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#136697 - 07/24/10 04:23 PM Living Out of a Backpack - the Nomadic Life
Pat-trick Offline
member

Registered: 06/22/09
Posts: 175
Loc: Portland, OR
Thought I'd start a new thread. For people who would like to get away from suburbia or wherever, and live on the move. I am drawn to it, but haven't got it figured out. I'll list some of the principles I've gathered so far, all from the Backcountry Forum, to open the discussion.

Say adios to the landlord. Give everything away, or sell it if possible. Bring with me only what I can carry on my back.

Maps and supplies are carried for the area in which I will be a nomad for that month. Public libraries are a good source for maps for the next month. they are good, as well, for updating a journal and uploading photos to an online storage service. I don't have names for this service.

A vehicle can be used, like a camper or van, for a mobile base, or vehicle-centric life style of camping in various free places: BLM lands, national forests that allow free camping up to 100' off the road for periods up to 2 weeks.

Food cooking is something I haven't figured out. It seems to me that 2-3 stoves would be appropriate. A wood-burning stove, an alcohol stove, and a propane cannister stove. That's alot of stoves, but I think I could fit all three (except the cannister of propane) inside my cook pot, with room to spare, total weight 8 ounces or less. The type of food for a healthy diet for living on the trail or on the move is beyond me. A vehicle-centric mode would be easier, because of mobility to hit farmers markets, grocery stores, etc. But foot-centric living presents a problem for me.

My thought is that being a trail nomad is different from being a through hiker. The through hiker is on a march, and puts in the miles. I see a trail nomad as someone who dawdles, smells the flowers, then picks and eats them. For example, I eat my red and white clover flowers on my "lawn". I think that foraging would be something that I would want to do as much as possible, for raw greens, fruits, nuts, etc, as well as things that I can cook. I know nothing about identifying wild edible plants. I thought that I could buy an excellent book, and practice on the trail, using all precaution of course. So maybe I would do more foraging than actual hiking. Moving through an area slowly, maybe setting up something temporary and very clandestine so my equipment doesn't get lifted or otherwise disappear while I am away from camp.

I would bring a GPS and a good compass, a very good first aid kit, rain gear, a tent tarp AND a tent (for versatility and hanging out somewhere, especially in the rain), maybe just two sets of clothes. I could buy an extra item of clothing at resupply stops as needed.

I'm thinking a foot-centric life style would fit me better, as taking care of a vehicle is both time-and-money-consuming. I wouldn't get anywhere in a hurry, but where am I going? This lifestyle would be more about BEING than GOING. There would be some going, of course, because of the rules, but a lot less than a recreational backpacker.

Packweight? I have no idea. I'll start making a list and see what it is, and see what needs to go on or come off. I'll post it here, of course, in this discussion. I ought to pick up a little scale somewhere. Anyone got an extra?

I need a mail center for important stuff from SSA, or my student loan holder, etc. Maybe a post office box in a nearby city?

My retirement is deposited onto a master card each month, so I'll use it to get cash each month, and I can also use it for debit purchases wherever Master Card is accepted.

I imagine that I'll meet people from time to time, and that they will be a whole lot friendlier than the people I see day-to-day here in the upstate NY area.

I'll need waterproof containers for my medications, a three month supply of each.

Okay, that's a start. Jump in.
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#136706 - 07/24/10 09:53 PM Re: Living Out of a Backpack - the Nomadic Life [Re: Pat-trick]
Howie Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/03
Posts: 479
Loc: Canora, SK, Canada
Hi Pat-trick. The concept you speak of was something I considered in my younger days. The trouble is the weather can be unpredictable. From where I sit, winters here in Canada can be harsh. It can be a long way from one place to another and so walking endlessly down the highway really isn’t very appealing.. To live strictly out of a backpack would likely involve some hitchhiking and that isn’t easy nowadays. Campsites are seasonal and they can get full up during the summer months. Stealth camping would be a necessity. Dehydrated food to be expensive for the long term but. I suppose when visiting a town a guy could pick up a can of ravioli or something. Depending on your budget though, you could likely hit a few cafes along the way seeing how you aren’t paying rent. One problem I see with full time backpacking is the fact that many stores (in Canada at least) don’t allow backpacks in the stores. They get too much shop lifting and backpacks make it easier for thieves to practice their craft. For this reason my friends who are traveling to China have each bought jackets with loads of pockets. On their last trip backpacks were trouble.

I like to travel in our motorhome and I think I could live out of it for a long time but the cost of fuel really is a drawback to me. My wife and I just came back from a long trip, (BC to Saskatchewan and back). I figured it cost us about $35.00 per hour to drive that thing, and that was just gasoline, not including wear and tear. Meals can be inexpensive and likewise the camping.. The vagabond lifestyle could be fun but like anything else a guy could get tired of it. In any case we would have to head south during the winter if we wanted to live in our motorhome. Good luck with your project though. It sounds exciting.

Howie

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#136779 - 07/26/10 07:19 PM Re: Living Out of a Backpack - the Nomadic Life [Re: Pat-trick]
PerryMK Online   content
member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1049
Loc: Florida panhandle
This reminds me of Into the Wild. That didn't end so well though.

I'm all for this as a temporary arrangement for adventure, but as a permanent lifestyle it doesn't strike me as practical. There is a reason why humans developed towns and civilizations. Well, most humans.

Here are some of my biggest problems with what you suggest:

1. Where to go when one needs health care. This must be paid for. Expecting others to pay when one is not contributing to society strikes me as fundamentally unfair. If you are still paying taxes then maybe you can justify this to some degree.

2. At some point one will be imposing on another improperly. Consider how a homeless camp in a park might make a family uncomfortable to picnic. It strikes me as wrong. Even just living free on public lands while the rest of society pays property taxes seems a bit unfair to me.

3. We all need services at some point, even if its just a shower. How will this be paid for? "Taken" at public or private campgrounds?

You are doing this by choice, not out of necessity as a involuntarily homeless person might. Our society isn't conducive to the particular nomadic lifestyle you propose.

Maybe I'm just a fuddy-duddy.

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#136788 - 07/26/10 10:00 PM Re: Living Out of a Backpack - the Nomadic Life [Re: PerryMK]
Howie Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/03
Posts: 479
Loc: Canora, SK, Canada
I agree with you totally PerryMK. Just yesterday I happened to meet a man who is living out of a motorhome. I have seen him around parked at the airport, shopping center, dog park etc. I cannot say I liked the man very much because his attitude seemed to be that everything should be free and anyone charging rent was ripping a person off. He figured camping should be free. I pointed out the fact that campsites provide services. They have sites to maintain. Some provide showers. Many of them even maintain hiking trails. These services have to be paid for somehow. In any case I told him, we all have to pay for food. His answer was “you can go to the food bank”. I could see this conversation was going nowhere. Just imagine if everyone did that.

To be fair to Pat-trick though. It sounded to me like he would be paying his way. A guy on a pension could do just as he says. The medical issue you raise I cannot speak to. We pay a small amount for medical in BC Canada and in the province of Saskatchewan where we just took a holiday, medical is totally free. I can see a lot of hassles to living out of a backpack though. If I were single I think I might retire to a house in a small town in which to spend the winter months, and then spend all summer and fall hiking and camping.

Howie

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#136794 - 07/26/10 11:40 PM Re: Living Out of a Backpack - the Nomadic Life [Re: PerryMK]
Pat-trick Offline
member

Registered: 06/22/09
Posts: 175
Loc: Portland, OR
Originally Posted By: PerryMK


Expecting others to pay when one is not contributing to society strikes me as fundamentally unfair.

At some point one will be imposing on another improperly. Consider how a homeless camp in a park might make a family uncomfortable to picnic. It strikes me as wrong.

We all need services at some point, even if its just a shower. How will this be paid for? "Taken" at public or private campgrounds?


Perry, I found your post to be offensive.

As a Vietnam veteran, I do take advantage of the VA health system, which I have found to range from adequate to excellent. They have hospitals in every major city in the US. And there are buses to each of them.

As a retired person, my contributing days to society are mostly over. All the years I was working, I paid for social security insurance, what's it called... FICA? I forget.

If I do live out of a pack, which at this point is a persistent dream/thought, I would be staying away from highly-populated camps and such, except to shower and resupply. I'll pay whatever the shower costs with cash. If it's a public place, there will probably be no charge.

If I do go, I'm not planning to be setting up or joining any homeless camps in public places, as I wouldn't qualify as homeless. My pack would be my home, and I would be nomadic, not homeless.

This thread is for discussion about living the nomadic life, with the pack as home. The thread is NOT about being a social leech. I don't know where you got that thought about me. It's not from my post, so it's something you have brought to the table here. A personal issue.

I would prefer that you ask me a question about this or that rather than assuming it about me and then writing in a public forum in a manner that is designed to humiliate me.

Or, in keeping with the thread, you could express your concern like this:
"Getting regular medical care could be a problem living out of a pack. How to get regular check-ups is something to consider."

I don't plan to impose on anyone if I do this.
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#136798 - 07/27/10 06:11 AM Re: Living Out of a Backpack - the Nomadic Life [Re: Pat-trick]
PerryMK Online   content
member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1049
Loc: Florida panhandle
Originally Posted By: Pat-trick
Perry, I found your post to be offensive

You asked for people to jump in, so I did. I wasn't trying to be offensive nor were my comments designed to feed a fantasy. Rather I tried to offer another perspective. There was a song that went something like "Don't ask me what I think of you. I might not give the answer that you want me to." Then there was something about legs being thin. Go figure. Here is something I learned in my admittedly short time on earth:

People are often most offended when they are confronted with the truth.

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#136799 - 07/27/10 06:53 AM Re: Living Out of a Backpack - the Nomadic Life [Re: Pat-trick]
PerryMK Online   content
member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1049
Loc: Florida panhandle
Originally Posted By: Pat-trick
As a Vietnam veteran,

I say this to all Vietnam Vets I meet as I understand they didn't hear it enough when they should have. I mean it sincerely.

Welcome home.

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#136824 - 07/27/10 03:13 PM Re: Living Out of a Backpack - the Nomadic Life [Re: PerryMK]
Pat-trick Offline
member

Registered: 06/22/09
Posts: 175
Loc: Portland, OR
Originally Posted By: PerryMK
Originally Posted By: Pat-trick
Perry, I found your post to be offensive

You asked for people to jump in, so I did. I wasn't trying to be offensive nor were my comments designed to feed a fantasy. Rather I tried to offer another perspective. There was a song that went something like "Don't ask me what I think of you. I might not give the answer that you want me to." Then there was something about legs being thin. Go figure. Here is something I learned in my admittedly short time on earth:

People are often most offended when they are confronted with the truth.


therefore nobody ever really says anything offensive, because they're speaking the truth and the offended person can't handle it. how's that working for you, Perry?

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#136844 - 07/27/10 07:58 PM Re: Living Out of a Backpack - the Nomadic Life [Re: Pat-trick]
GDeadphans Offline
member

Registered: 12/26/08
Posts: 382
Loc: Maine/New Jersey
Love that song. Leo Kottke and Mike Gordon do a great version.

I like your idea Pat. I completely agree with you with the whole getting away from society. I have my own way of doing so. I grew up in Newark, New Jersey, then the Jersey shore, and I just couldn't stand the crowds, angry people, pollution etc. List goes on. I escaped and moved to down east Maine, attending college for Wildlife Biology, and plan on buying my own land soon. Would love to start a self sustaining homestead or farm out there.

With that said, the notion of traveling around the country with a camper/backpack still fascinates me. I would love to do what you are thinking of doing. I thought it many times. Unfortunately I am in a different financial situation than you, and that is the only thing that keeps me from doing so. But I figure, you only live once, I have to do it sometime in my life. I am young yet though, (24), and have plenty of time. No rush there.

But I am sure you are like me, when a situation arises, we come up with solutions smile

On another note, you mentioned foraging. I took a lot of Botany, Plant Taxonomy, and Plant Ecology classes, and swear by Newcomb's Wildflower Guide and the Audubon Society Wildflowers Book. There is also great books by Tom Brown the Naturalist. I loved his book. Not only were there really neat "how-to" survival tricks but also a list of popular wildflowers that have some sort of value to humans, whether it be for making arrows, for eating, or for steeping tea that is high in vitamin C, or just for seasoning to other foods. Great stuff. That is the book that first got me in to foraging and now I find a whole bunch of useful plants even in my own yard. Like Pepper grass and Pineapple Weed. Pepper and Pineapple Tea! All in my front yard smile

Newcomb's Wildflower and the Audubon Society books are specific to a certain area. Since I am in Maine, I bought the New England versions. I must say though, not sure what your depth of knowledge is with plants, but the Newcomb's is a bit more advanced than the Audubon book. However, the Newcomb's has a great explanation of all the terminology in the front so you can pick it up quickly and then go back to reference if need be. Please make sure you have a small 10x field scope. Comes in handy!



Edited by GDeadphans (07/27/10 08:09 PM)
_________________________
"To me, hammocking is relaxing, laying, swaying. A steady slow morphine drip without the risk of renal failure." - Dale Gribbel

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#136999 - 07/30/10 03:20 PM Re: Living Out of a Backpack - the Nomadic Life [Re: GDeadphans]
Tx Space Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/28/10
Posts: 1
Loc: Texas USA
With all the BS aside my 3 cents.
Please go to a real school with a 4 seasons type place.
Nomadic life to me was the Hobos.
If you keep your head then you can go full back country.


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