Do you want to explore the great outdoors? Are you looking to become a more experienced hiker and camper? Then it’s time to learn some essential basics for successful, safe hikes and camping trips.
Here are 10 hiking & camping skills that you must know!
Some Life-Saving & Essential Skills
1) Setting Up A Tarp
One often-overlooked camping skill is knowing how to set up a tarp. Although this can be thought of as more of an emergency skill, you never know when it could come in handy. And if you use or are interested in using hammocks, knowing how to set up a tarp is a definite.
They are lightweight, easy to pack, and can often be found in a general or convenience store if you are in a tight spot without shelter while out for the weekend.
2) Layering For The Cold
Layering your clothing is essential for hiking in the cold. While on the move, wearing the right clothing helps prevent overheating while keeping valuable body heat.
Generally, you’ll want to wear a quick-drying base layer, a heat-trapping mid-layer, and an outer layer for weather protection. This could look like a thin synthetic or wool shirt, followed by a thicker polyester 1/4 zip or down jacket, then a rain jacket or shell to block the wind and rain.
3) Navigation & Map Reading
Reading a map and using a compass are excellent hiking skills to have in your toolbox. Especially in situations when you don’t have your handy dandy phone or coverage might suck.
You should be able to accurately read a map and use a compass to navigate your way. Learning the basics of navigation can help you find your way in an unfamiliar area or even rescue yourself if you get lost.
4) Poison Ivy (And Other Plants) Identification
No hiking or camping trip would be complete without learning to identify poison ivy. Knowing what that 3 leafed menace looks like will save you from a lot of trouble. Add in poison sumac, poison oak, and even stinging nettles to the bunch, and you’ll be good to go!
5) How To Build A Fire
This is pretty much a no-brainer. Knowing how to build a fire is a must when hiking and camping. Everything from surviving cold winter nights to roasting marshmallows or guitar sing-a-long sessions can’t be done without a fire.
6) Basic First Aid
It’s important to have basic knowledge of first aid when camping or hiking. Knowing how to administer basic first aid treatments can prevent infection, help treat wounds and injuries, or even save a life in an emergency.
7) Basic Hiking & Camping Knots
Learning some basic camping knots is another necessary camping skill. Knowing how to tie different camping knots can be very useful in many camping scenarios, from pitching your tent to setting up a shelter.
8) How To Pack Your Backpack
Knowing how to pack your bag correctly can help you carry your gear more easily and efficiently. Start by packing the heavier items near your back and then fill in with lighter items such as clothes, sleeping bags, and camping mats.
I like to keep my clothes loose and fill in any gaps instead of stuffing them in a sack. But you’ll eventually find what works best for you.
9) Planning The Trip
Planning and preparation are key camping skills. Knowing what to bring, where you’re going, and how long the trip will take can help make camping trips safer and more enjoyable. You can ensure that your experience is positive by properly preparing in advance.
10) Storing Food Properly
Unfortunately, camping and hiking can attract all sorts of critters who want nothing more than to steal your food. Leaving food in your pack overnight is asking for trouble. If staying overnight at a shelter on the Appalachian Trail, there’s a very high you’ll wake up holey food packaging, crumbs, or even a hole in your pack.
11) What To Do During Wild Animal Encounters
Finally, camping and hiking can bring unexpected encounters with wild animals. Knowing what to do in these situations is a vital skill. You should be familiar with basic safety rules when interacting with wild animals and how to react appropriately if an animal is aggressive.