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Rated: E · Article · Travel · #1445813
Making backcountry camping safe and fun.
Backcountry camping is nature at it’s finest.  There are no amenities as in traditional campgrounds with formal campsites, restrooms and the guy on the corner selling firewood bundles.  Even the rustic sites in a formal campground will have a trail to the restrooms and the firewood guy. 

A backcountry camping excursion is an unparalleled opportunity to experience the beauty and solitude of the remaining wilderness.  A backcountry camper needs to be self-sufficient, independent, and highly responsible.

Self-sufficient to be able to survive in any kind of weather and outdoor situation that might arise.  Independent to be able to carry in everything that you will need.  Also, to carry out every scrap of waste so as to leave the wilderness as you wish to find it.  Responsibility is the main trait that is needed.  Without responsibility you endanger yourself and others.

Most forest preserve areas, national forests, and state forests allow backcountry camping.  There are some very basic rules to follow.  For one be sure to check for requirements for permits.  Not all places require them, but some do.  Do not use soap in the water.  Carry water for washing dishes, clothing, and yourself away from the lake, river, or stream.  A small amount of bio-degradable soap poured into the soil is better than creating a questionable water source. 

There are common sense rules to follow such as, when looking for your campsite be sure you are 150-200 feet from water, trails, and roadways.  If you need to start a fire, do so with great care.  Only use wood from dead and down trees, never live ones.  Don’t leave your fire unattended.  When extinguishing your fire, do so with water and be sure to rake through the coals to ensure that they are cool to the touch.  Do not litter.  Any unburned trash needs to be carried back out with you.  Do not bury it.  It takes to long to decompose and animals or erosion will uncover  it. 

Do bury your human waste.  It is very unpleasant to walk in, camp by, or see next to water supplies.  Be sure to leave your waste in a secluded area away from trails and water. 

Honor the low- and no-use areas.  Never uproot vegetation.  Leave your sleeping area as close to the way you found it as a deer would leave theirs.  Do not dig trenches or holes, as this will cause an increase in the erosion process.

There are many websites with maps available for areas all around the globe.  If you enter the name of the area you are heading for you can get maps and usually information on weather trends, permits, and even supply lists.

Planning lists are a must for the backcountry camper.  Adhere to it as you pack to ensure nothing is forgotten.  If you hike in for three days it will be three days back out to find missing necessities.  Be sure to let someone know your planned itinerary and time schedule.  Even the most experienced backcountry adventurers have encountered unforeseen problems and mishaps along the trails. 

It is a good idea to discuss your route with a ranger before embarking on your journey.  Some places it is not an option, but where it is it is still a good idea.  Backcountry camping is not like traditional camping where there people nearby to get assistance from should the need arise.  Always be as informed as possible, and ensure your safety by making others aware of your location.

Backcountry camping can be the most rewarding experience of your lifetime.  Keep it safe and you will cherish the memories.


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