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Top 10 Camping Blunders

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Kevin Blumer | Writer
Posted July 18, 2013

What NOT To Do When Camping!

When it comes to camping, funny stories abound. The funny thing is that some are only funny months or years after the incident itself. Most of the time, being in situ while a future-funny story develops is just plain awful.

The story that comes quickest to my mind is something that happened to a friend several years ago. No, it isn't me, and said friend shall remain nameless. It seems my friend and two other like-minded individuals set out on a multiday backpacking trip. They were entering bear country and as such did their duty and brought a bear-resistant container for their food. This was all well and good until one of them decided to make things more exciting by smearing honey on the outside of the bear-resistant container the first night of the trip. Sure enough, Mr. Bear showed up and demonstrated exactly why they're called “bear resistant” instead of “bear proof.” Food was strewn about, ruined, and the trio was lucky that Mr. Bear hadn't stopped by for “fillet of human” that evening. Out of food, the three had no choice but to hoof it back to the trailhead.

Funny? Maybe. When I heard the tale three years after the fact, it wasn't being laughed about just yet. Perhaps it's developed a funny bone since then.

It turns out that funny and amusing stories will happen no matter what. We're all human, and that means mistakes are part of the package. The key is to learn from the mistakes you make and refine your process.

We've compiled our Top 10 list of camping blunders. Hopefully something on this list will save you time and grief. As for the bear canister incident, never do anything to attract a bear to your campsite. Keep a clean campsite, and keep your food put away. If you act foolish and a bear bites off your leg, don't you dare come running to us!

Blunder 1: Too Much Stuff

You've either seen it or done it. You know: The rear springs are completely compressed and the rear axle is right on the bumpstops before you even leave the pavement. Even though you're only going overnight, you've brought enough food and gear to last two weeks.

Over-packing seems to be a symptom of fear, laziness, or both. In the case of fear, you imagine that everything about the trip will turn into a worst-case scenario so to prepare you bring spares on top of extras. Laziness just means you don't want to take the time to evaluate your food and supply load, so you bring spares on top of extras to avoid planning. The result is the same—an overloaded rig.

Blunder 2: Not Enough Stuff

There's traveling light and then there's traveling too light. Symptoms of traveling too light include failure to bring even the minimum tools and supplies to keep your vehicle and yourself functional and healthy. Even if it's only a short trip, you should have things such as jumper cables, a jack, a fullsize inflated spare tire, a lug wrench, and a flashlight to keep your trail rig moving in case of a basic breakdown. To keep yourself functional and healthy, you should have extra clothing, food, water, sunglasses, a hat, sunblock, a first aid kit, and toilet paper. Overconfidence and ignorance are the two most common causes of traveling too light.

Blunder 3: No Plan B

A little mystery is part of the fun. That's why we go off road: It's an adventure. Conditions can change in the backcountry. Gates can unexpectedly be closed. Spring rains may have washed out a trail. A favorite campsite might be occupied. Your "can't miss" trout stream fails to produce even a bite. Make the unknown a part of the adventure by creating alternatives in case Plan A is derailed.

Blunder 4: Over-Planning

We've done this one, too. We know our off-pavement time is limited and we've got a big list of things we'd like to do. They're all fun, and all worthwhile. Pare down your list to just a few major things. The rest of the details will take care of themselves.

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