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Where are all the backpackers? Outside? Answered

So--I just joined this site recently and have been having a hard time finding backpacking instructables (Except alcohol stoves, obviously).
I know there are backpackers on here. I've seen them. But there's very little in the way of skills or homemade gear. Am I just not finding it?
I'm thinking of starting a guide for it, maybe a group. If there's one already, let me know.


is there any backpackers community here? i would like to join, since i have some questions id like to ask such a group

I would just want to comment that it is going to get tougher to find real "backpackers" anymore as each and every next generation of kids become more couch potatoes with their video games and computers. Parents are also caught up in other excuses for not getting out for a hike. A true camping/outfitter mom and pop store nearby just closed for business because there is no one doing any real trekking in the woods anymore. No one needs to read a map if they have a GPS. It is tough to even find anyone into Boy Scouts anymore. As for equipment, this is the disposable age where gear is cheaper and easier buy if you don't have access to hi-tech materials. I don't think anyone still uses canvas duck material for a hiking pack or a tent anymore. I learned to appreciate the outdoors from my military experience but if I asked anyone to go for a trip in the woods, they would freak out from the bugs and fresh air. It just seems that a majority of people think if you can climb Mt Everest as a tourist, why bother to do camping at all. Sad, but look at how thin in content the outdoor sports magazines have gotten. The rugged outdoor look has just become a fashion statement in fashions. Too bad no one knows the true enjoyment of the outdoors. Good luck.

I'm 15 and theirs nothing more I love to do than backpack or camp out in the woods. I have a 30 pound pack that's seperated into 3 things. I always wanted to become a boyscout but I think it's a little late. I really hope there are some good instructables. I've already made an alcohol stove, wood-gas stove, and some fire starters like cotton ball and petrolium jelly. I live in the Iron Range of Minnesota so the outdoors have always been right there. I only wish my family was more outdoorsy. If you guys have any other ideas for backpacking or camping, please share! I hope your guys adventures go well! Enjoy backpacking!!!

Having grown up in NYC, it is breathtaking to stand on top of a mountain ridge and look down, look those tiny things are ants and not people you see from a skyscraper. You are lucky to be "nearer" to the outdoors. It is a chore to spend two hours just getting out of traffic to go to the mountains where it is nice and quiet. Best part of hiking uphill, most of the time it is easier coming down.

One real backpacker here! Hundreds and hundreds of miles of experience, max altitude 14,505ft. summit mt. whitney, former boyscout, and I dont own a GPS...

I know what you mean. Even the BSA has failed the Scouts, My "handbook" I had, had very little information, the version before mine had a whole lot more content. I hate to see the latest version, its probably just a bunch of political trash now. I got lucky once and found a 1960ish Boyscout Field book and it was amazing the stuff that was in it. They had scouts building canvas tents and waterproofing them (without the stuff in a can) and doing all sorts of stuff that would be considered unsafe or "politically incorrect" by todays standards. But I was fortunate to go to a "poor" troop. Everyone had holes in their jeans, and you either passed the gear down to the newer scouts or you patched it up yourself and kept using it, so you learned a lot of just making do with what you got. We would go camping at some places and be next to other troops and they all had on their matching shirts and shorts and had nice stuff and their fathers drove landrovers and we show up looking like bunch of homeless kids playing "lord of the flies" or something.

Necessity is the mother of invention. And being poor just made you more resourceful. My younger brother was the one into scouts when we were kids. It was an investment we made into buying just the backpack frame because that is all we could afford. I knew how to use the sewing machine as a kid so I made him his first backpack. It was made from stretchy scrap material we had laying around so it was funny looking and droopy when loaded up. I even made a sleeping bag from some quilted polyester batting material we found at a church bazaar. It's funny looking back how we hacked things then. We had looked through all of the cool catalogs like REI or EMS to figure out how to design and make them. Back then, North Face had a rep.

A bleak outlook indeed--though I maintain hope. Many of my friends are avid packers, and it seems to me that the loss of interest means you'll only run into the ones who are really worth meeting when out on the trail. On one of my most recent trips I stopped for lunch at a small pond and was joined by a 70 year old man out for a walk. This was 20 miles from the nearest road, mind you. He told me about hiking in the good old days, and it was really amazing to hear some of his experiences.

One of my grandfathers' best stories was about hopping a train headed out west as a young man in the 1930's. Man, I hope my kids get to do some stuff like that. I worry about their safety, but I worry more that someday they'll find themselves as 40 year old couch potatoes who've never really lived.

That is legendary stuff if your granpappy was a hobo, in a good way.

He was a real hobo for about a year or so. Then he went home, got an education, and eventually a degree in engineering. Finally retired from GE in upstate NY. He only mentioned his hobo days occasionally, but I wish he'd talked aboutit more.

Forrest Gump: (pause) I'm pretty tired... I think I'll go home now.

Something like that, but I picture him in an old caboose, surrounded by scroungy winos. *In an Eric Cartman voice* "Screw you guys, I'm going home!"

Cool. My Grandpa was born the day the stock market crashed. As you say, no one's glad to see tough economic times, but they do bring out a resourcefulness and strength of resolve that we could do with.

From a native New Yorker, the paranoia that we have to overcome is the random nut or survivalist or terrorist that we would run into in the middle of nowhere. Here, you will worry that you will get mugged just visiting a cemetery. It's a sign of the times.

It's unfortunate that, in California, you have to be wary and know how to react to stumbling across a Marijuana plantation (Back away slowly and keep your eyes open for booby traps).

I think what the movie "Deliverance" did to a day out in the woods is the same as what the movie "Jaws" did to a day out at the beach.

It's funny you mention the canvas...after a failed project, i'm left with a square of duck, and was considering making a backpack out of it. Other ideas are welcome.


9 years ago

I'm here and I'm so into backpacking that I'm actually starting a scout program out of my church. Part of me really beleives that no matter how cool the tech things are that we have, there are certain things I feel that men need to know. Things like starting fire, making shelters, etc. If you want more on that check my insturctible on Survival's Law of 3

I'd love more backpacking instructables. I want to get more into it, and that would probably help. I've done a lot of canoe camping up in the BWCA, and I've led a bunch of girl scout trips around there, as well as other places. A few years ago we spent a couple weeks horseback riding in the Tetons, but we were base camped for that.

We're in training (along with hubby & 3 kids ages 13, 11 & 10) getting ready to hike a portion of the AT this summer. Create a guide, or group, and we will come!

That'll be fun. Your kids are really the right age to appreciate that sort of thing. What section of the AT are you going to do?

We're out there looking for vacation time, and wilderness permits... I happen to know Reinholt Metzger, who held the record for the JMT unassisted , until a young college guy just beat him a year or two ago... Reinholt is a true lightweight backpacker... nearly all his gear is homemade, and he is constantly coming up with crazy gimmics to try and shave weight and time... he is in his 70's and just lost his title as champ... he lives in san diego, and still backpacks... he recently tried to use bubblewrap as a sleeping bag, and was caught in a blizzard at guitar lake! He made it out with some minor frostbite... but decided that the bubblewrap was one of the worst ideas he had ever had...

please do make a group and/or instructables! i would be very interested :)

have you already created a group??? that would be pretty amazing... because I'm from colombia, I cannot get a lot of the stuff you have in the US, but it would be pretty cool if we could exchange knowledge and "customize" it to our own necessities!!!

i used to go camping, before my need for internet.

There is no need! Only 'want' in varying degrees of hyperbole! Take pictures while you're out there. Do a blog when you get back.

Although I have not the energy to be out camping in the woods (on the ground) anymore, I would love to see some more of this kind of thing myself.....who knows, maybe I will get back into a human shape and go camping again one day.

"If you post it, they shall come."

An awful lot of visitors to this site (as opposed to regular members) arrive via google, knowing nothing about the site.

If you start posting back-packing stuff, and using suitable tags, then people searching for back-packing information will start to get guided here by google.

Also consider extending the idea of "backpacking community" to include older members of the scouting movement, hikers and climbers, since there is a lot of cross-over regarding skills and equipment.

If there are popular blogs or forums about backpacking, getting your projects or group mentioned there will increase traffic here, a portion of which will be inspired to stay and join in, resulting in a self-sustaining community.

Personally, I have done a little backpacking, decades ago (I spent a month largely on foot around Kenya with a group of other teens when I was 16, and we climbed Mt Kenya, but we hired bearers), and still go camping and hiking, but the tent gets moved by car, and I only hike there-and-back in a day.

Although, now you mention it, I'd not be averse to a spot of bivvying again. In warmer weather.

I'm considering doing a festival survival guide in the summer, i'll take pictures when I go to leeds.

I helped clear up after Latitude a couple of years ago, eww, the stuff people leave in abandoned tents!

Mucky buggers.

Hehe, our tent's either getting thrown on the mass bonfires on the sunday night or it's getting donated in the tent amnesty. I personally intend leaving behind a couple of empty crates of beer and a gazebo. :D


9 years ago

If there isn't a group, you should start one.

RE: a backpacking community here-- I don't see much more than casual interest from the hard-core forum group (although I suspect a few have done some backpacking.) It's a little more tech oriented. And I wouldn't expect to see outdoor projects embraced passionately on sites like hack-a-day, digg, etc.

But the wider community (those that make instructables) would have plenty of interest. And don't sell the tech community out completely (many of the climbers I meet are engineers or write software.)

Your timing might be right for DIY ultralight equipment, given the economy (sheez, the commercial ultralight gear is expensive.) For that matter, for backpacking in general as an inexpensive vacation... A How-To on taking kids into the outdoors would be well-received, I'm certain.

As for me, I used to backpack 4-5 times a year, including a little x-country ski-packing. Now it's more like once or twice a year. We got out for an overnighter in west-central PA just after thanksgiving last year.

My interest these days runs more to climbing and mountaineering, although I've never made an instructable on the subject. I might make an 'ible this winter related to ice climbing, but I'm still mulling that over... (if I do, it won't be a general how-to, rather just on a specific aspect or two.)

Just expect a high noise-ratio from the comments. I've read some off-the wall stuff on some of the outdoor 'ibles.

Off the wall comments: No kidding. "saving up your warm methane in the sleeping bag might help too and if you let it all out at once with a match at the exit could be used as a signal flare." --On my "Sleep Warm Anywhere" instructible.

like what specific items do you want to make/know

I'd like to get more into ultralight packing, and also see if people have suggestions for packing with cameras. More than that, though, I'd like to see things I don't know I should know, better ways to do things that I might not have thought about.

I was hardcore into backpacking (primarily ultralight) for about 15 years. I want to get my kids into it. I had a NorthFace fanny pack and could camp for days on what it would hold. But I mostly ate reindeer moss, wild greens, berrries, and (eventually) grubs and catepillars. These days though it's more like "throw everything in the Tahoe, we'll camp wherever we get stuck".

Wow. That's pretty amazing. See? How to camp out of a fanny pack. that would be a good one.
Most trips I go on I'm carrying between 40 and 60 lbs.

In all fairness, it was a big fanny pack (just a little smaller than a day-pack). But, in fair weather, I had it down to: A good blanket (strapped to the tabs under the fanny pack), 2 lighters, extra t-shirt, 1 pair socks, aluminum foil, 2 cup saucepan, half pound jerky, 1/4 lb cheese, swiss army knife, plasic bladder (for water), fishing line, hooks, slingshot, and 1 can ginger-ale.

At the time I had a wool blanket, but I sometimes carried a space-blanket too. I hiked where there were a lot of overhangs, and a few lean-toos (up around the Appalachain Trail.) When I KNEW there was weather comming, I carried a summit-pack. I'd either carry a tarp or puptent.

Any extra space after that went to rice, grits, crackers, etc. I went 40-50 lbs for years, but when I realized the different between NEED and comfort, I whittled it down. But now the Tahoe carries all the comfort I can stand.