Hardcore Camping: Be Safe and Be Smart

hardcore camping

“Real freedom lies in wildness, not in civilization.” 

Charles Lindbergh

If you love hardcore camping and outdoor activity you need to be prepared to face challenges. 

From coping in sub-zero temperatures to riding out a storm, you should be ready to face nature’s wrath in many forms. No matter whether you are a veteran camper or a first-timer, there are always new things you can learn outdoors and hardcore camping can get the best of us if we’re not careful.

Make no mistakes about it… Underestimating nature can be fatal.

The fact is, you don’t need to be a skilled survivalist to enjoy the wilderness. Right planning and preparation are the most important aspects. To help you out, we have chosen some of the most important hacks and tips about tackling emergencies while camping in remote terrains.

What is Hardcore Camping?

Hardcore camping can be primitive camping or survival camping. Both of these involves staying in remote areas where you can experience absolute solitude.

That means living without any amenities or a source of running water. You need to organize and carry your food and gear.

Additionally, winter camping in frozen landscapes is also a part of such camping. While you get to enjoy a fascinating picture of the winter landscape, tackling the sub-zero temperatures is a completely different ball game.

Not every one of us is a skilled survivalist like Bear Grylls. But to be honest, it feels exciting to test our survival skills at times. 

Most importantly, you get to enjoy a getaway that delivers a feeling of absolute freedom. At the end of the trip, you also learn to rely more on your abilities.

Is it worth all the risk and trouble?

I have spoken to many veteran campers about this. And their answer is- it’s absolutely worth it.

Tips for Hardcore Camping

Here are a few tips to help you stay prepared on your next survival camping trip.

Tackling Storms While Camping

Honestly, it’s best to avoid bad weather while camping on remote terrains. Stuck in your tent for days, waiting for the weather to get better isn’t the safest of options. 

Keep in mind, I am not talking about mild thunderstorms. While sleeping in the rain in a tent can be fun, high-velocity winds and snow that lasts for days can be life-threatening. Moreover, sudden downpours can increase the risk of flash floods in some valleys.

What’s worst, even if you survive the storm, the roads back to civilization may be cut off, leaving you stranded alone for days.

So check out the weather forecasts before you head out. Also, choose the right weather for camping in high altitudes. Carrying a battery-operated NOAA radio for staying updated in the weather is a good option.

But even with all the precautions, you may have to face the fury of nature if you get unlucky. 

When it comes to thunderstorms, lightning can be dangerous. But the risks of being struck by lightning are pretty low. Still, avoid camping in exposed terrains, on peaks or ledges,  near isolated trees, and also near large water bodies.

If you are in a tent during a thunderstorm, insulate yourself from the ground by using a tarp or a sleeping bag. Also, reduce your contact with the ground by wrapping your hands around your knees and sitting. Don’t touch the tent poles or the zippers as metal is a conductor. 

More often, it’s the drop in temperatures resulting from a storm that can catch you unaware. To prevent hypothermia, reduce your exposure to the cold.

For tackling blizzards while camping, you will need a survival shovel. This can be a lifesaver during a prolonged snowstorm. It can help you to build a snow cave or a trench if needed.

Also, don’t travel out of the shelter during a blizzard. With poor visibility, chances are you will easily get disoriented.

Stay Safe from Bears

So you know all the basics of “How to camp in the woods”. But have you thought about bear-proofing your tent?

While the actual risk of a bear attack isn’t that high, you need to take the right precautions.

The first step is to look out for the signs of a bear before finding a shelter or setting up a tent. These can include tracks, diggings,  droppings, animal carcasses, or claw marks on the trees. Walk away from the area in case of such signs.

One thing that will attract these four-legged visitors to your shelter is odors. The smell of food items like bacon, steak, or fish is more likely to attract bears. It’s best to set up your kitchen a few yards downwind from the shelter in any bear country. 

Also, store all food items in a bear-proof container. Keep in mind, Ziploc bags aren’t smell-proof.

Otherwise, you need to hang your food and cooking utensils from a tree to prevent attracting bears or other animals.

Many national parks have strict rules about food storage. Make sure you keep these rules in mind while camping. Unless it isn’t prohibited, you can also carry bear spray with you.

Surviving a Forest Fire

What makes forest fires deadly is the fact that they are unpredictable. Besides, fire travels at the rate of around 6 miles per hour through vegetation and much faster over grasslands.

It’s important that you keep an eye out for an orange glow on the horizon at night and the smell of smoke. Both of these can indicate a forest fire. 

Can you hear crackling and see sparks? That means you are too close to the fire.

The first thing to do is to head to a water body like a lake or a stream. Otherwise, move for low terrain and away from dense vegetation. You will find smoke-free air on the lower grounds. Avoid traveling through dry scrublands. It’s also important to travel upwind.

If none of these options are feasible, dig a trench or find shelter in a deep gulley. Cover yourself with dirt and wait for the fire to pass.

Remove all synthetic clothing as these can melt easily from heat. Wear natural fibers and cover your head and face with a wet cloth to protect them from heat and smoke.

Running away from a fire isn’t easy. But if you have to, run towards an already burnt area. Remember to be cautious as the ground will be extremely hot.

Handling Cold Injuries

Almost every outdoor lover knows about the basics of first aid. But what about cold injuries?

When you find yourself trapped in a snowstorm for hours, you can get frostbite within minutes.

Initial exposure to freezing temperature can lead to frostnip in exposed areas of the body. Here, the area gets numb and the skin turns bluish-white. But once rewarmed, the area returns to normal and there’s no permanent damage.

However, frostbite is the freezing of the skin and the underlying tissues. The skin turns white and there is complete numbness. Second and third-degree frostbites can even lead to blisters and necrosis of the tissues.

If you get frostbite, you need to get back to civilization for the right treatment at the earliest. Otherwise, you are risking losing your fingers or toes. 

In case you can’t leave your campsite immediately, it’s necessary to stay warm and rewarm the affected area with a water bath. The temperature of the water should be around 104°F and not above 108°F. Once the area is thawed, keep it warm and dry.

Another common cold injury is trench feet. It occurs when your feet are exposed to cold and wet conditions for long periods. This can even occur at temperatures around 60°F.

Once you have trench feet, you need to keep your feet dry at all times. It’s also important to take bed rest as walking can further damage the affected tissue.

Protecting Your Eyes

Just imagine… Losing your vision when you are alone at a remote campsite. That’s a disaster!

This is exactly what snow blindness or Photokeratitis does. In other words, your eyes are sunburnt. I have seen people on Himalayan expeditions turn snowblind due to their own negligence. Trust me, it’s not something you would want to face. 

What makes it even more dangerous is most people don’t realize the extent of damage unless it’s too late. And it can happen in high altitudes, even without snow.

Photokeratitis happens when the sensitive cornea of the eyes is damaged by UV rays. When light is reflected from snow or water, the chances of damage are higher.

It can lead to the following effects:

  • Pain and swelling in the eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Watering eyes
  • Photosensitivity and headaches
  • A gritty feeling in the eyes as if you have something in them
  • Redness in the eyes.

The good news is the damage isn’t permanent. Staying in a dark room will usually heal your eyes within 2-3 days. 

Quite simply, prevention is the best remedy for the condition. Use sunglasses or snow goggles that block UV rays effectively when you are traveling outdoors. A wrap-style frame is the best choice to protect the eyes from sunlight from all angles. Since UV rays can be enhanced by cloudy skies in certain conditions, keep your eyes protected at all times.

Conclusion

So these are some tips for staying safe during emergency situations during hardcore camping.

Small mistakes can lead to disastrous consequences in the wild. But this doesn’t have to be you.

While there are challenges, don’t let them deter you from enjoying the fun of camping. To stay safe, be prepared and be ready with the right gear.

You’ll be glad you did.

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