13 September 2011

Base Camp Comforts


 Comfort and Camping, to many this is a paradox, you can have one but not the other - well not at the same time, anyways. However, when you establish a successful base camp there is no reason in the world why you can't be comfortable.

The first piece of quality gear you need is a good tent, quickly followed by a good tarp. This combination provides a dry living and sleeping space. This is the first step to being comfortable, anywhere you setup camp.

To many, sleeping on the cold, hard ground takes the fun out of camping. So, don't sleep on the ground. Get some cots and sleeping pads to get you up off the ground. Next you will need a quality sleeping bag. If your sleeping bag does not provide the warmth your require consider getting an overbag or a second sleeping bag. Then place one inside the other. For example: if you have a 0C bag and a -10C bag, you should be comfortable to -20C if the bags are placed one inside the other. Which works well for Autumn hunting trips to the mountains. With this combination you have two choices for the summer as well. For hot days near the lake, sleep on top of your 0C bag or use your -10C bag if you are camped near the glacier peaks. The point is, if you use a two bag system or a two bag system + a Gore-Tex bivy bag you have flexibility and options. If you only purchase a -30C sleeping bag, you will survive some very cold weather for sure, but the rest of the year it will be too warm to sleep in. One last point on sleeping bags, especially, down-filled sleeping bags - always use a bag liner or wear a full set of poly-pro long johns (L/S top and bottoms) this thin layer of fabric will keep your body oils off of the sleeping bag fabric. The bag liner or long johns are much easier to wash and clean than your sleeping bag. Remember, each time you wash your sleeping bag it loses some of its thermal qualities.

Base camp comforts also include the use of "Chuck Boxes". On the frontier, the chuck box was a valuable survival kit for those folks traveling by wagon across the continent. No different today. Your chuck box holds all of your cookware, eatingware, utensils, food prep, and cooking appliances. (The only draw back to using a chuck box comes in the form of bulk and weight. If you have a utility trailer or pick-up or large SUV, you have the space and capacity to take your chuck box to your base camp.) The chuck box does allow for comfort by keeping full-sized plates, bowls, mugs and KFS (knife, fork spoon) at your finger tips. You get to have the kitchen cupboard of spices, kettles, pots and bakeware. I, also keep my Coleman lantern in my big chuck box. The chuck box keeps your base camp kitchen organized and prepacked for each trip. Thus, chuck boxes also work well if you ever have to evacuate your home and head to the hills.

Light and heat in your tent. I have a canvas wall tent, which has no floor. This allows me to hammer my 48" Sheppard's hook into the ground inside my tent to hang my Coleman lantern. The lantern provides light and heat inside my tent. To increase the warmth I also use a rug to insulate the ground between our cots, to provide somewhere warm to stand. The Sheppard's hook is an excellent holder for the lantern as it is off the ground and if bumped, the lantern will swing instead of falling and breaking. Thus the fire hazard is mitigated. Since there is no floor, having enough oxygen in the tent is not a problem, the air flows in on all sides.

One last point, hand washing. Keeping our paws clean at camp can sometimes be a challenge. To ease this, I like to use an empty laundry detergent jug that has the dispensing tap on it. I put a couple of tablespoons of Sunlight dish-washing detergent in the jug and then add at least half a jug worth of water. This mild soapy solution is ready to use. I set the jug at edge of a picnic table and you just open the tap and wet your hands, rub together and then dry on a towel. Presto - clean hands. If you still have liquid in the jug when you want to break camp, just pour it out over your campfire. Add dish detergent and water at your next base camp.

That's it for now.

Just cuz your campin' doesn't mean you should be sufferin'!

Mountainman.

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