Spending days in the outdoors away from these harmful waves rejuvenates your life. Many travel experts agree that an outdoor excursion in the wilderness, at least once in a year, adds quality to your life.
Pakistanis have an added advantage of being able to access innumerable serene and unspoiled destinations in the northern areas of the country. Packed with countless Alpine peaks and longest glaciers in the world, Pakistan is blessed with spectacular locations providing ample opportunities to experience wilderness in its true spirit.
The trend, though in its early stages, is picking up where the youngster are eager to set out and leave the civilization behind, surviving and enjoying their time to the fullest. Many however, are clueless as to how to execute such a long excursion while still be totally self-sufficient.
1- Choosing the right location/Strong Homework
Take help from Google Maps more than anything else. Scour the region carefully and completely using the 3D and Street View. Offline enabled map applications can come in handy. Be aware of the streams/glaciers/peaks which cannot be crossed without specialized equipment. Search the authentic sources on internet for the total trekking time distance and altitude etc. Be realistic about your capabilities and the terrain you plan to engage.
2- Where to Camp?
Weather is unpredictable at high altitudes. Moving campsite during heavy rains can render serious damage to your stuff which is essential for your survival in the wild. Campsite should have proper base drainage even if there is no immediate fear of rain. Avoid camping in depressions or close to tree-less mountains, running rivers and streams. Mountain edges with few or no trees are more prone to landslides in case of heavy rains. Digging up your way for drainage during heavy downpour and in pitch black is impossible without getting completely drenched. This exposes you to the risk of hypothermia which can even be fatal.
Travelling light yet with complete paraphernalia is the key to a fulfilling camping expedition. Always use spring balance to ensure the weight of the backpack of each member so the load is divided equally or deliberately.
Backpacks vary from different sizes, quality of fabric, brands and style of manufacturing. Choose a backpack according to your height, terrain of trekking and quantity of luggage to be carried. It is better to keep a specific backpack for all your outdoor excursions rather than using a new backpack every time. For example, going on a difficult mountainous lasting weeks, use a backpack with an aluminum frame, often called as “External Frame Backpacks”. Although a vintage design, these framed backpacks help you carry larger and heavier loads with relative ease.
Stacking a backpack is also of elementary importance. Bottom of the backpack and farthest side from the trekkers back should be stacked with lighter articles like down jackets, light clothing, sleeping bag, rain coats etc.
Top of the backpack and sides closer to the trekkers back should carry heavier and denser articles like stove, gas cylinder, grocery items, food cans and similar articles. This style of stacking delivers weight distribution in a way that is easier to carry.
Also be smart to stack the top of the backpack with articles which can be drawn without hassle like first aid kit, raincoats, socks, extra pair of shoes or sandals etc. Remember, an overloaded backpack will not only be painful for your back but your knee joints will be under extreme stress too.
Food items and related groceries consume the most space in a backpack and often are the inevitable loaders on your back. Smart picking and intelligent packing is what can save you a lot of space and reduce the weight.
Adjusting the weight of food items does not at all mean reducing the calories you require daily while on trek. The food items must be protein rich, with necessary minerals and vitamins and lesser carbs. Try throwing in a few hard-shell fruits like apples, oranges, peaches etc.
Eggs can be amazing energy boosters being light-weight, protein-rich and quick fix. Use egg-cases for stacking more of them. Instead of buying a lot of ready-cook food cans, use raw materials like Rice, beans, lentils, Pasta, noodles and dried meat. These raw articles hardly use any space, provide all the necessary proteins and carbs and can run for days without the fear of running out of them. Tutorials of how to dry meat can be found on Youtube.
Some Camping choices like Galiyaat, Shogran, Kaghan Valley etc can be trouble free and serene for camping but other locations like Deosai can pose a serious hazard in terms of insects. Mosquitoes are by far the biggest trouble makers. Always use tents with mosquito nets and never leave them open. Do not forget to pack insect repellants and sprays etc. Once darkness has descended upon the campsite, always light up torches and batteries away from the camps. It’s better to keep the fire running which not only wards off wild animals but provides protection from insects. Never leave a fire unattended.
Drinking from running streams with apparently fresh clean and refreshing cold water, can render serious stomach problems while on trek. One of the biggest stream water contamination in northern areas is the animal droppings. Cattle herders flock the high altitude ranges with their cattle in search for rich and unspoiled grazing grounds.
These animals have been seen grazing at jaw-dropping altitudes of up to 5000m ASL with their droppings visible almost everywhere. Apart from animal droppings harmful contaminants include coli bacillus, legionella, heavy metal ions, chlorine, volatile organic compounds (VOC), organic, and insect contaminants.
If your trek is in thick coniferous forest where log wood is easily available, always boil the water before consuming and storing in your water bottles. Warm water is better than contaminated water. For more quick fix solution, you can buy a portable water purifier easily available on Alibaba and other such online retail stores.
Never make your fire under a tree or right next to the campsite. Bigger flames can render your fire uncontrollable. Isolate your fire place from dried leaves or extra wood and encircle the fireplace with stones.
Never leave the fire unattended. Use dried and dead wood which is easier to collect, has lesser environmental impact and is easier to burn. Before leaving the campsite, always burn the non-biodegradable items such as plastic wrappers, packaging, tapes, even the cigarette Stubs. Make sure your fire has completely died before you resume your trek.
9- Unforgettable Essentials/Checklist
Never forget the following essentials. It is better to make a list of all items before leaving for the trek.
- Hand sanitizer
- Sleepers/sliders for campsite
- Glasses and Sunblock
- Toilet rolls and small towels
- Plastic sheet for rain shower
- Batteries for torches and lamps
- First aid kit
- Survival Kit
A handful of items can be compromised on quality for cheaper costs, few other essentials cannot be. A good water proof tent, trekking shoes, First Aid Kit, Torches and batteries, Raincoats etc are kind of articles which must be tested and proven for their service.
Then there are other articles which can be bought from ordinary Sunday Bazaars including Tent mattress (Jambolan sheets), sleeping bags (not for altitudes higher than 4000m ASL), cooking utensils, Trekking poles, Axes, knives, camping chairs, water bottles etc.
This concludes our Top Ten Camping hacks for the season. Every trekker learns his own camping hacks with experience. Going through the inevitable Hit-n-Trial process you eventually learn to do it the best possible way.
It’s time to go out and Explore!
Have a safe Camping Season! 🙂