virtues of camping. Backdoor Survival Contributing Author Rob Hanus is back with his thoughts on camping as the ideal platform for testing your preps.

Test Your Preps – Go Camping!

When it comes to camping, I have noticed there seems to be three types of people: Those that have never camped; those that have camped before but have not gone in a while; and those that go camping on a regular basis. If you are a prepper and fall into either of the first two categories, it is time to pack up and head out to the field!

One aspect of prepping you need to keep in mind,is if you did not personally test it, it does not work! Camping is a good time to test your preparedness items, as many of the things you need for your emergency preparedness kits are either directly used in camping, or are closely related.

Going camping is like putting yourself into a controlled survival situation. The advantage, though, is you are in control of the situation and can always go back to the comfort of your home at anytime.

Much of what you need when you go camping is a direct parallel to being prepared. You need to provide things like your own shelter, food, water, a way to cook, sleeping bags and pads, and the like. You also get to test and improve your survival skills, like starting a fire, forecasting the weather, cooking over an open flame, dealing with sanitation in a field environment, and many others. Even learning to deal without electric light is something that you need to do when camping.

If you have not camped before, start out by going to one of the established campsites that have toilets and running water. This makes it much easier to get used to being out in the great outdoors. Once you think you are ready, try going to a primitive camping area, where you need to bring everything you need, such as all of your water, a way to make an expedient toilet, a way to keep your food cold, and so on.

Camping is also a great way to take your kids exploring and getting them used to doing things the “old fashioned” way. If your children are young, teach them survival skills appropriate for their age, such as what to do when lost and fire safety, and staying away from dangerous insects and animals. As kids get older, survival skills like starting a fire, making a shelter and other field-craft can make them a more confident person as they grow up.

It does not matter when you go, as you should try camping at different times of the year. Different seasons call for a different way of camping. For example, winter camping is completely different than the other seasons and should not be tried by the novice camper, though you should not let the cold and snow thwart you from having a fun and educational time.

You do not even have to leave your home to go camping. Camping at home in your backyard, or even in your living room, can be a good way to ease younger children into the idea of camping in the wilds. Most kids, though, would love the backyard adventure of sleeping the night in a tent. Even for the novice camper, this is a good way to learn things like how to put together your new tent, figure out how the cook-stove works, and test out the sleeping bag to make sure that it is warm enough, without having to worry about having to sleep in the car if something goes wrong.

Also, as a beginning camper, you will need to start acquiring the necessary equipment. Tents, sleeping pads and bags, a cook stove, outdoor camping gear, and water containers are some of the things that you will need when camping.

Even for experienced campers, going out to the wilds and setting up a camp for the weekend leads to new discoveries. It also helps you figure out how to do something better such as learning what to bring next time so you are either more comfortable or have more convenience.

Whether driving to a campsite across the state or setting up in your backyard, camping is a great way to test your preps and build experience using your gear.

The Final Word

In the old days, meaning the 1980’s, my idea of camping was staying in a hotel without room service and a bathtub.  Seriously.  Then I bought a boat and learned that it was a lot more fun to rough it while anchored in remote cove with limited water, limited power, and a minimum of sanitation facilities.

I think camping (or boating) is a great way to learn to MacGyver – meaning fix stuff using your wits and whatever happens to be available in the moment.  As a matter of fact, I have been compiling a list of all the reasons camping will help you prepare for emergencies but being the tease that I am, I will hold those for another day.

As always, I want to thank Rob for his tips and invite you to visit his website at The Preparedness Podcast.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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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 very affordably. 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.

BYB Flashlight 250

Just to see it stacks up with my other favorites, here is a photo showing the differences in size and form factor between the BYBLight, Coast HP1, and the UltraFire Mini-Cree.

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.

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.



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8 Responses to “Fast Track Tip #9: Test Your Preps Camping!”

  1. love the article. but for those on a tight budget and new or inexperienced in camping? check rummage sales, you can usually find camping equipment at many of them. you can also check craigslist and online community rummage sale forums. also freecycle can come in handy.

    if for whatever reason, your adverse to using “used” stuff? you can buy everything you need at walmart or dicks sporting stores. plus you have the added bonus of the new stuff coming with “instruction books”! LOL be sure to read them, they do come in handy. there’s nothing like quite like the challenge of trying to roll up a sleeping bag or a tent tightly, without first reading the instructions. but always roll them tighter than you think you need to. oh, and get a couple of cans of camp dry for the tent!! that stuff is amazing!

    you DO NOT have to spend big bucks on this stuff to get started or have fun!!

  2. I love this article– it puts in perspective of how to get even kids calm in a crappy situation. If you also will consider this with camping– living in a state that is threatened each year by a natural disaster ( ie Florida and hurricanes/tropical storms) having the camping gear at hand will definatly mean life or death to your family.

    I take my daughter camping twice a year and we use half of our camping stuff twice a year for tail gating. this keeps us up to par on if the stuff is working or not. I also have the gear available for when we have heavy storms and the power goes out– sorry but the stove will come out to keep my crazy tail in coffee! lol

    Thanks for the article!! This is helping me show others that didnt beleive camping was important to being ready for anything!

    • Hi Michelle, “sorry but the stove will come out to keep my crazy tail in coffee! lol”

      There is nothing to apologize for! One of the great aspects of being prepared to deal with even small problems is that being prepared reduces stress.

      You like coffee in the morning? (So do we.) Being able to make coffee reduces stress. And really prevents a caffeine withdrawal headache, which I know from experience is a major stress inducer.

      Reduce stress. Make coffee. Pity the complacent people who can’t.

  3. Thank you both for the praise of camping. In my experience, everything said is unequivocally true.

    We camp about three times a year, both near home (Oahu) at an improved site (toilets and outdoor showers) and at unimproved sites on the Mainland- mostly Idaho, but also Utah, Arizona, Montana, and Washington.

    Camping is fun, it can be cheap (especially compared to hotels) and it does force one to get and use pretty much the same gear one needs in an emergency.

    We are just back from a month of camping in several of the western states, and had a blast. One of the fun and useful things I practiced was using the big Swedish firesteel, using cotton balls soaked with petroleum jelly for tinder. I had used it camping before, but not nearly so much, nor under adverse conditions. Now I am confidant that I can light a campfire after a long night of rain, followed by off and on drizzle, and another night of rain.

    I also for the first time practiced making firesticks with the KaBar Cutlass Machete (a great tool which I recommend highly). I was pretty awkward, slicing slivers completely off instead of leaving them all attached at one end, but enough remained to see the effect: they are a lot easier to light than the same piece of kindling without shaving them.

    I had been pretty well practiced using the machete to baton logs into kindling, but again this was the first time I did it because the wood was all wet and I had to expose dry surfaces to get a fire going. Batoning kindling is easy, safe if done correctly, and highly effective. If you don’t know what I am talking about, just go to YouTube and search “batoning firewood”.

    Because of the rain, this was the first time I had to search for tiny dry stuff to light from the tinder, and it turned out that even after rain for two nights there were plenty of dry pine needles and tiny (pencil lead diameter and slightly bigger) twigs around the bases of trees. They made making a fire easy.

    I had ‘known’ that was the case, but there is a big difference between knowing something can be done, and having actually done it a few times. Experience teaches a lot, and builds confidence in one’s gear and knowledge.

    Since we fly into Salt Lake City we are able to add a lot of camping gear by shopping at the North Ogden Deseret Industries (the Mormon version of Salvation Army). They have tons of kitchen gear, sleeping bags, and clothes, all at super bargain prices. Sometimes you can pick up a camping stove, but that takes some luck. This time we also hit a Salvation Army in Montana and picked up a two one-piece aluminum hiking sticks for $7.75 total, which made a couple hikes a lot safer.

    A lot of camping gear can be very cheap if you pick it up used, and getting to know how well it works (or doesn’t) is a big step toward being prepared for problems. It is also a lot of fun.

    Thanks again for the article. I hope lots of people try camping

    • PS: We keep dedicated sets of camping gear here and at a family member’s home on the Mainland. There, because it is too expensive to ship back and forth, but here because it is much more convenient than raiding the kitchen and tool boxes for gear.

      The upside of that for prepping for problems is that all we have to do in a “Leave Right Now!” situation is throw the boxes into the vehicle/s and leave. No digging around, no wondering where the stuff is, no needing to consult lists. Just throw boxes in and depart.

  4. @Rob; I absolutely agree with the premise of “if you didn’t test it, it doesn’t work”. I wrote a post on another site about a type of fire starter, that almost everyone has several of thrown in places here and there, and the ubiquitous “dryer lint” tinder. The point was that neither the fire starter (a Chinese knockoff) nor the dryer lint worked. (dryer lint is another story) All I got was complaints about how THEIR fire starter worked fine and I was an idiot if I can’t get dryer lint to catch fire. Also people said “everyone uses those and don’t have any problems”. The explanations of why my dryer lint (given in the post) were ignored as was the type of fire starter (even a YT video on it/similar). Some people are just defensive and intellectually dishonest. IF YOU HAVE NOT TRIED IT, IT DOES NOT WORK!!! I changed fire starters and lint and tried them many different ways. A lot of people are put off by the cost of using something like a Lifestraw, which means it will be no good some months later, as it has a life cycle. Camping is an excellent idea for skill development and enhancement, but I do worry that non-SHTF camping may give a non-realistic expectation of camping AFTER SHTF. I am an avid, fanatical proponent of living in your BOL, as it is easier than most think, but bugging out, on foot, bike or vehicle isn’t and the net result is that most people think they can go farther than they can and you may be on foot even if that was not your plan. Regardless this was a very well written and constructive post and a very good idea. Be Well.

    • I have had good success with dryer lint and would be interested in a link to your article explaining the shortcomings. Thanks so much – I, too, still have a lot to learn.


  5. As a family (when I was much younger) we frequently went camping. Since all of us kids have grown up/gotten married/moved from home we seldom go. Last time I went was about 10 years ago. I have to admit that camping as a child taught me that you can survive without all of the modern gadgets!

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