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Top Ten Things Not to do When Camping at a Primitive Campsite

Here is the 20th installment of Ten Top Lists of What Not to Do by Marie Ann Bailey of 1WriteWay at and John W. Howell of Fiction Favorites at These lists are simu-published on our blogs each Monday. This list has been prepared for all you campers who will be taking advantage of the Thanksgiving weekend. We hope you enjoy.


10.  If you camp at a primitive campsite, do not forget to pack a sufficient amount of toilet paper for your stay.  Yes, the added bulk and weight of the paper may seem burdensome in your backpack, but you will appreciate the luxury soon after you’ve eaten too much of the wrong kind of berries.

9.  If you camp at a primitive campsite, do not store your food in your tent thinking it will be more protected from the elements there.  If you do, you will likely be rudely surprised in the middle of the night by, at worst, a bear that will find your leg more delicious than your beef jerky, or, at best, a coterie of raccoons who will steal your pistachio nuts and proceed to eat them loudly in the surrounding bushes.

8.  If you camp at a primitive campsite and want to explore some of the nearby hiking trails, do not forget to bring a topographical map of the area in which you are camping.  At best Google Maps may not be up-to-date on the hiking trails around your campsite and you may wind up walking in circles while your iPhone quickly burns its battery. At worst the Google map didn’t give you a warning about the five hundred foot drop you encountered on the way to the trail below.

7.  If you camp at a primitive campsite, do not forget to bring plenty of waterproof Band-Aids for blisters.  No matter how many layers of socks you wear and how well-broken in your boots may be, you are likely to suffer at least one blister.  Without aid, at best you can expect to spend the rest of your camping trip hopping around in burning pain. At worst you will find yourself trying to apologize to your hiking partner for having to carry you the last five miles.

6.  If you camp at a primitive campsite, do not forget to bring a water filtration system in case you run out of potable water.  The water in the creek near your campsite may look clean and pure, but without a filtration system, at best you may end up wishing you had brought more toilet paper. At worst you might get a close up view of the local ER.

5.  If you camp at a primitive campsite, do not carry a gun thinking it will be sure protection against any wild animals that you may encounter.  For one thing, you are in their territory and if it isn’t hunting season, you have no right to be toting a lethal weapon.  For another, if you are afraid of wild animals, then you risk shooting your own foot when you awake to a leg cramp in the middle of the night and think it is a bear gnawing at your calf.

4.  If you camp at a primitive campsite, do not forget insect repellant.  Be prepared to apply repellant every hour unless you don’t mind being a blood donor for all species of biting insects.

3.  If you camp at a primitive campsite, do not think this is the best time to break in those new Keen Ketchum hiking boots you bought for $160.  Chances are your feet will wind up in worse condition than is suggested in item #7, and you will be driven so crazy by the painful blisters that you will throw your new hiking boots and maybe yourself off the nearest cliff.

2.  If you camp at a primitive campsite, do not try to make like Grizzly Adams and befriend any orphaned bear cub or other wildlife you come across.  Chances are the bear cub is not orphaned, its mama is in smelling distance of you, and you’ll soon find yourself having to explain to a very impatient mama bear why you have her precious cub in your hands.

1.  If you camp at a primitive campsite, do not leave your trash behind.  Take out what you pack in.  Otherwise, you might find yourself in a Far Side cartoon where the deer and the bear join forces to wipe every trace of you from their habitat.

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Marie A Bailey

Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.

39 replies

  1. i really dont understand what is a “primitive campsite” also number five doesnt really make sense. just because it is not hunting season does not mean you cannot bring a weapon into the wilderness. i think a firearm should be carried in the woods where there are a large amount of bears. you can never be too safe. i dont think you would tell a hiking in alaska not to carry a firearm. also who shoots themselves in the leg because of a cramp? thats just illogical and i think you were targeting gun owners as stupid rednecks which is wrong. obviously this article was made by an anti-gun liberal. i just dont agree with the way your portrayed the gun rights activists in this article. i also think that a firearm is not always used to protect you from animals, you must also be careful with people. because of how evil some people are. there are many cases of women that had been hiking alone and they were raped and murdered by some sick person. in those situations a gun would have helped. that being said so would pepper spray but i would rather be safe than sorry. and along the lines of pepper spray you may say that bear spray can replace a firearm, i would agree and disagree on a few points. pepper spray is great and i think that should be your first thing you grab if you feel threatened by a bear because it would be better to deter it rather than kill it. i dont think killing a bear is good. but there have been cases where bear spray has failed and the bear is still angered, or maybe even more angry. that would be the time i would be happy to carry a firearm. better safe than sorry.


    1. Thank you for your comment. A primitive campsite is usually one that you have to hike hours to get to and has no facilities (potable water, latrines, like you would find at a campground). This post was written for fun and in humor. I’m sorry that you found some of it offensive. There was no intent to offend anyone.


      1. i guess you couldnt catch the sarcasm i was using, sadly nowadays people seem to think a campsite you have to hike to is “primitive” rather than just normal. i just think its funny that people need to specify when its really just a campsite. maybe im just a country kid that is used to that kind of stuff. but i dont understand why someone would go to a campsite you need to pay for or are side by side 100 other people. primitive is the normal for me and i guess i just dont see it any other way. thats what i meant by “primitive” it was more teasingly than seriously.


  2. i have a tip – an old ballet dancer trick – pack a tube of hemorrhoid medicine – it works wonders on blisters – helps deaden the pain and provide a little extra protection in addition to a bandaid. Oragel works too, but usually not as strong. As a dancer who performed many a ballet on pointe with open toe blisters, i can attest to this working! 🙂


      1. I gave this advice to a friend who did the Avon Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk – she said it got her thru to the end. Who knew?? Hemorrhoid medicine??? 😉


  3. Dear Mr. Carson,
    1. All it takes is one sleep deprived night of primitive camping to mistake the pepper spray for the bug spray in #4. (Or the ever-valuable camper’s Binaca.)
    2. I take great precautions not to tell verbs anything. The last time I told a hiking in Alaska he couldn’t bring a gun, I was pepper-sprayed.
    3. Cases of women – now we are talking! That should have been item #3.5 – “Don’t forget the cases of women.” Although I don’t think I would rape or molest a case of women. I heard someone tried that and was pepper-sprayed.
    4. I want to meet you and buy you drinks. Maybe we could CAPITALIZE on this opportunity to ENTER into some agreement on pepper spray usage?


    1. Hi, thanks for reading and commenting. I’m afraid to ask what the firecrackers were for. Usually (well, always) when I go camping, I’m going for peace and quiet, but that’s just me 😉


      1. Probably not what Crystal had in mind, but there’s a spot in North Cascades Nat’l Park where people hike about five miles to camp at a beautiful alpine lake; the bears there have got used to the campers and learned they have food. Dangerous situation! Some people bring fire crackers with them when they camp there; when they see a bear, they light the firecrackers and throw them in its direction. Bears are terrified and run off, learning that people are bad news. Anyway, that’s the only reason I’ve ever heard of for bringing fire crackers on a camping trip.

        Personally, I’m with you, and prefer peace and quiet on a camping trip, so I haven’t been to Monogram Lake.


        1. Thanks for the info. We’ll be sure to avoid that camping area too 🙂 That’s sad, though, since people are hiking five miles (although maybe that’s a fair short trip depending on the terrain). While I wouldn’t want to cross paths with a bear, I don’t like the idea of frightening them away from me either. I prefer wildlife that gets a whiff of my scent and thinks, “ewww, I want to get away from that!”


  4. Wow, the gun thing really sets people off. They’re unnecessary in the wilderness, I’ve never needed one in years of backpacking. But some people enjoy carrying extra weight, and to each his own.

    The TP (also known as “Mountain Money”) can double as a pillow … until you use it up.

    A more serious thought: bring hand sanitizer, especially if you’re camping in groups. I think the problem of giardias in the rivers and creeks is overstated, and that a lot of it comes from people letting their hygiene slip a little bit when they “rough it,” then one of them cooks for the others, and now the germ has spread.


    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. Yup, I’m treading lightly right now … don’t want to set anything else off 😉 Thanks for your suggestion about hand sanitizer. That’s a very good point given the limits for cleanliness on the trail. By the way, I went over to your blog. Your photos are so beautiful!


    1. Oh, that makes me laugh. I’m glad that I’ve never heard wolves when I’ve been out camping. Years ago when I stayed at a cabin in the Mount Shasta area (CA), I heard coyotes … their cackling laugh can make your skin crawl 🙂 My husband and I went car camping on our honeymoon in the White Mountains (CA/NV border). It was so wonderful in part because it was during the week so there were only a few other campers around 🙂


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