Tents, Backpacks, Humidity, Camping, Hemp and Alarms


My daughters love their tent, and they love it even more now that I’ve added a ‘loft.’ I stitched the four corners of a rectangular piece of fishnet to four inside seams of the tent, keeping the needle well away from the outer walls. A piece of cloth would serve as well, or one of those cargo nets. (If you want to keep the net hooks for easy removal, just sew o-rings to the seams, or else remove the hooks and sew the net directly to the tent.) It’s like an attic for your tent, with very little extra weight, and it allows you to hang your flashlight from just the right place. As long as you don’t overload it, it won’t harm your tent.


If you’re backpacking with someone who carries about the same weight as you, consider wearing each other’s backpack. It sounds weird but it makes accessing stuff in your pack much easier en route because it’s right there in front of you. No need to reach around, swing your pack off or give complicated instructions.


As a professional nature photographer, I’ve encountered many fellow travellers who are heartbroken to have their cameras stop working while overseas. Often the cause of this breakdown is humidity. To keep your camera safe and dry, visit a shoe store prior to departure and ask for some of the silica desiccant packages that are found in each new pair of shoes. Collect as many as you think you need and keep them in a zip-lock bag. Throw a few into a separate ziplock bag with your camera to keep it safe from humidity. Replace the packs with fresh ones every few weeks and humidity won’t be a problem. Just remember DO NOT EAT!


If you travel with any flat surface in your camping gear, grab yourself some paint and add on a board game. Nature supplies the pieces in stones, pine cones or any other small objects at hand. Even if that flat surface is your Thermarest, grab yourself some fabric paints and go nuts!


When travelling, I’m always sure to carry a small roll of hemp twine in my bag. Inexpensive, very strong, lightweight and mildew-resistant, this fibre is perfect for impromptu shoelaces, belts, clotheslines or for tying up any straps or broken zippers on packs. More importantly, it also helps to pass the time on a long plane, bus or train ride; use it to make neat bracelets or necklaces to give to local children.


Since hikes usually start early in the morning, I always travel with a portable alarm clock. I’m a very light sleeper, however, and use earplugs, which makes it hard to hear the buzzer. The solution: a wrist alarm watch that wakes you up by vibrating. Plus, it won’t disturb your bunkmates. If you can’t find one, the Association for the Hearing Impaired has them. [EDITOR’S NOTE: The Canadian Hearing Society has wrist alarms starting at $72.]

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