Tips and Tricks for the Prudent Wilderness Traveler

Checkout the tips and tricks for the prudent wilderness traveler. Hope these are helpful.

  • White gas degrades with exposure to air, causing it to burn blacker and to clog your camp stove. Dispose of unused white gas at the end of each season. Buy fresh white gas before a long expedition, and store it in several small, full containers (instead of one large container) to minimize air exposure.
  • Butane has difficulty vaporizing in cold temperatures (below 40 degrees F). Stuff a butane canister in the foot of your sleeping bag to warm it overnight. It will be warm enough for trouble-free cooking when you wake. In a pinch, you can cup your hands around the canister or put it inside your coat for several minutes to help warm the butane.
  • The base of an object appears on the horizon when it is 1.5 miles away (for kayakers) or 1.7 miles away (for canoeists). See Estimating Distance While Paddling to learn more.
  • Water shallower than 4 feet deep exerts much greater drag on a canoe or kayak—enough to nearly double the amount of effort required to maintain speed. See Paddle Efficiently: 6 Tips to learn more about efficient paddling.
  • Eating bananas and other high-potassium foods will make you much more likely to be attacked by mosquitoes. Choose a different fruit to snack on if you’re traveling in mosquito country.
  • Temperature ratings on sleeping bags assume you will use a proper sleeping pad. Without a pad, your body weight squishes the loft on the bottom of your sleeping bag and allows the earth to suck the heat from your body. See Sleeping Bags, Pads, and Liners for more information.
  • Never store a sleeping bag in its stuff sack for long periods of time. Storing a sleeping bag tightly compressed for as little as two weeks may permanently crush some of its “loft” (fluffiness), lowering its insulating ability. During the off season, or between trips, store your sleeping bag loosely in an oversized laundry bag.
  • Longer paddle blades are more efficient for easier touring. Shorter paddle blades deliver more power for faster maneuvering. See Choosing the Right Kayak Paddle for more information.
  • The number one cause of forearm, wrist, and finger pain while paddling is gripping the paddle shaft too tightly. Maintain a loose grip to reduce the likelihood of trip-ending strains or sprains. See Paddle Smarter: 5 Ways for more tips.
  • UV rays take a heavy toll on tent fabrics, reducing the longevity and strength of your tent. Whenever possible, pitch your tent in a shaded location. Also, clear the area carefully of debris to prevent rips and tears in the tent floor.
  • It is better to “stuff” your tent in its stuff sack than to fold it up neatly. Regularly folding up your tent can create creases that significantly weaken the fabric and its water-repellant coating.
  • Chemical water purification will not necessarily kill hardy organisms such as tapeworm. Mechanical water purification will not remove viruses. The safest way to purify water is to use both a mechanical and a chemical filtration step.
  • Severe weather-cocking (turning into the wind) in a high-volume kayak can often be alleviated by adding weight to the kayak. Try placing a few containers (such as gallon milk jugs) full of water in the front and rear hatches.
  • The easiest way to roll up a self-inflating sleeping pad compactly is to roll it up twice. See Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad: Packing Secret? for a more complete explanation.
  • If you wait to feel thirsty before taking a drink of water, you’re already allowing yourself to enter the early stages of dehydration and robbing yourself of valuable endurance. Take regular sips of water throughout the day, before you feel thirsty, to maintain better endurance.

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