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Flinn

The fine art of Wild Camping - how to make yourself fully comfortable!

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A 180° panoramic pic of "my" mountains

And here we are again, time to see how to really enjoy wild camping.

In the previous chapter we have seen how to properly set up a camp, now we'll see how to make yourself comfortable and how to add various elements that will make your stay something to remember.

Let's start from recalling what are the basics of every camp: fire, sleeping tent, kitchen/storage tent, "washbasin". Since those elements are the base, in order to expand your experience you need to find ways to make those four elements more "productive" so to say or anyways to use them in different ways.

Fire: cooking with fire (grilling or roasting) is rather fun and easy, you only have to be careful about the heat and about not burning food (which is a common mistake). Roasting stuff on a pole (green wood o metal) it's less comfortable and easy than one can think, so use a metal grill instead; you can simply put the coal on the ground (move it slightly away from the fire, so you won't burn yourself but it will remain warm) or you can have a relatively small barbecue (use the shovel to put coal from the fire into the barbecue) or even better you can build a small stone barbecue (all you need is a bit of experience with stone working and a tick metal plate to be put on the bottom). Either case, having a small table (or even a chair) close to were you roast/grill is always useful, so you can put raw/cooked food and other stuff (like salt) over it and not on the ground.
How to build a oven

Actually, it's not so hard, but you need a minimum of skills with stone working and few elements that you can't collect in the woods. First, you need a exhaust pipe (I recycled one from an old wood pellet heather), second you need a relatively tick and large (30*30 minimum) metal sheet, third you need some well cut stones or some refractory bricks, fourth you need 2 metal bars. Assembling the oven is not so hard, you basically need to make a box, use one side of the fireplace as a bottom side, use the stones/bricks to make the 2 lateral sides and the metal sheet for the roof; put the two metal bars in between the stones/bricks to create a support for your baking tray, fix the exhaust pipe on the back (if you can't manage to just fix it with stones, use a refractory cement). The oven should be oriented so that there won't be nothing in from of it for at the least 5 meters, this in order to grant enough air flow; dig a trench (1 meter long, 15 cm deep) in front of the opening of the oven to further ease air flow. For the cover use a simple tinfoil tray, it will be easy to adapt it to the size of the opening. Remember: in order to efficiently use the oven you need to light a fire inside with small branches, this will eat the superior metal sheet and grant enough temperature for the first phase of cooking, then you can use coal from the regular fire to keep an average temperature; for smoking simply do not lit the fire inside, but rather use coal directly and keep putting wet wood over it to generate the necessary smoke.


Sleeping: as I mentioned in the previous chapter, sleeping well is a must if you wish to resist at wild camping for more than a couple of days. As already mentioned the perfect solution is a foldable cot bed and a good sleeping bag, I spent like 350 € for both and I'm using them since more than 10 years.. in order to further improve your sleeping experience: a) have a blanket or a rug inside the tent, since you want to walk inside without your shoes, in order to keep the interior clean from dirt and mud; b) in general always do your best to keep the tent and the sleeping tools clean (a good trick is to shake off the rug and the sleeping bag every day and possibly to sweep the interior of the tent; you can use a foldable broom or you can even assemble a handmade broom with some green twigs, a relatively straight pole and some metal wire); c) always make the air change, every day (that's why it's important to point the entrance of the tent towards west); d) if you are not used to sleep together with other people or anyways in the wilderness (plenty of noises, wind being on the top and resulting very annoying to those who are not used to it), consider using ear caps and eye mask.

Cooking: grilling is a funny and relatively easy cooking activity, but everybody usually gets bored soon of roasted meat and vegetables.. so cooking it's actually where you can do the most in order to improve your camping experience. First, think on alternative way of cooking; camp stoves (usually gas fueled) are available in many sizes and stacking up cookware is easy, hence you can open up to a lot of different recipes: pasta, soups (meat, vegetables, rice, mixed, etc), boiled meat/vegetables (broths), stewed meat and legumes, fried meat and potatoes, etc etc. Really having a stove and a pan can make the difference. Second step is having a oven: cooking with a firewood oven is a unique experience, if you haven't ever done so, you should in any case.. you can as well use it as a smoker for very slow cooking; besides, in general fish is better cooked in the oven than on the grill, and fish in certainly an interesting alternative to meat when you camp for many days... and you can also cook pizza or even make your own bread.
Drinks: alcohol is a nice addition in general when it comes to enjoy yourself, but remember that you are in a somewhat hostile environment, so better not to get drunk and to keep a minimum of control over your mental alertness.. sadly I know what I'm talking about ... a pro tip: drink as much as you want when you are at lunch/supper, then take your time to recover and only after move to other activities.
Some pictures of food!

Pasta (Penne) with seafood
Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


Grilling; you can also see the simple handmade stone "barbecue"
Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
Lamb Chops

Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
Swordfish


Oven
Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
perch fish on a bed of cheek lard

Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
Cuttle fish filled with seafood
a) before cooking

b) cooked

c) served with toasted bread


Smoker
Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
smoked pork chops



Personal grooming: as said in the previous chapter having your hands and cooking ware perfectly cleaned is a must, due to possible health issues.. however, when you are camping for more than a couple of days it becomes essential to extend the grooming to other areas of your body and possibly to your underwear. Showering can get to various levels, depending on how much time and how many efforts you want to spend on that.. personally I use a very simple trick, plastic bottles: remember that you have to keep your sensible parts clean to avoid health issues (irritations, fungi, etc) so 6 lt of water (4 bottles of 1,5 lt) are enough. A transparent plastic bottle filled with water takes usually 1 hour to get to 45-50 degrees when left on full sun.. now all that you need is a windscreen (even a blanket or the very towel you'll be using to dry off) because wind can be annoying on the wet skin (I personally find it relaxing, if not too much.. showering in full sun in the middle of a meadow with the wind caressing your skin is an amazing regenerating experience!).. find a way to not to dirt your feet (even a piece of plastic form any kind of packing will do, lay it on the ground). I usually take a shower every 2 days, daily if I do any heavy job in between.
Same logic goes with washing the underwear, it's not a hard job, you need even less water and a little of soap; you can use underwear for a couple of days before having to change/wash it, so don't get mad about that; drying them is an easy job with fire or sun.
You'll pardon my rudeness, but Mother Nature made us with a body, so we all have needs: in general the best thing to do is to assign a specific area as a "toilet" (not very close to the camp, for obvious reasons) and that each of the member of the group has their own space within it, this in order to create a sense of intimacy and respect. Some people have problems with pooping (because they are only used to toilet bowls), using a chair (without the bottom ) or a bucket, can prove useful.
One last thing about cleanliness: just don't dirt the nature, it's silly; don't throw plastic, metal and other non-biodegradable stuff around, rather make a simple garbage can, all that you need is a green branch (to be shaped into a circle), 3 relatively small and straight poles and 4 cable tiers, plus of course some garbage bags. In order to avoid wild animals to damage your garbage can, just leave biodegradable stuff (essentially food) far from your camp (50 meters are enough, just don't do that close to your "toilet"!"), wild animals will appreciate!

And that's enough for now! There are few things more to tell (such as extra activities), and few more considerations to do, but I'll reserve them for the next chapter!

Comments

  1. Flinn's Avatar
    Another rather long chapter, this time I included few pictures more

    As usual, if you any question, just ask!
  2. King Athelstan's Avatar
    Damn, the food you make here looks better than the one I make at home

    I'm an old scout though, and this being Norway and all I'm used to packing lightly and going camping in the snow, a foldable cot bed seems very luxurious...
  3. Flinn's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by King Athelstan
    I'm an old scout though, and this being Norway and all I'm used to packing lightly and going camping in the snow, a foldable cot bed seems very luxurious...
    That's exactly what this blog is about man, making yourself fully comfortable