Camping and Backpacking 101

August 4, 2020

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Waking up to magical views
Camping and backpacking: Wake up to these magical views!

Temperatures have been soaring here in the PNW, as they have been all over the US. It’s the summer holidays, but between working from home and closed schools, it’s been a challenge to make that summer vacation magic happen. One way we’ve been trying to feel connected is by venturing out into nature. There’s nothing like standing in the middle of a forest, or beautiful flowering meadow, surrounded by living, growing things to feel alive and a part of something bigger. 

Camping is the perfect way to make this strange and unusual summer, feel like summer. Here in the PNW, where we’re based, we’re spoiled for choice for great places to extend your hike. We love the way camping gets closer to that trail you want to do but is just too far for a day trip. We spoke to Lee Jacobson, founder of the popular Washington Hikers and Climbers group, to learn about how to get started in the PNW. You can click on the link to watch the full video below, but we’ve also pulled together a quick Camping 101 cheatsheet for you here. 

Here’s what we’ll be covering: 

  1. Types of camping

  2. How to pick a location

  3. Gear 

  4. Safety on the trail 

  5. Leave No Trace 

Types of Camping 

Camping is often split into two types

Take a tent or sleep in your car!
Car Camping

Backpacking: Hike deep into the wilderness with everything you need on your back. 

Camping: Drive to a campsite with whatever you can fit in your car, you can have a tent for shelter or car camp and sleep in your car. 

There’s pros and cons to both, depending on the kind of experience you’re looking for. 

Key differences between Camping and Backpacking
Camping vs Backpacking

Where to start

Now that you know the different kinds of camping, it’s time to choose where to go! 

Who are you bringing with you? You’ll want to choose a trail that is manageable for all the members of your group. Does the trail or the campground allow dogs? What are some other considerations for the members of your group? These questions will help you figure out where you’re going and may even affect if you go backpacking or camping.

Then you’ll want to check the weather. Is it white-out conditions? You may want to go another time! If you’re up for facing down some inclement weather, you’ll want to make sure that the area you’ve chosen isn’t prone to anything like flash floods, avalanches, or anything else that could make your trip more adventurous than you’d like.

Campsite with picnic table
Campsite

If you’re wanting to car camp, there are likely tons of options near you! From National Parks, to National Forests, to State Parks, to private campgrounds you’re sure to find something you like. You’ll want to check to see if they take reservations or if it’s a first-come, first-served. Each National Park will have camping and related information about reservations on their website. You can reserve campsites for WA  State Parks here

You’ll also need to check if the campsite has 

  • Electricity

  • Toilets

  • showers or potable water

 So that you can make an alternative plan if they don’t.

For backpacking, you’ll need to check if you need permits  or reservations for the site you choose. You’ll also need to check whether

  • Water: Is there  a place to get water nearby and what kind of filter does it need? 

  • Fires: Does the area allow fires, or are stoves the only allowed heat source? 

This will also affect what gear you’ll need to bring. Lots of websites list the trails you can backpack on, so you’ll just want to research the area you’re going to, pick a trail that allows that, and go from there!

What to bring

Camping / Backpacking Gear List:

Camping Backpacking 101 Inforgraphic
Camping Backpacking 101 Inforgraphic

Safety on the trail

Animals 

Lee Jacobson points out that in Washington we are lucky that the only predatory animal we really need to worry about are mountain lions. As the Seattle Times reports, generally, our trails are populated by animals that want to avoid us, more than we want to avoid them. This socially distanced, shy behavior includes bears. However, there are exceptions to this rule and precautions you should take. 

  1.  Don’t sleep with food in your tent. Hang the food in a tree with a bear rope, or in a bear canister, always away from your tent – or in your car. 

  2. Keep your food locked up. Rodents  can even sneak into cars and eat food in your trunk

  3.  Make a little noise as you hike. This is especially helpful in bear country. Wild animals aren’t social creatures! Making some noise as you hike gives them the opportunity to get out of the way. This can also help you avoid rattlesnakes, which are also common in Easter Washington. 

  4. Mountain goats are aggressive, not cute. Although fluffy, mountain goats can cause fatal injuries with their hooves and horns, and can be very aggressive.

  5. Watch out for insects such as  ticks in Eastern Washington. 

  6. Don’t hike at night by yourself. Mountain lions are nocturnal predators. While they are rarely sighted, they are very dangerous and any encounters should be avoided. 

Wear a mask
COVID safety on trails

COVID safety 

Meeting up outdoors is great, safer alternative to socializing indoors, where it’s easier to share contagion. 

a.     Avoid popular day hiking trails. 

b.     Don’t breathe on other people. Wear a mask or other face-covering when you see you are going to pass someone. Turn your head away from them.   

c.     Remember to keep your distance. Social distancing can help keep people safe while you are walking. But no car-pooling, sleeping in separate tents, not sharing food or gear are all helpful too. Skipping the post-hike drink is another way to avoid sharing germs. 

What’s better – boiling water? Or using taps? 

a. The CDC recommends that you never drink water straight from a stream. You can sanitise your water by 

  • using tablets

  • boiling for at least a minute.

  • using filters, which come in a variety of types. 

Leave No Trace

At AdventureTripr, we’re committed to sustainable practices so that we can all continue to adventure for years to come. We abide by the Leave No Trace Principles which are

  1. Plan ahead and prepare 

  2.  Travel & camp on durable surfaces 

  3. Dispose of waste properly

  4. Leave what you find 

  5. Minimize campfire impacts 

  6. Respect Wildfire 

  7. Be considerate of other visitors

Read more about Leave No Trace principles.  

Safari Style Tent Camping
Safari Style Tent Camping

Go Camping with us! 

At AdventureTripr, we want to help you spend less time on the preparations and logistics and more time out in the wild. We’ve got the tent, your personalized itinerary, maps, and food all organized for you, so you can try out the experience before investing in the gear. We are proud to be working with local partners in the PNW to bring you camping experiences in the North Cascades and Mt. Hood. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker and backpacker, or new to hiking and camping, these beautiful landscapes have a trail to suit adventurers of all shapes and sizes. 

We’ve carefully selected dates to avoid overcrowding the trails, so spots are limited. If you had your heart set on a trip that sold out before you could book, please reach out and email us at team@adventuretripr.com. We’ll do our best to get you out there. 

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