The short answer is, “Maybe.” It depends entirely on how you go about it. Allow me to explain. HOW you go about your camping and/or backpacking trips determines the depth to which you are practicing being prepared for an emergency situation. I know folks who “camp” in their fifth-wheel trailer with satellite TV. I know “ultra-light” backpackers who carry far less than I do when they go camping. Both are practicing living away from the convenience and supplies of their home but they are doing it in far different extremes.
As I delineated in my book “Personal Disaster Planning Handbook,” there are five items required for long term survival. If you’re going to survive, you need to be prepared to provide or support these five items for yourself. The five items are:
- Shelter (which includes warmth such as fire)
- Water (more important than…)
- First Aid / Health maintenance
When you go camping, what do you do for shelter? If you’re like my friend pulling a fifth-wheel camper then that’s your shelter; however, at that point you are ONLY practicing living without supplies at home. After all, every other convenience is provided in that trailer. What if you run out of gas? or get a flat tire? In other words, is your survival in that trailer dependent on mobility and/or continuous supply? If so, perhaps you’re only practicing limited preparedness for short term emergencies. Whether or not that is sufficient for you is entirely up to your own judgment.
But what if you’re not pulling a trailer? What if you’re just driving your truck, Jeep, SUV, car? Somewhere in there you probably have a tent that is sufficient to house you and whomever you are camping with. In that case, the tent may well be too large for you to carry should you have to move on without your vehicle. In this situation, you are still practicing your preparedness but only to the level of being dependent on your vehicle. As was noted in the previous paragraph: gasoline supply, tire repairs, etc. can make your vehicle immobile, leaving you to go it on foot.
That brings us to two different kind of backpacking preparedness practice: what I call “standard” backpacking and ultra-light backpacking. Standard backpackers minimize their pack weight to the extent that they can still carry it comfortably at whatever pace and over whatever terrain they have planned. Their load likely includes a smaller tent, sleeping bag, dehydrated food supplies, some water, a change of underwear/socks and assorted other supplies. They are very aware of the weight of everything, but they are still focusing on carrying the supplies to meet all their needs within the limits of their strength, comfort and endurance.
Ultra-light backpackers (as I understand it because I’m not one) focus on packing minimal supplies and weight to survive while the hike. Their “tent” may actually be a small tarp that they can fashion into shelter. Their “sleeping bag” may be an emergency ‘space’ bivvy or blanket. Yes, they likely have water with them and a filter for preparing more as they find it. Their food supplies are likely less and/or they have compact fishing/snaring supplies to catch food as they travel. While that may not sound like a good time to some of us, it is to them because they’ve adjusted their expectation of comfort. Now is the time to remember this: Survival won’t always be comfortable. We can sometimes make it more or less so, but simply staying alive does not require you to be happy, fully fed and entertained.
What survival requires is that we maintain our body temperature so that we are neither hypothermic nor over-heated; it requires we stay hydrated; it requires that we take in sustenance of some form every 48 to 72 hours; it requires that we repair any injury we experience with a focus on maintaining an airway (able to breath), not losing too much blood (not bleeding out) and staying mobile (able to move as necessary). Under various circumstances it may mean defending ourselves from predator humans who find it easier to take from others rather than preparing for their own survival.
So, let me adjust that title slightly to form the more important question: Is YOUR Camping or Backpacking Prepper Practice? If not, think about it. Don’t ruin every camping trip by making it work, but enhance the value of every camping trip by practicing a survival skill or refining your plan.
It’s just a thought. Please share yours below.
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