Just what goes into a good camping guide, anyway? The first thing that crosses many peoples’ minds are locations to camp at in an area they’re interested in. While that’s a good start, I think there should be more to a camping guide than just campsite locations and how to get to them.
A good camping guide will provide you with at least a basic overview of different survival shelters that you can build out of materials found in nature. If you get lost on a hike and need a place to sleep for the night while waiting for rescuers to find you, you’re going to need to find yourself a shelter somehow. More often than not natural shelter isn’t going to be easily found, so setting up a lean-to out of branches or a poncho and some rope can work just as well.
While you should certainly stay up to date on the latest in First Aid, a good camping guide should tell you at least the basics involved in diagnosing and temporarily treating injuries and minor wounds. This information should by no means take the place of professional medical assistance! But if you are out in the wild with no access to professional medical attention, you have to be able to take care of injuries long enough to seek medical aid, and a good camping guide can help you.
A camping guide can help make sure you are prepared for your trip by offering lists of things you can bring with you to make your trip more comfortable and/or safer. From lists of food supplies, to camping gear and right down to what you should usually find in your first aid kit, a decent guide can help make sure you don’t forget anything important.
Planning on roughing it for a few days? With a camping guide you can have access to how to catch wild game, in areas where it’s allowable, how to cut it so the meat stays fresh and safe, and how to cook it for a healthy meal. A good camping guide can also show you what animals various tracks belong to, how to survive in harsh weather conditions, what to look for in the ideal camping spot, and how to start a campfire with no modern luxuries.
In addition to providing you with information on game hunting and cooking, your camping guide should also make available at least a little information on the local flora so you know what plants are safe to eat in areas where it’s allowed to forage off the land, and what plants are poisonous and should be avoided. Most camping guides will even provide information on how to purify small amounts of local water resources, making it safe to drink so you can stay hydrated.
So, while it’s a great thing to have a guide that tells you how to get to a certain camp site, how much it will be and what the park hours are, I think the best camping guides are the ones that give you the information you need to survive outside of civilization for more than just a few days. As always, better safe than sorry, right?