Trekking Tips Part 2: campsite selection

1. Needless to say select a site that is flat, level and dry. After all the aim is to have a good night’s sleep.

2. Avoid sites with a tall grasses and undergrowth. Although such areas look beautiful and scenic, but the tall grasses hide the branches, stones and uneven underlying surface beneath them. Not to mention it is a potential fire hazard and home for various pests and reptiles.

3. Near Water: Almost all pictures of landscape involves a house near a stream/water body. But building a temporary accommodation near them can be tricky for an amateur. A) Oceans (and large rivers like Ganges) are prone to high tide. So if you have not accounted for it, then water would seep into your tent and wake up exactly at midnight. Ponds/Lakes also should be avoided because of 2 reasons. Firstly water means pests and secondly you might be right in the path of the animal movements. Most large animals are habits of creatures and would drink for the same spot irrespective of your claims on the territory.

4. The ideal spot should be at a certain elevation from the surroundings (so that the water drains away) on a terrain that is flat. Remove any pebbles, undergrowth/twigs.

5. If camping in the desert/snow then take wind direction into account. Also it would not be a bad idea to sleep in a area where you don’t get buried under by the morning.

6. If a level ground is not available then sleep in the incline such that your head is at the elevation relative to the feet.

7. You are there to enjoy nature and not destroy it. Hence please use a pre-existing site so that the damage to the nature is minimal. Also once you are done, please pick all the litter and bury it/carry it back. (Don’t burn it, most forest fires are a result of un-attended camping fires)

8. Last but not the least. Be far far away from bon fire. Most portable tents are made of synthetic material and even a casually flying ember can burn big holes in your tent even before you can bat a eyelid.

9. Protect against dew: The minute precipitation in the night can cause a lot of inconvenience and even breathing problems. Hence please cover the vent at the top of the tent.

10. It’s never a bad idea to spray some pesticide on the site before unfolding the tent.

11. Take good care of the tent flooring. Good modern portable tents have a plastic sheet sewed to the tent. Please make sure there are no holes/cracks. Also cover the holes/cracks and even the stitching seams with a plastic tape.

12. Secure the tent. Even though the whole things looks steady, it’s as light as a kite and it can fly. The harness and stakes are given for a reason. Use them.

List of items to be brought for a trek

1. Tent (2 person tents are better than the 4-6 person tents because they are lighter and weight can be distributed.

2. Sleeping bags

3. yoga mat

4. Avoid blankets/shawls of any sort. I prefer jackets and socks for warmth and they save weight too.

5. Matchsticks. remember to distribute them in 2 different bags to prevent them getting damp

6. Liquor/cigarettes should be avoided… cigarettes are a fire hazard and liquor can cause dehydration

7. Spare set of socks is a must. It is always good to have an extra t-shirt, shorts/trackpants

8. Odomas cream for protection against leeches and a can of baygon spray (cockroach version) for the sleeping area

9. Swiss army knife

10. MTR Packets (I could never cook a decent meal during treks and sometimes we forgot to bring the right ingredients or the water is scarce making things undercooked. however food for 3 persons is going to be consumed in just one meal. BTW don’t be surprised to know that breakfast and evening snacks are a meal in itself.

11. Torchlight (1 for every 2 persons): Most people forget to pack it.

12. Hat/cap + sunscreen . cannot emphasize enough.

13. Jacket, gloves and whatever you need to keep yourself warm.

14. Energy bars. chikki, chocolate, sugar candies are always welcome

15. Avoid fruits and vegetables. Carry things which provide high calories, can be eaten raw and completely (mangoes with their big stones are strict NO NO)

16. Electrolyte. I would recommend 4packets per person per day.

17. Fully charged mobile phones. One can get cell receptions in the unlikeliest of the places. Plus they are a good source of music.

18. Camera but avoid tripods.

19. Medicine kit esp. band-aids

20. Bags: Typically I would recommend a guy carrying a full 10-20L backpack while a girl carrying a simple school bag. Call me sexist but any other combination and girls will slow you down.

21. Shoes: Need to be comfortable, waterproof, with good grip.

22. 2 1-L plastic bottles (no metal bottles no thermos flasks) If you can get a trekking sipper go for it.

23. Walking stick. There are aluminum trekking sticks. Expensive but worth it esp. on the way back.

Last but not the least distribute your items across multiple persons. This way even if one bag gets lost/the person carrying it becomes slow the whole group can still manage it.