Thursday, January 5, 2017
Bushcraft to backpacking to boating
Bushcraft is the skill set to go out into the wilderness with very little or no gear and survive. Once you've got that down, survival with anything at all is much much easier. Heck, just having a knife and a lighter puts you light years ahead of starting with nothing. Throw in a waterproof tarp and you are set up pretty well. It can be difficult and time consuming to make a waterproof shelter from natural materials.
Add a bit more gear and before you know it you are backpacking. Novice backpackers want to take every gizmo known to modern man. Experienced long distance hikers tend to shave down to the bare minimum for comfort.
One thing leads to another. A guy with a 5 pound tent probably needs a pack frame that weights 5 or 6 pounds to carry it, along with all the other gear. A heavy pack requires good heavy hiking boots to keep your ankles from blowing out. The guy with 1.5 pound tarp tent can get by with a much lighter pack. He may even leave the boots behind and be comfortable in hiking sneakers.
No matter how you hike, you learn the value of water. It's heavy, at 8.33 pounds per gallon. It's also something you should always have enough for drinking. Where you can save weight is by limiting your other water usage. Some hikers I've met only bring foods that require little to no clean up. That way they don't waste water cleaning cooking gear. That might be a bit more minimalistic for my tastes, but I like good food.
I am very glad my lovely wife and I have a background in backpacking. We learned some very valuable lessons that transferred over nicely to boating. When you are used to minimal gear, it doesn't take much to increase your comfort and pleasure. You also learned not to waste resources.
Recently I was reading an account from a boater. He was really pleased with himself that he and his wife were able to make 170 gallons of water last all weekend. My lovely wife and I plan on a gallon of water per person per day. What he used in a weekend would last us over two and half months. That includes drinking, dishes, and everything else. Obviously that boater did not have a background in backpacking.
Just like the backpacker with the heavy tent, water usage dictates the size of your gear. The guy used 170 gallons of water was on a good sized trawler. It takes a good sized boat to haul all the stuff around that you “need.” The next thing you know boating is only for well off people.
After backpacking even a small sailboat seems extravagant. You can suddenly carry hundreds of pounds of gear and supplies instead of putting everything on your back. Luxury. People were amazed we were comfortable on a 23 foot sailboat, but we found it roomy enough. With a small boat repairs and day to day expenses are small. Even a couple on a small pension can go boating.
Perhaps it's easier to start small and work your way up. The guy who was proud of his 170 gallon water usage probably used hundreds of gallons of water a day at his large home. Compared to his normal lifestyle, he was conserving. I wonder what he would have thought about getting by on a gallon a day.
Owners of larger boats say living on a small boat is camping. For them, that's a negative, but I take it as a compliment. It helps if you happen to like camping. In fact, those people don't look any happier than my lovely wife and I. Good thing we've done some real camping for comparison.