I've spent over two years of my life living outside, camping. I've spent one summer living indoors since I was 12 or thirteen. I've lived under tarps, in caves, and tents. I've slept in cabins, adirondacks, and nothing. I've slept in hammocks and cowboy-roll bags.

When I was 18, I spent three months living off off less than $200. I've gone months without showers or running water. I've hidden from park rangers, and etc. I've taught wilderness survival and other outdoorsy skills. I've woken up with ticks crawling on my face, and I've spent nights shivering and doing pushups to stay alive.

I've literally walked into a bear once. I've touched things that no one ever has before.

I've hallucinated from lack of water, and gone days without eating.

Canadians ripped off my wine money once. Bastards.

I was taught how to drink whiskey by other outdoorsmen with beards.

I've seen death enough times to know his name is Stan.

AMA.

*Edit Just messaged the mods with what I hope is proof. Waiting to hear back

*Edit They gave me a partial verification. I can't prove that I've lived in the woods, but I sent them a few neato photos.

http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1cprfp/iama_21_year_old_male_whos_lived_outside_for_over/c9iyvim

*Edit Some people floated the idea of a book. Would anyone be interested in that? Let me know

Comments: 2557 • Responses: 70  • Date: 

Photographent1008 karma

As a Canadian, I'm sorry.

dirtbagcamper1695 karma

I knew you syrup chuggers would say that.

ChipiChipi464 karma

Why do you live like this? Do you have family? Would you like to have a regular job sometime in the future? Also, where are you now (by this I mean, how are you on reddit?)?

dirtbagcamper583 karma

I have a family, though they're much of the reason I went to the woods. I'm planning on being a teacher, and I'm in school right now. It's incredibly difficult for me to stay in one place for any amount of time... I've just transferred and moved to a new city. I'm going to school with the help of my family. Guilt money.

Rrmack156 karma

What are you getting a degree in?

dirtbagcamper299 karma

English.

intentsman72 karma

NOLS?

dirtbagcamper255 karma

Nah. Nols is cool and all, I dig what they do. But, why spend thousands for something you could do for a fraction of the cost? What is it, like 20-30k for 6 months? Hah. You could live outside like a god for years with that money.

Mountain men used to have rendezvous. It wasn't uncommon for these guys to emerge from their solitude and spend their entire years money on liquor, women, and general hell raisen'. Buy their years supply on credit, and head back out. I've met some modern day mountain men. I've always admired their style. If you have 30k, do something like that.

harroyall287 karma

What I want to know is the Canadian wine-ripper story. If not, how about the bear one?

dirtbagcamper877 karma

I met a group of canadians who said they'd go into town and buy wine. I've met plenty of fine canadians, and plenty of awful ones. Those shitlords took half my month's wine money. Jokes on them, I spent the night with a lovely canadian girl a few months later. And never called her again.

glitterlok256 karma

I'm going to Hawaii next month for around two weeks, and I plan to be "homeless" while I'm there. What are the essential items I'll need, bearded wizard?

dirtbagcamper567 karma

Never been to Hawaii. I have a friend who lived on a commune there for a few months, said the misquotes were awful. I'd recommend avoiding sugary things to lessen the bites, or just bring spray I guess. If you're going to be homeless in the city, I believe there's an ordinance that says you can't be arrested for sleeping on the beach as long as you have a fishing rod. Might be urban legend. Bring a hat, and I'd reccomend chaco sandals for footwear. I've worn through three pairs in my life, I swear by them. Exactly what you want for Hawaii.

Don't be afraid to talk to strangers. Just be honest, and don't judge anyone. If you plan on hitchhiking, keep an uncapped pen handy in each pocket. Good for stabbing and if a cop stops you, nothing to worry about. Trust me.

U-235Yellowcake98 karma

Have you ever had to stab anyone?

dirtbagcamper410 karma

No, but I've jumped out of a car's window before. It was stopped, but the guy wouldn't let me unlock the door. A drunk guy from the indian reservation. He just kept pointing and saying, "Saw a heard of elk down here about 3 years ago" every 10 miles. It was that or wait another 3 hours for someone to drive down. Needed to get to a connecting road.

Also once got picked up by a guy who called himself, "nightrider". Worshiped the mayan sun god. Not totally sure, but I think he tried to drug me and rape me.

havacore121 karma

what made you think he was going to drug and rape you? Did he just have a 'rapey' vibe?

dirtbagcamper509 karma

Dude invited me to a BBQ at his trailer. I went. We had a beer, he showed me his shitty grow-op. No BBQ. Told me people would be coming soon. Neighbor came by to smoke a bowl. Didn't seem to be aware of any godamn bbq. Nightrider had just packed a "Goodbye bowel" for me. Neighbor picked it up and nightrider practically smacked it out of his hand. Either a really nice, weird guy, or rapist.

PLUS, He had jeff foxworthy's christmas album on repeat in march. Like, foxworthy singing christmas songs. Totally didn't get raped though, so there's that.

ShoreToOcean191 karma

Are you a boy scout?

dirtbagcamper1570 karma

No, I'm a man scout.

fidmir164 karma

Do you frequently feel lonely? If so, how do you deal with it?

dirtbagcamper865 karma

Sometimes. A lot of the time, you're so busy/tired you don't have time to be lonely. If it gets too bad, you can always head to a busy campground and find a fire to warm around. After a while, you don't feel so lonely.

My last trip, I had a smartphone, though I rarely turned it on. Bad weather confined me to my tent for almost a week-- massive storm. Got blackout drunk and posted a personal ad on craigslist. Wish I still had it. Stuff about my chest hair and wood cutting ability. I think I mentioned whiskey, too. Got loads of emails from loads of girls. Ended up meeting on in person 3 or so weeks later. We still talk daily despite being over 1k miles away from each other. She brought me a bottle of whiskey and we laid by the side of a swimming hole I knew. Ended up spending most of the summer together before she went back to college. Think I'm in love with that girl.

Ky366154 karma

Do you hunt at all. I do a lot of duck/deer/moose hunting and I know how hard it would be without the right equipment? (rifle/shotgun)

dirtbagcamper443 karma

I've made bows, and I've learned how to trap, though I've never done either. I try to walk lightly on what we have left, though I do supplement with foraging. I've killed and skinned the odd squirrel with a rock throw. I've been a vegetarian for the last three years. It's a tradition in some indigenous cultures to kill a deer without projectiles to become a man/hunter.

I don't want to eat meat until I'm ready to do that. The world needs more hunters though.

aspiringvoiceactor168 karma

Why do you say it needs more hunters?

dirtbagcamper1588 karma

People are removed from the process of obtaining food. I don't think someone should eat meat unless they're willing to physically kill an animal to do so. At least once in your life. I promise, watching the life fade from something's eyes changes the way you view supermarkets.

memorycollector154 karma

Will you marry me?

dirtbagcamper283 karma

I like your tattoos.

palubalis141 karma

Where are you getting internet now?

dirtbagcamper824 karma

I'm in an apartment, listening to the torrid sex moans of lesbians above me. It's like they can't orgasm without moaning like a wounded hippo.

mrhorrible130 karma

If I were to drop you into the woods, what 3 items do you want with you?

Rank the following in importance: water, body-heat, rest, <other thing>

How do you get food? How often do you get food? How much food/water do you bring, vs acquire?

Rules of thumb for drinking water?

dirtbagcamper201 karma

General survival knowledge ranks stuff the following

Water shelter fire food.

Depends on where I got dropped. Am I naked? Stuff I rank pretty high is good shoes, a knife, cordage, a water bottle (something you never think about is carrying water without one). Whiskey. Rye. Jackets are nice too. Living is different than being found, too.

It's easy to build a debris hut to stay warm, or to do pushups, situps, or run. As long as you remember to.

Depends on what I'm trying to do and where I am. I've gotten as much as half of my nutrition from foraging for up to a week. Water, sometimes all, sometimes none. I spent a few months in a canyon that had a river running right through it, clear, cold, beautiful. All industrial runnoff from the cow pastures and farms miles up. Couldn't drink a sip of it, even with purifiers due to pesticides. Living in a place is different than walking through on a backpacking trip.

knucles66877 karma

Super sad about the runoff keeping you from drinking the water. How did you know to check up stream for runoff? Is it something you always do or are there signs?

dirtbagcamper127 karma

No way to tell. Most of the water in the US is like that. I've only dranken water without purifying/boiling it 2 or 3 times in my life.

snowman_maker118 karma

Your stories sound pretty epic. How would you compare it to the movie/story of Into The Wild?

dirtbagcamper194 karma

He was one of my heros as a child. I've only read the book (though a friend of mine was chased away from the set of the movie by the lead guy).

People have turned his life into a political thing. He just did what he did. I respect him- he set out to live with conviction. Regardless of the outcome, he had the courage to do what few can. I've never completely walked away for months. At least, not without someone bringing me supplies. Have you?

The_Future202043 karma

I read a book not too long ago called The Last American Man and it is story very similar to yours. You should check it out, one of the best books I've read recently.**

dirtbagcamper87 karma

Eustace Conway. Heard he's run into some legal trouble.

omakammar116 karma

Are you a street kid? Do you attend "Gatherings?"

dirtbagcamper224 karma

I don't go to gatherings. I've had friends who had though. I've heard the gatherings are mainly for people to sell stuff nowadays, there's a few secret groups who meet though.

I never spent time on the street. Why would I? Walk a towards the hills and no one will bother you.

mrvegas104 karma

What are gatherings?

dirtbagcamper228 karma

Rabbitstick and wintercount. I think?

They're groups of wilderness survival people who get together twice a year. Used to be small, but now (from what I've heard) it's mainly rainbow children and burners.

A few people started a new, secret gathering to bring it back to it's roots, blah blah blah. Drama and internet forum style stuff.

shaneroben101 karma

What are some plants you like to forage?

dirtbagcamper285 karma

The eatin' kind.

shaneroben55 karma

Hehe, let me be a little more specific. Any food plants that are less commonly known/used or interesting wild versions of common domesticated varieties? I'm a line cook about to move my family to the middle of nowhere and am interested in what new tasties might await.

dirtbagcamper134 karma

Look into sorrels. I have a strange habit of reading menus for fine-dining, and I have yet to see something like woodland sorrel on a menu. Not the mushroom. I think people call it Oxalis too? Munch down on it's sour tang like candy.

Plants aren't the same across the country, I only have experience in specific biospheres. Hope this helps.

Aspel94 karma

I wanted to do something like this, once. Well, I still want to, actually. I don't want to completely leave the real world, but I want to live on my own and travel.

I actually did backpack from Richmond to Baltimore, but most of that was sleeping with people from Reddit and all that. I camped out all of once, although I did walk for about twelve hours twice. Which is saying something when you're 280 pounds.

I want to do it again. Get a good phone/internet plan, backpack across the country, meet people. Couch surf Reddit.

dirtbagcamper140 karma

Do it. No one will help you, it's one of those things that you have to do for yourself. I wish I could say it gets easier to leave, but it doesn't. The rewards justify it every time though.

I was stuck for 6 days in a campground this summer. Huge storm, nothing to do but sit under a tarp and drink whiskey with a group of germans, wait for the weather to clear. Sounds shitty, and it was. However, parts of my life are still positively effected from those booze soaked rainy days. You never know what will happen, but you can bet you'll grow from it.

Aspel56 karma

See, the problem is I have no experience or plans or anything like that. I ended up getting sick and stuck in an airport. I did learn that I have friends who'd drive 140 miles to save me from being trapped in an Airport with no money. That was pretty good.

dirtbagcamper181 karma

It's not your lack of experience or lack of plans holding you back. It's the fact that you're uncomfortable with both of those things. Make plans, make experience. It's scary, but that's part of the exhilaration. If you want to go, than go. Forget that you have a way back, and everything will fall into place.

dsarche1292 karma

I'm really interested to know what the hallucinations were like. I've been seriously dehydrated before, but never enough to actually hallucinate. What sort of things did you see/feel?

dirtbagcamper222 karma

The physical symptoms weren't as apparent as you'd might think. I was incredibly desperate for water, but the thought never occurred to me to procure water in any way other than a car twelve miles away. I was with a group of people, and some even had stoves (mountain climbing trip in the winter). Even with snow above my head on either side, I couldn't make the connection.

My whole being was focused on getting to that point. Every thought in my head was about water.

I saw pools of water that I would run to- nothing there. I would hear, I mean, HEAR creeks so loud it was almost deafening. Nothing. I tried sucking snow even though I knew it wouldn't help much. It was incredibly demoralizing. That was when I was younger. I'd like to think I'd know better now, but the truth is you literally lose the ability to make decisions. It's terrifying.

I was very energetic, more so than I would have been without water, so no one suspected a thing. My brain was so focused on getting water I was running. It wasn't long before I was separated from the group. I'm glad nothing happened.

I ran about 6-7 miles with a loaded pack and spent a few hours staring at a gallon of water sitting inside of a locked car. The things that I ate (had hardly eaten that weekend) afterwords weren't foods I enjoyed until after that trip. Afterwords, couldn't get enough of em'. The brain is a strange thing.

dirtbagcamper115 karma

Good question, thanks for asking.

maximumpanic84 karma

where do you live? If many places, what is the best place to live outdoors? How did you first meet Stan?

dirtbagcamper215 karma

If there's a zombie apocalypse, I'd go to northern California.

2ndprize75 karma

where does one acquire these skills?

dirtbagcamper182 karma

Depends on what you're trying to do. Wilderness survival is much different than modern backpacking or camping. Wilderness living is miles away from both.

I grew up in a not-so-great home. I spent as much time away as I could. One year, I just realized I could leave and come back for the school year. I would get jobs (usually 2-3 weeks long) at outdoor places. String together a few, and you have a summer. As you get older, you have more opportunity and seniority. When I got old enough, I realized I didn't need a job.

Loads of different sub-cultures in outdoor recreation. Find a group you're interested in, every outdoorsperson is obsessed with the propagation of their sport.

astralcat68 karma

Have you ever had a close call with a bear/mountain lion/wolf? If so, what was it like?

What was the scariest experience you've had outdoors?

What was the happiest experience you've had outdoors?

dirtbagcamper194 karma

I've had two close calls with bears. One time, I was sleeping about a mile away from a larger group whom I was teaching Wilderness Survival. Work up at about midnight, birds were going crazy.

The forest is like a pond. Throw a rock in, and waves ripple outward. Birds are the easiest way to figure out what's going on.

Never heard those calls before.

I started to panic, didn't know what to do. Just froze. Probably 15 feet or so north of my head, a bear loped on all fours, hauling ass. Something terrified the shit out of that big guy. Took me a while to go back to sleep.

Later that summer, found a site where that bear killed a squirrel. Weird as hell, bears don't usually do stuff like that. Squirrel bits everywhere.

Otherwise, once, I was working at a place along the coast. Turned a corner and literally bumped into a baby black bear. Had torn the screen off a cabin and was rooting through the trash inside. We both just froze, staring into each other's eyes. Eventually, I dropped to the dirt and covered the back of my neck. Bear ran away.

I was tracking a ML once, realized all of it's tracks were veering left. It had realized I was tracking it, had circled around and started tracking me. I shouted my way back to a group of people.

Animals don't want to kill you. If they did, they would. Just mind your own nose and you'll probably be fine. It's not like the community of bears has a vendetta against humans- we're just like anything else they see.

brogen48 karma

Obviously youre the expert here, so correct me if Im wrong, but arent you supposed to scare off black bears and play dead with grizzlys?

dirtbagcamper59 karma

The person who told me to play dead used to guide in AK. My sudden movement of dropping scared it away. I'm no expert on bear behavior, never been that far north.

KaseyB1 karma

how big is a baby black bear? I'm thinking cub, which would be less dangerous? except that probably means mom is nearby... or are we talking still big enough to rip you apart?

dirtbagcamper2 karma

It was taller than me. I was, maybe 13 or 14? Could have torn me to shreds. It always cracks me up when I think about it. Both of us were just panicking in our heads, completely confused as to what was happening. We both just locked eyes in terror, totally frozen haha. Little guy was just like me.

The mom ended up getting tranqed by the freds a month after I left. Ran into a tree and fell asleep, they had to wait until it wore off to shoot it again.

zenn9263 karma

Hi!

I live in norway, and im planning a longer outdoor stay as soon as it gets a little warmer over here.

I have some experience, but this time i want to go alone to get a good taste of some real peace and quiet.

I'm planning to stay out for about a week or two. So if you were me, what would you bring with you? I also want to be mobile, so im kind of unsure if i should bring a tent or just get crafty on the way. temperatures will probably be between 50 and 70 degrees F.

dirtbagcamper158 karma

I know that norway hates sweden, but you have access to some of the finest knives on the market. Buy a mora. Even in the states, they're around 10usd. I know you have access to them.

Bring a tent. You can buy a light one under 2lbs. I once spent three months living in a bivy sack just large enough to crawl into. If you aren't sure of your skills, just bring it. As you gain more experience, pare your gear down. Something I like to do is bring one small pot, use it for everything. Mug, cooking, plate, etc. It makes you mindful of your routine. Stove, matches, lighter. Three layers of synthetic jackets. Wool works as well. Down doesn't conduct heat when wet, or compressed.

Also incredibly important, bring a good book. Several ideally. There are books I can't read unless I've been out of electricity for a month. Bring a bottle of whiskey. Pour it into something not glass. A book of local plants and their uses.

Tea bags, instant oatmeal.

SOCKS. BRING SOCKS. LOADS OF THEM.

Really, forget things you don't need to live. I don't bring binoculars, or heavy chairs.

I mean, it all depends on what you want. Modern camping is just living somewhere other than your house. You can bring handcrank blenders and make slushy rum drinks too. It takes a while to learn what works for you. I rarely use a headlamp or flashlight for example. I find my eyes adjust to the dark just fine.

80Hg62 karma

You write well. Very direct and parsed down. Have you considered putting some of your experiences down onto paper?

dirtbagcamper102 karma

Thanks. I've considered it, though I'm concerned the story of my life would be too fragmented to maintain cohesive plot structure. I've been paid to write before, used to teach poetry writing workshops.

prestonomore61 karma

Do you ever get comments about that book hatchet? That was always my favorite as a kid. If you have read it,how realistic is it?

dirtbagcamper115 karma

Hah, Gary Paulsen is great. I knew a guy who met him through Dogsled racing. Didn't have the best childhood, that guy. One thing I think he got completely right was how the senses sharpen after months in the woods.

He views the outdoor world harsher than I do. It's very unlikely someone in that situation could survive though. I remember the character's shock at the ability to use a pot or pan to boil water. It's true. Heating rocks suck.

That and My Side of the Mountain were my favorites while I was young.

intentsman56 karma

What's the best substitute for toilet paper?

worst?

dirtbagcamper131 karma

Hah, I've heard stories of people wiping with poison ivy. I met one guy who claimed to- apparently it migrates inside of your rectum. ER trip.

The best is a plant in the Pacific Northwest. Soft, pliable, almost better than actual TP. I don't know the actual name for it, but the layperson's name is "Indian's toilet paper".

intentsman51 karma

What kinds of animals have you eaten raw?

dirtbagcamper315 karma

Sushi? Why the fuck would I eat an animal raw? That's just stupid.

dirtbagcamper394 karma

That guy who drinks his own piss is awful. Don't do that.

AG3NT_8650 karma

What is the scariest near-death experience you have ever had?

dirtbagcamper221 karma

Free soloing this summer. I was about a hundred and fifty feet up when my crack system ran out-- took a wrong turn somewhere. Had no option to go down, had to keep going up. Climbed over hollow rock that flexed as I weighted it. Probably the closest I've come to death. I wrote a message on the wall in chalk that said, "Love All" with my name, date, and the words "Free Solo" so if I fell, responders would figure out what happened.

Literally pulling holds off the wall and watching them fall hundreds of feet.

I'd like to think I died that day. I mean, in the rebirth sort of way. That's when I decided to move to a city and finish school.

I went back to camp that night and drank as much beer as I could fit in my stomach. Walked to a road and called every ex girlfriend, or buddy who'd I'd had a falling out with and thanked them for being in my life.

What I climbed that day was A2. I got the FFA on an Onsight solo. Really should have died.

UiritheGuri48 karma

What is the most important thing you have learned? Worst moment? Best moment? And do you fap there..or not?

dirtbagcamper198 karma

My desire to masturbate usually goes away. I've gone months without masturbating. I do have sex occasionally, if that's what you're asking.

It's difficult to sequester my time into best and worst moments. I've learned that what might seem great in the moment may turn out awful for you later. Everything I've done has been valuable in some respect. One of my best moments was on top a boulder in California. It was a highball problem, which means if you fall, you're likely to be seriously injured. I had an ipod, and put it on shuffle. I wasn't sure of how difficult the climb was, but decided to go for it. I topped out during the guitar solo of "Sweet Nothin" by the Velvet Underground. Spun around in a circle and couldn't see a single soul in the miles around me. The sun was setting. it was good.

pallysfall43 karma

so what was the point of hiding from the rangers?

dirtbagcamper160 karma

Rangers don't like people living in parks. Especially if you don't sleep in designated spots or pay camping fees. There's a two week rule. I've had a few friends get caught, hefty fines and expulsion from parks.

I understand both sides of the issue, but you know. They gotta write tickets, I gotta keep hiding to keep them in work. I usually try to volunteer with them a few times to give back. Sometimes, groups of people get together to keep undesireables out. That usually gets you on their good side. Keep the methheads or drunks out of somewhere and they'll be more lenient.

ekinetikz41 karma

I've heard the psychological part of survival is toughest and in your experience, has it been true?

dirtbagcamper71 karma

Yup.

jamcan16236 karma

What's the longest hike you've ever done?...such as the Appalachian Trail or one of those.

dirtbagcamper84 karma

Most of my physical feats have focused around rock climbing. I used to love backpacking until I started climbing. Even my climbing has been mediocre. Onsighting 5.11's mainly. I've packed over twenty miles in a day (again, nothing astounding), but I try to focus on what's around me and waiting for me than the distance.

Brush can be hard to navigate.

xj1336198731 karma

Do you have any experience in a desert environment?

dirtbagcamper148 karma

Yes. My favorite place to live is the desert. Most recently, I spent three months living in a desert on the west coast. When I do settle down, it'll be in the desert. There's something so intangible about it-- without getting too new-agey, the desert seems to be so bereft of life that it gladly welcomes what it can. Forests are much more tooth and nail- a lot of creatures competing for the same space. Deserts are the wilderness areas of the wild.

xj1336198736 karma

What skills do you recommend learning for the desert?

dirtbagcamper131 karma

I think the most important part for living any environment is your outlook. When I was a young child, I complained incessantly. Now I find it difficult to say negative things.

Water. Learn solar stills, learn how to dig pits, learn how to read topo maps and learn how to build coal beds (cover a fire with dirt and sleep on it). Plenty of rabbits in the desert should you need them. Cactus can be sliced open if you're thirsty (though keep in mind it will kill the cactus). When I was a child, I would walk long distances carrying a mouthful of water without swallowing. Know your limits- men have died of thirst with full water bottles. The most important thing is the ability to stop and evaluate your options. Water. Learn how to walk softly and stay in shade. Cover your head with a damp shirt to stay cool. Sleep just after noon to avoid that hot parts of the day. In the northern Hemisphere, the sun is in the south.

DrMilkdad30 karma

You are a capable woodsman.

dirtbagcamper113 karma

I'd like to think so. Running into a windstorm naked to stake down a tent can only happen so many times before you learn to tie a decent knot. Almost everything I've learned has come with a mistake.

DrMilkdad36 karma

Wow, thankfully that's a situation I'm not likely to ever be in. What else is something you've learned from a mistake? Beside to wear clothes when staking down a tent during a wind storm.

dirtbagcamper168 karma

You make your own decisions. No worrying about what's happened, or what will happen. The important part is making sure you're okay. If you fucked up, then you fucked up. Do what needs to be done to get un-fucked. You know? Respect what you did at the time, because if you had a better option, you would have taken it.

It's taught me I'll land on my feet.

inmatarian30 karma

What would you think of a Yurt if you ever had the chance to live in one? Does it sound like fancy living to you, or are there other kinds of alternative housing that you'd really want to try?

dirtbagcamper57 karma

I've spent weekends in yurts, and once spent a week meditating in a zen temple earthship. I'd like to try earthships more. Tiny house living doesn't appeal to me, though I've never tried it. Unless a tent counts? Don't spend much time in a tent, unless it's storming. I currently live in a studio apartment with a dog, we both preferred the desert.

I'm not a fan of yurts. They're drafty and difficult to heat. Can't really move them, so all of the cons and none of the benefits. I'd prefer a tent, even a heavy duty canvas one if you're looking at long term. Or, you could leave a fire pit in the middle, that would be great. Just have to have a way for smoke to escape, and a way to keep the floor/tarp from the flame. Keep in mind though, the hole leads back to constant fire. I dunno.

Lets-chop-cats30 karma

In your experience, whats the easiest/most reliable way to start a fire without matches/lighters?

dirtbagcamper75 karma

Fire by friction (Bow Drill) is a pain. Hard to learn, dependent on conditions, and bulky to carry. I can do it, but it's not great. Hand drill (one stick rubbing a board on the ground) is something I've never even bothered to learn.

Magnifying glasses scratch, but they're fun.

Flint and steel are reliable.

Steel wool will burn incredibly easily.

I was taught to always carry dry tinder to start a fire. Tuck it into a sock to dry it out. My favorite method is "scout fire," or holding a bundle of sticks in your hand and tilting it as you light. set it on the ground and it'll fan upwards. Remember, fire likes to go up. Made popular by Indigenous indian scouts.

Just have ALL of your materials ready. If you can't keep a fire going for an hour without moving, you aren't ready to light a fire.

GoldenTabbyTiger23 karma

How physically fit must you be to start?

dirtbagcamper60 karma

If you can move, it'll all come.

scallopsnbacon20 karma

Have you ever slept in a tent hammock? I just picked up the Hennessy Hammock for a backpacking trip in Australia. Tried it in Cuba and it was alright, but didn't test it for more than a nap.

dirtbagcamper75 karma

I've slept in a hammock suspended a few hundred feet off the ground once. The wind kept me rocking all night, the compressed bag didn't keep me warm at all. It was fourth of july. Also, I was on acid. Otherwise they're really comfortable.

Backdoor_Man20 karma

How do I get started?

dirtbagcamper71 karma

Started what? It's easier to leave society then enter it. Sell your shit. All of it. Buy a tent and a backpack. Leave. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes.

It's much easier to make plans than follow them. I like to lock myself into plans by telling people, "I'm going to do this". If you don't end up hitchhiking a thousand miles west, then it's going to be pretty damn awkward. Gotta do it then.

Rachellybean20 karma

So is this the last two years of your life you have roughed it or just sporadically throughout your life??

dirtbagcamper54 karma

Sporadically. Usually in three to four month periods. Once I'm done with this school nonsense, I plan on taking a nice, long trip somewhere lonely.

DaftDandy20 karma

How much wine money? Can I paypal it to you?

dirtbagcamper45 karma

Hah. Give it to someone who deserves it more than me. Thanks for the offer though

intentsman15 karma

What's the coldest iced over river you ever rinsed the stink off of your junk in?

dirtbagcamper23 karma

I've been in weather -40f (70 degrees below freezing) though not while living outside. I got an apartment.

Kadventure14 karma

What was the scariest experience for you? Also I've always dreamed of doing this so very jealous of you ha

dirtbagcamper37 karma

I've posted it elsewhere, but these comments are slowing down so it's becoming more manageable. I'll give you a different time.

There were some rapids by the place I was camping this summer. Some small rapids, a 20+ foot drop into a calm pool. There's a cliff next to the pools that people jump off. Probably 30 feet or so.

I decided to lay on my back and go down the rapids and off off the dropoff. Brilliant fun, right?

The thing I never considered was that the water around the falls was really churning. I went through the rapids and off the cliff, but got caught in a whirlpool underneath the falls. I couldn't swim up because the force from the water above, but for some reason I couldn't swim out due to the whirlpool. I was spun around in circles and lost all perception of up and down. My breath had long since run out, and I was pretty certain I was going to lose consciousness quickly.

I stopped moving for a second and thought, "Well, this is it." Then I was like, "Do you really want to die in a pool that 14 year old jump into to impress their dates?"

Long story short, I got out of the whirlpool and struggled to the surface. I let the current carry me to the shore while I retched and a friend called out to me. I spent maybe an hour laying in the sun on the cliff not moving. Then I did it again.

PopuIus13 karma

What was the first step towards this kind of life and the reason? (and the 'goal'?)

I've wanted to travel the world as a hobo, but being a bit of a spoiled brat I don't think I could handle it very well. I'm scared to just do it. Hence I would like to know your first steps.

Do you generally trust people? How often is your trust misplaced in people?

What are you going to do when you got your degree?

dirtbagcamper31 karma

I'm not a hobo. There's a hobo culture which I'm not a part of. I'm a dirtbag.

I trust people unless I get a sketchy vibe from them. The moment I do, I remain on guard. Most people are genuinely good. You have to remember that the world isn't generally against you. Being safe in a place your familiar with isn't any different than being safe in a place you're unfamiliar with.

How to start? Go outside. Start walking. Every day, walk a little further, and a little bit further. One day, just stop coming back.

lorenasaurusrex12 karma

I apologize if someone asked already, I tried reading the comments but couldn't find an answer. I would like to know if you found it difficult to return back to living in a city? Your story reminds me of a book "The Beach" by Alex Garland. Once, one of the characters in the book had gone a long time without toothpaste, she tried it again after a while but said it was "too spicy", she preferred to chew twigs instead. Can you relate to anything like that?

dirtbagcamper22 karma

I use toothpaste. I spent some time meditating in a zen temple once, and I nearly cried from sensory overload when I first walked into a grocery store.

foggart12 karma

What would you recommend someone do/learn to prepare for this kind of life?

dirtbagcamper40 karma

Sell your shit and go outside. Once you realize it's okay to sleep on the ground, you realize there's plenty of ground to sleep on. I think Fitz Cahill said that?

lowspeedlowdrag9 karma

Proof?

Also, what's the most useful thing you own? If you had to survive with things you could fit into your pockets what would you take?

dirtbagcamper15 karma

I'm not really sure how I could provide proof. I don't have photos of the past eight years of my life... Any suggestions?

*Edit The two most useful things are probably a knife and cord. Sure, you can make a knife, but stone breaks easily. I'm shit at weaving cordage too. I'd rather build a shelter with a good knife than have a thick jacket. Honestly, staying alive is mainly water and warmth. If you're trying to be found, they'll find you. Just stay put, drink water, and stay warm.

holly246851 karma

Will you marry me?

dirtbagcamper3 karma

I'm a sucker for women who bring whiskey.

Kickmekicku1 karma

Have you ever killed a predatory animal?

dirtbagcamper4 karma

Do geese count?

Otherwise, no. I'm a vegetarian.

itp7571 karma

a wildman eh? do you go around saying wowowowowo live action! (?)

dirtbagcamper7 karma

I yip like a motherfucker. Picked it up while working on a dude ranch.

PastyNoob1 karma

What's your favourite beer?

dirtbagcamper2 karma

Ten Fiddy, though I've been known to brew a decent oaked winter warmer. I'm a fan of saisons as well. Otherwise, rye whiskey.