246 forum posts
Hello to everyone. I've long used the gear reviews here but only recently found the forum.
I've been camping since I was a boy scout in 5th grade, at what I would consider a recreational level (probably not near the level of some of the members here). I'm in Little Rock now for school and have recently started backpacking the ozarks (areas surrounding the Buffalo River, mostly). I don't have any friends here who backpack, so I've started doing something I never used to- going by myself.
Well, sleeping in a bivy in the sleet last weekend, I had a critter encounter which caused me to brush up on bear safety. I don't know what kind of critter it was... something small-medium dog sized pushed up against my bivy longways, and dreaming that it was a camping buddy of mine, I kicked at it and it ran off. So, obviously it wasn't a bear, but it piqued me to review anyway.
As I was reviewing bear safety, I found that some experts reccommended things that we NEVER did as scouts, and I can't decide if they are really necessary or not.
For example: never taking your pack into your tent for the night. Is this really necessary? I can't decide. If bears can smell as I've read they can, it would seem some smellables would cause my pack to smell too. On that note, my bivy, sleeping bag, etc. are IN my pack all day, so they probably smell too!
Another one was not to use sunscreen, toothpaste, lip balm, bug spray, or soap after 4:30. Really? I don't generally use soap in the backcountry anyway, but I burn to a crisp and always have chapped lips. I also usually don't brush before I have dinner.
One that bothered me the most was to carry separate clothes for sleeping. I usually only take one pair of pants and shoes, and I like to stick them in the bottom of my bag so that they're warm in the morning. I'm doing my best to gravitate toward lighter backpacking, and hulking another pair of pants along isn't going to help me any.
Just in case it wasn't obvious in my post, I have ALWAYS used a bear bag for dishes/food/smellables like chapstick, and I want to know the experts' opinions on whether or not I need to do some of these extras.
I appreciate any help you guys can give me!