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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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Shelter Building

survival basics shelter building

Shelter Building Is A Critical Survival Skill To Master

When you find yourself in a survival scenario, you must assess your situation and make some tough decisions.  One of these decisions is how to spend your time.  Whether you plan to hike out of your situation or plan to stay put, you will need some kind of shelter, and this is where having shelter building skills are critical.  The Rule of Threes states that you may only survive three hours without warmth from fire or shelter.  If you didn’t bring a fire starter, then shelter may be your only option.  This is especially true if it is rainy.

Fire is another critical survival skill to master. Check out our firestarter necklaces and always be able to get a spark!

There are a few general rules for building a shelter.  These rules are the same whether you are building a platform shelter in the jungle or building a debris hut in the mountains.  There are also just a couple shelter designs that I use on a regular basis.  In this article, we will cover these basics so you can be ready to build a shelter in the wilderness.

Find a Location

Your location for your shelter is incredibly important.  I like to have two or three prime locations from which to choose before I make a commitment.  To accomplish this, I first focus on resources.  Where is the water and where are the building materials?  Once I establish this, I start getting more specific. 

You want to be close enough to water that you can easily walk there several times a day. However, you want to be at least 100 feet away to avoid insects, predators, and flooding.  You want to find a spot where the wind is minimal, so I like dense woods and like to be down off the top of any ridges. You should also consider the direction of the wind as the shelter needs to block most of the wind.

Finally, look for a flat, dry area.  There should be minimal rocks and plants on the ground, so you are not clearing the area for hours.  Before you lay out your design, clear anything that needs to be cleared.

Assess and Collect Resources

It is hard to put all of these steps in any particular order because the order will be a little different each time.  For example, part of assessing your resources is looking for natural structures which you can build upon.  This really should be done while you are looking for your location.  If you see a cave, a rock face, or a large downed tree, these can all be part of your shelter.  By using these structures, your shelter will be stronger, more windproof, and more waterproof.  It will also be a faster build.

While you are finding your location, you should also be looking for building materials.  I generally look for dead trees on the ground for poles and dead leaves or spruce boughs for insulation.  Once I have my location, I like to move at least half of my building supplies to the site so I can be over half-way done before I need to take a break. For example, I know I need one long ridge pole, at least six or seven shorter frame poles, and a good pile of insulation before I get started with the build on a lean-to. 

Assessing resources also means considering what you brought with you.  Tarps, emergency blankets, cordage, and cutting tools will all affect how you build your shelter.  That being said, I will teach you how to build an effective shelter without any of these tools.

Shelter Building Designs

There are just a few primary shelter designs that I use on a regular basis.  A good shelter is small to hold in body heat.  It is simple to keep your build time to a minimum.  All a good shelter needs to do is keep you dry, warm, and out of the sun and wind.  Once you learn the basics, you can always modify these designs to fit your exact situation. 

The lean-to shelter is one of the designs I use on a regular basis, especially if I have a fire.  One side of the lean-to is open so you can build a fire next to the shelter to stay warm.  The roof of the shelter should block the wind and rain if there is any.  It should also reflect heat back towards your body.

Start by finding two trees about eight feet apart with branches down as low as four feet from the ground.  Poles can be cut with a saw or camp knife, or you can break dead poles.  Just place the pole between two trees that are really close together.  Then walk forward pushing one end of the pole to break it at the appropriate length.

Place a 10-foot ridge pole across these two trees at about four or five feet off of the ground.  Then start placing frame poles about six or seven feet long against the ridge pole.  They should be leaning at about a 45-degree angle towards the side with the prevailing winds. 

At this point you can tie off poles for a more solid structure or you can add a tarp or emergency blanket for waterproofing if you have the materials.  If not, start adding insulation at the base of the roof and work your way up.  You will need at least one foot of insulation to block the wind and about four feet of insulation to make it waterproof.  You also need a couple feet of insulation inside the shelter to act as a bed.

If you have no fire, a debris hut is the way to go.  You will still need a long ridge pole, but your support poles will be shorter.  Start by attaching your ridge pole to two support poles about five feet long.  Next, build your bed with insulation.  Then you will want to add support poles of varying length down both sides at a 45-degree angle.  Finally, pile up four feet of insulation on top.  This design acts as a big natural sleeping bag to hold in body heat, so make it as small as possible.  You can use your pack for a door, or you can build one if you like.

If you find yourself lost in the woods and need to build a shelter, please remember these basics.  Keep your shelter simple and keep it small.  Be careful when selecting a location.  Drink lots of purified water and take breaks in the shade so you do not dehydrate while building.  I have been there before, and it is hard to build when both arms are cramping.  I suggest you practice the two designs we described here, so you are ready when the time comes.  Whether it is in the back yard or on your next camping trip, that practice could save your life. 

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