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YetiJedi
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02/26/2023 07:19PM  
Curious...recognizing the importance of being proficient with gear before venturing into the wilderness, what are some of the things you test less frequently but that really should be practiced?

A few of my examples...I have four cans of bear spray. Each year we spray one to practice and then replace it with a new canister. For some reason, I always seem to get a little bit of residual spray in my eyes and nose. I am always surprised at the burn! That said, seeing the bear spray in use helps me feel at least a little better prepared for a real situation.

Anyone else have suggestions? I'm looking for good ideas for activities to try with my daughters before our trips this summer.
 
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MReid
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02/26/2023 08:06PM  
You can buy inert cans for practice.
 
YetiJedi
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02/26/2023 08:26PM  
MReid: "You can buy inert cans for practice.
"


True. Haven't used those. The sabre brand I buy says they have a shelf life of 3 years so we rotate by practicing.
 
NEIowapaddler
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02/26/2023 09:15PM  
If you're like me, practicing your casting is always worthwhile ;). It's amazing how rusty I get over the winter. Although I will never win any awards at it anyway lol.

Honestly, the number one thing people should practice for canoe camping is what to do if you capsize. Kinda like using bear spray, it's one of those things you hope to never need to do, but better to be prepared.
 
tumblehome
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02/26/2023 09:25PM  
NEIowapaddler:


Honestly, the number one thing people should practice for canoe camping is what to do if you capsize. Kinda like using bear spray, it's one of those things you hope to never need to do, but better to be prepared. "


Unfortunately, you can never practice what to do if you capsize until you actually do. If I taught a wilderness class, I would make my paddlers capsize in less than favorable waters with a loaded canoe. It’s the only way to learn what it’s like.
I’ve been in a canoe nearly my whole life and I never capsized until three years ago. It was definitely not like I thought it would be. It was far worse.

Anyway, good advice, sorry to hijack a good thread.

If you bring a lantern or gas stove, practice those because they often need some work in the spring to get them tuned.
Tom
 
HayRiverDrifter
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02/26/2023 10:23PM  
I always fill and light my Coleman single burner before a trip. I just bought a new Optimus Vega canister stove which I will do some cooking on at home or on short trips near home. I will also test each canister that I plan to bring.

New gear is like Christmas. It gets unboxed and setup right away for testing purposes. New tarps need some setup like stinging the ridge line adding lines for setup. It's also nice to practice some tarp setups. Maybe learn a new knot or two.

I also plan to practice with my solo on a local lake in very windy conditions. I am very comfortable on flat water, and want to test my limits in rough water like white caps on a local lake where if I do go over, it's in a controlled setting.

I am leading two trips this year with younger folks. They will be practicing with their gear.
 
02/27/2023 06:30AM  
PRACTICE:
how to string up rain fly, esp in areas without many trees.
does your compass still work and do you remember how to use it?
lifting the canoe properly w/o straining something.
how to use the camera settings.
how to administer some first aid (tourniquet, sling, immobilizing ideas)
 
02/27/2023 08:29AM  
Only things I have practiced recently were new-to-me things...Hammock & tarp setup (got a lot faster) and my DIY solo yoke / pack to get faster at portage transitions and comfortable single portaging.

I do test water filter & stove before each trip, but that's not really the same thing.
 
Northwoodsman
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02/27/2023 08:52AM  
Compass for sure.
Tent - it's always good to not only practice setting it up but to check for damage and missing parts.
Stove - make sure it works.
Water filtration system.
 
02/27/2023 09:03AM  
Learn a few basic knots and always check all gear prior to leaving to ensure it is functional.
 
papalambeau
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02/27/2023 09:10AM  
Northwoodsman: "Compass for sure.
Tent - it's always good to not only practice setting it up but to check for damage and missing parts.
Stove - make sure it works.
Water filtration system."


+1 These are the three that we always check out the week before we head north.
 
MDVancleave
member (31)member
  
02/27/2023 09:39AM  
Tarp-rigging, bear hang and knots!
 
02/27/2023 09:59AM  
Paddling is always good to practice, mostly for the exercise, but proper strokes will be more efficient and tire you less.

Fire starting. Even though I usually cheat with fire starter, knowing how to start a good fire in an emergency is important.

First aid. I didn't even realized how inadequate my first aid skills and kit was until I had a wound that needed to be dressed and changed out regularly. Typical first aid focuses only on the 'first' portion of wound treatment, as in only stopping the bleeding so you can make it to the hospital. When help might be days away instead of minutes or hours, you have to consider the type of wound and the healing process so it doesn't get infected or aggrivate the wound. A scrape and a cut have very different treatments. Some injuries don't need to be trip ending either so just being able to treat it in the field could make all the difference. Might want to bring and practice sutures as well.
 
02/27/2023 10:10AM  
I think this is relevant to this thread--testing or practicing survival skills. For instance, you dump your canoe and loose everything but the (wet) clothes on your back ,PFD and ditch kit. Could you get a fire started? Signal for help? Survive a cold, windy night with no gear?
Another- one of the kids goes exploring behind camp and gets turned around (a polite way of saying lost) What should they do and what should you do?
And another- not a lot of call for using an ax or hatchet at home but they are common equipment on camping trips. You can fill in all the possibilities yourself.
I can think of more things that should be practiced or at least discussed before a trip, you too?


PS: I tried to duplicate the fire starting scinario under adverse conditions, it did not go well. I now have storm matches and two types of fire starters in my pfd ditch kit.
 
schweady
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02/27/2023 10:35AM  
Rigging tarps
Reviewing essential knots
Testing the stove
Testing the gravity filter
 
MikeinMpls
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02/27/2023 11:12AM  
1. Practice using your stove. This is a bigger deal for those of us who use white gas. I always check and recheck both stoves to ensure that the jets are functional and the ability to prime the stove as it might have changed over the winter. Priming a white gas stove takes a bit of skill in my opinion and first-timers should be comfortable and competent in this exercise before they venture into the woods.

2. If you're using a major piece of gear for the first time, please practice using it or setting it up. If you get a new tent, set up a time or two in the backyard. Standing in a campsite reading the directions for the first time or figuring out that you are missing a junction bar is not the place you want to be.

3. I will echo the map and compass comments above. I think a lot of people bring in a compass for backup in case their GPS fails for whatever reason. I've encountered people who this is happened to and they had a backup compass, but no idea how it works. Sure, they know the needle points north, but they had no idea how to use the compass in relation to the map, or how to orient the map in relation to the compass.

I might add others later.

Mike
 
02/27/2023 01:43PM  
I don't think I practice anything with the intent of it being practice. I get out alot in the canoe - day trips, fishing, paddling, etc...

I'll unpack my tent pre-trip just to make sure everything is there, but other than that. I've got a checklist and I just load everything up. I can go from zero prep for a trip to loaded an ready to go in under an hour.
 
OCDave
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02/27/2023 04:02PM  
YetiJedi: "Curious...recognizing the importance of being proficient with gear before venturing into the wilderness, ...

... I'm looking for good ideas for activities to try with my daughters before our trips this summer."


Are the daughters old enough that they could set up camp on their own? Could they build a fire? Prepare a meal on their own? >> There is always a meal a kid can prepare. You could have each daughter practice the meal she will be responsible for preparing during the trip <<

A few car camping trips or a backyard campout with the daughters doing the camp set-up, meal prep and camp tear-down without or with minimal parental assistance would build in them a greater level of confidence before your wilderness trip. It may surprise you how much they can do and how young they can do it.

 
NikonF5user
senior member (77)senior membersenior member
  
02/27/2023 04:55PM  
I find it fun, diverting, and useful to practice packing for a trip. I started to do this for traveling (I don't check bags and try to limit everything to a carry-on backpack), but it is very useful for backpacking and canoe tripping as well! I find it a particularly cathartic thing to practice over winter. It helps develop a system that will make packing up from camp quicker, plus will hopefully mean things are not left behind because everything has its place!
 
straighthairedcurly
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02/27/2023 07:34PM  
I always practice how to handle a canoe swamping...I require this for anyone new I travel with and if we have new canoe.

I practice certain knots because some don't come easily for me.

Should've had my husband practice putting up our old tent before he put the fly on upside down during a rainstorm...lol! But we will be practicing tent set up for our new tents.

I always review how to use my SPOT before the start of the season.
 
jillpine
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02/27/2023 08:01PM  
Knots, for sure.
I always have to review/add updates to my inreach technical things when activating it after a few months’ lapse.
I’m always trying to dial in efficient packing, so that’s something I review over…and over.
A couple years ago, I set up a little campsite - gear staging area in the yard to learn how to hang and use a hammock. That has been really helpful in acclimating to cold and wet — that can be a mind-game as well as a survival game when the stakes are higher (and real), so I pick cold, wet nights to go out there and practice. I’m kind of nerd I guess. Oh well, I’m in good company with this board. :)
 
YetiJedi
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02/27/2023 09:06PM  
straighthairedcurly: "Should've had my husband practice putting up our old tent before he put the fly on upside down during a rainstorm...lol! But we will be practicing tent set up for our new tents."


HAHAHA!!! That's too funny. :)
 
YetiJedi
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02/27/2023 09:07PM  
merlyn: "PS: I tried to duplicate the fire-starting scenario under adverse conditions, it did not go well. I now have storm matches and two types of fire starters in my pfd ditch kit."


Exactly this. We tried it last weekend with the ice storm and were too successful.
 
YetiJedi
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02/27/2023 09:10PM  
Mocha: "PRACTICE:
how to string up rain fly, esp in areas without many trees.
does your compass still work and do you remember how to use it?
lifting the canoe properly w/o straining something.
how to use the camera settings.
how to administer some first aid (tourniquet, sling, immobilizing ideas)"


First aid...very important. Since I trip primarily with young children or alone, being able to administer first aid on yourself is important too.

Also agree with the compass work. When I was a kid there were compass courses at a nearby state park (Farragut State Park in Idaho) and we would practice there. Have to set my own now and really should do that with my kids. Thanks for the reminder, Mocha!
 
YetiJedi
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02/27/2023 09:12PM  
A1t2o: "Paddling is always good to practice, mostly for the exercise, but proper strokes will be more efficient and tire you less.


Fire starting. Even though I usually cheat with fire starter, knowing how to start a good fire in an emergency is important.


First aid. I didn't even realized how inadequate my first aid skills and kit was until I had a wound that needed to be dressed and changed out regularly. Typical first aid focuses only on the 'first' portion of wound treatment, as in only stopping the bleeding so you can make it to the hospital. When help might be days away instead of minutes or hours, you have to consider the type of wound and the healing process so it doesn't get infected or aggrivate the wound. A scrape and a cut have very different treatments. Some injuries don't need to be trip ending either so just being able to treat it in the field could make all the difference. Might want to bring and practice sutures as well."


Very good points, A1, about caring for injuries after the fact. Good to have knowledge of medicine too and how to manage pain.
 
YetiJedi
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02/27/2023 09:14PM  
Speckled: "I don't think I practice anything with the intent of it being practice. I get out alot in the canoe - day trips, fishing, paddling, etc... "


Good way to look at it, Speckled. Makes sense to me.
 
YetiJedi
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02/27/2023 09:15PM  
OCDave: "
YetiJedi: "Curious...recognizing the importance of being proficient with gear before venturing into the wilderness, ...


... I'm looking for good ideas for activities to try with my daughters before our trips this summer."



Are the daughters old enough that they could set up camp on their own? Could they build a fire? Prepare a meal on their own? >> There is always a meal a kid can prepare. You could have each daughter practice the meal she will be responsible for preparing during the trip <<


A few car camping trips or a backyard campout with the daughters doing the camp set-up, meal prep and camp tear-down without or with minimal parental assistance would build in them a greater level of confidence before your wilderness trip. It may surprise you how much they can do and how young they can do it.


"


Hi OCDave,

So I have six daughters, the oldest two are off to college, two in high school, and a 5th and 3rd grader. Love 'em to death and got it right every time with girls!

The oldest two could go on a trip and do just fine even if they don't quite think so. The two in high school are not that into wilderness excursions but we do lots of other adventures. My youngest two love to camp and can hardly wait for our week to Baker Lake! We've done several BW trips already but always with their older sisters. They are both enjoying the time we spend getting ready and I am just looking for more ideas to engage them in the process. You are very correct...it always does surprise me what they can do without my help.

There have been a number of really good suggestions in this thread and I appreciate the collective support and creativity. I really like your idea of having them be in charge of an entire meal for our trip and we can practice that on our gear on hikes locally - I'll report back!
 
YetiJedi
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02/27/2023 09:21PM  
jillpine: "Knots, for sure.
I always have to review/add updates to my inreach technical things when activating it after a few months’ lapse.
I’m always trying to dial in efficient packing, so that’s something I review over…and over.
A couple years ago, I set up a little campsite - gear staging area in the yard to learn how to hang and use an hammock. That has been really helpful in acclimating to cold and wet — that can be a mind-game as well as a survival game when the stakes are higher (and real), so I pick cold, wet nights to go out there and practice. I’m kind of nerd I guess. Oh well, I’m in good company with this board. :) "


Thank you, Jillpine, for your thoughts...they hit home in a good way! Your comment about a back yard campground brought back a good memory: I took one of my daughters into the wilderness when she was 6 and we had to dig a cathole to bury human waste. Well, lo and behold, she implemented the strategy in the backyard to avoid cutting into her play time!

Good idea to have an active gear staging and testing area. :)
 
YetiJedi
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02/27/2023 09:25PM  
Thanks, everyone, for the comments. Really helpful. I didn't respond to everything but really wanted to! The suggestions about knots, stoves, tarp setup, swamping a canoe...all great and much appreciated.

I'm grateful to be a member of this site and for the friendly sense of community. Good people.
 
02/28/2023 12:31PM  
I've been thinking about this for a couple days. I can think of only one piece of gear I haven't tested/practiced, and it ended up failing me (user error most likely - see photo of brand new Trangia pan from Banadad last July). In addition to early season day trip experience, the annual testing I enjoy most: dehydrating and rehydrating my own meals, testing fuel needs forTrangia, tarp rigging or at least the knots, and wood collection/processing.
 
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