You are an avid backbacker with a passion for getting out in the wilderness. The love of your life has not so much as RV “camped”. You want him/her to share your passion but how do you introduce them to the world you love so much?
Skip the Baby Steps
You may tempted to ease them into it by RV camping, but don’t. Do you actually enjoy RV camping? If you’re like me, probably not. Same goes for car camping. Is being couped up in a campground with a million other tents, listeing to the snores of your neighbors, really what makes you want to pack up and go? Unless you want to spend the rest of your relationship stuck doing something you don’t enjoy, skip the easing in and take them straight to the good stuff. Show them the untouched wilderness that only those who work to get there get to see. Let them experience that unique sensation of being the only two people for miles. Bring them to that special creek/waterfall/clearing that speaks to you and let them share in the wonder of your special spot.
Respect their Fitness Level
If your love’s idea of exercise is walking to the mailbox to get the mail, a week hiking in the mountains is probably not the best idea. You don’t want them so sore that they are miserable, or worse, have to end your trip early because they just can’t make it. If they are out of shape pick an easier trail or take them kayaking into the wilderness with you doing the paddling. Show them how a much a little exertion is rewarded when it comes to backpacking.
On the other hand, if your dating Mr. or Ms. Triahlete show them how engaging it can be to test their body’s limits out in the woods instead of their normal concrete environ. Take them to the best sights, the most hidden gems, and let them enjoy not just the satisfaction of feeling their body’s strength but how it can bring them to unbelievable sights.
Give the Gift of Good Weather
I love any outdoor activity and I’m always up for any chance to go outdoors. However, when I’m laying in my tent and the weather is steamy hot or so cold I lose sensation in my nose, even I sometimes long for the comforts of modern heating/cooling. For a first trip with your significant other, take them at the best time of year in your area.
Tempt their Tastebuds
While granola bars and Mountain House meals may be convenient and give you the calories you need, they don’t exactly inspire cravings. Show that special someone that you can eat just as well in the woods as you can at home. For a first meal you can pack in fresh food if weight allows and you aren’t going too far. Freeze your meat and it should defrost on the way to your campsite. A head of fresh garlic weighs hardly anything and can really zest up food cooked over a campfire. If you are good at foraging show them how to pick fresh greens along the trail. For your other meals mixing up your own dehydrated ingredients will result in a much tastier end product. Browse our recipe section on here for delicious ideas that have all been trail tested and taste wonderful. Some of our personal favorites are Coconut Chicken Curry, Chicken and Dumplings, Chicken Fajitas with either campfire tortillas or packed-in store bought, and Picadillo. A delicious accompaniment to any breakfast our Versatile Camp Bread can be made as a loaf or into biscuits. Add some shelf stable bacon, and dehydrated scrambled eggs, with some jam packets and you will have a breakfast to rival any restaurant’s.
Don’t be Filthy
You may put up with stinky armpits and swampass but that doesn’t mean you have to, or that it is pleasant in any way. In all but the coldest weather, if there is access to water you can go to bed completely clean. Not only does it feel better to do so, it also extends the life of your sleeping bag. Patrick and I make a point of bathing everyday we camp. If it’s warm we simply take turns pouring the water for each other. If it’s a little chilly we heat the water first. Despite me having long thick hair, with Patrick slowly pouring water I can wash my hair and the rest of me with about a gallon of water. In cooler weather, we make do with sponge baths.
Calls of Nature
It’s the subject no one talks about but we should, because if you don’t know how to do your business in the woods, it can be an unpleasant experience. First of all, if you’re bringing you’re girlfriend bring toilet paper for her. You may be able to “shake” but us girls need to wipe. Show her how to dig a hole and how to squat. Do you know how to squat? Most Americans have a hard time figuring it out because we don’t have squatting toilets. You do not need to take off your pants. Simply spread your feet and lower your pants to above your knees, then squat down. If you did it right your pants should be well above butt level and out of the line of fire. If you lower them to your feet like you do on a sit down toilet you won’t be able to spread your feet or keep your pants dry.
For number two bring a disposable water bottle with a sport top. Many other countries wash after doing their business and it’s a much better method. In the woods you don’t want to have to dig a 3 foot hole in order to have room to bury all your toilet paper. If you bring a water bottle you can wash everything off with a stream of water and simply wipe to dry. If you bring soap as well, you can wash and rinse and even if you don’t get to bathe that day, at least your bottom will be fresh.
No one is at their best on limited sleep. Make sure your beginner gets a good night sleep. Pack in a sleeping pad. We love out Klymit Static V Sleeping Pads, they pack down tiny, weigh next to nothing, and are comfortable even when laying on our sides. In cool weather make sure the sleeping bags are warm enough, no one can sleep well when freezing. We recently purchased Grand Trunks silk sleeping bag liner and it is great addition to our gear. In warm weather, it is a breathable barrier between us and the nylon of our sleeping bags and a light layer that wards off any nighttime chill. In the winter, it adds 10-15 degrees of warmth to our bags and helps to keep them clean. Personally, we just stuff extra clothes into a shirt and use that as a pillow but if you want to woo someone to an outdoor life, investing in an inflatable pillow might be a wise choice. Klymit makes one that is the size and weight of a lighter. Lastly bring some sleeping pills. Sometimes, despite all planning things come up to interfere with sleep a sleeping pill can save the night.
First Aid Kit
Along with that sleeping pill, you want to pack a complete first aid kit. Here’s what’s in ours. You don’t want mosquito bites, sore muscles, or an upset stomach, interfering with the fun of your excursion.
Last of all have fun! Don’t be so focused on checking off the things to do on your list that you don’t just sit back and relax. Pack a hammock and set it up when you stop for lunch. While your meal is cooking relax and watch the breeze through the leaves overhead. At night use it to star gaze. Take breaks on your hikes to sit and enjoy the amazing views of peaceful surroundings. Splash around in that creek and cool off. Catch some crawfish and add them to your gumbo. Do all the things that you can only do out in the wilderness. Show them why you love it so much by just enjoying it all yourself.