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Camping Tips For Beginners

Camping Tips

Do you love being outdoors and sleeping under the stars? Do you dream of crisscrossing the country in an old pickup truck, or hiking through the wilderness without having to worry about wifi? Here’s are several camping tips to help make your camping adventures awesome!

“I’m new to camping. What do I need?”

When you’re new to camping, it can be overwhelming. There are so many things to remember and so much gear to buy. If you’re just starting out, take a deep breath, because it really isn’t as hard as you think it is! We’re going to talk about five things that every beginner should know that will get you on your way to a great weekend (or week) outdoors.

Before You Go Camping

Be sure to check the weather before you go. You don’t want to pack for cold weather if it’s going to be warm, or vice versa.

Camping Tips For Before You Go

When planning a camping trip, it’s best to plan ahead. Secure your campsite well before your scheduled departure. If you wait until the day before or show up in the evening, you might find that all of the nearby campsites are fully booked and you have to drive a long way to find a spot.

Make sure your car is in good condition and has plenty of gas in it. You don’t want to get stranded on the side of the road somewhere on your way up or down the mountain.

Bring all of the equipment you need for your campsite and make sure it’s all in good condition. No one wants to go out into the woods to find that their tent is leaking or that their sleeping bags are broken.

Bring plenty of food with you—you don’t want to have to go shopping once you’re already there!

Where Should You Go Camping?

Probably one of the best camping tips we can give is for you to start out at one of your local state parks. Many states have ample camping and recreational opportunities for low cost. A lot of these have amenities such as toilets and showers (you may not want to completely immerse yourself in the wilderness on your first camping trip).

For instance, in Michigan, you can visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website to find and reserve a state park campsite.

Need More Camping Tips?

Be sure to check out our sister website, for more great information on camping adventures.

Questions or comments?

Leave a comment below or reach out to us at our contact us page and we’ll get back to you.

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Campfire Safety Tips

5 campfire safety tips

5 Campfire Safety Tips

According to the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 90% of the cause of wildfires happens because of people. These wildfires start with people leaving campfires unattended, cigarette butts, debris burning, powerlines that are down, and intentional arson. The last 10% of wildfires start by lava or lighting.  Here are 5 Campfire Safety Tips to make sure you’re being responsible.

Camping responsibly means doing your best to ensure that your camping party does not cause these kinds of accidents. Being a responsible camper also makes your trips more relaxing and enjoyable and ensures that your camping adventures do not get cut short.

1. Plan Ahead And Research The Rules

It always helps to know what the campfire rules are for the location where you’ll be camping.  Every site is different and has different government entities that manage burning regulations.

Specifically, some locations provide strict guidelines and require campfires to be in provided campfire pits only. Others have little to no restrictions, allowing you to use your best judgment in determining where to put your campfire. 

When camping in a different state, a secondary consideration is that bringing firewood across state lines can introduce pests and diseases to the locations that you will be camping. So, if you will be going to a new site, you recommend forage or purchase firewood. 

2. Weather Regulations

There are defined campfire rules that you have to follow for the location you’ll be camping in, but regulations are also weather-based and can change quickly.

For instance, as of this writing, there are significant burn warnings in many places in Michigan because it’s been such a dry spring and early summer.  Places out west are teetering on having outright burn bands in place due to the ongoing drought. To sum up this point, always check what the current conditions allow.

3. Firepit Safety

Always check with the local officials or wildlife resources to see if fires are allowed. State-owned parks will provide a firepit. This pit is the only place you are allowed to build a fire. 

If you are in a place where campfires are allowed, but there is no fire pit provided, it is best to use your shovel to dig a firepit. Look for space where there are no overhanging branches, powerlines, tent parts, and make sure there is a 10-foot circle of clear space around the firepit.

Once you finish the firepit, line the outside of the ring with rocks ensuring a barrier if your flames start to spread. 

4. Put Out Your Fire At Campsites

Just like you lock your cars to keep valuables safe, when you leave your campsite unattended, put your fire out. An unattended fire can have items blow down onto the fire, or the wind can quickly spread the flames, especially if the fire is not in a firepit. 

Going on an all-day hike or climb only to arrive back at camp to the ravages of a fire is not usually a part of our camping plan. It does not add to the camping experience. 

Attached to the topic of firepit safety, wearing proper clothing around a fire will prevent burns. If you are camping with young ones, teaching them always to wear shoes around help to avoid burns on your feet from embers that have popped out of the firepit. 

5. Safe Fire Starting

Matches or a Ferro rod fire starter are the best ways to start a campfire. We enjoy using a tinder ball or a bushcraft fire tin because the fuel is contained in a way that ensures we have dry tinder for starting our fire. Depending on your location, dry wood and kindling are not a guarantee when camping. 


Camping responsibly benefits you, your host, and our world. We have to live here, let’s make it as safe, clean, and enjoyable life as we can. Adventures in the outdoors are a perfect opportunity to teach those around us fire safety.

Questions? Comments? Send us a message!

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Water Purification In The Wilderness

water purification

Water purification in the wilderness and on extended fishing trips is a critical skill to master. (It’s not the ONLY skill to master. Check out our handmade firestarter tools such as our firestarter necklaces and survival tinder balls).

It is commonly known that the more remote a fishing spot is, the more likely it is to be a good one.  When it is easy to get to a particular fishing location, that means more people will likely visit that spot.  This means fish will be spooked and concentrations will be smaller.  There is something to be said for hiking or boating to virgin waters for a prime fishing experience.

Hydration can be an issue when fishing remotely for several days.  There is a good chance you will be doing lots of hiking or paddling in the hot sun.  Wading also can wear you out and dehydrate you.  On trips like these, carrying drinking water is tough.  Water is heavy and can really weigh down your pack. 

The best solution is to purify water as you go.  Since you are on a fishing trip, you should be near a good-sized body of water.  However, drinking that water without purification could make you very sick.  In this article, we will cover ways to safely stay hydrated in the wild without carrying drinking water.

Why Hydrate?

The Survival Rule of Threes states that the average person can survive about three days without water under normal circumstances.  However, wilderness fishing trips are not normal circumstances.  You will be spending lots of time in the sun working hard to get to the right fishing spots.  This shortens your window.  You may only survive a day or two without water.

In addition, the side effects of dehydration kick in almost immediately.  You will notice that you become weaker and get winded easier.  You might be light-headed or dizzy, and headaches are common.  Then come cold sweats, dry mouth, and heart palpitations.  Your last warning sign is if you pass out or stop sweating. 

I have experienced severe dehydration several times, and it makes basic tasks very difficult. When I am fully hydrated, I can walk three or four miles with a heavy pack before I want a break.  When dehydrated, I may only make it a few hundred feet before I need to sit down or even lie down.  It just sucks all of the energy out of you, and it feels like your heart is going to beat out of your chest.  You should start regularly hydrating as soon as you start your adventure, and never wait until you are thirsty to drink.

Why Purify?

Most water sources in the wild will contain tainted water full of debris, bacteria, and other pathogens.  The warmer the water temperature is and the more stagnant it is, the more likely it is to make you sick.  Drinking this water can cause vomiting and diarrhea which would only dehydrate you faster.  The only time you should ever consider drinking tainted water is if you have already gone several days without water and have absolutely no way to purify it.  At this point, you just need to hydrate enough to survive a few more days. Many waterborne pathogens take a few days to really start affecting you. 

There are a few exceptions to this rule.  If you have clean chunks of ice to melt, it should be okay to drink.  You should avoid snow as it is 90% air and 10% water.  Springs are spots where water spews directly out of the ground after being purified by the earth itself.  This is safe to drink as long as it does not smell funny.  Mineral deposits are still possible in springs.  If you can set up a rainwater catchment system, it is safe to drink most rainwater.  Finally, there are plants like coconuts and watervines that can be safe sources of water.


By far the best option for purifying water is a filter.  Modern water filters eliminate 99.999% of all harmful pathogens.  You can use a straw style filter to save space in your pack.  Just be prepared to get on your belly to drink unless you have a container for water.  I prefer filter bottles as they allow me to fill up and then drink as I go until I fill up again. You can also get gravity fed filters with rubber bladders that hold several gallons of water.  These are ideal if you will be camping in the same spot for several days, or if you have a group of people using one filter.


One of the oldest methods for purifying water is to boil it over a heat source.  Chances are you will have a campfire or a camp stove of some kind, so boiling water just takes a few minutes.  We were once told that the water must boil for a long time to make it safe, but we now know you just need to bring it to a boil and then let it cool.  This does not remove debris, so filter as well if possible.

Iodine Tablets

I typically carry iodine tablets with me in the wild because it is common for my water filters to become clogged with debris.  Sometimes I can fix them, and sometimes I cannot.  If it rains, fire can be a problem as well.  This leaves plan C.  A vial of iodine tablets can purify about 25 bottles of water and will easily fit in any pocket.  Just drop two in a bottle of water, shake it up a few minutes later, and you can drink in 30 minutes.  You can use bleach to accomplish the same thing, but I prefer not to pack liquid chemicals-plus you have to be careful to make sure that your measurements are correct, or you could end up poisoning yourself.

Other Options

If none of the previously mentioned methods can be performed, you still have a few steps you can take.  None of these purification methods are ideal, but they are much better than doing nothing or not hydrating.  You can layer gravel, sand, and charcoal in a bottle to make your own water filter. Just tie some cloth over the opening at the bottom to remove debris.  You can set clear water out in the sun in plastic bottles for six or more hours to kill most pathogens with UV light.  You can also dig a proximity well next to a body of water and hope that the earth will filter out most of the pathogens. 

As you can see, hydration is something to take seriously.  If you or someone in your group becomes dehydrated, you could end up in a wilderness survival scenario instead of a fishing trip.  If you see signs of serious dehydration, try to call for help.  Sometimes an IV of fluids is the only way to bring someone back.  If this is not possible, sip lukewarm water in the shade and put a wet cloth around your neck.  Hopefully, this discussion will help you stay hydrated throughout your whole trip.

Water Purification Is Important But Must Be Approached Carefully

Please note that these are basic tips and advice regarding water purification. Please follow all local regulations and understand the affects that various chemical treatments can have on your health. Water purification isn’t something you can afford to get wrong.

Questions? Concerns? Contact us here!

You can find out a TON of great information about backpacking trips in Michigan from Jim DuFresne’s classic book, Backpacking In Michigan (You can find it here) (Yes, it’s a classic).

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NCT: Nichols Lake to Condon Lake With Kids!

Nichols Lake to Condon Lake

Backpacking from Nichols Lake to Condon Lake with kids! Note, this hike is part of the North Country Trail: Nichols Lake to Highbank Lake hike found in Jim DuFresne’s book, Backpacking In Michigan. Always a good idea to bring along a firestarter or two. Check out ours here.

Nichols Lake to Condon Lake on the North Country Trail (Bitely, Michigan area). May 2020.

Took the kids (6 and 7 as of this trip!) on a quick overnight backpacking trip on a section of the North Country Trail near Bitely, Michigan. We parked at Nichols Lake which is just a short drive west of Bitely, Michigan.

There’s a boat ramp as well as parking for the trailhead to the North Country Trail, so there’s ample parking (note: you have to purchase a parking pass there, so bring cash). We hiked north about 3.5 miles to Condon Lake where we spent the night, and then hiked out the next morning. The kids did terrifically! And overall, it’s not a difficult stretch of trail and definitely able to be hiked by younger children.

Check out our survival tinder balls! We used them on this trip and had a great camp fire going in no time.

There are a lot of bugs as much of this trail alternates between hills and swamps, so I’d definitely recommend on bringing the bug spray here. We saw several different groups of campers and hikers, including a number of people mountain biking this section.

The kids did quite well, but we pushed and they were a bit tired as to be expected once we made it back to the car. They enjoyed helping gather firewood, eating our ramen, and drinking tea. One thing to note as mentioned, is that bugs are quite an issue in this stretch as it is mostly swamps interspersed with hills. You’ll definitely want to bring along some decent bug spray(or mentally prepare yourself) for kids, as they tend to not enjoy getting ate by mosquitoes. We ended up doing about 3.5 miles up the trail, and then another 3.5 miles back.

Most people it appears use this as through-hike spot, and for obvious reasons. There’s not a lot to see from a nature perspective as it’s a well traveled area but with minimal sights. The small lakes don’t offer much in the way of fishing, although we did catch a small bass out of Condon Lake(there isn’t much access to the lake from shore outside of the campground located on the north west shore of the lake).

But it was still an enjoyable overnight trip!