So you can set up a tent in two minutes, roast a marshmallow to perfection and you’re a pro backpack-packer? Well, here are three more essential camping skills to master:
Learn to Fly FishFly fishing merges hunter-gatherer heritage with Zen sensibility. Here is how to get started:
General-Purpose Setup: five-weight rod, large-arbour reel (with two spools), one weight-forward floating line, one sink-tip line, tapered leader and fluorocarbon tippet (6X). Staff at your local fly shop will sell you flies appropriate for the waters you fish.
• Hold the rod in your dominant hand, the line with the other. Strip out a few metres of line from the spool.
• Lift the rod in a smooth and quick motion; bring it back to two o’clock and stop the motion abruptly, allowing the line to unfurl behind you as the rod bends.
• When the line is fully extended behind, snap the rod straight-forward to 10 o’clock; stop abruptly, the line should curl out in front of you.
• Repeat a few times, letting out a little more line with every forward cast — finally dropping your elbow to point the rod parallel with the water and shoot the line forward. (Cast the line, not the fly.) Retrieve the fly slowly with a strip-strip-pause motion.
• It takes some practice to get it right — but keep in mind the most important aspects are fluidly moving the rod back-and-forth in a straight line, minimizing wrist movement and stopping the motion abruptly to transfer power from the rod to the line.
Keep Warm in Your TentIn Canada, summer and fall camping can mean chilly nights and mornings. Here are three tips to stay cozy:
• Eat a Clif Bar (or similar) before bed — we recommend Clif’s new White Chocolate Macadamia; metabolizing food keeps your body warm.
• Pack a hot water bottle, fill it with campfire-warm H20 and tuck it in the foot of your sleeping bag. Stays warm all night. (Secure the lid!)
• Store the next day’s clothes in the sleeping bag with you; they’ll be toasty when you put them on in the morning.
Make a Matchless FireMaking a matchless fire is the ultimate outdoors skill. Let’s be honest though, few of us are really going to rub two sticks together or invest the time and energy in making a bow-drill. Here is a way to build a matchless/paperless fire that works in wet and dry conditions — and in the real world:
• Purchase and carry in your pack the Light My Fire Firesteel 2.0 — this magnesium spark-maker comes with its own stainless steel striker and will produce a 2,900°C spark with a single stroke; it even works when damp. Good for 3,000 sparks. ($12.50; MEC)
• Saturate a dozen cotton balls in petroleum jelly (Vaseline). Stuff them into a zip-lock, compress and store in your pack.
• When it comes time to make a fire, for survival or for marshmallow toasting, pull out a cotton ball, fluff it up and spark the fire-steel atop it. The ball will burn for a couple of minutes or more; add progressively larger bits of tinder and get a flame roaring in no time.
• Why is this better than a match and paper? Simple: lightweight (29 grams for firesteel), compact, near-indestructible and hydrophobic.