The host Margaret Killjoy can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy, instagram @margaretkilljoy, and on Patreon at patreon.com/margaretkilljoy.
1:16:39 SPEAKERS Margaret, Petra
Margaret 00:15 Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I'm your host, Margaret Killjoy, and I use she or they pronouns. This week I'm talking to my friend Petra, who is a wilderness instructor, basically about camping, about sleeping bags and tents and tarps and how to stay warm and the fact that you need to keep your lithium batteries in your sleeping bag with you and things like that. From the context of, in case you needed to move over land in a hurry. And well, originally, I was going to interview her about both what to do in terms of when you have the right stuff to be prepared and what to do when you don't have the right stuff to be prepared. We actually ran out of time just talking about all the stuff to have in order to be prepared. So consider this the episode about going camping when you have time to gather the materials that you need, which is most of the time, right? You probably have that time right now while you're listening. Because there's one kind of interesting thing is that, as bad as things seem, they're probably always going to get worse, and like basically this is the time to get ready. This podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts. And here's another podcast from the network, jingle?—Here's a jingle for another podcast on the network. For some reason, I can never get the nouns right in the order of the sentences when I say this particular part of the show. I... here's the jingle:
Jingle Speaker 1 01:44 Where did you get this?
Jingle Speaker 2 01:45 Your friendly neighborhood anarchist.
Jingle Speaker 3 01:50 More of an anarchist militant.
Jingle Speaker 4 01:52 People involved in social struggles, everybody else.
Jingle Speaker 5 01:55 People have been waiting for some content radio show.
Jingle Speaker 6 01:58 The Final Straw. Thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org.
Jingle Speaker 7 02:01 If you're listening, you are the resistance.
Margaret 02:12 Okay, my guest this week is Petra. And if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then maybe any political or organizational affiliations or just what you do for a living as relates to what we're going to be talking about on the show today?
Petra 02:26 Yeah, so my name is Petra LeBaron-Botts and I live in Portland, Oregon, my pronouns are she/her/hers. I try to not have any political affiliations, actually. I find that my politics, although pretty consistent in overarching theories are sort of constantly mutating in specifics. And so I find that, and have found over the past several years, that not having any political affiliation seems to serve me better. So it's also something that, you know, and every job I've had, we've been very discouraged in terms of talking about it. But I am a wilderness educator, I guess, in the most basic of terms, lead trips, and currently teach for a community college in Portland.
Margaret 03:22 Cool. Okay, so I guess the main thing that I kind of want to talk to you about is how to camp when you're prepared to camp—so the framing that I'm imagining this particular conversation in is, you know, I reached out to you in a rush in the middle of the night during the uprising when I was like, "What would I need if I suddenly needed to move over land?" Like if suddenly the American South became a dramatically inhospitable place and I, you know, there were militia checkpoints on the roads or whatever—whatever the reasoning would be, I was like, "What would I need to get out on foot?" And, you know, I've camped a bit my life, right, and I, you know, live off grid, but there's still a lot of stuff. Like I said—I think I specifically called you to be like, "What kind of camping pad do I actually need? And also, are poles actually worth it?" And because, you know, I did most of my more active outdoors-ing while I was a younger woman, and was a little bit more physically resilient to sleeping on the ground and stuff. And so, so yeah, I guess I wanted to talk to you. We'll get into some other stuff about what to do when you don't have what you need. But I wanted to talk to you about like, when you have what you need, how do you go about camping or thru-hiking? Like, what's some of the stuff?
Petra 04:54 Yeah, I think that in planning for trips and planning for camping, there's a lot of working backwards, sort of, where do I envision myself going? How far do I envision myself going? What sort of tolerance for misery do I know that I have or not have? And working backwards, therefore, what kind of gear do I need or what kind of gear can I jettison? So I don't know that there's like a really easy answer to that. I think that being prepared tends to look like knowing the weight of your gear, knowing the number of miles that you can travel with a full backpack—and a full backpack, I mean, that's a pretty broad term because they're full backpacks that are, you know, 20 pounds and full backpacks that are 80 pounds. So, you know, how much weight can I personally comfortably carry according to the number of miles I want to travel? So yeah, a lot of working backwards and a lot of sort of not having a strict formula to work with.
Margaret 05:58 How would you gauge that if you are like, let's say you are a modestly physically active person who does not make a habit of thru-hiking or, you know, overnight backpacking or anything like that? What—how would people start getting a sense of—or people have different levels of ability, you know, I was just going to start using myself as an example. But how would you start gauging how much weight you would consider carrying and how far you think that you would try to push yourself on a given day?
Petra 06:34 I think one of the important things is to get a baseline understanding for how far you can travel before you start to feel really miserable. So that might look like, you know, in your initial stages, especially if you're not used to, say, walking up a lot of hills, is going out with very minimal equipment, going out with a bunch of water and maybe, you know, a couple of extra clothing layers, and going and walking up, you know, maybe 1000 feet of elevation gain, you know, maybe over two or three miles and seeing how that feels to your body. You know, is that already pushing it or not. And then I think another great step to take is getting everything that you think you're going to need—so there are sort of infinite packing lists that you can find online for back country trips—sort of getting together everything that you think you need, putting it all in a backpack, and then just taking that on a walk for even just a couple miles around your neighborhood or the place where you live and start to see how that feels. Because a lot of people the—when that you make the jump from day hiking to overnight backpacking, it's a pretty steep learning curve. And I think people tend to underestimate how much things weigh and they also tend to overestimate how much weight they can carry before they start to feel really miserable. So if you tell the average person you know, you're going to have to carry, you know, 35 pounds of gear on your back. 35 pounds doesn't necessarily sound like a lot of weight. But as soon as you put it on and start to move at a, you know, reasonably fast hiking pace over several miles, that weight tends to add up really quickly and start to feel real heavy.
Margaret 08:23 Yeah, that makes sense. When I was, you know, when I was younger, and lived out of a backpack, I felt like people always started by putting like, kind of, as much weight as they could possibly have in their backpacks. And then would kind of like, like, people who are hitchhiking and hopping freight trains and stuff. And then would slowly kind of just slimming down and getting rid of everything extra and then actually would then move back up to being like, well, now I want bolt cutters or some other fucking stupid heavy thing. Because they kind of know what they do and don't need by that point. But okay, well, to start with like, kind of the basics from my point of view—and please correct me if I'm wrong—the one thing that I always considered indispensable was a sleeping bag. Like, I always felt like no matter what, like, my backpack could just be a damn sleeping bag. And now I wasn't in the wilderness. I was like, in cities, so things like getting water and food were like more available. But um, yeah, I don't know. You know, it's like, I don't want to turn the show into just like a—just gear talk, right? Like, what's the best sleeping bag and stuff like that. But I—sometimes some of the gear stuff is important. And I guess it's like, not necessarily like what's like the best top of the line sleeping bag, but what's like, what's a baseline that people would be looking for? And I know it has to do with environment, but...
Petra 09:57 Totally. Sort of a few—kind of a few big characteristics I guess, to look at: The first one is, you know, if you go to like Dick's Sporting Goods and you pull a backpack off one of the—or a sleeping bag off one of the shelves, it's probably going to be one of those rectangular synthetic sleeping bags. Or they might even have like a, you know, like a fleece lining on the inside of it. You definitely want to get away from those rectangular sleeping bags, and go for something that's a mummy fit sleeping bag. So that's the one that's, you know, tapered the feet to narrower down there and then it sort of flares out around where the shoulders and torso are. And you want to do that just because you want to minimize the amount of space that your body has to heat up. So in rectangular sleeping bags, you have a lot more dead space, a lot more airspace inside the sleeping bag, which means it's harder for your body to heat up all of that air. So you're just kind of wasting heat. So mummy cut or mummy fit sleeping bags are important to look at. And then sleeping bags are rated according to their survival temperature. Which is to say, when a sleeping bag has a listed, you know, temperature rating, you should be safe, you should not die, down to that temperature. One thing that's really important to remember is that that's not a comfort rating. And so one thing that I really encourage people to think about is, do you tend to sleep really cold? You know, are you always cold when you're sleeping? Or are you the kind of person who's, you know, waking up and sweating in the middle of the night. And that's going to make a difference in terms of, you know, what kind of temperature you might opt for. I would say, you know, if I were going to pick one sleeping bag that would, you know, get me through the vast majority of conditions all the time, I would say a 20 degree synthetic bag.
Margaret 11:58 Okay.
Petra 11:59 20 degrees is, you know, that'll keep you alive through, you know, most certainly Pacific Northwest weather, you know, not being in the mountains. And you can always add in, you know, like a liner or, you know, have a hot water bottle or some of those chemical heat packs to make it a little bit warmer. But that'll keep you alive and reasonably comfortable in a lot of conditions. And then I always recommend the synthetic. They are bulkier and they are heavy, but they'll also continue to insulate even when they're wet. Which down sleeping bags won't. and especially here in the Pacific Northwest, eight months of rain, that's eight months of potentially having a not insulating sleeping bag.
Margaret 12:43 Yeah, that's actually really interesting. I'm happy to hear that because I tend to recommend synthetic sleeping bags, but the reason that I do it—and this is just to my best knowledge—is that synthetic sleeping bags are happier compacted, like, all day long. As compared to down sleeping bags need to be stored, like, outside of their stuff sack. And, you know, most people don't do what I do, which is sleep in a sleeping bag every night. It's an old habit. Dies hard. I've like—it takes so many comforters to be warm in a bed but it just takes one 0 degree sleeping bag and you're fine. And, you know, but most people probably are going to be keeping their sleeping bags like packed away, right? And if it's going to be living in the bottom of your pack, then—is that true? That synthetic is happier compacted?
Petra 13:38 Yes, well I don't know if it's happier compacted it's just less miserable when it's compacted because, yeah, if you're storing a down sleeping bag compacted, you know, in a stuff sack you're going to end up with clumping feathers and you're going to end up with inconsistent distribution of the down and so it's—you know, you're going to have sort of spots that feel really cold and that, it doesn't take a terribly long time for a down sleeping bag to end up with that clumping if it's been stored compacted.
Margaret 14:09 Okay. Cool yeah, and synthetic sleeping bags also cheaper so that's also nice.
Petra 14:16 Also that.
Margaret 14:17 And I literally don't know how down—what geese are treated—I have no idea.
Petra 14:24 Yeah, you know, there's this certified cruelty0free down now and I think it's probably bullshit, so yeah.
Margaret 14:32 Yeah, that wouldn't surprise me.
Petra 14:34 No geese had to suffer for those synthetic sleeping bags.
Margaret 14:37 So one thing I learned about sleeping in sleeping bags only more recently, which is embarrassing because again, that's been about half my life now has been the primary thing that I sleep in. It's that the loft of the sleeping bag, the like puffiness of it, is so crucial to its warming value. And so I was learning that like you shouldn't put a blanket over a sleeping bag if you're trying to maximize the efficacy of a sleeping bag. Is that something you know much about?
Petra 15:06 I wish I could comment more on sort of the physics of it. But yes, I will say that one of the reasons for that—one reason that I do know—is that the way that—the reason that down or synthetic fill, you know, the reason that it's effective is because there's air trapped in between feathers or sort of in that synthetic fill. And your—that trapped air is being heated up by your body. So your body is not only heating up sort of the airspace inside of your sleeping bag, but also in the air that's contained in the fill.
Margaret 15:43 Yeah.
Petra 15:43 And so when you compress that you are reducing the amount of warm air that can be held close to your body. So it's ultimately just making it a little bit colder for you.
Margaret 15:55 Yeah, that makes sense. Do you know if the rating of—Oh, and another question that I get asked and I, I think I have an answer to but I'm not entirely certain is, there's a rumor that goes around that sleeping in a sleeping bag with clothes on reduces the efficacy of a sleeping bag.
Petra 16:16 It's kind of half true. It's totally fine to sleep in clothes. But kind of, you know, just like we've been talking about this trapped airspace, if you are wearing a ton of clothing, then the airspace—there's just this little tiny sort of layer of air right around you between sort of your body and your clothes that you're eating up. But it's preventing your body heat from fully radiating into the airspace inside the sleeping bag. And then to that, you know, down or synthetic fill. So you can—you know, I sleep in like wool long johns and like a long sleeve base layer. But, you know, often when people are cold they'll say, "Well, I'm just going to put on all of my clothing and wear it to bed and then it'll be even warmer," which is not true. The better way if you have a bunch of extra clothing and you are cold at night is actually just to take that clothing and ball it up and stuff it inside your sleeping bag with you. Because that's just, again, reducing the amount of airspace that your body needs to heat up in order to make the sleeping bag warm.
Margaret 17:27 Okay. Yeah, and I also kind of recommend to people—like it's just something that I learned from a long habit—is that you put the clothes that you want to wear the next day, if they fit, into your sleeping bag so that they're not freezing in the morning and your life is like slightly less miserable. And then a weird random thing I've learned in the sort of modern era: I learned a long time ago that modern electronics are not designed with squatters in mind. And lithium batteries are not happy when it's cold out.
Petra 17:59 Correct.
Margaret 18:00 And so I also put my phone in my sleeping bag at night so that the battery's dead in the morning, and may or may not have occasionally put an entire fucking laptop in my sleep for the same purpose.
Petra 18:01 Yeah. When I used to work for—I used to guide for a wilderness therapy program. And, you know, we had radios that we had to carry and bags full of medication. Another thing that's really good if people don't already know is if you carry epinephrine, epinephrine can freeze and once it freezes it loses its potency. So if you have like an epi pen or epinephrine that could go in your sleeping bag with you as well. So I used to have a sleeping bag full of like epi pens and radios and batteries and then my spare radio batteries. And so every time I would roll around at night you're like, "Clunk clunk clunk clunk clunk clunk," and all my shit just, like, rolling over my sleeping bag with me.
Margaret 19:00 Uh huh. Yeah, and then also a ceramic water filters are—you have to like drain them. You can't let them freeze or whatever.
Petra 19:11 Right, because if there's water in there and it freezes it expands and it can crack the filter.
Margaret 19:16 Yeah. And I haven't had that. I haven't, like, had that happen to me yet in my personal life, but my water filter is no longer a ceramic water filter, the one on my house.
Petra 19:28 Yeah, that's why I don't—you know, it's for your house so it's a little bit different, but that's why on my personal trips I don't carry a filter anymore. I don't ever filter.
Margaret 19:37 Oh, interesting. What do you do for drinking water?
Petra 19:42 I do chemical treatment instead. So—and chemical treatment can sort of run the gamut from really super incredibly cheap up to, you know, not expensive but definitely more expensive. I use Aqua Mira which basically creates chlorine. And I like Aqua Mira because there's relatively little aftertaste. And sometimes in the outdoors I have a hard time drinking enough water, especially when it's cold. And if it's cold and my water tastes like shit, I'm definitely not going to drink it. So I use Aqua Mira, but you can use bleach. Bleach is an incredibly effective and super cheap way of chemically treating your water.
Margaret 20:27 So you should just drink bleach if—if you drink bad water, and then you just drink some bleach?
Petra 20:32 Yeah, I hear that will also solve COVID-19 too. So yeah, it's the one-two punch.
Margaret 20:38 Okay, so—no, it's actually interesting about water filters. Because I've been putting little tiny vials of chemical treatment into, like, any kind of survival kit that I pack for anybody. But for me—and I keep one like in my, you know, my day pack that goes with me everywhere, or whatever, right? Because I really like light, cheap, useful things that just, like, don't take up any space and you can forget about them. And,—but then when I imagine, like, actually, camping, I've always ended up using, you know, like, I use the mini Sawyer, that was like, the ceramic filter that I used on my house when pandemic started because I, you know, wasn't leaving my house because there was a pandemic. And so I've always seen the ceramic filters as like kind of the step up from the chemical treatment. So that's interesting to hear that you prefer the chemical treatment.
Petra 21:32 they definitely make water tastes a lot better when you filter it. I just—I, you know, they're bulky and I just often don't want to take the time to filter water. So chemical filtration—you know, and let me say this—it really depends on where I'm going. You know, I used to work in southeastern Utah, and we largely—and Southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah—and our water sources are all cow ponds. So you know, imagine brown water that you cannot see through with floating mounds of cow shit in it.
Margaret 22:08 Oh, god.
Petra 22:09 I'm gonna filter that.
Margaret 22:10 Yeah.
Petra 22:11 Definitely filter that water. But for anything, you know, in most of the Pacific Northwest, up in the Cascades, the water—I mean, we're so lucky out here, the water is so great. So I don't bother filtering that and I just will do chemical treatment.
Margaret 22:25 Okay. And for anyone who's listening who is like, "But the water so natural, I want to just drink it." You ever had Giardia? I had it once.
Petra 22:35 I have and it's horrendous.
Margaret 22:37 Yeah. It's a real bad scene. And I kind of think it would murder you if it happened in a situation where you couldn't, you know, have access to ways to get food and water in you.
Petra 22:53 Yeah, that becomes a really dangerous situation, actually, especially if you're pretty far out. Because, I guess for anyone who doesn't know, the biggest symptom, biggest sign for Giardia is really terrible diarrhea. So vomiting and diarrhea. And so you're just losing so much fluid from your body. And that just very quickly becomes really dangerous and then you're not able to walk very far. So yeah, I highly recommend—please, please do something to make your water drinkable.
Margaret 23:24 Yeah. Yeah, it's like, we think we're in a more—when you're out in the woods you think you're in a more pure environment than you are. And I've seen so many times, like, forest defense camps, or, you know, kind of more hippie backpacker types or whatever, who just are like, "Oh, no, it's cool because we're so far away from civilization, you could just drink right out of the stream." And I've seen those people get very sick. And I've been sickened by someone who I chose to trust and drink her water. And it was a poor decision because it was unfiltered water. And yeah, I've never had an experience of my life where I had to shit and throw up at the same time.
Petra 24:01 At the same time. It's so incredible. It just comes out really aggressively.
Margaret 24:06 Yeah
Petra 24:06 From both ends.
Margaret 24:07 So anyway, water. Water. Take care of your water. Okay, so so back to sleeping. You know, because this is one of the things I called you about, right, is because imagining, okay, like—I've done some cold weather camping, but I haven't like, done a ton of it. Right? I you know, I grew up in a place that has four seasons, but winter is not six months long, you know. And so—and I used to just never fuck with sleeping pads. Like, again, I was usually in an urban environment so I just find a cardboard dumpster and get a ton of cardboard and sleep on it. Which is incredibly uncomfortable. And one of the reasons it's so uncomfortable is that if you sleep outside all the time, you kind of have to—maybe everyone's body is different about this, right? But like if I sleep on my side and I do don't have enough padding, I just I toss and turn all night, right, because the grounds too hard on my hips and so I can only sleep on my back or on my belly. But then that isn't warm enough when you're cold, right? If you're sleeping and it's slightly cold, you don't want to sleep on your back, like your body will just get mad at you for sleeping on your back. And so sleeping pads, someone invented this wonderful thing called portable mattresses that should have occurred to me much younger than they did. What kind of sleeping pad do you use or recommend?
Petra 25:34 Yeah, so sleeping bags come in—or sorry, sleeping pads come in two basic varieties, two basic overarching varieties. One is a closed cell and one's an inflatable or an open cell. So a closed cell sleeping pad is like the ubiquitous, you know, yellow accordion fold sleeping pad that looks like an egg crate that you've seen, probably, you know, everybody using. So that is, that's great if you are a person who generally doesn't have any trouble sleeping, regardless of where you are. I personally would never take just that. But I have a lot of trouble sleeping to begin with even when I'm, you know, at home in my own bed. And so that sort of becomes, you know, that trouble becomes, you know, exponentially worse when I'm in the back country. So I personally take—always, regardless of where I am, but especially in the cold—I take both. I take a foam—I take that accordion fold egg crate yellow foam sleeping pad, and I also take an inflatable one. And that is just extra comfort for me, which I really appreciate because, you know, especially in the context of, you know, being outdoors for my work, work tends to feel a lot easier and I tend to be a much nicer person if a reasonable amount of sleep the night before, especially when I'm in charge of people's well-being, you know, I try to be well rested. Um, the combination of the two is, I would say, really important in the cold. Foam, you know, closed cell sleeping pads, they'll give you some insulation from the cold ground, which is great, but they don't provide a lot of comfort, you know, it's basically kind of a step up from cardboard, right? It's not that much softer or thicker. And then using an inflatable one, that's going to give you the extra comfort but using an inflatable sleeping pad directly on cold ground, all you're going to end up with is that cold ground, cooling that air inside of the inflatable sleeping pad and it's going to—it's going to draw away your—it's going to try to basically draw away your body heat until your temperature, your body temperature, is the same as the temperature of that air. So if you use the two, you have the insulation from the ground, you're not cooling down that airspace inside the inflatable pad as quickly and you're just that much more comfortable overnight.
Margaret 28:08 Okay. Yeah, I actually I tried this for the first time after talking to you.
Petra 28:13 And?
Margaret 28:14 It was great. I had just finished—I managed to maybe get trapped in a blizzard in what I thought was early fall—well actually is was mid fall—because I confusingly decided that I should drive a loan through, what's that state that's really cold? North Dakota and Montana. I don't remember which one I got stuck in the blizzard in. It was a very long day. And so I slept in my car that day, which is not particularly comfortable. And then the night after, I was like, I'm going to just fucking camp, you know. I made it somewhere a little bit warmer. And yeah, it was really, it was really comfortable is one of the nicer sleeping out moments I've had.
Petra 29:00 Yes. That's so great. Yeah, it's—for me, you know, there are lots of places where people are willing to shave off ounces and gear that people are willing to leave behind. For me, the combination, I just, it's unmatched. The quality of sleep that I get, and the comfort that I get from the combination is so worth the extra weight to me.
Margaret 29:24 Yeah, when you're talking about being grouchy in the morning, right? Like, it's like one of these things that people like laugh about, like they're like, "Oh, yeah, haha, I'm like really unhappy." But like, I hadn't quite realized, you know, how important morale is, you know?
Petra 29:41 Oh my god. Yeah.
Margaret 29:42 Like, I actually think it's probably on a regular basis the difference between life or death is like, just like, some vague level of comfort in a bad situation. You know?
Petra 29:55 Totally. Oh, 100%. You know, in all of the really terrible situations that I've ever been in, yeah, I think the reason that all of them didn't end with severe injury or death was because of some kind of comfort, whether that's physical comfort or emotional comfort, but you know, doing whatever the hell you can to try to keep morale up.
Margaret 30:16 Yeah, I could really see myself like, um, you know, you know, one of those movies where you're like trapped under a boulder and waiting for rescue or whatever? I could definitely see myself just, like, pulling out Nintendo Switch and playing Skyrim until the battery dies. You know?
Petra 30:32 Yeah.
Margaret 30:34 Because, like, yeah, morale is so much more vital than I would have expected, you know? And I—it's that kind of macho attitude of like, you know, doing without anything or whatever, right? Okay, so what is—speaking of stuff that people bring and don't bring, like, what some of the bullshit? Like, okay, so you're clearly like, for example, not—certainly in terms of your sleeping arrangements you're more maximalist than some, you know, campers and backpackers, but what some of the stuff that people think they need, that they don't?
Petra 31:19 Um, you know, gosh, a lot? I—there are all sorts of things that I think fall into this, and it kind of depends on what people are hoping to do, or sort of what kind of trip they're trying to have. So, you know, there are all kinds of really fancy gadgets that you can get, you know, I think there's now like a back country french press that you can get and, you know, a back country pour overs so you can have your perfectly brewed cup of coffee. So there's stuff like that, but I also kind of don't hold that against people because I get it, like, you know, at some point you're willing to carry the extra weight for the things that matter the most to you. One thing though is excessive toiletries. Every time—and this happens all the time—people are always trying to bring full size sticks of deodorant. I just don't get it. Because I get that there's this, you know, we have a lot of sort of cultural norms around, you know, how you smell and what you smell like. But I never really understood that. I just think, you know, we're outdoors, just embrace the fact that you're going to stink and the more smelly items that you bring, the more attractive you are to bears. It's just one more thing you got to protect from bears at night. So there's that, you know, some people will bring full-on camping pillows that are really bulky and quite heavy. People bring chairs a lot. And I think, you know, if you have back issues then that's great, whatever, do your thing. A lot of that—there are a lot of stools and chairs that are being made now that are really pretty cool and don't weigh all that much. I'm trying to think of what else people really are attached to. People tend to bring more clothing than they need. It's been pretty—I've been pretty impressed actually, I haven't seen people bring a whole lot of really absurd stuff on the trips that I've led, which is pretty good after I think 600 days working outdoors now that I have.
Margaret 33:30 Yeah.
Petra 33:32 Yeah, that's a really disappointing answer. I'm sorry.
Margaret 33:36 No, no, it's okay. Cuz I mean, that's like, I was just saying that I'm gonna bring a Nintendo Switch, right? So like—and I, you know, the things that I most immediately think of are like, I think I've talked shit on wire saws before on the show. The like, sort of like, gadgets, the like, kind of like, "tactical cool," like...
Petra 34:02 Yeah.
Margaret 34:03 You know, like, I don't know, that's the kind of stuff that I when I think of—besides, I don't know, besides, yeah, too much clothing. People don't realize that when you just go camping, you just don't change your shirt which actually has some problems down the road eventually, but...
Petra 34:18 Eventually. Do you know what a Woodsman's Pal is?
Margaret 34:22 I do not.
Petra 34:23 It's like—Oh, I wish I could—it's kind of like a smaller machete.
Margaret 34:28 Mm hmm.
Petra 34:30 Well I guess machetes come in all come in all sorts of sizes. It's basically designed for chopping wood but also sort of shaving strips of wood for tender. People have tried to bring those and, you know, really, just a just a regular knife will do. I, you know, people trying to backpack with axes and hatchets and—I mean good for you but I would say, you know, A) you shouldn't be chopping anything off of trees and B) If a log is so big that you need to chop it down in order to burn it, it's probably just too big to begin with.
Margaret 35:06 Yeah, no, that makes sense. I, yeah, a hatchet has not made any kind of level of my cut. I could imagine situations where like a machete might be useful, but like, I'm pretty into the just, like, one fuck off knife, you know, one fixed blade knife. But I know a lot of people are into folding saws, like, again, this is kind of less like three-day trip kind of thing and more a little bit of like, you know, I'm off to go start my new life in the forest eating squirrels or whatever. Um, but I feel like I would bring a folding saw in a lot of environments like to cut wood with, but I don't know.
Petra 35:53 They work pretty well. I did I have a pretty limited lifespan.
Margaret 35:57 Oh, interesting.
Petra 35:58 At least for me, you know, I've found that with heavy use, you know, six months before that thing is really warped or not really working well or part of the handle breaks off.
Margaret 36:10 Mm hmm. Okay, what do you recommend? What do you use instead? Or do you just replace them every six months?
Petra 36:18 You know, I don't these days find a lot of occasions to really take a folding saw—doesn't really feel necessary for where I'd go or where I work. So I just sort of the one standalone fuck off knife. That really does it for me. Mm hmm.
Margaret 36:34 Yeah. I love my fuck off knife. I also—I made my fuck off knife. I like was living with a knife maker and I was like watching over their shoulder for a long time. And then I was like, "Can I make one now?"
Petra 36:49 That's awesome. Has it—have you managed to get it and keep it pretty sharp?
Margaret 36:55 I am not incredibly good at sharpening knives. This is uh—I'm glad—this is the skill set that I'm like, very embarrassed that I seem to lack. It's a very fine dexterous thing. I got it very sharp when I first did it, very carefully. And then since then, honestly, I don't really sharpen it. And it still does the stuff that I need a knife to do, which is like, cut open boxes and make people not fuck with me when I'm wearing a miniskirt and have a giant knife.
Petra 37:28 Yeah.
Margaret 37:30 So like, I really need to sharpen it. Like I—you know, it's like, I can't shave with it, right?
Petra 37:38 Right.
Margaret 37:39 And I've definitely had knives when I could—I could shave with this knife when I, you know, when it first came out of the sharpening or whatever. But I don't know, what kind of fuck off knife do you like?
Petra 37:52 I carry a Mora knife, which is a pretty—it's just a pretty standard knife. I don't know, I made a new handle for it, which I really like. Because it comes with like a shitty plastic handle, you know, and I wanted something that's wood. They're relatively easy to sharpen. And I say that as a person who really sucks at sharpening things. They're pretty easy to sharpen. It's a good size. I like it, because you can both cut things and, like, whittle with it pretty well. So it's not an enormous blade. But I found it to be a good sort of all-purpose knife.
Margaret 38:29 Okay, that's cool. So what do people forget to bring all the time? Like, what are some of the things where people are like, "Oh, gee, I—" you know, I don't know, you would know the answer to this. And I could conjecture, but I'll be wrong.
Petra 38:45 Yeah, I there kind of three things that come to mind. One is, you know, people are really great about packing a stove, but are way less good about packing lighters. So you know, because then just sort of, I don't know, becomes less obvious as something that you would need. So people will always, you know, they'll have their fuel bottles and they'll have their stoves but they won't actually check to make sure that they have a lighter. Always have a lighter, always. Another thing is—sort of broadly I'm going to say something to protect your skin. And sort of two different areas of that. One is people always forget sun protection like sunscreen which, you know, and a lot of people are like, "Oh, well, you know, I don't really, you know, I just tan really quickly or whatever." Being significantly sunburned in the back country on a long trip is so shitty, it's so terrible. So even if you know you have like a broad brimmed hat, I think having that sort of extra sunscreen on top of that is great. The other thing is, if you're going to be traveling on snow, you needs some really burly sunscreen or you need something with zinc oxide in it that creates like an actual physical barrier on your skin. Because the combination of the sunlight and the reflection of the sunlight off of the snow becomes really intense. And people, you know, I personally have repeatedly burned the inside of my nose, the roof of my mouth.
Margaret 40:26 Whoa, okay.
Petra 40:26 Like all of these places that are so bad to have a sunburn. And so—and for me at least, you know, sunscreen, most sunscreen won't cut it because I'm sweating all the time. And so for that, you know, like diaper rash cream, which is like basically pure zinc oxide, is really great. It sits on the skin, it doesn't rub in, you're going to look really silly because you've got this white junk all over your face. But it's an actual barrier and also, you know, it protects you a little bit from wind burn and all of this just is such an important thing just for comfort and longevity in the back country and I think people tend to overlook that. Because they sort of figure, you know, well, as long as it's not a debilitating burn, then I'll be fine.
Margaret 41:13 Okay, that is absolutely something that I regularly overlook, so.
Petra 41:18 Yeah.
Margaret 41:19 I can't imagine the inside of my nose burning.
Petra 41:23 Oh, it's so bad. And I don't—have you ever had a second degree sunburn?
Margaret 41:27 No.
Petra 41:29 So second degree sunburn. You know, a second degree burn is when you have the formation of blisters. And as soon as you have blisters anywhere on your body in the back country it's a chance for infection. You know, depending on how bad they are, you're losing fluid from your body. So I've had many a second degree sunburn on my face.
Margaret 41:50 That's a terrible.
Petra 41:51 And it's just not fun to walk around with your face leaking fluid through your blisters.
Margaret 41:56 That would make me never go outside again. I would be like—
Petra 41:58 I know. It's really terrible.
Margaret 42:00 There's a murder orb in the sky and it's trying to murder me. That's its job.
Petra 42:05 The cursed a day star.
Margaret 42:06 Yeah. Wow. Okay, so people forget sunscreen. Yeah, it's interesting. I've been running across the like—there's like a list of like The 10 Essentials and it's like 8 years old and I could not tell you it off the top of my head. But sun protection always seems to make the list of, like, the absolute bare essentials before going out into the woods. And it has never been an essential for me. And I—but I think that's because I'm not—I mean, you know, because I haven't pushed this. I don't do multi day thru-hikes and stuff, you know?
Petra 42:44 Yeah.
Margaret 42:45 So.
Petra 42:47 Um, you know, there's one other thing—you just got me thinking about The 10 Essentials—another thing that people tend to forget, or they overlook, or they just convince themselves that they don't need it, is an actual compass, versus just your phone map. You know, I think we can do we can do so much with our phones now. And we have all of these, you know, neat devices that we can carry, that people assume that if they have, you know, a GPS, then they're never going to be lost. But there are so many limitations, so many ways that that can go wrong. And so I think people forget and overlook the fact that you need to have a map and a compass, and you need to be able to know how to use them together.
Margaret 43:31 Okay. Yeah, I was thinking about campuses as like—I mean, it's funny because compasses also fall into the, like, realm of like, if I see a knife with a compass in the handle of it, I assume it's a garbage knife and a garbage compass and like—
Petra 43:45 Correct.
Margaret 43:47 So like a compass embedded into another object is like almost always a bad scene. It seems like it's not inherently wrong, right? But there's just—if it's gonna be a quality compass, it seems like it's gonna be standalone is that—?
Petra 44:01 The tough thing is, especially if you're trying to navigate over any kind of distance, you have to—so depending on where you are in the world, there's going to be a difference between where true north is in relation to you, and where the needle of your compass points to. So there's a difference between true north and magnetic north. And that difference can be up to like 40 degrees difference. So you can probably start to see, if you don't have the knowledge of the declination, that difference between true north and magnetic north, and if you don't have a compass that has sort of clear individually marked degrees, then you can end up 40 degrees off of where you're actually trying to travel to.
Margaret 44:47 Okay. One of the reasons that I pitch people carrying a compass even if they kind of either suck at navigating like I do—because I haven't done it since I was a boy scout, which, you know, was a long time ago—or who just have no idea about navigation, is it seems to me to be like a kind of useful thing. And maybe, I don't know, this is like my own conjecture, basically to be like, well, at least I'm walking the same goddamn way.
Petra 45:14 Yes.
Margaret 45:14 So like, that was always my like, "I should carry a compass so that if I'm lost, I'm at least fucking walk in the same direction."
Petra 45:22 Totally. Even if you don't know how to do anything with your compass, if you can walk and keep—basically keep the needle pointing towards the same degree marking or pointing in the same direction, then yeah, you're more or less walking a straight line. And you're going to do better at walking a straight line with that than if you had nothing.
Margaret 45:43 Okay. Cool. I'm glad to hear that this—one of the things that I realize is that a lot of like—the things that scare people off of prepping—one thing that scares people off of prepping is that, like, it's so gear-oriented that it like, seems like it's only for antisocial people with lots of money and storage space, which is obviously like, not true, right? Those people are actually less likely to be in bad situations than the rest of us. But then also, even after that, it can be very skill-oriented. And sometimes that takes time that we can't always dedicate to this stuff, right? Like, I want to learn navigation again, for real. I couldn't do it again, you know, and I learned it 25 years ago or something. But I would love to, right? But there's just also so much other shit that I would love to do. And like, it's really interesting to learn which things you could use whether or not you have some skill and like figure it out in the woods and which things that you, like, actually probably need to figure out ahead of time. And I'm wondering, because you were telling me before we started recording that what you do is um—well here, do you want to explain the difference between being a guide and an instructor? And then the reason I'm going to ask is because I want to ask if there's things that people assume that they will be able to do that they cannot do or vice versa, things that people assume they can't do that they can do.
Petra 47:16 Yeah, absolutely. So I guess in sort of pretty brief terms, guides—in the sort of traditional sense—wilderness guides are people who take paying clients out and sort of facilitate an outdoor experience for them. That could be a backpacking trip that could be, you know, you kind of see them—I associate them the most with climbing mountains, you know, you can pay a guide who will basically close the gap, the knowledge gap, right? Will take you, a person with no, you know, background or skill in climbing mountains, and get you to the top of a, you know, relatively technical peak, get you back down safely, and will sort of cook all of your meals as you go. So I—the reason I shied away from guiding is because I find that when people are paying a guide, you know, guides are not inexpensive, right? And so I think when people pay a guide they sort of expect, "Well, you know, you are going to set up my sleeping, or you're going to set up my tent, you're going to cook meals, you're going to do all the technical stuff so that I don't have to worry about it." Right, and I just really kind of hate that. I do—I knew that if I went into that, that I would become really jaded and really cynical and really antisocial. And so what I do instead, and what I've done ever since I got into working outdoors in 2011, is I've been an instructor. So I take people who want to learn the skills into the back country and we do some, you know—I used to work courses that were 30 days long. So we'll do some really long 30 day trip, or we'll do like a—you know, we'll climb a mountain or we'll go snow camping. And I'm there to teach people how to do it as they are kind of immersed in the situation. And I really love what I do just because I—because there's a curiosity, because people feel some responsibility for their own well-being, and it feels much more like we're sort of a functioning team versus, I don't know, like a mother duck and a bunch of ducklings.
Margaret 49:37 Okay. That's cool. Okay, so when you do that, what are the things that—like, what are some of the skills that people can pick up easier than they think they can? Or what are some of the skills that people like—you actually probably need to study ahead of time? Basically, like, almost, where can you cut corners in your preparation in terms of skills, and where do you really have to focus in?
Petra 50:05 I think most outdoor living things can be picked up on the fly, you know, you can learn how to cook over a backpacking stove and even make, you know, some pretty awesome meals. And you can figure it out sort of in the back country. You can figure out, you know, how to put up a tent, you can figure out how to, you know, keep yourself relatively comfortable during the day, you can figure out how to make a fire kind of on the fly. You know, that—there are definitely some tips that make it easier, but you know, that's not something that you need to, you know, study beforehand. The two things that I would say really do require some forethought or some planning or some training is navigation, right? A lot of people think that they know how to navigate with a map and compass, but when it comes down to it, they have no idea. And I see this again and again, even in the sort of people I've worked with. And the other thing is building shelter. So putting up a tent is one thing, but trying to create a shelter, even like a tarp shelter, has more kind of nuance than you might expect. Anybody can put up a tarp shelter that, you know, kind of looks like shit and definitely won't last the night, but it takes a little more planning to sort of get a really nice weatherproof tarp shelter. And then, you know, something that I teach people in the context of my job right now and also, you know, has personally saved my life in the past is snow shelters. Digging a snow shelter is not intuitive. It's not intuitive. It's not. There are a lot of things to think about that you might not immediately think about. And that's one thing where I do think that if people are going to be in a remote situation in the snow, you oughta know how to build a snow shelter.
Margaret 52:06 Okay, that's good to know. I have no idea—I mean, I have an idea of how to build snow shelter in that I've, like, seen some diagrams and some very nice books. But you know, I have always just had tents if I'm—well, I've mostly avoided the snow because I didn't need to not avoid the snow so I would just hitchhike south because it was cold. But so okay, in terms of what you can cut corners with and what you can't, what about with gear? Like, you know, there's so much stuff that's marketed to, like, as soon as anyone who's listening, this podcast starts googling any of this shit, your ads are gonna be full of like all kinds of garbage, right? And they're gonna be like, "If you're a real man you're gonna get this real man box. And once a month, we send you a man tool." And it's always, like, some random fucking bullshit and like—and a lot of the shits, like, really expensive, right? Like, I've definitely learned—but then some of it's so fucking cheap. And like my one example that I use personally all the time is that, like, I swear by $5 folding knives.
Petra 53:15 Oh, yeah.
Margaret 53:16 Like, I have a hard time envisioning what an $80 folding knife is for. Like, I just—like, maybe it would just last me the rest of my life but I'm not convinced by that.
Petra 53:31 Yeah, you know, I think for some of these companies you do pay a premium for a lifetime guarantee, which is pretty nice.
Margaret 53:39 Yeah.
Petra 53:40 But I'd say you know, it kind of depends on how much you envision using that particular thing. Like, yeah, I might spend $80 on a knife if this knife is exactly the kind of knife that I want and I use a knife all the time.
Margaret 53:53 Right.
Petra 53:53 But personally, I just—that's not really worth it to me.
Margaret 53:57 Right.
Petra 53:58 But I will say like, I don't know if you know the company Darn Tough that makes socks. They're from Vermont.
Margaret 54:03 No.
Petra 54:04 They have a lifetime warranty on all their socks.
Margaret 54:07 Whoa. Okay, so you—
Petra 54:08 I have tested this and it's a real thing. If you develop a hole in one of your socks, you can take a picture, you can send it to the company, and they will send you a new pair of socks. Lifetime warranty.
Margaret 54:19 Okay, that's cool.
Petra 54:21 Totally worth the extra money.
Margaret 54:23 Yeah. Okay. What about like tents and—like what gear—because so much of this gear is so fuck off expensive. And yet so much of it is also available. It's funny when you're talking about the ubiquitous camping mat. And I'm like, in my mind, the ubiquitous camping mat is a blue foam mat from Walmart.
Petra 54:48 Yeah.
Margaret 54:50 Which I think is just ready to—go ahead.
Petra 54:52 I was just gonna say maybe ubiquitous just in the circles that I've been in for a decade now.
Margaret 54:57 Yeah. I have an accordion fold one now cuz I'm a fancy bitch but like, yeah, I'm curious what—if you have any other ideas of like gear that you can and can't cut corners with.
Petra 55:14 Yeah, um, you know, tents are kind of a weird story. Like the sort of cheapest tent that you can buy at like a, you know, an army navy surplus store or like Walmart or anything like that—those tents will work for sure, you know, they might even hold up to some, you know, some high winds, relatively high winds or some hard rain. They're just much less durable, and they're much heavier. So I guess really any gear can work if you don't mind carrying the weight. Because a lot of those tents that you can find at, you know, at Walmart or, you know, any like sporting goods store, or those like sort of cheaper, more basic tents. They're like 6 pounds, 7 pounds. And you know, in comparison, you know, if you buy like a really fancy tent, you can get one that's, you know, under a pound. But that's like a $900 tent. And I don't know about you, I'm never gonna fucking buy at $900 tent.
Margaret 56:21 No.
Petra 56:22 No, so—
Margaret 56:24 If I did, it'd be one of those giant camp, like, army ones that you like put a wood burning stove in and then you, like, stand outside with spears.
Petra 56:31 Like, can I have my horses inside of it? If so, great. $900.
Margaret 56:36 Yeah.
Petra 56:37 Kidding, I don't have horses. But if I did, I'd want to fit them in there.
Margaret 56:40 Yeah. Okay. Anyway, sorry, you were saying...
Petra 56:43 Oh I just said, you know, you can make a whole lot of gear work.
Margaret 56:46 Yeah.
Petra 56:47 And it's just, you know, there are going to be trade offs just because the cheaper models are going to be a little less durable, they're going to be heavier, they're not going to just last you as long, they're not going to hold up as well to extreme weather. But if you don't intend on, you know, walking a ton of miles, or you're not going to be in really crazy weather. You know, that's fine. You can get by with a tent like that, you know, that's absolutely fine. And you know, now—there are a lot of websites that are springing up now that are discount gear sites and they are absolutely worth checking, you know, if you think that you want one of these lighter weight, more durable tents. There are lots of them that pop up on these discount gear sites for, you know, 50–60% off.
Margaret 57:36 Okay.
Petra 57:36 So the the cheaper gear that's still, you know, pretty high quality—it's definitely out there. It just takes some some searching.
Margaret 57:45 Okay. Yeah, I guess it maybe on some level a tent then ends up kind of similar to, like, what I say about helmets with a demonstration. Which is, like, the best helmet is the one that you're wearing, you know?
Petra 57:55 Yeah, absolutely.
Margaret 57:56 And so, yeah, it seems like maybe some stuff you can get the nicer of. I do like all the things that like the nicer one is like not actually quite as good, like a down sleeping bag. I mean, like down sleeping bags are really—I'm certain they're great for very specific situations, you know. But, and speaking of another one, the other thing that I called you anxious about was hiking poles, and I called you about hiking poles because I basically was like, I am not as—I mean, it's funny cuz I'm in some ways more fit than I used to be in that I work on physical things all the time because I have to fix my stupid house constantly. You know, but I'm just, like, 20 years older than I used to be—well actually I'm 37 years older than I used to be if you're counting far enough back. But, uh, you know, anyway, um... Now just think about how old I am, god dammit. So I called you basically being like, "Oh, I might need poles, like, it seems like if I'm going to be carrying a lot of weight or moving across treacherous terrain, these poles seemed like a good idea." And could you tell me what you think about trekking poles?
Petra 59:07 Yeah, I am 2,000% on Team Trekking Pole. I love them. And I basically never hike without them. And even if I'm not using them while hiking, I'm always carrying them with me. So actually this kind of relates back to your question about, you know, where you can cut corners. One thing that I totally failed to mention is that if you don't need a completely enclosed tent, there are great lightweight tarps out there that are really affordable, you know, especially for something that's so compatible and so lightweight. You know, you can buy a super ultra lightweight tarp for like $30 which is just a lot cheaper than your average tent which is, you know, going to run you at least like $100 up to, you know, $900. So, lightweight tarps are great option and a lot of those can be pitched between trekking poles.
Margaret 1:00:04 Okay.
Petra 1:00:04 So you don't have to carry, you know, special tent poles or anything like that. And, you know, speaking of, you know, things that sort of serve multiple functions, the trekking pole is the unsung hero because you can use it to put up your tent. You can—they're incredibly, incredibly helpful for taking weight off of your joints. So, going uphill, they take, you know, they give you sort of a little extra momentum going uphill. And on the downhill, especially if you're like me and you have really busted knees after a lot of years of treating them very badly.
Margaret 1:00:39 Uh, huh.
Petra 1:00:40 They take a ton of weight off of that. And if you tend to end hikes with sore knees, trekking poles might really significantly help you.
Margaret 1:00:48 Okay.
Petra 1:00:49 They're also, you know, I used to be a wilderness EMT. And my favorite part of becoming an EMT, or, you know, any sort of wilderness first, you know, medical first response is first aid arts and crafts—or learning how to splint a broken bone. When you split a broken bone, you know, you need something that's rigid, that's going to, you know—that you basically strap to that injured extremity so you can prevent it from moving around. And trekking poles are so great, especially if you get ones that are collapsible, because then you can custom, you know, you can adjust the length of them. So, you know, you can fully extend them if it's a broken leg, or you can make them really short if it's a broken arm. So they're really great for that. And there's also a really hilarious story about Andrew Skurka, who's like this really famous thru-hiker and backpacker, who had a grizzly bear running at him. And he threw his trekking pole at this bear, and the bear turns around and ran away while shitting himself.
Margaret 1:01:59 Damn.
Petra 1:02:02 Scared the shit out of this grizzly bear with this trekking pole. Which I just love the visual of that so much.
Margaret 1:02:12 Yeah, I um—I hope I am never in a situation where I ever have to consider this.
Petra 1:02:18 Me neither! So yeah, I think trekking poles are absolutely worth it.
Margaret 1:02:25 Okay. Yeah, when I was younger I would, like, seek adventure, you know? Being like, "Adventure. That's cool." And now I'm like, "No adventure is when bad stuff happens, that's what makes it adventure." I'm like, if I go hiking, and all I can say is like, "Man, that waterfall was amazing." You know, like, that's a better trip.
Petra 1:02:46 It's been great.
Margaret 1:02:48 Yeah. Okay, the one other gear question—I mean, I'm sure I could talk to you gear way longer than this. The one other thing that I wanted to ask you about because I've been trying to look into for my own work is—"work," work have been prepared.
Petra 1:03:06 It's work.
Margaret 1:03:06 Yeah, well especially now that I do this podcast. Um, do you carry an emergency radio of any kind?
Petra 1:03:12 I don't. But let me say that that is something that I feel really terrible about. And I—that's sort of my next gear purchase, is a radio. There are a bunch of different kinds. And they're—one of the reasons that I haven't gotten one yet is that this is one technology where it feels like—or sort of one back country technology—where it feels like the technology is improving so quickly, that I keep waiting because I don't know, you know, the next iteration is going to be able to like microwave a bag of popcorn for me while I'm out. But, you know, there's a spot, there's a personal locator beacon, there's the Garmin inReach, they're all of these different options. And they kind of differ in terms of, you know, some of them just allow you to alert, you know, search and rescue, and you know, sort of your designated emergency contact when there's an emergency. So basically just has like a big red panic button, more or less. And then there are ones that let you text people and receive texts, which is nice, especially if you need to—you know, one problem with, like, the big red panic button scenario is that you can't actually tell search and rescue what's going on. They can pinpoint your location, but they don't know if it's, you know, is this a heart attack? Is that a broken bone? Can you be evacuated on foot? Do you need a helicopter, all of that.
Margaret 1:04:40 Right.
Petra 1:04:40 And so it's nice to have the text capacity so you can say, you know, one patient, 30 years old, broken femur, need a helicopter.
Margaret 1:04:53 Yeah. I—it's funny because I worry about that kind of stuff. Mostly because my version of—well I mean I like camping and from a camping and backpacking point of view, those make a ton of sense. But if I'm, like, right wing militias have taken over the region that I live in and I would like to leave. I don't imagine carrying, like, anything that locates me being a positive to my my health and safety. But I'm—but I could imagine either wanting a radio that can transmit, or even just like the like, the little like portable shortwave and FM and weather and whatever, radios. I don't know. Have you messed with any of those at all, or?
Petra 1:05:38 Not a lot. No, I really haven't. I think it's a great idea, though, sort of, as you mentioned, you know, it all kind of depends on what function you specifically need. And I think having some kind of communication that is not reliant on cell service is is great, you know, and that is another one of the 10 Essentials, right, is some sort of emergency communication device. And, you know, our phones are great, but our phones also tend to not, you know, work terribly reliably. So yeah, I don't have any great words of advice with those particular things. But I do think that having something like that is critical.
Margaret 1:06:18 Okay. Well, you know, I had this whole section prepared of asking what to do when you don't have all the stuff with you that you want to have. But we're coming up on an hour already and I guess maybe this is a conversation mostly about how to, you know, the gear that you might want to bring with you when you're preparing rather than what to do when you're, you know, surviving with just a fuck off knife and whatever. Is there anything, like, anything that you want to bring up—last words of advice, things that you think the listeners should hear? Or that I should hear?
Petra 1:07:00 Not really, I think that I do—I guess there is one thing I want to say, which is just that there's a whole lot of material out there that's going to tell you, you know, what you should bring what you shouldn't bring. And I think that people really just figure out what works for you. Because it might be something you know, maybe a tarp, a lightweight, tarp, works great for you. And great, like, that's what you should take. Or maybe you are the kind of person who needs, you know, sleep is really difficult for you. And you need a little bit of extra luxury when it comes to your sleeping setup. And that's great. You know, have that. Because I think, as you, I think, so correctly pointed out, right, morale is so important. And if we—I think the outdoor community, right, we're obsessed with gear, but we're also really obsessed with like denial and denying ourselves comfort, right? Which is great in some situations, right? If you're a thru-hiker and you want to hike 50 miles a day, great, you're probably going to have to ditch a lot of gear.
Margaret 1:08:06 Oh God.
Petra 1:08:06 But for most of us, for most of us, we're not going to be traveling that kind of distance, and bring some things that make you feel comfortable because that is ultimately going to keep you safe, right, is if you've had enough sleep, you've had enough calories, you've had enough water. You know, if you chemically treat your water and you hate the way it tastes, and that makes you drink less water, bring a filter, you know, then it's really worth it. So I think for a lot of these things, just like test out different sleeping situations, try different methods of treating your water, figure out what kind of food you like when you're hiking because there are lots of things that I like when I'm hiking that I really don't like at all at home.
Margaret 1:08:50 Like what?
Petra 1:08:50 So you know, figure out what those things are.
Margaret 1:08:53 What are they for you?
Petra 1:08:55 I—so I'm like not a candy person at all. But Sour Patch Kids in the back country are like the greatest thing in the world. And also just, like, regular—I think now they call it—hopefully they have changed it away from calling it "Oriental" ramen, because who approved that?
Margaret 1:09:15 Yeah.
Petra 1:09:16 I think now they're calling it their soy sauce flavor. But the soy sauce ramen, I can't get enough of it in the back country, and instant mashed potatoes.
Margaret 1:09:24 Oh, okay.
Petra 1:09:26 Yeah.
Margaret 1:09:27 That's cool.
Petra 1:09:28 And especially when you mix the two of them together.
Margaret 1:09:30 Yeah. I'm trying to think of like, yeah, when we would do forest defense basically like as soon as the food supply runs would come, all of the sugar just gets eaten right away. And at some point, people developed a rule where only tree sitters are allowed to get candy just because like to get people to do tree sitting, right? You know, you like, you need something nice dude.
Petra 1:09:57 And it's funny because I have such a—I normally have such sweet tooth, but not in the back country. I am just like all salt all the time.
Margaret 1:10:05 Okay. This is because you're sweating more you think?
Petra 1:10:09 Yeah, I think so. I assume that that's what it is, and so my body just permanently craves sodium. But yeah, and—oh, and potato chips, even if they're like crushed all to hell, like, potato chips in the outdoors are so great and I never eat potato chips at home. So yeah, just figure out what you like and what you crave when you're outdoors.
Margaret 1:10:31 Yeah, that makes sense. And, you know, now you have a good excuse whoever's listening to go camping and go hiking and learn more about this stuff. You know, learn what you prefer. Oh, I wanted to ask you, are you a tent, bivy, or tarp sleeper?
Petra 1:10:51 Tarp if it's—if the weather's nice. Tent in sort of snow and alpine situations. I hate bivies. I hate them. Some people really like them. They're lightweight. They pack down really small. But I don't know if you've ever had an MRI before. An MRI is like my worst nightmare, right? Because your in this tube that you can't escape from and it makes a shit ton of noise and that's basically the same.
Margaret 1:11:23 Okay.
Petra 1:11:24 So I hate them. But what—my perfect shelter actually, which is something that I don't, doesn't really fit into any one category that you mentioned, is a pyramid tent, which is kind of like a cross between a tarp and a tent.
Margaret 1:11:42 I have no idea what this is.
Petra 1:11:44 Okay, look it up. It's my favorite shelter.
Margaret 1:11:48 Okay.
Petra 1:11:49 Absolute favorite shelter because it's really roomy, it's really small, and it's really light.
Margaret 1:11:54 Okay, cool. That sounds great. Yeah, I never fucked with tents, because my threat model was always not animals, or even necessarily weather, it was like people, right? Because I'm sleeping places that either I'm not supposed to be or I just don't want anyone to see me anyway because people are incredibly cruel to, you know, people who are sleeping places that they should—you know, that aren't in houses or whatever. And so I just never fucked with tents because I was like, "No, that's the way you get caught, right?" And so a bivy to me seems like the best of all worlds, right? But I've only slept in one once. I just finally got one. And you know, I always just slept like out with no shelter or under a tarp. And then—if it's gonna be raining—and then—but now I have a bivy. And I've only got to sleep with it once and I'm like, I don't know. I haven't figured it out yet. And I haven't slept in the rain with it yet. I think I might hate it in the rain. But I don't know. And that's the whole point of it.
Petra 1:13:01 Yeah, they're really miserable in the rain, at least in my experience, and in the wind. The other thing that I really don't like is you can't keep anything dry. Like, if you have gear—the thing I like about tense is, you know, if the weather's really miserable, you either have a vestibule created by your rain, you know, your rain fly that you could put your gear underneath, or you bring your gear into your shelter with you, With a baby, you're just shit out of luck, man. I hope the weather is not going to be bad because everything's going to be out in the elements and I find that whenever I sleep in a bivy, I wake up to like a totally soaked backpack.
Margaret 1:13:40 Even with like the cover over the backpack or whatever.
Petra 1:13:45 I use a—I don't use a rain fly or rain cover for my pack. I use a like a trash compactor bag inside it.
Margaret 1:13:55 Okay,
Petra 1:13:56 Which is way cheaper and way more durable, but then also just allows for the sleeping bag to get totally—or the backpack to get totally soaked.
Margaret 1:14:04 Cool. Yeah, nope. That actually, that makes sense about bivies. I'm so sad. Why did you killjoy my perfect solution to all problems? Well, now I have a new perfect solution, it's a pyramid tent.
Petra 1:14:15 I thought you liked the killjoy.
Margaret 1:14:18 Aaaaaaah I see. Yeah, it's almost like I took it as my last name. All right. Well, thank you so much for coming on and sharing all this knowledge. And, yeah, I hope that you're doing as well as you can, as things go wild in this world. Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell people about it on various social media or even in person. Although right now it's not a good time to talk to people in person. You should avoid all people all the time, because no one should have a pod. If I don't get to have a pod, no one gets to have a pod, but you should tell people about the show. If you liked it. If you don't like it, you probably didn't make it this far. I don't know, unless you hate listen to podcasts. What a strange thing to do. You need to reconsider your life choices. If you want to support the podcast more directly, you can do so by supporting me on Patreon. My Patreon is patreon.com/margaretkilljoy. And I ostensibly put up a scene every month. But actually now I've been so focused on this podcast that I've fallen pretty far behind. But I do put music up there and I do put up zines and there's also a whole backlog of, like, almost 40 zines and a bunch of songs and things like that from my various bands. And there's no behind the scenes content for the podcast. There just isn't. Sorry. I already feel weird doing exclusive content at all. And actually, it's not actually particularly exclusive content if you live off of less money than I make on Patreon, just messaged me and I'll get you all of the content there for free. But, yeah, in particular, I'd like to thank Chris and Nora and Hoss the Dog, Kirk, Willow, Natalie, Sam, Christopher, Shane, the Compound. Thanks just for making this possible. And thanks to you all for listening. And I hope you're doing as well as you can all things considered. I need to come up with another way to say that instead of all things considered because I think that some radio people have already taken that particular phrase. Anyway. Be well.
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