Biking and camping is a lethal combination, it gives one a choice
to plan a ride in such a way where destination for the night
can be made at any place irrespective of hotels or guest houses.
Everyone is a little apprehensive to camp especially when on
rides, but believe me once you get used to it, camping will
become an integral part of your rides, for one simple reason,
(apart from the joy of camping) freedom, freedom from planning
a ride according to towns where hotels are available, freedom
to go remote where there are no facilities for lodging and boarding.
But however there are a certain rules and ways that one must
follow in order to enjoy camping. Below are a few tips I personally
think will help you in your camping forays.
Tents & Backpacks
a) There are many types of tents though, they are broadly divided
into two categories, the dome and two
way sloping roof tent. I prefer the dome tents, as
they are easy to set-up with their fiberglass rod system and
do not need to be pegged down. So in case you need to camp on
a rocky surface you need not worry about pegging the dome tent
down, as they stand quite well on their own. The two way sloping
roof tent has to be grounded with nails. It’s difficult
or impossible to pitch the two way sloping tent with nails on
hard/rocky surface and on soft/sand.
b) Most dome tents come with flooring and a mosquito net protection
on the doors and windows. This feature is helpful in keeping
the insects and pest out.
c) The Indian jungles are hot most of the time and I have camped
for the better half of my camping days without a tent, instead
I have camped out of a tarpaulin sheet. Most of the time a sleeping
bag will do just fine. A sleeping mat, which is laid down on
the ground has many advantages. It acts as an insulator, not
passing the heat or cold from the ground below. It also cushions
your back against hard stony surfaces. The material of the sleeping
mat is the same used in cars to insulate heat from the engine
to the air conditioner.
Backpack weight is very important. The pack weight should be
1/4 of your body weight or less. Too much weight, just like
blisters, can spoil a trip. Shoulders, hips, knees, ankles and
feet are the stress points. Downhill hiking is much harder on
joints. Uphill hiking stresses quadriceps and lungs.
Things which you might need more often, light snacks, torch
etc should be packed last or in any of the side pockets so time
is not wasted in pondering for them through the whole backpack.
Prefer water resistant backpack to others.
Choosing a Camping spot
Choose flat ground to pitch your tent. If you have
to pitch your tent on sloping ground – be sure to sleep
with your head on the higher end, if done otherwise excess of
blood flow to your head will lead to headache and nausea.
Choose your spot close to a water source that would help you
in washing and cleaning. If you are camping in winter or monsoons
pitch your tent under a medium size tree, this would offer protection
against rain and dew. Use a dew cover in winters or you may
awake to find your tent completely drenched.
When you peg your tent make a note of the peg lines as we all
tend to trip over them, sometimes it leads to injury while most
of the time the tent gets a bad jolt.
Do not smoke in a tent or light candles.
I have experimented with various types of outdoor foods,
the best and easiest is tin food but tin food increases backpack
weight. Maggie noodles with few veggies tossed in are quick
and easy to cook. The latest, is the ready-to-eat food packets
– “Ashirwad” is one of the brands. All one
has to do is put the contents into a pan and heat it or dip
the packet into hot water. The food packets are very convenient
Chicken bar be que can be quite exciting, you must get along
your pre marinade chicken or marinade the chicken at least an
hour before roasting it. Cook over slow fire – coals.
Fruits like apples and oranges are also good. Though they make
a great diet, I avoid bananas cause they invariably get squashed
up in the bag and turn all black. Eat light and drink a fair
amount of water. While trekking carry atleast two liters of
water. You'll determine right amount for you with experience.
Trail snacks [bring stuff that's easy to eat such as chocolate
bars/chips, dry fruits etc. they give you an instant energy
boost.] should be in outside pockets or near the top, this way
you don't have to take out lot of gear from your pack while
Starting a Fire
In order to cook or make a cup of tea you must have a fire.
Staring a fire can get pretty difficult especially when there
is no wind or when it’s raining. Start the fire with small
twigs and dry leaves, let them burn well and then insert slightly
bigger branches and finally the logs. To start a fire quickly,
add kerosene, but again kerosene tends to leak and mess your
bags. Best is to insert a small-lit candle between the twigs,
this gives a permanent source of fire and the twigs will burn
quickly. During the rains most of the wood is wet, you would
need to dry the wood over a small fire first. A small fire can
be started with a candle as mentioned above or by burning a
little bit of plastic with the wood. The plastic will give you
a persistent flame. Be careful of the fumes emitted by the plastic,
hence use plastic only in cases of wet wood. I carry a small
portable stove, which works on paraffin inflammable balls. This
stove suffices to cook a small meal and some tea. If you are
making a campfire be sure that you collect a lot of spare wood.
Campfires can get very demanding in their consumption of wood
– stick to large logs, as they will not only burn brighter
but also last longer, even after the fire has died out the embers
will keep you warm.
A note of caution, see that there is a buffer of cleared ground
with radius of atleast 1 meter around the fire and make sure
that your fire is completely stamped out before you leave. Most
forest fires are cause by carelessly lit fires. These fires
consume and destroy 100’s of acres of prime forest.
Insects & Insect Repellents
The basic rule is, that if you go camping then brace your self
for a few bites, scratches and itches. Although it is a small
price to pay.
Mosquitoes : The humming that they make in
your ears can be more irritating than the bite. During monsoons
the mosquitoes are at their best. Most mosquito repellents are
quite effective, but they all wear out pretty quickly. So the
trick is to reapply a new coat every 3 to 4 hrs or whenever
you feel the mosquitoes have made their undue presence felt.
Try Neem leaves, it is a natural repellent – on condition
that you find one close at hand.
Leeches : Leeches are by far the most dreaded
creatures, as small as they are they will and shall suck your
blood. No need to panic, although the sight of a leech sucking
blood is unnerving but the bite of a leech is completely harmless
and sterile. They have bitten me on numerous occasions with
no side effects. They are attracted to the sound of your feet
and the heat of your body. Some of them may even choose an Arial
attack, don’t worry they don’t fly !! They fall
of branches onto your back and when they have had their fill
they will comfortably drop off. I have spent a lot of time with
the leeches in the Jungles of India, the point is not to frighten
the readers but caution them a bit. Most repellents will work
with limited success. Salt or tobacco juices are the best preventions.
Though in the jungle most smokers would find it a pity to waste
their precious cigarettes for making a juice. Try the leeches
J Try not to pull the leeches off, instead gently apply the
tobacco juice or salt and they will fall of immediately.
Cow Ticks : I have saved this insect for the
last because in comparison it makes a mosquitoes look quite
harmless. Cow ticks are found around cattle and feed on their
blood. Avoid camping on cattle grazing grounds and near cow
dung, also avoid frolicking there in the grass or wayside. Cow
ticks are minute insects but deliver a nasty bite. The climax
is that the bite does not heal for almost 3 months and will
send you into an itching frenzy. The itching will turn into
violent scratching and the more you scratch the worse the bite
will get. I am a living example – itching at work –
home – restaurants –dates everywhere. Till, a good
soul took mercy on me and suggested a remedy. Apply a cream
called “Propygenta” as often as possible, it is
effective! And ofcourse you would have to contain your scratching.
Scorpion : Remember to dust your shoes in the
morning when you awake in the jungles, scorpions love cozy warm
places. There have been many instances of scorpion bites when
campers wear shoes in the morning, which are left outside the
Flashlight should be small enough to fit in your mouth because
that's where it will be when you pitch your tent solo after
sunset. Carry extra batteries and bulb. Candles are an important
source of light and also provide a nice ambience. If you want
to spot wildlife in the night carry a 4 or 5 cell sturdy torch,
the MAG lights are the best with their adjustable focus.
Do not urinate or defecate near any water source, campsite,
or at a place where people are likely to congregate. Bury toilet
paper in the hole, replace sod/dirt, and tamp down lightly.
Wash hands or clothes well away from any water source. Remember,
this is the same water you and others use to cook and drink!
Never litter while camping, plastic bags and other non-bio-degradable
stuff should be collected in a waste bag and discarded at a
waste management spot
If you wish to add more tips which are not mentioned above,
kindly e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will gladly add them to the list.