Wanderers. Nomads. Dirtbags. Explorers. Whatever you call yourself when you’re on the road for days or weeks on end, we all begin to realize the importance of a good camp. The minimal backpacking pad and tiny stove aren’t cutting it and you’re getting tired of sharing the single coffee cup every morning.
In this edition of Therm-a-Rest Beta, the Access Fund Conservation team gives their tips on nomadic style and the importance of camping fengshui.
Ten months out of the year, the Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team travels the country helping climbing communities create sustainable solutions to the high use that impacts of our beloved climbing areas. We work with land managers, local climbing organizations and volunteers to provide training and on the ground stewardship. We spend anywhere from four to twelve weeks on a single job site, which means camp is home. We know we’re not alone in this “vagabond” or “dirtbag” style of living, as we pass fellow nomads daily in our campground, on a quest to find free Wi-fi and the ever illusive shower. We also know long-term camping is not always something to write home about … but hopefully we can shed a little light on how to do it in style.
I can’t stress this one enough. When days consist of the literal “sun up to sun down” you don’t have time to mess around digging through all of your gear/ junk to find that one shoe. Take some time to lay out designated areas for shoes, dishes, food, gear and electronics to avoid any added stress. After all, living in transit is a freedom in itself so try not to bog it down with clutter and chaos. We’ve found that collapsible dish bins and dish drawers can free up some room when you have to pack up your home and head-out. And don’t forget to think beyond the floor space. We even strung a parachute chord with carabiners in our 2015 Jeep Cherokee to help keep things off of the floor and in an accessible place without taking up too much room.
Everything has it’s place in the Jeep.: tubs, boxes and parachute chord with carabiners in the Jeep to help keep things off of the floor
Collapsible dish bins, drying racks and dish drawers help keep camp neat.
Mostly, size matters in regard to your sleeping space. We spent enough of our year squirming over the top of each other in the morning trying to find two socks to be able to fully appreciate and indulge in our new Therm-a-Rest Tranquility six-person tent. This was a huge improvement to our camp life. It’s hard to explain the joy one can have from being able to stand up in the morning to put their clothes on. Bedding is also just as important. You probably didn’t become a dirtbag so you could be tired all day from lack of sleep. We know how important sleep is and don’t recommend skimping on bedding if your camp is going to last more than a few days. Our system consists of bouldering pads as a base and Therm-a-Rest’s Dreamtime mattresses on top. We use the Ventana Duo sleeping bag to complete our sleep system and trust me it’s as good as any “real bed.”
Bottom to Top: bouldering pad, Therm-a-Rest’s Dreamtime mattress and Ventana Duo sleeping bag.
Thirdly: Creature Comforts
It’s funny, from time to time I find myself explaining to someone how “the z-seat” has saved me from the depths of insanity … but really. Waking up on a chilly morning or trying to hang with your friends on a frigid night after a big meal will cause you to believe that tiny pad insulating your tush was sent from above. Not only that but spoiling your surroundings ,or feathering your nest, with some nice touches like a candle or a table cloth will help you feel less like you’re living in the dirt and add a little,.. What do they call it? Feng shui?
Dining room and kitchen: z-seats help keep the bench warm and comfortable, while the candle and table cloth give it a bit of class.
If you are spending weeks on end in an area, chances are your friends with day jobs know about it. Being able to offer your friends a base-camp or a cooler hangout on hot summer nights is one of those feel good moments. Remember to keep extra chairs and silverware around because it always comes in handy. Therm-a-Rest’s Quadra and Trio chairs have been great for this as they store easily.
It’s always important to research the environment you’re in and what kinds of activities are happening around your site. Critters, weather, sensitive plants and human activity are the big ones but it’s always important to be observant. For example, camp on durable surfaces, keep your food locked up and use bins for dishes if you don’t want rodents and other animals using them, too. Wind and rain can wreak havoc on a camp, So remember to tie or weigh things [z-seats] down. Each place comes with it’s own challenges, like in the desert make sure to close up your sleeping bag or put it in a giant trash bag to prevent the layer of red dust from joining you in your bed for the night. In urban areas, lock up valuables. But no matter where you are, always have a plan for waste management. Stock up on wag-bags or use an outhouse. No ecosystem is immune, especially with the amount of usage our favorite landscapes experience.
Be a good Neighbor
As vulnerable as one can feel living without walls, and as much as we’d like to close off our tiny piece of the world to those around us, being a good neighbor has its perks. If you come across as friendly, respectful or helpful, chances are they’ll leave you with leftover beer or firewood when they head home. After all, “what goes around comes around”.
That’s it. Now go forth, wander far and enjoy the comfort of living in nomadic style. See you out there!