I'll never forget the most fun I ever had backpacking was when I did not even bring a tent. I bought a tarp and baking twine. There's something to be said about roughing it one extreme step than you ever have before. Plus, surviving on less than before is cheaper. People make a big to-do about Survivor because it is roughing it. People like camping in general because it is surviving on fewer conveniences. How can we experience roughing it a little more than before?
Making a homemade backpacking tent would be one for starters. I would not recommend homemade backpacks so much. That would be a real pain. Making a tent however is possible and cheap. Here are a few ideas for some homemade shelter.
- Tarp: This one is easy. Take a tarp. Fold it in half and you're covered. Literally. Make sure that you have a good water break system although in case it rains and the water coming from higher ground needs to drain.
- Two Tarps and a String: Here's a simple recipe. Spread one Tarp on the ground, tie one tarp to the trees spread out, and make sure there is good water drain around the tent.
- Canvas Hammock: I'm sure this has been around for a long time, but I did not see this until about 6 years ago hiking in the Wind River mountains of Wyoming. A friend of mine decided he did not want to stay in a tent on the ground, so he purchased a camping hammock and made his own version of a homemade backpacking tent. Instead of an open hammock, it is a tent that is suspended between trees with a fly over the top to keep him dry. That's a pretty good idea. This is probably the most effective and also the easiest to duplicate with very good quality. Take a tarp, reinforce it with a hammock underneath and wrap it around you leaving gaps for ventilation. Not too shabby.
- Hammock and a hammock: The even easier alternative to the above method would be to simply sleep in a hammock and tie a tarp between trees above for shelter. If wind is not a factor and you enjoy sleeping in the open, there's not much much better option.
- The hard way: If you are a real enthusiast and want to make your own tent, you're on your own. Sewing a quality homemade backpacking tent together that does not leek and properly ventilates could be a challenge, but if you have the tools, by all means go for it.
Doing things the more homemade, rugged, or even difficult way gives us goofy humans a sense of self-savings and a thrill especially when it means we are “roughing it.” If you want to take your backpacking adventures to the next level, try backpacking and sleeping with a homemade backpacking tent. Send me an email if you have any good homemade ideas.