By: Court Rye
Hiking is one of the easiest ways to get out into nature. You really don’t need that much equipment or experience, anyone who can walk is qualified! Hiking and camping overnight is the next logical step, and while this sort of activity requires a bit of extra camping equipment, the rewards are well worth the effort.
Camping trips extend the distance and time that a regular hike might otherwise consist of. Sure, it’s certainly possible to cover a lot of ground in a day hike, but you might not be able to soak up all of the natural surroundings. You might miss out on that beautiful sunrise or sunset for example. You might not hear the birds cry in the morning or the elk bugle in the late afternoon. The entire dynamic of your experience is changed when you decide to camp instead of simply hiking through.
The most limiting factor for an overnight hike in most cases is the weight of your camping equipment. Most of us just aren’t used to carrying 30 to 50 pounds of extra weight on our backs, even with a great pack! The best way to overcome this hurdle is to pack smart and that means working with your natural surroundings. If you’re camping near a stream, bring a filter so you can use the water on site instead of lugging in your own in. If you’re going somewhere that doesn’t have a lot of bugs and isn’t going to be extreme in terms of temperature, consider sleeping under the stars without a tent – or at least consider a very light weight tent. If you plan on grilling food and roasting marshmallows at your campsite consider building a fire instead of packing a stove or explore on-site fuel alternatives such as the Woodgas Stove by iENERGY. If you don’t have all of the right equipment for your hiking excursion or if you’re new to camping then consider renting from REI or another local outlet instead of buying right off the bat.
When you take on an overnight hike and decide camp in the wilderness you get an experience unlike any other. It’s really the little things that make it all worthwhile and there are too many benefits to describe it all here. Pack well, plan right, consider your environment (bears? skunks? Other wildlife???), and come prepared. Enjoy your trip and learn all you can from the experience so your next one will be even better!