Basic steps to pitch a tent in the wild!
Here we take a look at pitching up a two-person, double-fly, dome-shaped tent with a pair of collapsible tent poles made of fibre. We set up camp in a place enough for a single tent and needing some improvisation to secure the tent properly. Also, a single person sets it up quickly in rainy conditions. The steps remain the same if there are more persons available to help pitch the tent – the job just gets done quicker and easier.
First a look at the parts of a tent and terminology involved:
1. Unpack your tent and lay out the contents
Get the tent out of the bag and lay out the groundsheet / tent inner in the desired area. The tent outer, pegs and poles should be removed and kept aside. Ensure all contents are in place and in good condition. Make sure the entrance of the tent inner is zipped close and faces the leeward side. Also, place some rocks or heavy objects on the tent bag, tent outer and other light-weight tent accessories so that these do not get away blown away in the wind. Cover them if possible to protect from the rain as well.
2. Spread out tent inner / groundsheet and insert corner pegs
The groundsheet should be spread out flat on the ground to insert the four corner pegs. Insert any one corner peg first through the rings provided at the corners of the groundsheet. Pegs should always be inserted at a 45 degree angle to the ground and inclined away from the tent.
Fix the peg at the diagonally opposite corner thereafter stretching the groundsheet outwards as much as possible before inserting this second peg. Insert the remaining two pegs in a similar fashion, stretching the ground sheets outwards, directed away from the other pegs. This ensures the ground sheet is stretched to allow maximum room inside the tent once pitched up. It also ensures there are no folds or creases in the groundsheet as well once the tent is up.
3.Position collapsible tent poles and hook up tent inner to the poles
We assemble the two collapsible tent poles and lay them beside the tent. Start with one pole and position it diagonally across the groundsheet. Insert the end of the tent pole into the pins attached to the rings at the corners of the groundsheet. The elastic chords inside the tent poles allow the poles to bend and form a smooth curve while doing so. Attach the hooks provided on the tent inner to the pole. The tent should now stand up partially as shown in the picture below.
Position and secure the other tent pole in the same way along the other diagonal and hook up the inner to the tent pole. The tent inner should not form the dome shape as depicted below.
4.Place tent outer over the tent and secure it to tent inner
Lay the tent outer over the dome shaped structure now formed and align it properly such that the entrances of the inner and outer overlap. Velcro attachments are provided on the inside of the tent outer to secure the outer properly to the tent poles. Use the hooks provided at the four corners of the tent outer and attach them to the rings of the groundsheet. The inner and outer are now pitched up and ready to be anchored to the ground. Close the zip of the tent outer before moving to the next step.
5.Secure guy lines using pegs to anchor the tent outer to the ground
Locate the guy lines provided on the tent outer and secure them one by one using the pegs available to anchor the tent firmly to the ground. The guy lines should ideally be at a 90 degree angle to the outer. Typically, for two/three person dome-shaped tents, four guy lines are provided on the sides of the tent outer – two guy lines towards the rear and two towards the entrance. An additional two guy lines are provided at the front to be secured with pegs in front of the tent entrance.
Here some improvisation was necessary as there was insufficient space and rocky terrain around the tent. The guy lines were secured using stones available at appropriate places.
6.Inspect tent to ensure it is pitched properly
Inspect the following to ensure the tent is pitched up properly:
7.Set up the tent for a comfortable camping experience
Once inspected and confirmed that the tent has been pitched up properly, organize the room available inside the tent for a comfortable stay. Place your sleeping mattress / carry-mat inside first and then place your backpack inside. Keep frequently used or essential items, such as water bottle, first aid kit towards the entrance of your tent. Your shoes can be kept in the covered area near the entrance between the tent inner and outer as shown in the picture. Avoid keeping sharp objects or using camping gas and stoves inside the tent as the tent material is flammable and can tear or catch fire easily.
Trekking is beneficial in more ways than one. For the trekkers, it helps increase their fitness and endurance by challenging them both mentally and physically. A trip to the Himalayas provides a much needed sojourn into the purity of the mountains and the environment.
There are benefits to be had for the natives too. Not only do the locals benefit economically, it increases interactions between the hosts and the tourists thereby promoting social and cultural exchanges. With the increase in number of trekkers venturing into the Himalayas, it is sure to stimulate social awareness and change.
But it is the responsibility of the trekkers to make sure their actions and behaviour make these interactions and exchanges meaningful in the long term. The tourists are, after all guests in the Himalayas and they must ensure their presence does not lead to any impact the environment and local cultures negatively.
Respect local culture, follow traditions
First and foremost, the trekkers must develop an understanding of the culture by reading up beforehand on related topics. Such awareness builds cultural sensibility and helps develop mutual respect between the locals and the trekkers. The tourists must also observe the behavior of their guide and the locals in general. Customs like taking of your shoes when entering someone’s house or a temple can be easily observed and emulated to good effect.
The respect must follow when taking photographs of the locals, houses, temples and the village lifestyle too. Always ask for permission before taking a picture. Trekkers must ensure that personal space is respected and daily activities of the hill folk are not disturbed. They must not follow the locals around or stare at anyone, making them feel uncomfortable. Showing the pictures taken to those photographed is always a good practice as well.
Greet and interact with the locals
The mountain dwellers are always known to be a friendly people. When passing through settlements, it is always good to greet the villagers and chat with them awhile. Hands folded and a polite “Namaste” is enough to ensure a warm smile and a greeting in return. While dialects are many and change every few kilometres, Hindi is the language prevalent and understood across the Himalayas, be it in India or Nepal. Learning a few common phrases in the local language always helps break the ice.
Once a conversation ensues, you are very likely to hear interesting anecdotes and folklore about the places you are about to visit. It will only add to the many tales the trekkers can narrate once they return home after their adventure.
Whenever in doubt or be it just to reinforce your knowledge, ask around for information. Information about the condition of the trail ahead, prevalent local weather patterns, restricted areas for trekkers, viewpoints and route-markers not to be missed – the locals have a lot to share.
Involve the locals in decisions that have a serious bearing on the outcome of an adventure as well. The lives of the trekkers can be threatened when attempting a challenging new route in the mountains or climbing up a dangerous steep trail. The locals will be the first to arrive when an SOS is sounded and they must not be caught completely unaware of the situation. When aware of the probability of an extreme outcome, the villagers can help the trekkers avoid getting themselves in a spot of bother as well as be prepared to assist speedily in times of distress.
Protect the environment and conserve resources
Care must be taken to protect the natural surroundings and public property while passing through settlements and shepherd huts on mountain trails. Avoid trespassing and do not damage huts, fences or crops when walking through civilization. Plucking fruits or flowers from the colourful gardens along the way is a big no.
The locals respect and conserve natural resources, especially food and water. It takes substantial time and effort to make food and drinking water available at higher altitudes Do not waste food, consume only as much required. Ask for small servings when served food at a camp or a home-stay and ensure there are no leftovers on your plate.
The environment in general must be handled with care too. Trekkers should stick to known well laid out trails, avoiding damaging the flora and fauna. Areas near water bodies and lakes at high altitudes must remain unspoilt.
Disciplined behaviour and modest attire
Early to bed and early to rise is the mantra in the mountains. Trekkers must avoid making noise late at night in the campsite or in a home-stay. Avoid consuming alcohol and the noisy revelry it may lead to.
While sensibilities vary from place to place and the mountain folk are an accommodating lot, it is always good to dress appropriately and modestly around the villages, especially when visiting temples and monasteries. Avoid public display of affection and the use of foul language as these can draw unnecessary attention and lead to a conflict. Handing over chocolates or money to little children is not a good idea too, as it encourages begging.
While one is free to answer natures call in the open when far from civilization and without access to toilets, trekkers must be mindful of hygiene standards and avoid relieving themselves in the open near settlements.
Carry away litter, do not throw garbage
Most settlements in the mountains are remote and inaccessible posing difficulties for waste disposal. Urban garbage treatment and disposal measures are not available in most Himalayan regions. Trekkers must hence always ensure to carry back all the waste generated during their stay in the mountains.
If you must hand over chocolates to the adorable little children crossing your path, make sure you collect the wrappers back from them and dispose the waste material once back in the city.
Conserve natural and cultural heritage
Heritage is rich in the high mountains. The locals take pride in their culture and appreciate those genuinely interested in learning more about their legacy. Spend some time to learn more about the culture from the knowledgeable elders of the village. One can also support the community by buying local, homemade and handmade handicrafts which have great artistic value and can serve as wonderful souvenirs of your Himalayan adventure.
Planning a trek? A ready reckoner to help you make your choices!
It is important to understand the different ways one can go trekking in the mountains. A little bit of research goes a long way to ensure that the trek you are going on offers you the best in terms of what you are looking for.
Here's a brief glimpse into the types of treks one can go for and the things you should keep in mind:
Some arguably call it the ‘purest’ form of trekking – trekking by yourself, either solo or as a small group, without using the services of guides or porters. This form of trekking is for the breed of adventurers who have a ‘Do It Yourself’ attitude.
Trekking in this case is of serious nature. It involves carrying your own backpack, tent, sleeping bag, personal gear as well as cooking equipment, ration and food supplies that will be required for the entire duration of the trek.
This form of trekking is ideal for those seeking real adventure and exploring the mountains in a self-sufficient, independent manner. ‘Tea-house treks’ which are characterized by the presence of hotels and lodges on the trekking trail can be hiked this way. In this case, you only need to carry your personal gear and the tea-houses cater to lodging and meals.
Points to consider:
Guided independent trekking
This is very similar to solo trekking but the services of guides, cooks and porters are sought independently.The trekker can rely on hired help to find the route, carry common gear including cooking equipment and ration (even personal gear, if required) and cook meals during the trek. The trekkers can trek light and hence enjoy the climb, indulge in photography and soak in nature’s sights and sounds in a relaxed manner.
Points to consider:
This is a good option for those who prefer to trek with guides and porters – but do not intend on planning, negotiating and managing the services of the hired guide by themselves. It is also preferred by those who trek on less frequented trails and manipulate their pace depending on their trekking style.
The trekkers can avail the services of a trek organizing company to provide with guides, porters and cooks and safety equipment that are necessary for the trek and manage all the logistics involved. The trek itinerary can be customized to suit the pace and needs of the group as well.
Points to consider:
This article written by WildBoots team first appeared in RedBull website courtesy The Outdoor Journal
Here’s how to look for the ideal camping spot in the backcountry.
You have trekked for over eight hours in a demanding terrain. The dry heat and unforgiving ascent has left you exhausted. The thin, cold air at higher altitudes is not making it any easier. And then you have to set up camp before nightfall.
For the seasoned trekker, instinct and experience take over and your shelter for the night is in place in no time. For the uninitiated, here are a few things to keep in mind, before you pitch up the tent and set camp for the night:
Look around and select a good spot
One of the most common mistakes is to drop your backpack on the ground and start pitching a tent right away. Always take some time to walk around the area and explore possible spots where you can pitch your tent. Select a good spot and pitching the tent will then become merely procedural.
One of the main considerations while selecting a spot is the source of drinking water – pitch your tent close to a source of water, but never camp right in the river bed (even if dried up) or in the immediate vicinity of a lake or stream.
Check for impending dangers
Always inspect the surrounding terrain as well. Avoid rock-fall, landslide prone areas and minimise exposure to strong winds. While a rocky cliff can help block the wind, camping near it should be avoided if there are signs of loose boulders or imbalanced rocks visible higher on the cliff.
One should take into account the weather conditions as well. Always bear in mind the possibility of rain, lightening and thunderstorms and related dangers. Camping atop an exposed ridge brings in the danger of a lightening strike, while depressions should be avoided where water can collect easily in case of a downpour and flood your tent. Shifting a tent in the cold of the night during an unexpected downpour is not something that you would like to get out of your warm sleeping bag for!
Pitch your tent on soft ground
Once you have selected your spot, ensure the surface is level, preferably soft, grassy ground without any protruding stones. If it is not level already, spend some time levelling the surface and removing sharp, edgy stones. This will ensure a good night’s sleep while protecting the ground sheet of your tent from wear and tear. Also check if the tent pegs can be inserted easily and will hold firm, else rocks just below the surface might prevent the pegs from gaining any purchase.
Keep in mind, however, that grassy patches close to a lake or water source, though soft, allow water to seep into the surface and can prove to hinder camping.
Always ensure the entrance to your tent faces the leeward (as opposed to windward side). Remember, in normal weather conditions, the wind typically blows up the valley during the day and down the valley at night. Even better if the entrance is pitched eastwards, allowing the early morning sunlight to warm up your tent and wake you up early in the morning.
If you are pitching multiple tents, they should be close to each other – preferably in a straight line or horse-shoe formation.
Enough vacant space on all sides
This is an added advantage. It helps to have space to move around the tent, spread out your trekking gear under the sun, in case of clear skies, designate a cooking area and set up your stove easily in open surroundings. There is place for a campfire too, if you have access to firewood and wish to spend a few hours by the warmth of the fire before retiring for the night.
This article written by WildBoots team first appeared on RedBull website courtesy The Outdoor Journal