When I first set out to write this post, it was intended as a “pros and cons of living with a dude” post. But after thinking for a while, I said to myself, “Self, it’d probably be a little more relevant to make this post about camping. After all, this is an outdoor website.” And when I got to really thinking about it, I realized that camping with dudes and living with dudes aren’t all that much different.
1. They’re ALWAYS Warm. My hands and feet are chronically cold. In fact, I’m pretty much chronically cold. At least I have been since I moved to Alaska (it’s hard to be cold when it’s 100 degrees outside, as it is in the summers where I grew up. Unless it’s 40 degrees in the building, which everyone seems to do for some reason. Here’s an idea; let’s get extremely sweaty just walking from our cars and then flash freeze when we walk inside. Brilliant! I digress). Most nights J willingly offers up his own feet as heat sources for mine (you can’t imagine my distress when my human foot warmer was gone for 8 months!) and he’s even offered his warm belly to me when I’ve gotten screaming barfies while climbing ice. If that’s not true love, I don’t know what is. Now, obviously I’m not going to stick my icicle fingers up my friends’ shirts, but men’s furnace-like qualities are useful in many ways. They usually help to heat up the tent when it’s cold outside. Since my body heat can barely heat up the air in the extra space in my sleeping bag, I absolutely appreciate this quality. I’ve also been given assistance with warming up gloves or socks that have been chilling in my pack. And when all else fails, they are generous contributors to the warmth factor of a good ‘ole huddle.
2. They Do the Undesirable Chores [They do? -Ed.]- Everyone has their own definition of an “undesirable” chore. At home, mine is taking out the trash. It’s probably the easiest, least time consuming chore of them all, but for some reason, I really dislike it. I also hate vacuuming, but I let J buy whatever vacuum he liked best (incidentally one of the most expensive, naturally) so he doesn’t mind doing that too much either. When I’m out camping there really isn’t too much that I don’t like doing (I actually really enjoy the whole camping experience) unless it’s super cold outside the tent and I have to get out of my sleeping bag. Then gathering clean snow is probably the worst, but whoever I’m camping with is usually pretty willing to pick up that slack, as long as I’m willing to tend the stove to do the melting, which I am. I’m also still perfecting my wood chopping skills, so it’s usually beneficial and time-saving for someone who has a little more experience to take that over (mind you, it’s not always a dude). But for the most part, I’ve found that guys are usually pretty unconcerned with which chore they are delegated. Except for this one guy I used to camp with who refused to do anything he didn’t decide he’d do, who for this and many other reasons, we no longer recreate with. Teamwork, buddy. We’re all just here to have a good time.
3. They’re Good Entertainment- There’s nothing like chilling around a campfire with some beers or a box of wine and just enjoying the warmth and conversation. After the tents are set up and the chores are done, it’s a great way to wind down the evening. But you can pretty much always count on the guy (or guys) you’re camping with to come up with some idea for additional entertainment. Once, one of my friends went into the woods and came back carrying one of the biggest dead trees I’ve ever seen a person carry. He and two others proceeded to attempt to chop the thing apart using anything we had that was remotely sharp (the only thing even slightly resembling a wood-cutting instrument we had was a bone saw). Quite comical. I’ve also gotten in a quite extensive and extremely hilarious conversation with two of my friends about porcupines, which we still continue to this day every time we see each other. If there’s a dog along for the trip, they’ll usually try to involve it in their shenanigans, which definitely ups the humor factor, at least with my energetic, slightly spastic pup.
1. They Eat EVERYTHING! When I first moved in with J, I was pretty amazed with how much he could eat. I learned that if I bought something that I didn’t intend to eat that day, I’d have to mention to J that I plan on eating that for lunch tomorrow and if you have some, just please don’t eat it all. We acquired a dude roommate a few months ago and the problem got worse. I felt like I was grocery shopping for two teenage boys. My Costco card went from being a convenience to a necessity. I promptly added J to my account and set him on his own. If I wanted to be a mom, I’d have an actual kid. When Costco started selling Mountain House meals in bulk, man, was that a great day. J is an extremely active dude. So is his appetite. It’s pretty typical for him to eat two meals at night after an active day. Granted, he’s good about carrying his own food, but if it’s a more car-camping style trip and we’ve brought community food, I again have to state exactly what I’d like to partake in eating. My friend Matt tends to be like a little squirrel. If I don’t hide my food bag, I’ll see him sifting through for any treats he might want to consume. Often times, I don’t really care and I’ll just sift through his bag for something I want, but if it’s a long trip and I’ve rationed my food for each day to minimize weight, that’s a tackle-worth offense.
2. Their Timeline Is WAY Different Than A Woman’s. J takes out the trash, which is something I really appreciate, and I tell him so every time he does it. Unfortunately, I usually have to tell him when to take it out because if it was up to him, he’d just pull the overflowing bag out of the can, tie it up, set it on the floor next to the can, replace the bag, and leave the full bag in the kitchen for a few more days. I’m really not sure why this is, but I usually have to issue a gentle reminder to take the bag out, to which he usually responds no problem. However, my intent is that it gets taken out right then, or maybe as soon as he’s done doing whatever he’s currently doing. Sometimes, it can take hours or days for the actual action to occur. [See, this doesn't count as doing the chore in my book -Ed.] I’ve learned that I actually have to say when I want him to do the something I’ve asked him to do (ie- “right now” or “as soon as you’re done with that”). While camping, I’ve found that generally the same thing applies. If I ask a dude to hand me something or if he’s willing to go do this one thing, and he says yes, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll get done right then. Sometimes it’s easier to just do it myself, though usually if I restate my request with a specified timeline I don’t have to worry about it getting done sometime between now and my 50th birthday. The exception to this observation is that pretty much all the dudes I’ve camped with are very prompt in their teardown and cleanup process in the morning when it’s time to get moving.
3. They Can be Smelly!! Now, there’s been some discontent with this statement in the past but what I have to say to that is, if you think it’s invalid or offensive, you obviously haven’t spent enough time with a guy in a less than hygienically ideal setting. That’s not to say that women’s ish doesn’t stink. But I have found, generally, that men get a lot smellier than women, a lot faster, and don’t do as much to slow the process. I don’t go all crazy over hygiene or anything- when I went through my army “basic training” and we were in the field, there simply wasn’t time for waterless shampoo or face wash. It was one quick spit bath with a wet wipe and a quick brush of the teeth, at least if you wanted to eat breakfast. But let me say, a quick wipe of the armpits goes a LONG way. As does airing out your base layers instead of stuffing them in your dry sack as soon as you take them off.
Also, men’s bodies are capable of producing some truly impressive smells from digested food. And they tend not to be as… discrete… about their bodily functions as most women. I was off-roading once with three dudes who had eaten some chorizo sausages, and the smell of their burps was easily 10 times worse than any fart I’ve ever smelled. Since I didn’t have any chorizo, I’m not sure if my burps would have smelled equally as horrible, but had they, I’d probably have rolled down a window or something. The night before J and I climbed Pisco in Peru last year, J ate a chili bean pie freeze dried meal and ended up getting up several times throughout the night. I didn’t know why until once when he didn’t make it out of the tent in time and let one loose inside. It made my eyes water. And my nostrils burn. Thankfully, he’d had the grace to leave the tent every time he had to fart, and also to walk behind me during the approach, but once was all I needed for that smell to be seared into my memory for all time.