Backcountry camping necessities

8:38 p.m. on October 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I'm a freshman at the University of Central Florida and a few friends and i are planning on taking a backcountry camping road trip in early November to Tennessee. We plan on camping for four days and I have no idea about what to bring. Gear wise, the university is supplying us with quality equipment. But besides a tent, stove, sleeping bag and pad, and a cooler, we will need more to be comfortable. I just don't know what exactly. So, ANY backcountry camping tips regarding food, places to go, etc. would greatly be appreciated. Thanks. 

9:04 p.m. on October 3, 2011 (EDT)
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Car camping or backpacking?

10:55 p.m. on October 5, 2011 (EDT)
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If car camping, fill up that trunk.

11:06 p.m. on October 5, 2011 (EDT)
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Hey stevierez , welcome to Trailspace.

I have the same question as others here. What type of camping are you getting into(are you in 1 spot for 4 days, covering distance, etc?) This will have great bearing on what type of gear you will need for your trip.

There are many very knowledgeable members here at Trailspace that will be more than happy to help ya get dialed in. If possible as mentioned above please give us a better idea of what you are getting into.

Once again welcome to the Trailspace community, I hope you find the knowledge here helpful.

Happy hiking- Rick

2:10 p.m. on October 6, 2011 (EDT)
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2:36 p.m. on October 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Welcome to Trailspace stevierez__ ,


Do you know what backpack you will be using or at least what the size  it will be.  Your backpack will be you limiting factor.  If it's a large 95-120 liter backpack you can bring everything you need along with all the things you don't need.  If it's smaller pack you will be limited by the space and by the weight carrying capacity.  The next limiting factor will be what amount of weight you can carry for four day's.  If your really going on a 4 day/night backpacking trip the first thing I would do is scrap the cooler.  With that beings said if your willing to carry the cooler and not ditch it in the backcountry go for it. 

You will need a comfortabe pair of trial shoes/boots that can handle four days of abuse and increased weight.  Start with the boots now.  As you don't need boots at this point to last a life time you might check your Goodwill store to get some cheapy comfy boots to fill your needs. Check Craigslist as well.  For boots I would stay away from Ebay as you can't try them on.  You can buy new of cource if  you have some extra cash.

I believe some here have mentioned a link in past discussions that gives some basic lists for backpacking in different seasons for beginner backpackers.  Maybe someone can come up with that link?  I just don't know where it is.

3:55 p.m. on October 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Split all the group use things amongst you all,

e.g. stove, pot/s, tent (1 tent for 3 or 2 tents for 2each for example)

Make sure your personal items are light, small and where sensibly possible dual use.  Less will nearly always be better.

Are you driving to a hiking starting point, parking the car and walking for 4 days or driving to a new spot every day for four days or what ?  More details will definitely get you better answers.  Otherwise you are most likely to get really long answers not tailored specifically to your trip, ergo, misleading.

If you are walking/hiking without car for four days, leave the cooler behind.

10:34 a.m. on October 7, 2011 (EDT)
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Also where in TN?  There will probably be people on here that are familiar with the area and be able to give you suggestions on what trails to take and clothing you will need.

12:27 p.m. on October 11, 2011 (EDT)
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Kind of odd....I made my 1st backpacking trip when I was a student at UCF :)

I highly recommend you take a mini hammock and a camping stool.

The comfort is well worth the hump.


Make sure you try Cumberland Island sometime - it's only a 3-1/2 hour trip and well worth it.


Ed G

Clermont, Fl

12:29 p.m. on October 11, 2011 (EDT)
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Sorry to add another post - do you know Natalie Hanna by chance?

She was one of the leaders of the outback group. Her father and I are the ones that created the tack trails along the Econ.

2:48 p.m. on October 14, 2011 (EDT)
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Stevierez where you at now with your prep ?

3:38 p.m. on October 14, 2011 (EDT)
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Take easy to prepare foods like mac and cheese,tuna, crackers, instant oatmeal, instant gatorade, hot cocoa mix, instant coffee, small block cheese, be sure to drink plenty of water up to 4 liters a day, Are you going to carry a stove, cook pot (cooking for one or more). Whats the tent situation, everyone sharing a tent or maybe 2 to a tent, and maybe you dont need a slee[ing bag but a good light bed sheet and a light blanket? Weekend hiking or extened trips during fall break? Wear sturdy boots that are broken in or at leat one shoe size larger. Not many hills in Florida are there? Don't forget the sunscreen!!

11:44 p.m. on October 14, 2011 (EDT)
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You won't need a lot of stuff, try to travel light. I would pack a little extra food. You never know when your going to get to a place and not want to leave. Also if your going to be walking a lot be sure to stay hydrated. If you can get your hands on a camel back that would be great.

Try to layer clothing, three layers being optimal. If you get hot take a layer off. If your still hot take off another. Put them back on a layer at a time when you get cold.

Have a good hike.

8:16 a.m. on October 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Okay, to pipe in, you have to ditch the cooler. If you're taking the cooler for some campfire partying, you can't really do that on a 4-day backpacking trip. If that's the plan, and don't mean to make assumptions here, I'd maybe do a 3-day trip and then at the end car camp somewhere and have a throwdown. Or maybe even at the beginning. By the time you are through you'll be so tired you may not want to.

Okay, now to other things. I have lived in Tennessee most of my life and know a lot of the trails. I'd like to hear some more details and what your trip plan is as far as what trails you are going on. As Ocala said, that will dictate some of the gear. Are you all going to the Smokies? If you are up on the high points of the mountains, you'll need hard shells to help with the winds that are up there. The gusts will bite right through you. If you are going to be down in the valleys, you can probably get away with soft shells.

Also, the reason for wanting to know your route is because it would be good to know what type of terrain you are going on and the mileage you are thinking. You get to these mountains, it's a lot different than Florida. You may be thinking of doing 15 miles a day, when you all might be able to do just 8 or 10.

Also, hate to disagree with a fellow forum member, but I wouldn't be too keen on taking a hammock personally. If you see my trip report from a few weeks ago, you'll see that it was in the low 30s, high 20s up on the tops of those mountains right now. By early November, it will get cold as hell in those mountains. Not very cozy sleeping in a hammock weather.

1:03 p.m. on October 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Trying to learn everything piecemeal here isn't very efficient.  If you know absolutely nothing about backpacking, get yourself a book such as The Complete Walker (the best) or even Backpacking for Dummies (a good beginner's guide) or better yet, start with this one-

It looks simple, but these guys are really good at explaining things for beginners. I have two of their skiing books.

Once you understand the basic concepts of shelter, food, clothes and navigation, then work on your gear list for where you are going. My gear list for Yosemite in winter won't be anything like your list for Tennessee.

The idea that a big pack means fill it up is nonsense. I don't think that is what Apeman means, so don't take it that way.  The worst thing you can do is find yourself carrying a lot of unnecessary stuff. The fact that someone gave you a cooler for backpacking tells me they are clueless. Great for car camping, not for backpacking.  A cooler is for heavy food that needs to be kept cold. Not what you want to take backpacking.  If you want steaks for example (heavy, but okay for the first night), freeze them, wrap them in foil and stick them in a plastic bag.  Put them in the cooler in the car. Leave the cooler.  By the time you hike to camp, they will likely be thawed out.

Before you go, get everything out, practice setting up the tent a couple of times, make sure you know how the stove works, make sure you are prepared for bad weather and that if you are hiking in somewhere, you know basic navigation (map and compass) so you can find your way back.

DO NOT RELY ON A CEL PHONE TO SAVE YOU.  People make that mistake all the time. Sometimes they luck out, other times they don't.

DON'T ASSUME YOUR FRIENDS KNOW MORE THAN YOU. They may not, so be sure to find out before you go, not after you are out in the boonies looking at each other and saying "now what?"

CARRY OUT WHAT YOU CARRY IN.  If you insist on bringing wine for example, which some people do, then it is your responsibility to carry out the bottle, empty or not.

This isn't rocket science for the most part, but you'd be surprised at how many people go out unprepared, get lost and then someone else has to risk their life to go look for them. Use some common sense and that won't be you.


2:09 p.m. on October 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Tom D said: "The idea that a big pack means fill it up is nonsense. I don't think that is what Apeman means, so don't take it that way.  The worst thing you can do is find yourself carrying a lot of unnecessary stuff."

Hey Tom thanks for the clarification.  What I ment and should have done was explain myself better.  So often you end up taking things out of you pack that you still need (or think you need) due to having a backpack that is just not big enough for what your trying to do.  For me I need extra room for socks.  Even on a hard day hike my feet sweet profusly.  I sometimes need to change out socks two to three times a day.  What if you wear two pair of wool socks with your boots.  If your out for three days then 3 x 3 = 9.  That's 9 pairs of socks.  Wool socks take up alot of valuable space.  What if you have to take extra fleece, what if you want your stakes wraped in foil.  It takes just a few extra items that will vastly increase the size of the pack you really need.  I believe that it is better to have a bigger pack than you think you need than one that is just to small.  If you really find you have extra space, which very rarely happens, most if not all backpacks have compression straps the purpose of bring the pack down to size so that it is held tight against your back and not all lossie goossie flopping around.   I of cource have many, many different packs for every situation that I can think of,  but others will not find necessarly find themselves in that position.

Like anything else get you I believe that when your get your pack set up and take it out on a few day hikes before the big trip.  This will searve a number of purposes.  First you see if you'll be able to carry the weight.  Second you can redistribuute the weight to make the pack more comfortable.  Once you have carried that amount of weight you will better be able to decide if any thing extra like the cast iron pan or the  espresso machine that you first though you might have need is truly worth carrying.  This will also give you the chance to trouble shoot your boots. Just cause you can hike for miles in your boots does not mean they can handle the extra weight of a pack.  If you find that you have extra room in your pack then I would suggest that you use it for you sleeping bag if you are using a down sleepingbag.  Extra room in your pack means you will not have to compress you sleeping bag down so tight.  This is very important for a number of reasons which I will not get into here. 

Oh heck, I guess I will.  One of the most distrutive things you can do to a down garment is to stuff it down as small as possible.  The problem is that down garmets hve such great volume.  To bring them anywhere you need to stuff them.  The tigher you stuff the down item the worse it is for the item.   For that reason you will want to stuff it the least amount as possible.  The second reason to stuff as little as possible is that if you stop and its late, or bad weather, or your just dead tired you must wait for you down item to gain loft.  The less tight you compress the down item, the less time it will take to gain it's loft so as to be usable.  Now, granted this is a minor thing, but if you have the extra room, instead of using your compression straps use the room for your bag and or your tent.  If your not using a down bag then you can use the extra space to stuff your tent and not have to take the time to fold/roll your tent after tear down.  These of cource are just my experiances.

Also remember that as the trip progresses you will loose weight and gain space in your pack due to the amount of food yoiu eat at each meal.   The first day your pack will be the heavyist there by loosing weight every day after that.

8:08 p.m. on October 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Actually, I went back and saw that you were asking for places to go here. So, you have no clue where you're going? Just got some stuff,  said hey lets go to Tennessee and we'll go where we go?

A  4-day backpack isn't something you do on a whim.  My buddies and I sometimes even spend months planning in advance for an  overnighter. A 4-day trip takes a lot of prep.

I hate to say this, but maybe you all should just think about camping out overnight and car camping  a few days. I don't want to sound like Mr. Stuck Up backpacker, but if you all don't have a lot of experience, it sounds like  your biting off more  than you can chew.

10:40 p.m. on October 15, 2011 (EDT)
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I think we've scared him. He hasn't made a post in over a week.

7:45 a.m. on October 16, 2011 (EDT)
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No hills in Florida?


Come visit me in Clermont and lets go for a run or bike ride :)


When I'm straining and gutting it out, I keep repeating the mantra:

 "there are no hills in Florida.  There are no hills in Florida"


Actually, the best place for someone from central florida to go experience backcountry camping is Cumberland island.  It's kind of like the disneyworld of camping.  It can be as mild or as exciting as one makes it.


You take a ferry to the island and the primitive campsites are a 3, 6, 7.5 or a 10.5 mile hike. This will "learn ya" real quick on proper equipment... and it's a relatively short drive from Orlando.


Oh, even though it is like Disney World...the alligators, the wild boars and the poisonous snakes are not robots.


Go out at night (at the most northern campsites) with a flashlight searching the'll discover my reflective tack trails.  Follow one.  They always lead to cool places and then back to camp.

2:32 p.m. on October 16, 2011 (EDT)
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ocalacomputerguy said:
I think we've scared him. He hasn't made a post in over a week.

Thats funny :)



Welcome to Trailspace,

Tho it may seem like everybody is going over the top on ya, keep in mind everybody wants nothing more to help ya have a safe and enjoyable time out n about. There is no 1 basic answer to the question you ask, lots of variables.

Please chime in on what ya got planned so far and what gear your planning on taking. Folks will have ideas on what might work better. Its up to you to decide what works better for you

Let us know how your trip goes too.

Good luck, have fun and BE SAFE

5:03 p.m. on October 16, 2011 (EDT)
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Ed G

Are you referring to the Cumberland island national seashore?

5:36 a.m. on October 17, 2011 (EDT)
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Cumberland...where one can slip into the woods and not see another soul for as long as your there...unless you want to


and it is oh, so close to home for us.


This time of year, reservations for backcountry (required) aren't to hard to come by.


Feb and March is another story.


I'd say I've camped on the island close to 70 times now.  Always something new to discover.

June 25, 2018
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