The pandemic has restrained us from enjoying the outdoors, especially those who love hunting, camping, and just exploring the woods. After a year since the pandemic occurred, countries are now being lenient as the COVID-19 cases start to decline and people are getting vaccinated. Some states already allow vaccinated people to not wear masks when going outdoors. With everything slowly going back to *new* normal, we can again reconnect with nature and enjoy ourselves outdoors, or just get lost in the woods. As we go about our next journey, here are some tips to keep in mind as you camp, hunt, and stay outdoors for a few days.

Make your DEET-free insect repellent

If you are particular to insect repellent that contains DEET or active ingredients that irritate your skin, you can make your own. Using safe ingredients such as vegetable oil, aloe vera gel, citronella, and cedar or sassafras oil, you can shoo away blackflies and other blood-sucking insects. Dark-colored shirts like black, brown, dark blue are also appealing for such bugs, so wear and pack light-colored clothing for your next camping trip.

Freeze cooked meals in Ziploc bags

For a hassle-free meal when going camping or hiking, cook your meals at home, put them in a Ziploc, and set them in the freezer. Put a label on each Ziploc bag for identification. This way, you won’t be carrying a lot of raw, fresh foods. When it’s time to eat, you can simply defrost them by putting the bag in warm water. Serve, and enjoy. 

Thawing vacuum-sealed meat

When staying outdoors for a week, vacuum-sealed frozen foods are the way to go. It is the best way to keep meats and fish fresh, but you have to thaw it properly. If not, the food’s juices will be drained out of the meat, leaving them dry when you eat it. To thaw, poke tiny holes in the packaging, and let natural defrosting occur. 

Tip when heating oil over a campfire 

To determine whether your oil is ready for frying, throw in an unlit match. Once the match head ignites, this indicates that the oil is now ready and that it already reaches the optimal temperature for frying. Take out the match, and throw in the meat.

Wok: The best camping pan

When going backpacking, packing a lot of stuff is a no-no. You don’t want to carry heavy, useless things while you hike or walk for miles. A wok is the most versatile cooking item you could bring. You can use it for stir-frying, boiling, deep-frying, soups or salads, pasta, and even use it for washing dishes or clothes. Your wok can replace many of your other items. When packing, it can also serve as protection for fragile items.

A tool belt to organize your cooking utensils

A tool belt has many pockets making it handy and helpful to hold utensils. You can tie a carpenter’s apron with many pouches on a tree within reach at eye level. You can put your ladle, spoon, spatula, knife, scissors, and pliers for hot pans. Just like that, you can grab whatever you need, and you will always know where to locate them.

Campfire for cooking

When cooking over a campfire, provide an extra space anywhere next to your campfire. Then rake charcoals under the flaming woods, and spread them on the other side. After you have gained a couple of charcoals and have reached the heat you intended, you can now place your wok on top of the coals. Add on coals to regulate the heat and avoid burning your food.

Plank-grill fish

Want some smoked fish? Prepare a 1/2-inch thick wood plank and soak it in water. Meanwhile, marinate your fish with soy sauce and lemon extract. Put your marinated fish on the wet plank and place them over your charcoal grill. Cover the fish and cook for 15 minutes. The 1/2-inch plank will only emit the right amount of smoke to perfectly flavor the fish. Plank-grill is best for oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and bluefish.

Build a table on the campsite

When you plan to stay on a campsite for a couple of days, consider making a table for your convenience. You can find driftwoods when you are near the ocean and deadfall in the forestry place. Out of them, cut a long and sturdy portion to serve as the table legs. Sink them 8 inches deep in the ground, and place plywood on top of them. This table will be practical that you might make another one. But discard them when it is time to go home and make a new one the next time you go camping again. 

Hang a tarp without grommets

Grommets make your life easier when setting up a tarp cover. But when the grommets tear out, or the tarp you bought has no grommets, you can do the ‘monkey fist’ to secure the lines. To do this, pick up a golfball-size stone and wrap it inside the tarp’s corner at the attachment point. Wrap the line around the squeezed part of the tarp holding the stone inside, and tie it off. Then fasten off the other end of the line to the anchor point and secure it.

Emergency rain shelter

When you meet unexpected rain and wind, you can use a tarp to create a shelter. Imagine a pyramid. Your temporary shelter will look like half of the pyramid. All you have to do is stake three corners of the tarp to form a triangle shape facing the wind. Install a pole on the opposite side to serve as the midpoint of the two stakes. Next, fasten the shaft by tying a line to the ground or a tree. Then pull to tighten the tarp. The half-pyramid shape can protect you from the high winds, and the tarp won’t be collecting rainwater.

Moon and sun halos predict rain

A visible ring around the moon or sun means rain or snow is coming within a day or two. The refraction of light caused by ice crystals in cirrus clouds forms the halo indicating low pressure. If the ring has a gap, that side points where the storm will come. Then, you have to prepare for the shower.

Use rice to dry soaked electronic devices

Rice has the property to absorb moisture. If your camera, smartphone, or other electronic gadgets got wet, pack it in a bag full of uncooked rice, and leave it there for 24 hours. Instead of using heat to dry your device, use dry rice. This treatment is often effective, and you will have your gear in a good, operating condition again.

Prevent your glasses from fogging

Keep your glasses from blurring your vision, especially when it starts to rain, by applying dishwashing liquid. First, thoroughly rinse your spectacles with clean water. While they are still damp, spread liquid dishwashing soap on the front and back of the lenses. And lastly, wipe them out with a soft cloth until no streaks are left.

Create a summary of your camping, fishing, hunting trip

Make a list of everything you brought, the things you wished you took, the things you wished you didn’t get with you. In this way, the next time you go on a similar trip, you know what to bring. Take note also of the weather conditions, and a summary of what you did. When you put away your gears, store your lists together with them. 

Storing ropes and cords

Tangled ropes and chords are hard to deal with and time-consuming. So, to prevent these lines from messing up, wrap them around on V-boards. V-boards are wooden boards with a v-shaped cut on both ends. Wind your camping ropes, electrical cords, and anchor lines neatly in the notches. Use longer planks for lengthy wires.

Find your way using a shadow

If you forgot to bring a compass, the sun’s movement determines a direction. Drive a stick into the ground, and put a stone or mark at the tip of its shadow. After a few minutes, set another stone on the shadow’s end. The first mark shows the west side and the second, the east part. Now, you can navigate your way.

Keep track of the time

Always take note of the time you set off hiking, and always look out how many hours you have been on the journey. Knowing this will tell you how much time you need to revert and retrace your route when rough terrains and obstacles hinder you from taking a different path or shortcut. This scheme would also help you be able to stick to your schedule and get out on time.

As you traverse the world again, remember that safety always comes first. Field and Stream magazine features articles regarding hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities. Get a subscription now at Discount Press to get the latest news about the great outdoors.