The National Forests will allow all those thirsty for contact with nature to sleep in the wild in designated areas. Spring will also be a period of respite after successive waves of epidemics and lockdowns. What should you pay attention to so that a May camping trip in the wild woods will be a respite and relaxation, rather than a series of unfortunate mishaps? Here are a handful of tips for beginners.
Is this the forest?
First of all, make sure the place you’ve chosen is one where you can legally sleep. Sometimes you only have to cross to the other side of a forest road to find yourself already in another forest, where overnight camping is not allowed. Before you start setting up camp, make sure you are in a zone of the forest designated for wild sleeping. It’s worth checking this – a list of pilot areas, and for the precise and familiar with the map – here.
It’s also worth taking a look at the interactive map of various attractions and amenities.
Before you choose a place to stay, you need to answer the essential question which is “what about water”? Without water, you won’t last more than a few hours on your dream camping trip.
Basically, it all comes down to two possibilities. Either you carry water with you in some kind of beaker or bottle, or there is a river, lake, stream, spring, or well within a reasonable distance of your planned bivouac.
What “within a reasonable distance” means is up to you. Some people are able to walk several kilometers for water, while for others a few hundred meters is too far. If you take water from a lake or river you should filter or boil it for your own safety.
If an animal has died in the stream above where you draw water from, or there are excrements you can get seriously ill. Boiling admittedly kills any germs, but you lose a lot of gas or gasoline in the whole process. Besides, water is often obtained from rivers or lakes, and there the water may be contaminated with pesticides, which boiling will not kill.
That’s why it’s safest to carry water with you or filter it. What is important, water filtered with a good filter does not need to be boiled.
Place for camping
Choose a place that is flat and dry. If there is no other choice and the terrain for your tent is sloping, set up the tent so that your head is higher than your legs. If you sleep with your head down, you will wake up tired and probably with a headache.
Avoid small valleys and paddies. These are the coldest places and the heaviest, coldest air will flow into them. Remember that the site must be safe. Before you put up your tent look up. Dry trees, and hanging withered branches during high winds can prove deadly.
Don’t set up camp in the dark, do it in the daytime while you can still see something. Then it’s easier to judge whether the area is dry and safe. You can also look out in the daytime to see if your tent is on an ant trail. You can’t win with ants, and if you see a cluster of them – look for another spot.
The forest is usually sheltered from the wind, but after all, it can happen to spend the night on a hill or an open clearing. If it’s windy, set up the tent so that the wind doesn’t blow inside the bedroom. This will avoid blowing leaves, bugs, and rain inside.
Without light, we can’t function after sunset. On every camping trip, have a good flashlight with you and a supply of energy in the form of extra batteries or a power bank. A good flashlight is not one that shines at 500 meters, but one that will evenly illuminate the space around you and that you are able to adjust.
I recommend flashlights with a red light option. In this light, you can do everything, but you are not visible to other people and animals from more than 100 meters away. In this way, you can experience many nocturnal creatures without frightening them and avoid uninvited human visitors.
You might be interested in reading The adventurous experience: ATV Jaipur.
Tent or something else?
The answer is simple – only and exclusively a tent. For several reasons. A tent gives full protection from rain, wind, and, most importantly, bugs. Everyone will sleep in a tent.
A hammock is cool, but only for people who sleep on their backs and do not roll over sideways. Besides, in a hammock mosquitoes and ticks annoy and blows from underneath. It is true that you can prove mosquito nets, and insulate yourself with mats, but you still need to find the right trees at the right distance, and all these additional covers, along with the hammock, weigh more than the tent.
And in addition, it takes a lot of time to unfold and fix them. The same is also true of camping sheets, tarps, etc. A tent offers full shelter and can be quickly set up. Hammock – recreationally, to swing and read a book very willingly, but for sleeping not so much.
Sleeping means a comfortable mat and a warm sleeping bag. Even people with back problems will sleep on the modern inflatable and self-inflating mats. It is worth thinking about an inflatable pillow and a warm sleeping bag. Remember that the temperatures quoted in the forecasts are those at 2 meters, not near the ground. It can be much cooler near the ground and your sleeping bag should have a “spare” temperature.
It is worth making yourself a separate set of thermal underwear + cap + socks for sleeping. This can be cotton, or preferably merino wool. Such a set not only improves sleep comfort and thermal comfort, but also makes the sleeping bag less dirty, because the sweat and our exfoliating skin stay in the clothes, and do not rub into the sleeping bag.
I advise against sleeping in synthetics, especially for men, because, as studies show, synthetic underwear is bad for the chances of becoming a parent.
It’s worth investing in a seating mat, known as a travel seat. We will really spend a lot of time on the seat, and it’s a lot of fun to sit comfortably and not get cold in the butt, and to have clean pants.
A night in the woods means animals, including the smallest ones such as ants, mosquitoes, ticks, and midges. Remember that a good tent is airtight. The bedroom is made of dense mesh, which guarantees full “bug-proofness” when closed.
Sleeping in a hammock or under a tarp, we have to lubricate ourselves with chemicals against bugs, and still, there is no guarantee that something will not suck us out. The bedroom of a tent is a safe, bug-free space where we can change, rest and sleep.
Outside the tent, however, we are vulnerable to mosquito and tick bites and should wear long-sleeved and leggy clothing made of the kind of materials that bugs won’t overcome, and use insect repellent.
Of course, it is also a good idea to have a remedy to relieve pain and itching after a bite. Remember, too, that ankle boots will protect us from quite a few bites. They may be heavier and less comfortable, but camping in the woods in sandals or below-ankle boots is asking for trouble.
During wild camping in the forest, campfires are forbidden. The idea is that we should not cause a forest fire. The same is also true of cooking. Any burner with a flame is a fire hazard. Therefore, never leave a working burner without attention even for a moment.
Much safer than classic flame burners are cooking systems that have a catalytic filament, examples of such stoves are the MSR Windburner and MSR Reactor.
Garbage and excrement
No trace should be left in the forest after our camping trip. We should take away all trash, and bury feces under the mulch. Toilet paper, on the other hand, should also be disposed of in the garbage bag. A nitrile glove and antibacterial gel will also come in handy when camping.
The Scandinavian method of burning toilet paper (used!) can cause a fire, and there is a lot of trouble with it, as there will always be something that won’t burn or will try to fly away. Have class – when leaving the forest, take any trash you find along the way into your bag.
Noise is also the pollution we produce. The old saying ” don’t shout, you’re not in the forest” turns out to be completely outdated and what’s the point – stupid. It is worthwhile to be quiet in the forest because then we have a chance not to disturb other tourists, but above all to see animals that will not run away from us. Among campers it is worth talking in whispers, the animals will then approach much, much closer.