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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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