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November 5, 2005

Sight Unseen – Guerrilla Camping 101.7

Draft originally posted at The Guerrilla News Network. Included here with GNN commentary courtesy of the GNN Archive.

Sight Unseen – Guerrilla Camping 101.7
Asset B10394 Posted By BlackPacker

Camouflage is one topic that is seldom covered in backpacking manuals, simply because hiking down the Appalachian Trail does not require you to sneak. However, if you are going to be walking any considerable distance without trails, you will find yourself crossing many right-of-ways and being forced to camp in locations where you are not wanted. Thus, camouflage is an essential task for any Guerilla Camper.

Camouflage is also a matter of courtesy and I wish more traditional hikers would begin to utilize it. While every hiking book talks about “leaving no trace�, is seems no one has considered “having no trace� of any importance to campers. It seems every tent out there is safety orange, fire engine red, sky blue or a combination of all three and few things bother me more than finding a hidden spot overlooking a gorgeous meadow, only to watch some guy set up his signal flag tent in the middle of the vista. Please, be inconspicuous, if only to not annoy me.


There are two parts to successful camouflage, equipment and action. Equipment is something best handled at home. Before “moving�, which often entails lots of sidewalk hiking and dubiously legal camping, I take the time to check all my gear. This allows me to inventory as well as check for damage and wear.

I begin with a small bottle of acrylic paint and a can of cheap, flat black spray paint and start by unpacking everything and laying it out as neatly as possible. I start with my pack, using the acrylic paint to paint buttons, slides, snaps on the pack and scratches on the frame. An excellent paint for this purpose is sold as surplus stores as M-Nu. If the frame is too scratched, I will take it outside and repaint it with the spray paint. I then repeat this with my ponchos, my hammock, my coats and my shoes. Eyelets, guy hooks and anything else shiny gets painted over. I then take my tent stakes and give them two coats of spray paint. This does not last long, but the only goal is to eliminate shine on the tops of the stakes. When they get shiny again, I cam always mud them over. In today’s littered America, no one notices anything shiny in the bushes anymore anyways.

Then I repack everything as it will be for the trip. I put on the pack and jump up and down, listening for the slapping of straps, jingling of loose catches. I wrap offenders in a single layer of electrical tape and repeat the process until the only sound is the occasional squeaking of my hip strap.

My equipment is now officially stealth.


In practice, camouflage requires attention to 8 factors:

1: Shape and Outline – Few things stick out like a straight line or a human silhouette in the woods. Tent and tarp ridgelines are obvious even if the tarp is of a camouflage pattern. To hide tarp ridgelines you can add sticks under the tarp to give the top of the ridgeline a crumpled, irregular outline. The best bet is usually to pitch the tarp as low as you are comfortable with. I have pitched tarps low enough that raising my head in the morning was impossible, requiring instead for me to slide out of my sleeping bag.

2: Color and Texture – Remember that red tent? Nothing gives you away more than brightly colored gear. A red tent is an eviction notice. Even if you opt not to go with camouflage, choose tents and tarps in earth tones and neutral darks, which allow you to hide in. The same hold true with clothing, but try for darker colors. Camouflage clothing is often self defeating for the guerilla camper because it is conspicuous anywhere outside of hunting preserves. My only camouflage is my shell clothing and my ponchos. I wear khakis when hiking so I can spot ticks on my legs, but when trying to be inconspicuous in the woods, I’ll slip on my shell pants.

3: Shadow – While natural shadows provide good hiding places, your shadow can give you away easily. The shadow of a shelter at dawn can stretch across an entire valley. You can avoid this by pitching your tarp to the west of natural cover such as trees, rocks, or ledges.

4: Shine – This is mostly covered by preparing your equipment at home, so the sun doesn’t cast reflections off brass or aluminum snaps and grommets. However this also takes into account your tent material. Unfortunately, most plastic tarps and waterproof fabrics are naturally shiny. This can be alleviated by scattering dry dirt along the ridge of the tent. The left behind dust will dull the reflectiveness of the fabric. DO NOT USE MUD. Mud is shiny, hard to clean off and once dry becomes obvious as it cracks and crumbles. The reflection of eyeglasses can also be diminished by sprinkling dust on them, but don’t bother, you’ll probably just wreck your glasses.

5: Movement – Movement has a distinct effect on human vision. Our nervous system is attuned in such a way that if something moves we will instinctively look at it. It’s the reason why you can’t sit in a pub without constantly looking at a TV and its one reason a loose tarp flapping in the wind is painfully obvious even if it blends in perfectly.

6: Noise – The other reason a flapping tarp is obvious is the rhythmic snapping of loose corners and slack ridgelines. Pitching the tarp lower often alleviates this as well as additionally hiding the shape and outline of the tarp.

7: Scent – Scent is important no matter where you go, but usually not for human antagonists. Even in the middle of a national park you will find residents who it is best to avoid. The smells of campfires, food and cooking all attract wildlife. This can be fine if you are only expecting raccoons, but in area with bears you should keep all food at least 500 meters from camp and do all cooking at least 750-1000 meters away from camp. If you are doing stinky cooking (A hungry man can smell cooking bacon from two miles) don’t do it where you aren’t supposed to be. You can always cook a mile down the trail.

8: Light –Do not use flashlights after dark. If you must, diffuse the light through a dark colored sweater or t-shirt. If possible use a red lens filter, Maglites have an accessory pack with light filters, and Tikka’s Taktika headlamp has a switchable white/red filter. The same holds true with campfires and the telltale sparks of lighters and matches. On a cloudy moonless night, a cigarette can be seen from over a mile away, and the quickest way to get a ranger to your stealth site is a smoke trail.

By keeping these factors in mind, both while moving and while camping you will be much less likely to attract unneeded attention to yourself.



Once in a while the daunting idea of backtracking two miles is too much when you encounter no trespassing signs. Often, I have encountered gated communities, golf courses and even public drives which the residents have chosen to close to the public. One must not forget train yards, either. At these times it is useful to move stealthily.

Sneaking into a train yard requires a different approach to making it through a gated community. Sometimes it is enough to simply be inconspicuous while at other times you will need to be nearly invisible.

Inconspicuous is easy. Shave and put on a clean shirt. Walk upright and smile a bit vacantly as if you live in the neighborhood and are just returning home from a nice hike with your gigantic homeless backpack. Often you’ll never even see anybody. If somebody is out watering their lawn, smile and nod. Congratulations, you’ve just joined middle America. If stopped, feign ignorance, nothing is as believable as an ignorant suburbanite.

Invisible is hard. Dark clothes, a dark pack and no jingling is imperative. If you sound like a herd of eight reindeers you’re not making it far. Recheck for sounds, especially sloshing which is most common. If possible put all water in one container or top it off before moving on. Tape or pack anything that is jingling or slapping. You will seldom need anything as over the top as facial camouflage, a dark scarf or handkerchief around the face and mouth will work for this and then you don’t look like rocky raccoon in your mug shot.

Moving is best done upright, unless your silhouette will give you away. Slowly place the ball of your lead foot on the ground. Listen closely for branches of leaves. If you hear it, move you foot a few inches and lower it again. Slowly place your weight down on that foot, and move your trail foot forward placing it on the ground in the same way. This is much easier done on gravel than through leaves. The trick to not dig as you place your foot. While moving, consciously consider noise, light, shadow, movement and silhouette. Do not climb fences, instead, look for gaps. Go over walls and obstacles with a low profile, by swinging your torso atop it then swinging your legs over as low as possible. If you must cross open areas, look for long shadows and move quickly and quietly, keeping as low a profile as possible. Move slowly and deliberately and resist the urge to run across open areas.

If you must crawl, the best way to move is by doing a modified push-up onto your hands and toes and crawling forward with one leg and arm at a time. The trick is to not shift your weight abruptly. I find it easiest to hover my body a few inches off the ground with my hands at chest breadth apart. Do not drag yourself as it leaves an obvious trail and makes too much noise.

I will be honest, I have seldom needed to become “invisible� to go anywhere, but when hiking with friends a playful game of stalking can be fun, especially with people who have watched too many “madman in the forest� horror films. Be careful though, sneaking under the picnic table and grabbing an ankle can get you kicked in the face.


When to be seen.

Just as it is occasionally important to go undetected, there are occasions when being obvious is life saving. If you are ever in hunting areas, on or off season, do not attempt to go undetected. I carry two “safety orange� nylon pennants about a foot long. They weigh nothing, and I seldom think of them. If passing through hunting preserves, I always pitch my tarp in the middle of a clearing with the flags on either corner of my ridgeline. During turkey season I’ve seen guys blindly firing shotguns into bushes at the slightest scuttle. If there are guns around, do not go stealth. It is always better to be accosted for trespassing than shot for being a turkey.

4 years ago


I decided to skip mentioning camouflage makeup. I can’t imagine it being of use, and have never had reason to since the officers stopped making me do it. In my opinion, it’s gross.

The leg is almost better, so I’ll probably get to leave town on monday. Might have one more by then. Thanks again for all the feedback everybody.

4 years ago


You forgot lack of cotton.

I play airsoft from time to time. It is sort of like paintball, but hurts like hell when you get hit. A few of the guys who play have taken it to an exstreme level and used night vision scopes, since my friends and I cann’t afford such nice equipment to take out the other team, we use camcorders. turns out that these camcorder’s work better, when the opposing team wears cotton fabric camoflage.

Cotton Glows.

4 years ago


Interesting note. The only time I’ve used NVGs has been in military situations, and BDUs don’t glow. Does all cotton glow or only white? Do you know what causes it?

4 years ago


That’s funny! Spray paint is also good if you’re required to wear gold shoes for work.

4 years ago


Wilderness Survival Manuals > Survival, Evasion, and Recovery > Chapter I – Evasion > Camouflage

a. Basic principles:

(1) Disturb the area as little as possible.
(2) Avoid activity that reveals movement to the enemy.
(3) Apply personal camouflage.

b. Camouflage patterns (Figure I-1):

(1) Blotch pattern.

[a] – Temperate deciduous (leaf shedding) areas.
[b] – Desert areas (barren).
[c] – Snow (barren).

(2) Slash pattern.

[a] – Coniferous areas (broad slashes).
[b] – Jungle areas (broad slashes).
[c] – Grass (narrow slashes).

(3) Combination. May use blotched and slash together.

Figure I-1. Camouflage Patterns

c. Personal camouflage application follows:

(1) Face. Use dark colors on high spots and light colors on any remaining exposed areas. Use a hat, netting, or mask if available.
(2) Ears. The insides and the backs should have 2 colors to break up outlines.
(3) Head, neck, hands, and the under chin. Use scarf, collar, vegetation, netting, or coloration methods.
(4) Light colored hair. Give special attention to conceal with a scarf or mosquito head net.

d. Camouflage patterns (Figure I-1):

(1) Avoid unnecessary movement.
(2) Take advantage of natural concealment:

[a] – Cut foliage fades and wilts, change regularly
[b] – Change camouflage depending on the surroundings.
[c] – DO NOT select vegetation from same source.
[d] – Use stains from grasses, berries, dirt, and charcoal.

(3) DO NOT over camouflage.
(4) Remember when using shadows, they shift with the sun.
(5) Never expose shiny objects (like a watch, glasses, or pens)
(6) Ensure watch alarms and hourly chimes are turned off.
(7) Remove unit patches, name tags, rank insignia, etc.
(8) Break up the outline of the body, “V” of crotch/armpits.
(9) Conduct observation from a prone and concealed position

*Also See: Movement*

Post Modified: 11/05/05 00:26:19
4 years ago


4 years ago


Totally random thought. The other day, one of my students came to class with a camo t-shirt on, with the words “Ha! Now you can’t see me!” on the front. I laughed my ass off.

4 years ago


Man, I am so with you about the technicolor hiking gear. My brain cannot reconcile what is going on in people’s heads when they bring crap like that into pristine natural settings.

4 years ago


I dunno, it seems that most of the clothing is earthtones…which is great. And it’s actually quite possible to find a backpack that’s not that funky- mine is sort of gray-green and olive. I think one of the worst offenders is actually outerwear and other waterproof stuff; jackets, gloves, hats, tents, bivi sacks, etc. I have yet to find a tent that’s not fucking iridescent; mine is charcoal and white, which is OK, but it’s got a yellow rain fly.

It occurs to me that a lot of this stuff is so bright to increase visibility, such as to searchers looking for somebody lost.

4 years ago


That is the reason, Snark, to make sure you can be found. But some on. How many people who ‘need to be found’ are running around with tents? As for outerwear, I havn’t found much better than surplus gortex ECW (extreme cold weater) shell gear. It’s light, packs tight, and is camouflage. Still get wierd looks in the city though.

We used to joke about being invisibile in the army. Flip our collars up and start acting up. “You can’t see me. I’m not here.” Then again, in the military position of rest, you are to keep your right foot planted. When placed at rest, most of my squad would start shuffling in circles, like our foot was nailed to the groud, so I guess we were all a little goofy.

4 years ago


Oh yeah, was just going to write someting and stumbled upon the first draft of this article. I felt I rambled too much in it so I didn;t use it.

Camouflage is one of those things particular to a guerilla camper and not every kid with a backpack. If you are moving from place to place off established trails, Say, walking from Atlanta to Nashville, you will often have to impede on a variety of right of ways, camping in fields, under freeways, beside train tracks and in some of the most pristine wilderness you can imagine. There are a lot of people who don’t want you sleeping in those places and the best way to convince them they do is by not letting them even know that you’re there.

Camouflage is about more than not being seen, it’s about not being detected. Picking up your trash, hiding your scorch and burying your crap is camouflage. You do it so the next guy to come along can share in the feeling of being the first person on earth to see this undisturbed land (while setting his tent up on top of your cat hole). Camouflage is about not buying a BRIGHT RED tent and annoying the hell out of me by camping in a meadow my site overlooks, and making at least a moderate attempt to blend into the wilderness.

Civil society is all about standing out. When I leave society, I don’t want anything that advertises itself. No camping gear should be bright orange, except for a small nylon flag you use when camping in hunting preserves. Yes, sometimes you WANT people to know you’re there.


Camouflaging a campsite is not difficult if you choose the correct gear. Make or buy your gear out of earth-tone fabrics, brown, green, black and tan that occur naturally where you will be traveling. I don’t own anything white because I don’t do much snow camping, and when I have, I’ve always hoped to be found, cause it almost guarantees a ride to warmer environments. Yes, sometimes you really want people to know you’re there. Now, as you walk through the evening, look for places the same color as your tent or tarp.

Tan – Scrub, dry grasses, summer meadows, sandy areas, concrete.
Black – Conniferous tree clutsters, ledge shadows, under freeways.(But why?)
Green – Grass, bushes, etc. If you can’t find green in a forest…
Brown – Fallen tree trunks, dirt. See green.

Creating camouflage:

You can always use materials around you to create natural camouflage, but it has its limits. Do not try to cover a two man tunnel tent in grass. This is just another reason to go with tarps or ponchos; you can pitch them in a variety of ways to work with your surroundings.

The most important part of camouflage is hiding the outline. With tents and tarps this will always be the ridgeline, the straight strip along the top that works hardest to keep you dry. To break up the ridgeline, You can fold pleats in the fabric of a tarp, and tuck plant remnants into the folds. You can also pitch the tarp extremely low, allowing you to hide behind tall grass. Often you can find natural features, such as crevices that allow you to pitch the tarp almost flat. There is a place I found in California where two trees had grown in such a way next to a dry creek bed that it was actually possible to hang a hammock underground. If I hadn’t found it at nine in the morning, I would have stayed.


what do you think?

4 years ago


I’m lovin’ these posts, people need this information. I know there’s tons of ‘survival’ manuals out there, but I’m just finishing up Bradford Angier’s ‘How to Stay Alive In the Woods’, and I’m wondering what books, (besides the obvious Army Wilderness Training Manuals), you’ve read, and can recommend. I need to go on a trip…a hell of a long one, and learning long forgotten skills would sure as hell help me out.

4 years ago


Is the B.C. rollin’ through the barracks for inspection later or what? M-Nu’s a life-saver. haha. good stuff BP—all the guerrilla camping sections. I was an 11B, so I know what yer sayin’. Army issu ECW gortex gear works very well—I was stationed in Alaska, so I frequently put the gear to the test—expensive, but well worth it if you’re gonna be out in the cold or rain.

4 years ago


I’ve been a guerilla camper for over a year now too and I love the bit about fixing noisy gear and sloshing. I have been stalking so long that it becomes force of habit to stalk everywhere at all times making as little sound as possible.

I started practicing stealth techniques playing Airsoft in Vancouver with Canadian Forces guys. When it comes to woodland camo, CADPAT all the way. Many times I have crawled past enemy snipers, had enemy almost step on me, or hidden in plain sight with CADPAT. It really is too bad that it is so conscpicuous in civilian life to wear all CADPAT. However, in the United States most people don’t recognize the pattern and its digital nature almost makes it fashionable as opposed to scary.
A CADPAT Catalog

My 100L+ CADPACK).aspx
I wanted one third-line pack to pack them all and in the compression straps bind them. The LRPP swallows several smaller lighter sub-backpacks that compartmentalize second-line kits like my clothes and computing gear. And it has some military extras. Nice to know I can use the rapelling harness if I have to rapell off a building in a hurry carrying a 120L load. And the price isn’t as much as it seems because it is in Canadian dollars.

By the way Wolfe, I recognize you. We always meant to get together foar an airsoft op some time but never managed to. IR camcorders would be an interesting hack. Night fighting is psychologically harrowing as it is, but against people with NVG it is like being up against the invisible Predator.

With the exception of some wilderness trips I have stayed mostly urban and sought to maintain access to civilized staples like the convenience of a hot shower every morning.

What I love about your guides Blackpacker is the amount of field-testing your words clearly reflect. You have been there and tried things on a long enough timeline to discover Mean Times Between Failure and what is worth carrying when you are traveling long distances. Thank you for sharing your experience and I do hope you produce a book.

By the way, check out Patrolling, one of the shows my friend Sean Kennedy The Fucking Man has put together. Many of the episodes deal with guerilla camping survival techniques.

Patrolling with Sean Kennedy

November 2, 2005

Dying of Thirst – Guerrilla Camping 101.6

Draft originally posted at The Guerrilla News Network. Included here with GNN commentary courtesy of the GNN Archive.

Dying of Thirst – Guerrilla Camping 101.6

Our bodies are made up of 75% water, thus the effects of dehydration are fast and debilitating. Although you can survive without water for a number of days, you will do it with lethargy, a headache, joint pains and muscle cramps. Thus, water should be of constant concern, both in the city and in the woods. Fortunately, water also covers over 75% of the planet, so finding it is usually not difficult. Finding clean, safe water while travelling can be more problematic however.

The EPA estimates that 90% of the world fresh water is unsafe to drink without treatment. The World Health Organization sites waterborne gastrointestinal infections as the cause of 80% of all disease; killing 50,000 people daily. There are dozens of ways water can become contaminated; the most likely being agricultural and industrial run off. Although water can be invisibly contaminated, quite often you can judge water though a variety of factors.

Foam: If the shores have foam, leave it alone. Water does not foam. If there is foam present in the water, it indicates heavy contamination. Do not drink it. Even though you may be tempted to, especially if it is miles to the next clean source and you are running low but remember that intestinal illness is a much greater dehydrator than a few miles walking and foam can even indicate industrial runoff, and god only knows what that stuff will do to you.
Stagnant Water: Sitting water is generally a bad idea to drink. Stagnant pools are collection points for everything that can possibly be washed into them, Since the only way for these pools to empty is through evaporation, a contaminated pool remains contaminated for years on end, and actually becomes more contaminated as less and less water remains.

Agricultural Runoff: If there is a pasture on the water front anywhere up stream, use great caution, and preferably avoid drinking it. Most intestinal diseases are spread through feces, which spreads easily through the ground during rain.
Industrial Runoff: Mining pollutes ground water with a variety of chemicals, as do a great number of industrial practices. (Flouride is a byproduct of aluminum production). Avoid water down hill from mining and industrial areas, since poisons like cyanide, arsenic and things I’m too freaked out about to look up can be present.
Alkalis: In some areas, springs can have a dangerously high alkaline content drawn from leeching through minerals in the ground. Fortunately, Alkali tainted water is bitter and leaves a long after taste in the mouth, so it is pretty easily identified.
Tannic Acid: Tannic acid lends a brown color to water, although by itself, it is not toxic, even in large quantities. I looks like watered down soda pop and is caused by water leeching the tannic acid from trees like cedar.
Giardia: Not so affectionately known as Beaver Fever due to the myth that beaver droppings spread the infection, Giardia is a protozoan that rose to prominence during the 1980s due to heightened numbers of infection among backpackers and campers. Some speculate that this protozoa has been with us for eons, but a combination of day to day sterility and use of antibiotics have weakened our natural immunities to it. The increase of agricultural meadowland along watersheds has also contributed to an increase in infections since it is spread through fecal matter.
Crypto: Cryptosporadium is another protozoan responsible for diuretic distress and is the most common cause of everyday diarrhea. Neither iodine nor chorine will kill it, although it is susceptible to boiling and filtering, but only if you are using a 1 micron or smaller filter. Most ceramic hiking filters will filter crypto. Fortunately, once you get crypto, you will have a slight immunity to it that gradually builds.
E. Coli: Not much of a problem in pristine mountains, E. Coli is found in shallow groundwater sources contaminated with animal waste.
Caffeine , Carbon Dioxide, Corn Syrup and Coloring: Soda pop is poison. It melts your teeth, dehydrates you and is produced by some pretty despicable multinationals. While I use soda cans to make stoves, I won’t even pick up a used coca-cola can for fear that somebody might think I actually support the bastards.

Treating Water

Boiling: Boiling is one of the safest methods of treating water, although it will not remove chemical pollutants. Boiling can also be used with other forms of treatment to just to be sure. It makes the water taste flat, but that can be remedied by pouring it from one container to another a few times, which also speeds the cooling process.
Iodine: One of the most common methods of treating water, iodine kills giardia and many other waterborne diseases, but it is unable to kill crypto due to a protective cyst around the organism. Iodine collects in the body over any period of use, so it is not recommended for constant use and this is why the public water system does not use it for purification. Iodine leaves a bad taste in the water which can be neutralized with a small bit of ascorbic acid (Powdered vitamin C (Citric Acid) works too). Before adding flavor neutralizers, make sure the iodine has had at least fifteen to twenty minutes to purify the water, thirty of the water is cold. Iodine tablets are sold under the brand names Portable Aqua and Polar Pure and for a few bucks more you can get an additional bottle of PA plus, ascorbic acid tablets that neutralize the taste of the iodine. Iodine looses its effectiveness once exposed to air, so once you open a bottle try to use it in a few weeks or buy a new bottle. It is also discourages for anyone with a thyroid condition, and those allergic to shellfish, since shellfish allergies are often caused by the iodine they contain.
Chlorine: Forget it. Chlorine is one of the least effective methods of cleansing water, although it has the benefit of not leaving behind a chemical after taste. Chlorine bleach is suggested for use during emergencies where municipal water systems have been compromised.
Water Filters: I love mine. I have drank from murky green horse troughs, yielding crisp clean water and not gotten sick. Filters can pricy and some people doubt their usefulness to weight ratio, however while completing Ranger school, I had the chance to drink swamp water, filtered through a t-shirt and treated with extra strength (and extra tasty) iodine tablets. To this day I refuse to drink “Superfoods” or other macrobiotic “green protein” drinks because of that one “opportunity” If you opt to buy a filter, do not go cheap, make sure the filter has a filtration level of less than 2 microns, as anything higher will neither eliminate Giardia nor crypto.
Aquamira: The aquamira system consists of two bottles, one containing Chlorine Dioxide (not really chlorine) and food grade phosphoric acid. By pre-mixing the two and adding it to water, it oxygenates the water, killing any biological contaminants. It requires a 30 minute wait, but leaves no foul taste and is supposedly more effective than either iodine or chlorine.

Carrying Water

It is said that 64 ounces a day is a good amount of water to consume. However, this does not mean you should go tramping off into the woods with two 32 ounce bottles, since you will also need water for cooking and cleaning.
Water Bottles: These can be as simple as recycled soda bottles, which have the benefit of being collapsible when empty, or as complex as varnished aluminum sig bottles. I personally carry two wide mouth lexan plastic bottles which screw directly onto the bottom of my water filter. I also carry a rolled up two liter bottle in the bottom of my pack for use at camp or to carry additional water in dry locales. I also occasionally will carry a half liter water bottle which I use to drink from while walking because I can carry it in my pocket.
Water Bags: Water bags are no good for carrying water, since they slosh and shift weight, but they are great for storing water. A number of hikers recommend using one just for camp, to prevent constantly running for more water. It is also a simple matter to turn a water bag into a camp shower by buying a second cap, which you use a hot pin to make holes in.
Hydration Bladders: Dromedary bags are most commonly referred to by the brand name Camelbak. hydration bladders are incorporated into most modern, high-end backpacks. I have considered modifying my ruck sack to accommodate one but the price, difficulty in cleaning and threat of a puncture turn me off to the idea. There are useful however, and I know many people who swear by them and the convenience of having a straw draped over your shoulder does encourage good drinking habits. I personally use a Platypus due to the simplicity of their design.

Collapseable Jugs: Skip em. They are great for car camping, but are difficult to carry, puncture easily, and after getting folded up a few dozen times they WILL break open. I carried one for fourteen days. I used it at camp for five, and then carried the broken piece of plastic for nine days just to throw it out.

Finding water

I advocate always carrying a map, which is the best way to find water, although hiking an extra mile to a dry creek bed in the middle of summer can be disappointing. Look for downhill valleys which channel water, abrupt changes in vegetation, willow trees are notorious for growing by springs and lakes as is cottonwood in drier regions. Large flocks of quail, rockdoves and other foraging birds can indicate a water source nearby. In arid or desert regions look for shocks of green vegetation, which indicate a source or at least shallow groundwater, which can be dug for. If you have to dig more than a foot, give up and try someplace else. In the desert, look for reflections, but this can be tricky, as what seems to be a reflection of water could simply be a mirage.

Emergency Water

Water is everywhere, thankfully and it is not hard to gather water in the woods. However, should you find yourself without, there are a number of tricks to collect water.

  • Put a plastic bag around tree branches and tie it off. The moisture from the tree will condense in the bag over a few hours, yielding a few sips of water.
  • Dig a hole, deep enough to place your water bottle into and a foot or two wide. Lay a plastic sheet (tarps and space blankets work) over the hole, and put a small rock in the middle, directly over your water bottle. The day time heat will cause water to evaporate, which will collect on the tarp, running down and gradually dripping into your water bottle. If you are in a true survival situation, you should also know that this method will allegedly distill urine into drinkable water.
  • Rain. God I love rain water. Clean, fresh and easy to collect. If a storm is coming I will often leave my cookpot and a water bottle out and open in a clearing, even if I’m camped out near a river. I don’t however do this in or near cities as I feel (Maybe I’m wrong) that even the air is dirty there.
  • Dew Mopping: Use a piece of cloth early in the morning to wipe dew from the landscape and then wring it into a cup. Don’t gather dew from poisonous plants though. This is actually a pretty effective way to acquire water. You should still treat water gathered in this matter.

Thirsty yet?

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October 31, 2005

Burn Baby Burn! – Guerrilla Camping 101.5

Draft originally posted at The Guerrilla News Network. Included here with GNN commentary courtesy of the GNN Archive.
Asset B10249 Posted By BlackPacker
*To keep up to date on my current writing and articles, please visit my page at GuerrillaCamping.Blogspot.com*
To Build a Fire
Although restrictions in many national and state parks prohibit fire building the skill is one of the most essential to anyone who would seek to make the outdoors their home. There are as many ways to build fires as there are types of wood to burn, from the humble cook fire to the raging bonfire. Here I will discuss a few of the ways I use to light it up.
Preparing the fire circle.
Preparing an area for a fire is essential. A forest floor is composed of layers. The top layer, fallen leaves, grasses and dirt obviously need to be cleared away, but those unfamiliar with the woods might not recognize the duff beneath it. Duff is the layer of soil just underneath the surface. Composed of decaying plant and animal matter, under the right circumstances, loam will develop into peat moss, a soft coal like fuel that burns with a dark and heavy smoke. Even before it becomes peat, this layer, despite its moisture, is still flammable and can cause a few interesting problems. I have seen fires spread underground through smoldering loam and once these subterranean embers start is can be VERY VERY hard to put out.
To prepare an area for a fire, scrape away ALL ground cover until you have an area of bare dirt. Keep the scrapings nearby, although far enough from the fire that you will not dry the pile out. After your fire is finished and extinguished, you will want to replace this layer both to conceal the dame your fire has done and to ensure that the forest floor is not scarred.
Once you do this, you can begin to create your fire. The first thing you will do is gather wood. Keep in mind that the forest floor is alive. Fallen logs and branches provide shelter to bugs which help regenerate the soil. Avoid gathering logs embedded in the forest floor (If a thousand beetles run for cover when you pick it up, put it back.) The wood you gather should be in three categories. Tinder, Kindling and Fuel.
Tinder is small scraps and wood shavings. I often carry a small pouch of dry grass and twigs in my bag for use in the rain, but seldom need it. Another method for this, which I once used is cotton balls coated in petroleum jelly. I often use my hatchet to shave off a pile of wood chips, which is easier than using a knife and happens anyways if you are splitting logs. Old birds nests, dry sap, and dry brush also work well.
Kindling is pencil sized twigs. These must also be dry, but are easy to find. Spruce trees, due to their thick canopy protect their lower branches from rain and it is usually easy to snap off a few small twigs from such a tree. You can also use strips of wood shaved from the side of a log and in heavy wind flat thin pieces will serve to insulate the fire as it build.
Fuel is your logs. I seldom use anything larger than an inch around and if I buy firewood, I will always split the logs. This allows you to keep the fire manageable while also greatly reducing the amount of wood you need. It is also much easier to get a 1 inch thick log to burn than it is to get a four inch log to burn.
To create your fire, begin by creating a foundation of two or three small sticks on the cleared ground. This keeps your tinder off the ground and dry while offering a bit of convection current to provide air to the fire. Create a loose pile of tinder on this foundation and then place a few pieces of kindling across the top. I generally lean the sticks up like a teepee, but there are many ways to do this.
Once you have your pile, strike a match and hold it carefully to the tinder until spent. If you tinder is dry, you should have a small fire going already. Gradually add larger pieces of wood until satisfied.
Cleaning up: Pour water on the fire until it stops steaming. Really. Until it stop steaming. If you are using thick logs, this can take quite a bit of water and failure to get the wood to stop steaming can allow the remaining wood to dry itself while smoldering and re-ignite. Once done, let the circle sit for a bit and check it periodically to look for warm spots or embers. Once you are certain that the fire is out and the ground is cool to the touch, replace the cleared soil and try your best to conceal all hints of the blaze.
Types of fires:
The campfire, a robust, smoky and warm blaze is one of the most destructive fires. It sterilizes the soil beneath it and around it and consumes tons of wood which would otherwise eventually become soil itself. I only make campfires in public parks with circles and fire wood for sale, and only when in a group.
The warming fire uses little wood, never anything bigger than an inch thick, and is built to provide warmth. This fire is easily built, managed and extinguished, but does leave traces.
The cookfire. This is my most common fire. It uses no logs at all, relying on a constant supply of kindling to heat a single pot. It is the easiest fire to clean up after, but one of the hardest fires to get the hang of making. Its biggest benefit is the ability to completely conceal it�s location, leaving behind no charred earth or blackened rocks, since the kindling used to stoke the fire is completely consumed when finished.
Types of fire starters:
Lighters. The best bet for initial outings, the convenience of a plastic butane lighter is unmatched. Zippos and other liquid fuel lighters are not such a good bet since they run dry quickly. You can however fill a zippo with coleman stove fuel (or Bacardi 151) if you carry a stove that uses it.
Matches: There are a thousand types of matches. The paper ones in books, although the most common are useless since sweat in your pocket can render them soggy and unlightable. My favorite matches are called hurricane matches and have heads about an inch long. When struck, hurricane matches provide about ten seconds of flare, making the initial lighting quite easy.
Flint and Steel: Not actually made of flint, but of Ziconium, the magnesium fire starter is my preferred method of fire starting. By striking the flint with the back of your pocket knife, you create a flurry of sparks that ignites almost anything. By shaving bits of magnesium from the handle of the striker you create a very fast burning tinder, but this is usually not needed. The best way to use one of these is to use fiberous tinder, and pinch the piece against the front of your knife. As you drag the blade along the flint the tinder will catch a number to the sparks and should erupt into a small ember. Drop this ember on your tinder pile to get the fire going.
Survival Tools: Ranging from a flint and wheel like those found on lighters to cold weather, one-handed tools like the blast match, most of these fire starters are gimmicks in my opinion, though I have found uses for a blast match in very cold environments..
The Bow Drill. I love the bow method, but construction of a base, spindle, handle and bow can be time consuming. If you wish to learn this method, look into it and practice as you sit around your campfire. It took me about 50 tries before I got my first ember, and even now I only get it going about half the time. But it’s great to impress friends once you learn how to do it. One of the best sources for learning to create the bow drill or hand drill fire starter is old boy scout manuals.
The Nuclear Option: I seldom do this, but in raining cold with numb fingers it is a useful method. Pour about an ounce of fuel across the tinder and flick a match into it. It is messy, stinks and should, of course, only be used in emergencies.
The fire starting kit: I carry my matches in an old film canister, along with two birthday candles. If you can find them, the novelty candles that relight after blown out work great, but I haven�t found them anywhere. I put a piece of cotton ball across the tops of the matches to keep them from igniting in the canister, but I almost think the threat of that happening is an old wives tale. I also carry a flint striker on the draw string to my pack where it is easy to find when needed.
4 years ago


Another great entry, I have nothing to add except what your title referenced:
To Build a Fire – Jack London
Sometimes fiction drives a point home better than anything.
4 years ago


another great chapter
4 years ago


As usual, a fantastic blog….can’t tell you how much I enjoy these. Well-written, entertaining, and insanely useful.
I wanted to comment specifically on your practices of minimizing the impact your fire has on the forest floor. I can’t tell you how glad it makes me that you included that. The forest floor is absolutely loaded with bacteria, fungi, and other decomposers that are absolutely essential to the functioning of the ecosystem- they break down leaf litter and return the nutrients to the soil and the plants. Carefully clearing your fire ring and later replacing the layers of humus-rich soil you displace is a really important thing to do from an ecological standpoint. Likewise, the huge, hot, smoky campfire does indeed totally sterilize the soil underneath it to a depth of at least a foot. If you’re making one in an established campground, the fire rings there are basically sacrifice zones, but making one on virgin ground is a bad idea. A small fire minimizes the damage.
4 years ago


4 years ago


Not only does fire sterlize, that humus and duff, once dried by the fire above it becomes flamable. I have seen fires spread underground, requiring lots of digging (and thus trashing) of the forest floor. Honestly, a cook fire is best made inside a hobo stove, but until I get some way to put photos and illustrations in here, I’m skipping stoves and how to string up a tarp.
4 years ago


Another great way to start a fire:
Fuck tinder. Take about three feet of toilet paper and wrap it around your hand. Hold the top in about hal way, then flip it over on your hand and fold the bottom in about half way, making a donut. Set under kindling, ignite and get warm. And if you don’t carry toilet paper, you’re a savage, you can probably start fires with a hard gaze.
4 years ago


Fun ways to start fire: Magnifying glass and cotton ball, Hemp rope and flint/tinder, and my favorite Steel wool and a 9volt battery.
Not for conservationists:
Fill a coffee can with gasoline get a buncha styrofoam and drop it in the can. Watch as it melts, fill with styrofoam until it reaches its solubility point.
You now have a coffee can full of napalm.
4 years ago


And if you don’t carry toilet paper, you’re a savage, you can probably start fires with a hard gaze.
That stuff just doesn’t decompose, man. Sits there for years (or months, maybe… I do know it is unpleasant to find a lump of the stuff laying there, grinning smugly up at you, under the rock you just picked up for the same purpose). Unless you’re in an all-evergreen forest, you can find some nice big leaves to wipe your ass with, perfectly good. Smooth stones also do the trick, but their fixed shape means you’ll want to finish up with something that can bend to your peculiar form, just to get everything.
Unfortunately I haven’t yet mastered the evil eye thing.
4 years ago


Thats why you burn it or pack it out. I should have mentioned above that uded toilet paper works even better, but wait a few minutes before cooking on it.
Tha magnifying glass thing is fun. I use a lensatic marching compas and can start fires with the lens on that. The most fun is the bow drill. Especially if you are bored at a camp site and make one using chipped rocks and foraged cordage.

October 31, 2005

Guerrilla Conditioning – Guerrilla Camping 101.4

Draft originally posted at The Guerrilla News Network. Included here with GNN commentary courtesy of the GNN Archive.
Guerrilla Conditioning – Guerrilla Camping 101.4
Asset B10235 Posted By BlackPacker

*To keep up to date on my current writing and articles, please visit my page at GuerrillaCamping.Blogspot.com*

It’s not easy to lug your life on your back over endless miles. Every endurance injury known to man will accost you or those you encounter along the way. Blisters, bruises, pulled muscles, shin splints, sprains, stress fractures, knee failure, even amputations, if it can be wounded – the trail will find a way.

Once I started to adjust to being a civilian hiker, I was amazed at the injuries I witnessed in the people I shared trails with. Sprained ankles are endemic to through hikers, though I seldom saw the injury while in the military; which has a great many more “hikers” and a great many more miles “hiked”. This is due to the nature of training. Like running, martial arts or any other sport, training is required to improve performance but it is also instrumental in order to avoid what are commonly called “sport injuries”.

A member of the active duty military exercises at least five days a week. Pushups, sit ups and flutter kicks accumulate with mind numbing repetition while 12 mile road marches wear down boots and build calluses. Even those who struggle with the routine are healthier, stronger and less prone to injury than their civilian counterparts.

Most non-professional hikers are frequent walkers who rely on the trail for conditioning, starting with 8 mile days and working up to 15 mile days as their journey progresses. Few that I have encountered follow any real off-trail exercise regimen. Not viewing hiking as the sport that it is, many fail to stretch or warm up before setting out on the trail, opting instead to move directly to a dead lift of their 40-60lb sack which they lurch onto their shoulders dropping it onto their backs. Later that day, they blame hills and potholes for sore backs and cramping calves.

I personally do not follow a military exercise cycle anymore, although I still recognize its benefits. Every morning, I stretch lightly and do a few dozen pushups and sit ups. In town this is a great way to feel like you deserve that shower and in the woods it can be a literal warm up, calming chilly fingers as you try to light your stove to make oatmeal or coffee. Throughout the morning, I do a lot of stretching while tearing down camp. Butterfly stretches while rolling my sleeping pad and packing my bag, stretching my back and legs while pulling stakes. The contortions lend a sense of ritual and focus to the mundane and common tasks of tearing down and I’m convinced it’s why I don’t loose tarp pegs. Prior to picking up the pack I do a quick round of leg, back and shoulder stretches just to avoid possible pulled muscles or simply sore ones later.

When I’ve got the calories to burn (i.e., extra food in my pack) I will often run the flatter and broader sections of a trail. I jog at a relaxed pace, letting the inertia of the pack propel me forward. After a while of this, you learn a half squatted stance that removes almost all shock from your knees and ankles allowing you to glide steadily along at a calm double time for surprising distances, I’ve heard it compared to a South American gait. I merely jog like this until winded then return to my normal pace until I feel rested. If I’m inclined and the trail is good, I’ll do this off and on all day. The added blood flow helps relive aches that have settled in underneath my shoulder and kidney pads and pumped muscles make the pack seem lighter afterwards.

Do not run down hill. The only way to do what I’m talking about does not allow for you to slow yourself and any downhill running with a pack requires you to break with each step, putting incredible amounts of direct stress on leg joints and bones. Uphill is fine if you feel up to it however and I find it makes arduous climbs at least shorter in time if not in distance and inclination. And yes, the argument can even be made that you should own nothing that you can’t carry on your back for two miles at a dead run. . . but if you do it downhill, you’re going to get shin splints.

Upper body strength is not overly important to a hiker, although it may prove to be of great use to a guerrilla. If you do not currently lead an active lifestyle, I urge you to begin at least moderate physical training. There are a great many of exercises that can be done using only your body for resistance, or community centers often have gymnasium equipment for free use. If however you are spending a lot of time on the trail, it is a simple matter to work all portions of your body.

Many hikers use trek poles to provide extra leverage as well as an upper body work out while hiking and I have been curious about trying some for myself. With some ingenuity, they are easy to make for yourself out of the proper branches. Using two, and supporting part of your pack weight on your arms, your ease stress on the legs, and add stress to the arms, providing the “legs with a pack” look so fashionable with distance hikers.

Barring that approach, you do have a nylon free weight strapped to your back eight or nine hours a day out there. You can improvise. Trees make great pull up bars and if you can resist swinging from the arms of a giant oak, you should probably go get an office job at Halliburton. I don’t bother doing curls with my pack however, feeling that pushups, sit ups and tree climbing do me just fine.

When off trail for any period of time, I resolve to walk everywhere, usually putting in four or five miles a day and often more if I am camping on the outskirts of a town. I increase the amount of morning exercise I do, working instead to build a sweat rather than simply warm up. It makes me feel cleaner after my morning wash, it wakes me up as much as coffee used to and does do without the noon-time crash. If I am unable to at least go out on an over night hike at least once a week, I will often take a bit of time to explore town with a fully loaded pack on, covering 12-15 miles each week as a general goal. It’s also a great way to carry your groceries and scores big points with checkers at co-ops. The trick is to acclimate yourself to the realities of maintaining a nomadic existence, even if you stage them from a hostel you’ve been at for three months.

The exercises described above are not a training regimen as much as they are a conditioning routine. If you wish to bulk up or build strength many of the same routines will work. For a simple and effective work out program, find a copy of the U.S. Army Physical Fitness Training Manual, you can get it from their recruiting website, but I wouldn’t give them my address. Even if I had one.

4 years ago


Dude, your post makes me want to get out of my office job and go hiking for a few months SO BADLY. SHIT. SHIT SHIT SHIT.

I’m ready: running, boxing, yoga, and weight-lifting keep me in shape. But the morning routine of break-down, the all day exertion of walking/jogging, the hanging from oak limbs, etc. Man it all sounds SO GOOD.

Post Modified: 10/30/05 05:51:11
4 years ago


you need to put all this stuff into a book, a manual of sorts. it would be a great buy for the guerrilla set, whether they are getting ready for Armageddon, the collapse of Western society, a revolution or just to get in shape.

4 years ago


yes, stretching is crucial.

very true about exercise being and effective warm-up. i’ve always said that those who heat themselves with wood are lucky, because it warms them three times. once when they collect it, once when they chop it, and then again when they burn it. wood chopping is excellent exercise. just be sure to keep good posture and lift with your legs, not your back.

i think trek poles are rediculous, but that’s just my opinion.

good post my friend, as always. keep up the good work. let’s go tackle a fourteener sometime. i live in the midst of many.

4 years ago


4 years ago


The bent-leg slow quasi-run gait you describe perfectly describes how I’ve seen the hill people of Nepal walk. They never lock a knee or come down stiffly; their legs are nearly always bent, their steps very short, and they seem to glide smoothly more than stomp. Westerners tend to take big long strides, lunging from each step, and when heading downhill tend to keep their legs straight, jacking their foot hard into the ground and taking the shock straightlegged, not absorbing it by flexing the knees. It takes just an unbelievable amount of leg strength, but I’ve hiked many miles this way, and it’s just vastly more efficient and comfortable. It’s also easier to maintain good footing, and you remain more stable with a heavy load. Considering that the Nepalis regularly carry 90-120lb loads over rough trails that can gain a thousand meters in just a couple of kilometers, it’s unsurprising that they’ve developed such a perfect hiking style.

Also, shifty- I’m in the Denver area, but I’ll PM you if I’m ever in your neck of the woods. I’d definitely like to claim a 14er in the name of GNN….

4 years ago


Shiftshaper, You got me prompted to do a new GC on fire building with that remark. Yes, building a fire is a definate warm up. And I also think trek poles are ridiculous, but I want to try them just so I can say that I know they are ridiculous.

Digruntled. Do it. It’s surprisingly easy to get out for a day a week and I can’t tell you how much perspective it gives you on everything that happens back “in society”.

Anthony. A book would be great, and if enough gorillas bought it, I suppose I could stop spending so much time working in cafes and diners. I’d still want it to be free though. So, know any publishers?

4 years ago


Oh yeah, and a 14er sounds great. If things keep going as I plan, I should be in Colorado spring of 2007. If Anthony provides a flag, let’s plant one on Mt. Elbert.

4 years ago


It appears that your GC blog info is being posted by other people at other sites. Maybe claiming that they’re the ones who’re the original writers. Maybe it’s you, posting your info under alias’ at different site’s. In any case, I saw this on a website called Libertythink, and they posted their link to the GC 101.1 as having originated at sianews.com, which is where the following link will take you. Just thought you may be interested in knowing.



– Ø®£Z –

4 years ago


P.s. Silverback is Stephen, not Anthony 😉

4 years ago


i also recommend these Wilderness Manuals.

4 years ago


yeah, only THAT posting of GC 101.1 had a few little extras, including firearms:

Communications: Remember, that every US-made cell phone manufactured after 2002, by Federal law, contains a GPS monitoring device; and probably do most late-model foreign brands. They know where you are. If you have to be in contact, probably best to freshen up and walk down to a streetside pay phone. If you forsee that that is not going to be possible: buy a prepaid cheapie, use it only if your life or situation depends on it, turn it off (and remove the battery, if it’s a removable-battery model) when you’re not on it, and destroy it when you no longer need it.

Your Friend: Everyone has a different preference as to firearms. You’re sleeping and walking alone, so you will want to carry one. This little essay is not about the hunting expedition – you’re just moving from place to place—, so carry a fairly disposable old standby, a dozen rounds should be plenty, and use your best discretion.

if you are not the one posting this stuff on that site, Blackpacker, you might want to do something about it.

4 years ago


I was wondering, and looking forward to another one of your “Guerrilla Camping” posts…

4 years ago



There is an agent I can try to hook you up with. The key will be to get the whole ‘book’ figured out and then completed. At this point, you could probably do another 5 chapters so that there are 10 in total, go over them to make sure everything is there that you want and then we can see if the agent will take it on. If not, I know a small publisher who might be interested. Only problem is that they pay very little in an advance…

You can send me a message if you want to discuss more.

4 years ago


I was thinking 10 chapters myself. I’ll send you a message about it once I get closer to 9. Also, I went back and edited the food section to include a bit of bear bagging info, and am planning on doing the same to GC 1 and 2.

Thanks for the heads up on the SIA reposting, OG. I went in there and posted, and they fixed the header. Unfortunately, I was at a friends house during a halloween party and spelled my name PlackPacker, so now they probably think I’ve got bad teeth.

4 years ago


BP, you should also mention the importance of stretching while hiking. As you walk, you calf muscles, due to all that stress will tighten over the course of a day. I always strecth my calves every thirty minutes to avoid muscle tears,

4 years ago


Rooftops. In the city look for rooftops that are low enough to scramble up on from a dumpster or a fire escape. Garage rooftops, unused buildings’ rooftops, commercial outbuildings all work but consider how you will get down unnoticed in the morning. I use a blue tarp to cover with in the city. People see them everywhere and are unconcerned to see one on a rooftop. Be safe. Be awake. Be the change.

4 years ago


2 words: Mole Skin

4 years ago


Moleskin is first aid.

Guerilla man, It’s funny you mention that about tarps, I was writing the camoflage blog when you posted that. Green tarps are just as common, and less obvious in the woods. Rooftops though are great. I should include a section in campsite selction when I revise it.

Hagcel, stretching while hiking is definatly important. I don’t stop to stretch usually, though. Instead I take a few minutes to walk slowly doing calf stretches as I go. They definately let me know when they need it.

October 23, 2005

Thought for Food – Guerrilla Camping 101.3

Draft originally posted at The Guerrilla News Network. Included here with GNN commentary courtesy of the GNN Archive.
Thought for Food – Guerrilla Camping 101.3
Asset B10066 Posted By BlackPacker
Food is one of my favorite things, and nothing makes me happier while out than to sit down and cook a simple or elaborate meal using tools I made myself and often using ingredients I’ve found along the way.
I’m not going to get into foraging here, although I encourage all of you to learn about it. It is incredibly rewarding, but relying on it without prior experience and practice is a dangerous prospect. Read the book “Into the Wilderness” to see the difference a few weeks can have in the difference between food and poison. Simply going on hikes with a good book, such as Richard Mabey’s “Food For Free” is an excellent (and often filling) way to get the hang of it. And let me tell you; after a few weeks without fresh vegetables, you will be really wishing you’d learned how to at least gather and cook greens.
One alternative to foraged greens is a sprout bottle. Sprout a variety of seeds (alfalfa, bean, lentil sunflower, etc) by soaking them over night in a plastic peanut butter jar. After soaking them, attach a piece of screen across the top of the jar with tape or a rubber band and drain the water from the jar. I use old silk screen scraps. Do this until the seeds begin to sprout in a day or two. Rinse and drain the seeds daily and carry the jar in the bottom of your pack. Soon you’ll have a mass of fresh spriuts not unlike when you buy alfalfa sprouts from the store. Great in soups, over pasta or noodles and adds crunchiness to boiled greens.
There are a number of staple foods I vary between when I can get them in bulk. I tend to carry enough to eat well, very rarely going short on food and I like to carry a variety, because after 2 weeks straight, I imagine couscous might start to feel like eating Styrofoam beads.
Flour: Don’t laugh about not having an oven. With water and a pinch of baking soda, you can make bread on rocks, sticks or in a pot. Add powdered egg and milk, and you have pancakes. A touch of sugar and some unripe foraged raspberries, you have tarts. The trick is to lay out a bit of flour and slowly knead in water until you get a soft dough. I now do this in a plastic bag because the dough gets insanely sticky. Add more water and boil it if you need wheat paste. Once you’ve got the dough starting to form, fold in the baking soda. The resulting dough can be cooked on a rock at the edge of a campfire, pulled into strips and wrapped around green sticks to make stickbread (Way more fun than Marshmellows, and is like biscotti if dipped in coffee). Don’t expect wonderbread, but expect a deep smoky taste from the wood. Trust me, eventually, you’ll know and enjoy the flavor of oak fires.
Couscous: A wonder food, which tends to be stupidly expensive if purchased in pretty boxes, but dirt cheap if bought in unpackaged bulk. Couscous absorbs the flavor of anything you put in it, which means a touch of chicken or beef bullion cubes or a bit of miso powder can create radically different tastes and break up monotony. Couscous is also amazing with dried fruits and vegetables. One of my favorite breakfasts is hot couscous cooked with powdered milk, raisins and dried berries. You can “cook” it in nearly tepid water in ziplock bags, since all it needs to do is absorb the water.
Polenta is another food that is remarkably versatile. I often use it to thicken up dried soups and add a few calories when hungry. It is possible to grill it but it always makes a mess out of my pan.
Oatmeal: Don’t carry too much of it or plan to eat it every day for breakfast. At least not if you want to keep enjoying oatmeal. Vary your breakfasts by packing granola or other hard cereals with powdered milk in baggies. Sometimes the crunchy texture maks a cold breakfast much better than spoonfuls of oat-crete paste. You can often buy muesli as an oatmeal substitute, but I find it hard to find in bulk.
Dried Fish: In many asian grocery stores you can find a variety of dried flattened fish. These are great in soups or ramen. I personally like the dried shrimp, but I also think squid jerky is great trail food.
Quinoa: This Andean grain is unique in that it is a complete protein by itself, unlike rice or wheat. Its Incan history is amazing and it has been cultivated in the rugged Andes Mountains for over 5000 years. It can be used in place of any grain, but is sometimes difficult to find. To cook it, you mix 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water and cook @15 minutes. You can use it in place of rice or any other grain.
Rice: Unfortunately, rice is a no-go for hiking. It takes too long to cook, using up too much fuel. Fortunately, you can cook rice and re-dry it to make instant rice. To cook dried rice, mix equal portions dried rice and water. Yes, you can buy instant rice, and I always do myself, but I hate endorsing packaged or processed food and I’ve never seen instant rice in bulk.
Corn Pasta: Get small pastinis that won’t break being packed. Corn pasta is easier to find in whole grain varieties which are more filling and nutritious.
Olive Oil: An easy alternative to butter in most cases, you can use olive oil in almost everything. Even stick bread.
– — — —
The cookset: My cookset is minimalist. I am limited by this in what I can cook, but the lack of weight over many miles makes up for it. Basically, when you can choose between a pound of food and a pound of stove the choice makes itself for you the first time you go six days without seeing a store.
Thankfully, the worlds lightest stove is also the cheapest. All it takes is two tin cans, a box cutter and some patience. There are a lot of sites detailing the creation of alcohol stoves and I learned much of what I know from www.zenstoves.com. By carefully cutting apart the two tin cans you can create a 1 inch high stove the runs on denatured alcohol, running alcohol or moonshine. Most stoves have holes on the top, requiring the use of a pot holder. I use one with a large central hole and holes along the side which allows me to set my pot directly on the stove without a potholder. This necessitates a small pot, but unless you are cooking for more than one person you will seldom need more than three cups of boiling water. You always need to use a wind screen with an alcohol stove. Wind can double or triple cook times or even make it impossible due to the small amount of fuel the stove holds. To make a simple wind screen simply fold aluminum foil over itself three times and make a ring by wrapping the foil around your cook pot.
My pot is a simple aluminum affair. I bought a light aluminum pot from the thrift store, and unscrewed the handle to make it pack easier. I use my folding pliers to move it. It is important that the pot has a lid with a good fit as this speeds cooking; reducing the amount of fuel you will need to use and therefore carry. I use one that is a bit too large that I have punched slits in to enable me to bundle this all together with an old belt.
Finally, cutlery. I carry a lexan platic spoon and fork, they are heavy duty, nearly unbreakable and decent unless you’re trying to eat steak. For years I carried metal ones, but switched after winding up using these for a while after an old set got lost. You can occasionally find them in cafes or upscale takeout restaurants for free, you can recognize lexan by the difficulty in bending it. It will often break instead of twist.
—- —
The Foodbag.
I use my old army laundry bag, lined with a heavy duty trash bag. On the side, I have sewn a square of fabric to make pouch which holds 50 feet of parachute cord. The purpose of the lined bag is twofold. The trash bag keeps smells from coming through the canvas laundry bag and attracting animals, but also allows you to inflate the bag inside your pack in order to carry crushables like fruit or bread. Simply blow it up and then wrap the draw strings in alternating directions around the neck of the bag to tie it off.
Every night, after dinner, I hang the bag. In areas with bears, I cook away from my camp, often sitting down for dinner a mile or more away from where I plan to sleep. I also hang the food bag away from my campsite. When hanging a food bag, which can be surprisingly heavy, you should find a sturdy branch 15-20 feet off the ground with no nearby perches. The bag itself should be hung 10-11 feet above the ground, and five feet or more from the trunk and branch. This keeps raccoons, squirrels and bears from getting at it.
—- —
I get pretty winded when I write these up, sorry for verbosity. It seems a lot of you enjoy them though. I’m trying to sort out some thoughts before I leave tomorrow, but if it takes too long, I’ll be offline for a few days.
4 years ago


i highly recommend these books.
4 years ago


I don’t think you have any verbosity to apologize for. Frankly, I think you’re publishable. I’ve paid for less useful writing than this.
As long as you keep writing, I’ll keep reading.
4 years ago


this is kinda cool, though a localized (because they’re smaller) edible plants and herbs guide, and/or a mushroom guide would be even better. with mushrooms, be sure to double-check your guide and look closely at the specifics of the ID description, because many choise edibles have poisonous and even deadly look-alikes.
trackertrail is an informative site.
and of course:
*At Home in the Wilderness*
_by Tom Brown, Jr._
I: Shelter
II: Water
III: Fire
IV: Hunting and Traps
V: Edible Plants
VI: Survival Cooking
VII: Animal Tracking
VIII: Basic Skills and Lost-Proofing
IX: Advanced Survival Shelters
Other articles by Tom Brown, Jr.
Making Natural Cordage
Be a Back-to-the-Basics Bowyer

Post Modified: 10/22/05 21:59:50
4 years ago


The reason I advocate the Mabey guide is the fact that it identifies individual edible portions of plants and the seasons in which they are edible, along with providing great full colored pictures. I had an old guide with hand drawings, but got so hungry after not recognizing anything that I ate it.
Thanks for the feedback DD.
That At Home in the Wilderness series is great. I love it.
4 years ago


i couldn’t get parts III & IV formatted correctly, as you probably noticed. some textile bug i guess.
on edit: two underscores between Wilderness and Part and two between III and Fire.
textile bugs out with web addresses with more than one underscore in a row

Post Modified: 10/22/05 21:36:15
4 years ago


it’s because some of the addresses have three underscores in a row which textile tries to recognise as italics, i think. anyways, even if i post the address it won’t work, because it takes out an underscore http://www.motherearthnews.com/library/1982_March_April/Part_V__Hunting___Traps
there should be three underscores beween Hunting and Trapps on the above addy. weird textile bug.

Post Modified: 10/22/05 21:33:51
4 years ago


Your series of survival blogs are awesome. I’m very interested in buying a book like “Food For Free”, but particularly geared towards plantlife in the Pacific Northwest (British Columbia/Washington State area). Does anyone have any suggestions?
4 years ago


MH – when in the PcNW, i eat salmon and raspberries, and other fruits i find. occasionally we’d get shellfish. don’t know of any good guide books for the area, sorry. if i come across one, i’ll post it here.
4 years ago


4 years ago


love your blogs, always vote 5, however, you seem inordinately attatched to the Structure. what would you do w/o an atm?
4 years ago


i have this awesome tool for making fire… FOREVER… wanna buy it?
4 years ago


layoff king, he is validly pointing out the obvious, you mentally challenged midget
4 years ago


god i love your blogs.
i agree with duckie; you have no reason to apologize, and I’ve definitely paid money to read less talented writers.
keep blogging, keep writing, keep backpacking my dear.
4 years ago


Actually ive learned ALL my survival techniques from SAS manuals. For general camping, hiking, and survival trips i recommend “Essential SAS Survival” by Barry Davies, hes cant be active duty SAS or he wouldnt disclose his name, so hes ex-SAS
4 years ago


king – hence my comment on a previous guerrilla backpacking entry:what do we do when the stores all close their doors?
4 years ago


Excellent stuff.
For the stove, I have been messing around with perlite as a fuel (using alcohol as a “wick”) and it seems to work rather well – burns longer and need to carry very little alcohol. Haven’t field-tested it yet, but it looks promising so far.
Dead-on on the oatmeal thing, ruined my taste for it for months on one trip (same goes for grits). Dried fruit or fresh berries help liven it up a bit though.
what do we do when the stores all close their doors?
I have some ideas in mind for this that I am trying to put into a coherent form – may blog it in the next few days.
4 years ago


what do we do when the stores all close their doors?
Wait ‘til the morning? Or if it is a holiday then find a place that is open or wait until the next day? If it’s a Sunday and one of those arcane places that still closes then either go somewhere else or brick them into the 21st century.
4 years ago


Perlite? Is that shit flammable? Awesome….I wanna know more.
4 years ago


right on man, 5 from me…
don’t know why it took me so long to read your stuff, but keep it coming!
4 years ago


Kong, I am attached to the system. I have spent nine years trying to be as dis-attached as possible. Right now, I know the name of the farm where my flour comes from. I’ve met the guy who runs it, and I’ve walked by the mill that grinds it. I still buy it at a store, but I know to guy who owns the store, too. Yes, this makes me inordinately attached to the system, but it also means that I have created a system of my own. Some anarchist theorist once said, “You are only as free as your circle of friends.”
Maxbooze: SAS novels are fun. But only if you read them where you can use them as activity books.
As to, What do we do when the stores close their doors?
You walk up to the door of a farm house. Knock heartily, and say, “Hey Mike. Remember me? Yeah, I fixed those fences for you last year for some corn and a place to pitch my tent. You know, the stores have all closed their doors, so I need corn and potatoes. I’ll help you on your farm if I can have that acre pasture over there to grow a garden.”
There. I’ve got an out. If the collapse comes next year, I’ve got plenty of places to hide out and grow food. However, if the collapse comes in five, I should already be on my own land and growing. I can sit out in the middle of nowhere, right now and I make enough electricity to power everything I own. However, I don’t expect to walk into a pasture and pull potatoes out of the ground. That will take a year or two, and up to five before I can call my field a true sustenance farm.
By the time I finished college, I was so aware of the un-sustainability of our economic, political, agricultural (and even social) systems that I spent a year working 9-5 while spending my free time looking for a way to change it all. In the end I had put into action a plan to think globally, act personally. If society should use solar power, than I should be able to power everything I own solar panels. I did it for under fifty bucks, and that includes the wreckage of me learning to solder. Oh my god, we’re going to run out of gas? Learn to cook with alcohol and wood and make sure you’re a strong walker.
I feel that I have succeeded at this point of creating a sustainable community of one person. I am however tied to the machinations of our unsustainable commerce. It is difficult to wash the smell of petroleum off my rice, but I manage. The sweat from carrying it works like jasmine out there. I don’t think the stores are all going to close. There will be a fundamental shift in the way we live. It may be uncomfortable for those who aren’t adaptable. But if you want to learn adaptability, be professionally migrant for nine years.
For the record, I haven’t had an ATM card since halfway though college when I realized money was a drug. I have a savings account, but I rarely need to use it.
So, to answer your question about what will we do when the stores all close? We’ll flirt with the waitress next door and get our bocaburger and beer for free. In short. Improvise. I just started improvising a bit ahead of schedule.
Sisyphus, I enjoyed your earlier posts and if you can come up with a good answer to the question above, please do. I have no answer as to how to do it as a society. I had to figure out how to do it to myself first, and I’m only part way there.
4 years ago


4 years ago


I wasnt implying novels like “Bravo Two-Zero” i was talking about ACTUAL SAS SURVIVAL MANUALS. Written by ex-SAS they are probably the best survival books you can get. Ive learned TONS of survival skills on top of my already vast knowledge…
4 years ago


BP as you know better than most, it’s insanely difficult to disattach yourself from the system. i’ve been taking baby steps, one at a time, for almost a decade, and i’m nowhere near as close to off the grid as i’d like to be.
others at this site have gone much farther than myself and, i’d wager, would say the same thing.
4 years ago


I really dont care about this, because the only good thing about being a developing (and not developed) nation is that our natural resources are almost intact, while you guys need to pour 3 oil-calories for each meal-calorie.
Its like supernovas: they are brighter, but last several times less than normal stars.
Anyways, good luck with the whole hunting thing…
4 years ago


Perlite? Is that shit flammable?
Actually, it isn’t flammable. I shouldn’t have called it “fuel” – that is still the alcohol. It is just a lightweight substrate for the alcohol that supposedly allows for a longer and more consistent burn with less alcohol needed. I am going to put it through some tests against a standard homemade alcohol stove to see if that is true.
Simple Perlite-alcohol stove design

Post Modified: 10/23/05 20:54:45
4 years ago


Marchhare – I’m very interested in buying a book like “Food For Free”, but particularly geared towards plantlife in the Pacific Northwest (British Columbia/Washington State area). Does anyone have any suggestions?
Since we already covered this elsewhere, I figured I would link some related stuff:
Wildflower Center bibliography by region
(great resource I just came across recently – lists books on flora by region and gives an idea of what type of guide each is)
Foraging and Ethnobotany Links Page
(awesome collection of stuff)
Forager Community Pages
(be very cautious about wild mushrooms – even the experts can be fooled)
Getting a general edible wild plant guide and one specific to your region would be a good idea. Implementing and practicing what you read is crucial of course.

Post Modified: 10/24/05 02:28:00
4 years ago


Blackpacker, you’re Guerrilla Camping blog entry’s are good reads.
Thanks 🙂
Your Geurrilla Camping blog entries have claimed the top spot at Google 😉

– Ø®£Z –
4 years ago


Not meaning to litter your blog, but I could of sworn that I correctly used “your” instead of “you’re” in that above comment :s
I meant for those to be “your”, not “you’re”
– Ø®£Z –
4 years ago


BP, I dig your food selection. I’m fortunate enough to have a great bulk co-op nearby where I can get all this stuff. I started “living cheap” a few years back and started learning how to make everything myself. It helps that my mother was forced to do it to keep us fed growing up. She taught me all about soda bread, although I’m convinced I make it better than her now.
But your stove. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve built tons of alcohol stoves, and always carry one with a bit of rubbing alcohol (yes, I know methylated spirits are better, but you can use the alcohol for hygiene too) and use it to cook trail lunches since it’s so easy to set up, but the amount of fuel it needs is ridiculous and the heat produced makes it impossible to use for melting snow and if you mismeasure the alcohol, your stove goes out before stuff is cooked, and crunchy rice sucks. Oh yeah, and I can cook rice.
But, the true reason I got the whisperlite (Other than how cheap I got it on Ebay) is the fact that is the lightest multi-fuel stove around. I don’t believe all the stores are going to close their doors, but if they do, it’s good to know I can forage for gasoline by hunting cars. It runs off automobile fuel, kerosene and white fuel (Coleman lantern fuel), Their new XGK stove burns all these AND biodiesel so I might eventually spring for one if I find it used and cheap.
The system is amazingly efficient. It’s two nesting cookpots, inside of which nest a heat diffuser, a wind screen, and the stove. The fuel Bottle has a pump to pressurize it, allowing you the woosh of a canister stove without the waste of disposable canisters. The heat diffuser is a metal affair that allows the flame of the stove to directed around the outside of the pot, drastically reducing energy waste and meaning less fuel to carry. One fuel bottle is enough for four or five days, and once after using it way too much I ran out of fuel mid-trip. I night hiked four miles to the park’s parking lot and “found” gasoline to run it off of. (Yes, my cook set includes four feet of thin plastic tubing and yes, I thought of that before it happened).
The weight of the system is not much of an issue since my GF walks with me most of the time, so we have a lot of “shared weight” (usually meaning I carry it for both of us) in the form of tents, cook sets, etc.
The only major draw back to the stove is what people online call the jet scream. The thing wooshes. Loudly. It doesn’t scare animals like they say, but it is not silent. I actually think the sound of it summons raccoons at campgrounds, since they know its dinner time.
I understand the weight / ratio, and I don’t think you should switch if the alcohol stove works for you, but I wanted to put something in here as an answer what we’ll do when the stores all close. I’ll siphon.
Keep it up man, you’ve got quite a knack for DIY writing. If you can, you should post a picture of your stove, I’d love to see what design elements you use.
4 years ago


hagcel/blackpacker –
the answer is whatever works of course. I love the whisperlite but like my “luxury model” dragonfly even more (will be taking a look at the XGK for the hell of it soon – even though a new bag is far higher on my list of to-get things). From the way I see it, knowing how to put together a “hobo stove” quickly is far more important than using it on a regular basis (but props to those who do). This is the reason I have even been screwing around with perlite – which really seems to add little to the stove’s efficiency.
As long as I can afford to buy/acquire gas, and have tools to keep it going, I will use the MSR. When that fails, I hope to have the homemade stove pegged. I really don’t see a big issue in the weight difference since most of the mass/energy spent will be in fuel anyhow – but I, like hagcel, also have the 2 person hike-thru thing going (and 2 dogs with packs and harnesses to help).
4 years ago


4 years ago


I carried a coleman peak for a while when I first started out. After a while, I got sick of cleaning all the stuff and learned to cook with less and less. The peak also had the ability to run of unleaded, but I seldom used it. The prblem with gas stoves is gas. You have to buy a gallon of this stuff even if you only need 16 ounces. Methylated Spirits are more available than coleman fuel, and I don’;t mind carry a medium sized can of it. It may not be economic, but it’s light and lets me resupply fuel without giving away the other 3/4 gallon I can;t carry wth meI like the idea of a syphon tube though. I might give it a try if I go back to a commercial stove.
I like the idea of biodeisel A LOT. Now we just need sombody to write about how to make biodeisel in a backpack and we’re hooked up.
4 years ago


You could do it in a nalgene bottle, I betcha. You’d need to do a lot of shaking, but it’d be doable. Heat it with a boiling water bath. Add lye and methanol. Shake a lot, keep it hot. Let it react. Pour off glycerine. I could do more research if you want, but shit, I made a little batch in my blender just to play around with it. It works pretty well.
October 20, 2005

Campsite Selection – Guerilla Camping 101.2

Draft originally posted at The Guerrilla News Network. Included here with GNN commentary courtesy of the GNN Archive.

Asset B09983 Posted By BlackPacker

*To keep up to date on my current writing and articles, please visit my page at GuerrillaCamping.Blogspot.com*

Campsite Selection – Guerilla Backpacking 101.2

For the normal camper, a paragraph suffices and thousands have written about it. Pick flat ground, free of rocks, no dead branches overhead, no gullies to route water underneath you, someplace to hang your food. For the guerilla camper though, there are many other things to consider. Such as, what if you’re in the city? What if you aren’t supposed to camp where you are? In major wilderness areas, you are usually free to camp where you like, but the same does not hold true in the urban, suburban and rural sprawl that you are most likely to encounter while traveling in developed nations.

City Camping:

Having encountered black bears, over-zealous raccoons, mosquitoes, mountain lions and a slew of other frightening of uncomfortable situations, nothing strikes a chord of fear in my soul more than the notion of bedding down outdoors in a city of a few hundred thousand. For one, humans are more dangerous than bears and sleeping on a sidewalk opens you up to more potential abuse than anywhere else. That said; I have had it happen where I passed through nothing but sprawl for three or four days, with the nearest hostile hundreds of miles away.

You best locations in the city are away from other homeless. I tend to hunker down after hours behind businesses, preferably in commercial districts, since they usually get ignored all night. The undersides of freeway overpasses, if secluded enough, are great locations and usually the uppermost corners of the embankments are leveled out and great for pitching tents. If you can be seen from a road though, don’t be surprised if the police light you up at 3am and tell you to move on.

One of the most important tools for sleeping in the city is a hostelry card. Usually for twenty or thirty bucks you can get a warm bed indoors, surrounded by people from all over the world. No cops, no hooligans trying to steal your gear and breakfast in most hostiles is an exciting process of meeting tons of new people. This card is also a good way to prove your story that you’re simply backpacking someplace and are not a vagrant.

Suburban Camping:

Camping the suburbs can be blissfully easy or intensely difficult, usually depending on the attitudes of local police, citizens and and nature of the area. Often in suburban areas, I will hang my hammock in parks or use a poncho to make a simple bivy sack under some playground equipment. At night when the local police roll through and shine their lights across the park, they are looking for shadows to give you away. Keep this in mind; hang your hammock higher than usual or pitch a lean-to in the middle of some shrubs. Also, be wary when setting up that nobody sees you. I’ve had park goers call the police on me in some of the more uppity locales.

Another option I’ve taken in suburban areas is a variation on the will work for food sign. “Walking to Ohio! Can I pitch my tent in your backyard?” works surprisingly well, especially if you look clean-cut and non-menacing. When I do this routine, I often setup outside of grocery stores, as they expose you to a wide array of people and offering to carry and load groceries for people is a great introduction. Before I got the blackpack, I used a standard OD green military sack. Often, some old vet would see me, ask if I served and I would wind up an hour later with hot food and cold beer with a sleeping spot on their couch swapping stories from our respective wars.

Rural Camping

Waking up to the blast of buckshot over your head is no good and it’s only happened to me on farmland. Generally, when passing through rural areas, I start talking to people on the roadside around five or six in the evening, explaining where I’m walking and asking them if I can set up in a corner of their field. I tell them I can work for the privilege and that I know how to mend fences, milk cows and do a variety of field work. Surprisingly, I seldom have to ask more than two or three people before finding a place and they usually let me string up in a barn or shed.

If worse comes to worse however, rural areas are wide open for stealth camping. I generally try to hang my hammock on the side of a hill a few dozen feet from the road. Do not set up in roadside ditches, as those often flood when the irrigation systems kick on in the morning. (Learned that lesson the hard way) If you must camp on somebody’s property with out permission, be respectful, quiet and hard to see. One night in Georgia, I was camped out on what I thought would be an unnoticed corner of a tobacco field, only to be woken up at four in the morning by a very pissy farmer with his very loud shotgun (The aforementioned buckshot) leveled at my head. After talking him down a bit, he still made me break down my stuff and walked me to the edge of his property. Rather than find a new place to sleep, I considered it morning, walked about a mile, made breakfast and set out for the day.

4 years ago


I can’t get enough of these guerrilla camping stories. Soon as this semester is finished, I’m heading for the hills. Good work again blackpack.

4 years ago


no gullies to route water underneath you

think small, but also think big. washes and drainages are often large, especially in the canyons of the desert country, where flash floods are a common occurance. look for plant matter built up at the bottom of trees and bushes, and even rocks. this is a good sign of a flash flood zone:

4 years ago


your advice is good for those who wish to avoid the drama of urban squats, ect. squatters can be awfully territorial. but they can also be awfully generous and sharing. it all depends, i suppose. on what, i am not sure.

4 years ago


Another great blog, thanks!

While I avoid cities, I haven’t had much problem asking people if I can camp in their fields. You’re right, it usually takes a couple though.

4 years ago


Shift Shapers, Good call. I should have through to mention that. Alot of flood plains can look like simple meadows until a good rain comes alog (Thanks to murphy’s law, always at two in the morning on a moonless night). Another good way to spot flood plains is looing in the crocks of trees for collected rocks, branches and displaced plant matter.

As for Squatters, I have ocassionaly stayed at squats and had a great time, but usually, finding squats is a haphazard premise, reliant on running into somebody who recognizes you as a traveler and invites you home. When I say avoid other homeless, I’m not refering to the homeless by choice, like myself and many on here, but the derelects found on skid row generally due to drug and/or alcohol problems. I don’t discourage staying in those locales due to the homless themselves, but because of the breed of people who prey on them, the dealers, pimps and hustlers, as well as the drunk frat boys who boot party on their way home from bars. A friend of mine was someplace in Arizona, camped out on skid row in a bivy sack. He got woken up at 2 in the morning when some frat boys returning from a local bar decided to take out their wrath on what they thought was another frail, starving, homeless guy. Imagine their shock when he jumped out of his sack and maced them. All 280lbs and 6’3 underneath some dreadlocks even I find a bit scary. When he told me this story I told him the next time it happens, he should pull out his camera first, because the looks on their faces were probably hilarious.

I just jumped around on the net for a minute looking for info on squatting here in the US. Didn’t find much. Anybody on here have a link, or some knowedge to kick down?

4 years ago


4 years ago


i live where the canyon lands of the deserts meet the san juan mountains, in el valle de las animas perdidas, the valley of lost souls. down in the canyons, a flash flood can happen when the sky above is clear. 800 ft down in a desert canyon like the one linked to the image above, there can be storms up on the mesa that you can’t even see, yet you are in the drainage of.

4 years ago


Hahaha. Even when city camping you must be wary to avoid floodplains. No, this is not a morbid Nola joke.

Back in the mid-ninties, I often hitched into Nashville to spend the weekend hanging out with the hundreds of down and out street musicians who made the place so amazing. Often, I would sleep in parks and bushes along the banks of the Cumberland river on Saturday night.

I think it was a saturday in Mid August. The city was packed, and the girls were wearing alot of skin in the southern summer humidity. That night, I slept with my backpack as a pilow with a wool blanket bed on a sandy bank of the river under a railroad bridge right by downtown. I was far enough to avoid high tide, but not high enough for high tide and the wake of a fast moving tour boat. I was woken the next morning as the river washed over my legs, soaking me from the chest down. At 7am it was already 75 out I think, so it was more humerous than uncomfortable.

The thought of camping in a dry desert valley would NEVER cross my mind, although growing up in LA, I certainly know where to find dry spots in one. I’ve woken up on islands in the “desert” during run offs from storms.

Some things also to take in mind when making “home”:

Weather; Learn a bit about how mountains and valleys convey winds, fog and storms.

Trees: Know that even in North America, heavy tree canopys in humid areas become rain forests as the moisture collects in trees. If you are going to sleep under the stars, sleep under the stars. Having to move your sleeping bag at midnight = no fun, having to close your rainfly at midnight = less fun.

Avoid valleys and hilltops. Since cold air sinks, valleys can get quite a bit colder than the hill sides around them. Hilltops, although usually warmer since the sun has been baking on them all day, offer no protection from the wind, and anyone who has had a tent come down around them in the middle of the night knows how much fun that is

This is fun.

4 years ago


awesome blogs, great writing, thanks

4 years ago


has anyone ever had three in the top ten at one time before? not that it matters, but i am really proud that these kinds of blogs are being recognized. fascinating writing BP. thanks for your time and wisdom.

4 years ago


maybe your not a perfectionist, blackpack, but i noticed guerrilla in your blog title has only one r = guerilla

4 years ago


silverbacki – there’s only one logical explaination. he cheated. (just joking)

4 years ago


“Guerilla” is also a correct spelling.

4 years ago


I was originally going to call it gorilla camping. But notice. It is also the guerrilla news network. (Look at the page title).

Thanks for the recognition, Silverback. I keep grinning when I see the top blogs. Can you believe I failed creative writing?

4 years ago


One “r” is acceptable alternative spelling of guerilla according to my dictionary.

October 17, 2005

Guerrilla Camping 101.1 – The Blackpack

The Blackpack – Guerrilla Camping 101.1

Draft originally posted at The Guerrilla News Network. Included here with GNN commentary courtesy of the GNN Archive.

I promised Guerrilla Camping 101. Here is my first blog to that effect. Below is a semi-complete pack list I wrote up this weekend while I was out in the woods.
I have spoken to a number of long distance hikers who consider my pack immature, meaning I haven’t spent the time nor money paring my pack down a laughable 20lbs. If the ribbing gets too much, I simply challenge them to a race. “You carry that 20lbs maybe 4-8 weeks a year. I carry my 45lbs 52 weeks a year.” Yes, I can run five or six miles straight with this thing on. That always shuts them up.
As a caveat emptor, this pack is something I have been carrying and evolving for 9 years now. If you go out and buy or make all this stuff, throw it in a pack and expect to be happy as you bounce along the trail; think again. Start minimally during the late spring and summer, and gradually add gear and weight to your pack. During the summer, I have gone out with a blanket, a boat tarp, a bag of fruit and a pocket knife and had a great time.

May I present The Blackpack

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