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How To: Prepare Backpacking Campsite

Updated on April 25, 2016

Everything you need to know is here

Step 1: Set-up Backpacking Tent

Obviously, you are going to want to set your backpacking tent up first before anything else. In order to do this, you will have to learn how to pitch a tent. It may seem complicated and frustrating at first, but learning this skill is essential. Once you have this under your belt, figuring out how to set up any kind of tent will be a breeze.
First, you are going to pull out all of your tent supplies. Make sure that everything is in order and present. Create a mental checklist for you backpacking tent poles, ground cover, tent stakes, rain canopy, and most importantly the tent itself. Next, assemble your poles by connecting them together. This part is simple and straight forward, but there is plenty more fun ahead.
After you have all of your supplies in order and tent poles assembled, it is time to place your ground cover down. Make sure to place your ground cover in a level spot. This will make laying down simple and the blood in your body even. If possible, place the ground cover under a tree to protect yourself from any sort of precipitation. It is a good practice to get as much cover for your backpacking tent as possible. Lay down on your ground cover and check if you are comfortable there, before proceeding with further steps.
Next, set your tent up on the ground cover. This part of the process has the steepest learning curve and tends to frustrate first process. Take you tent poles and thread them through the tent to prop it up. Make sure to follow the color coded threadings and take your time. Doing this part correctly will make setting up the rest of the backpacking tent easy. Once your backpacking tent is propped up, gather your stakes. Hammer the steaks into the ground in a fashion that will keep the tent taut. This will make it easy for water to run off if it rains and provides structural stability for your backpacking tent.
Lastly, put the rain canopy on the backpacking tent. I consider this to be the most important part of the process. If water were to flood your tent, it would ruin your backpacking experience. Nothing is worth than getting your clothes and sleeping gear wet on a backpacking. At night, the water will get cold, therefore making you cold. Nobody wants that, so make sure to do this part correctly. Pull the rain canopy over the tent and attach the four sides to the tent stakes you planted earlier. Pull each side as taut and evenly as you can. This will ensure that water can run off the sides and most importantly, stay out of your tent.
Congratulations, you now have somewhere to sleep for the night! For me, sleeping outdoors can be very relaxing. After a long day of hiking, you'll want nothing more than to pass out as soon as you lay down. With no electronics to distract you, you'll be surprised how the quality of your sleep will change.

Step 2: Prepare Food

Preparing food after a very long day of hiking is rewarding. Many people new to backpacking wonder what food to bring and how to prepare it. You may not be able to bring some burgers and beer, but there are plenty of tasty alternatives to feast upon in wilderness. I've prepared a list of food that you can cook using a portable stove and foods that don't require cooking at all.

Cooked Food

Instant Mashed Potato Mix: All you need to do for this is add water. Instant mashed potatoes come in many flavors and are also very inexpensive. They also provide a lot of protein and calories to help you get back energy you exhausted during the day. One of my favorite things to pair up with this is beef jerky. I like to use the mashed potatoes as a dip for the jerky.
Instant Oatmeal: Once again, all you need to add to this meal is water. Oatmeal is very high in protein and will help you recover energy for the next day hikes. Oatmeal is light and a lot of it can fit into your backpack. Oatmeal is also a warm meal which can raise your spirits after a brutal day of hiking. With the many assortment of flavors Quaker Oats provides, this seems like a pretty simple choice to be bring along on a backpacking trip.

Non-Cooked Food

Beef Jerky: Personally, this is the cornerstone meal of every backpacking trip I've embarked on. Beef Jerky is rich in protein and high in calories. It is also very filling and one of the best tasting foods one can pack for their backpacking trip. Beef Jerky also comes in a variety of flavors so it won't get boring over the course of your trip. Make sure to being seal-able plastic bags to store the beef jerky in. It has a strong scent and will attract animals if you leave it out.
Trail Mix: Trail mix is definitely the most stereotypical of backpacking foods, but it is for a good reason. Trail mix is not only delicious, but is high in calories and very filling. Backpackers can also bring a lot of it on a trip without taking too much space in their backpacks. The best part about trail mix is that you can make your own. My personal favorite is unsalted peanuts, unsalted cashews, raisins, M&Ms, Chex Mix crackers, and Captain Crunch cereal. Feel free to experiment with your own mix for the best personal results.

Putting Your Food Away.

If you are in bear country, make sure to put your backpack and food far away as possible from your campsite. Bears have a great sense of smell and are known to rummage through backpacking backpacks for food. The last thing you want is a hungry bear lumbering around your tent. Tie your backpack up in a tree far away from your tent so you will not have to worry about bears. Hanging backpacks from tree branches will deter bears from trying to get into your food supply.


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