Apr 06

Dispersed Camping Prep: “Glamping” is for noobs.

I’ve spent countless nights out under the stars with little to no shelter, have slept in mud holes with the rain pelting me and woken up with ice on the outside of my sleep system. There have been times where 45 minutes was considered a “good night’s rest” while mosquitoes constantly buzzed around my head or the discomfort of a tree root dug into my back.  That’s stuff I HAD to do and quite frankly none of it was what I would consider fun.  That said I figure it’s time to get to the stuff which I WANT to do, of course this time it would be with my family.  Enter the concept of dispersed camping.

Dispersed camping is the term used for camping anywhere in the National Forest OUTSIDE of a designated campground. Dispersed camping means there are no toilets, no picnic tables, no trash cans, no treated water, and no fire grates. Typically, dispersed camping is NOT allowed in the vicinity of developed recreation areas such as campgrounds, boat ramps, picnic areas or trailheads.

In my opinion part of prepping involves training to be out in the woods, maybe for a bugout or just to get in touch with nature.  After all if T-SHTF it’s pretty much guaranteed that life as we know it will get exponentially tougher, especially for us “city folk.”  I must admit even though my wife and I had planned on doing some of this during 2014 I’ve been really inspired by The Maj’s recent 2 week bugout journey, lots of good info in there and motivation to stop talking about it and start being about it.  While my wife has been very supportive of prepping spending a few nights in the bush hasn’t really been on her “to-do” list…that is until recently.

We’ve decided to take our day hikes to another level this year and start incorporating dispersed camping into our routine.  I had to clarify dispersed camping versus what’s known as “glamping” because the goal is to get in touch with nature, not set up next to a $300k RV where folks are hooked up to electric and flipping burgers on a gas grill.  All in all the basic premise is this:  we spend a few days hiking in the woods on trails with our dog and pitch a tent in whatever spot we determine to be good for the night.  We pack in our own food, filter or boil water for drinking and in general get back to nature while testing out some of our equipment.  No utilities or neighbors, no picnic tables, no flat screen TVs.

All of the above said I developed a sort of generic checklist to follow to prepare us for our trips out into nature.

  • Backpacks for both of us
  • Quality 3 or 4  person, 3 season tent
  • Packable sleep systems
  • MGRS map of the state park we would be going to
  • Inventories/checklist for all of our necessary supplies
  • Backpack for dog, first aid kit and other dog type gear
  • Research on weapons policies at the location(s) we would be spending time at
  • List of specific gear/gadgets I wanted to test while out
  • All other misc supplies
  • Anything else I forgot

So far we’ve made some decent progress.  I realize survival isn’t always about stuff and quite truthfully is more about skills but in order to get my wife to spend time in the woods with me I’d need more than a rubber band and paperclip to make our experience comfortable.  We’d need stuff, dedicated camping stuff beyond what we had in our preps and bugout bags.  Bear in mind some of this stuff would be new purchases, quite possibly lighter or better replacements of items already owned as we steered towards backpacking/camping versus straight up survival.

A few items recently picked up:

REI Half Dome 4 Person 3 Season Tent

I know…I know.  True survivalists don’t need tents right?  I’m with you on that but in order to appease my wife I had to make concessions, one of them being the introduction of a tent into our plan.  Had it been just me a poncho and poncho liner would have been enough, if it rains construct a hasty shelter and go with it.  Alas my wife insisted on a dedicated shelter and I have to admit it’s very nice and I’m looking forward to sleeping in it.  I should note that we went for a 4 person so that we would have room for our dog and gear whilst out in the boonies.  At 7 lbs it’s not a huge inconvenience to carry.

Next item: REI Classic Dogpack

German Shepherd with REI Pack

German Shepherd with REI Pack

Each must carry their own gear!  All jokes aside I figured my dog needed to have his own pack so that items like water, food, first aid supplies and treats wouldn’t take up space in my pack.  The good news is that he loves it and trots along like it’s not even there.  If you are in the market for one of these beware sizing might be off, our boy is almost 90lbs (just past 1 year old) and a medium fits him just fine.

For the Wife: High Sierra Avenger 45L Backpack

High Sierra 45L Avenger Pack

High Sierra 45L Avenger Pack

My wife already has a milspec bugout bag but she needed something for backpacking.  We found this bag at Costco for around $50 and it fit my wife just fine, we’ve loaded it up with the essentials and made sure the weight was right for her small frame.

This weekend we took to the trail to check out all the gear, test it for fit and weight distribution.  Everything went just peachy and we look forward to heading out to the woods for a 2-3 day journey here in the near future.

Day Hike

Day Hike

Overall the hike went great and the gear felt good.  My dog even flushed out some game (wild turkey and rabbit) during the hike which was awesome!  Looking forward to the next level here in the near future.


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    • J on April 8, 2014 at 4:28 PM
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    “Dispersed camping”…..hilarious lol.

      • PJ on April 8, 2014 at 5:37 PM
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    • J on April 8, 2014 at 8:16 PM
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    on a more serious note, let me know how that dog pack works in the long term and how much do you put on him? Did you have any problems getting him trained to it? I realize that it will vary from dog to dog, but you are the first person I know hat has actually used one of those.

      • PJ on April 8, 2014 at 9:19 PM
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      Everything I’ve read says that you have to gradually increase the weight so for this trip we put 1 bottle of water on each side, a bowl and his leash. As I mentioned sizing was crucial, the medium fit great and a large would have been way too big. Another big thing for us was the mesh on the inside of the pack, as you know that will help disperse the heat.

      When we put it on him he gnawed at it for about 10 minutes but eventually figured out it was on there to stay. Once on the trail it was like the pack wasn’t even there, he barely even noticed it. I figure a dog can be a great asset, toting a little backpack carrying extra gear and even wearing a paracord collar for emergencies.

  1. That’s great that your wife is up for some “dispersed camping” (never heard that term before)! And don’t feel embarrassed about bringing a tent or anything else. Just because you prep and are ready to make do with very little doesn’t mean that if you ever go camping you have go with the least amount of gear possible. Besides, if you DID take the least amount of gear possible, it would probably be the LAST time your wife went camping with you. 🙂

    I agree, The Maj has inspired me, as well. Unfortunately, it’ll be 95 out pretty soon, here in Texas. I’ve been trying to talk a buddy of mine into going with me. No luck yet, but I’ll keep trying.

    I have to say it again, that is a good looking dog. And wow, one year old and already 90 pounds? Is that a normal weight for a one year old German Shepherd?

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