Week of ManCamping Women – 10 Completely Un-Scientific and Totally Subjective Reasons LadyCampers Do It Better by Tierney Angus
10 Completely Un-Scientific and Totally Subjective Reasons LadyCampers Do It Better
By Tierney Angus
A Word From ManCamping
We reached out to Tierney to write for us once again for our Week of ManCamping Women! After lots of discussion on what to write about, we asked Tierney to write a totally unscientific – hilarious article about 10 things that women do better than men in the outdoors. Let’s face it guys, women use their brains a lot more than we do. Well.. they use their brains for practical stuff instead of using their brain power to come up with ways to mess with your campmates or thinking about how to build a trebuchet out of the fallen trees to defend your campsite. Enjoy Tierney’s post, we have hijacked it enough.
(We would also like to point out that Tierney ignored our suggestion that women are WAY better at being pants-less in the outdoors. – You know how we hate to wear pants. Women are JUST BETTER AT IT THEN MEN ARE. hahahaha) <- The real end of the hijacking.
As an experienced backcountry camper and a human woman, it’s often difficult to find stories, articles, events, gear and clothing that cater to women who love to be outside. Far too often, women’s accomplishments are considered less important or impressive than the things their male counterparts are doing in the great outdoors and get way less print space. Women’s outdoor clothing manufacturers usually follow a “pink it and shrink it” mentality and provide us with tiny, useless pockets. Women and girls aren’t encouraged to get outside and go camping to the same extent that men and boys are, and when events and excursions do cater to women, they’re all about finding inner peace and doing yoga on a SUP board as opposed to going hard, getting dirty and challenging yourself physically. Fuck that.
I’m not a tomboy or a girly-girl. I wear flannel shirts and Carhartt overalls, but I also wear lipstick. I consider myself to be quite feminine, but I’m also pretty tough and enjoy hard, physically-demanding canoe trips. In the past few years I’ve met a lot of women who, like me, are strong enough to tackle difficult portages while also embracing their feminine qualities. These women are funny, smart, strong, capable, and arguably do a lot of things better than the dudes.
If you’re a ManCamper and you’re wondering why so many of your trips are full of disaster, maybe it’s time to embrace some feminine approaches to backcountry travel. Gender equality notwithstanding, there are just some things we females do better than males. This is not a debate about gender roles, ability or a battle of the sexes… this is my personal, completely subjective experience. None of these qualities are exclusive to women – there are plenty of men who excel at these things – and not all women are LadyCampers. Don’t @ me.
- We’re Better Planners
My (male) partner of 12 years is my usual trip companion. I’m the one that does trip research, maps out a route, makes lists of supplies, prepares and dehydrates meals, chooses trip dates and works out scheduling. If these things were entrusted to my partner or other male trip companions, we’d probably end up deciding on a destination the night before and forgetting to bring some crucial piece of equipment. Women are excellent at making lists. We’re good at planning for the future. We know how to prepare for emergencies and are realistic about our abilities and travelling speeds. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll plan a trip where we’re struggling every day just to get to the next campsite because we didn’t plan for weather, terrain or group dynamics. We’re also not under the impression that we can fight off a bear with our fists. I know my limits. If a bear really wants to eat me, c’est la vie. [Kudos to this dude, though, who somehow knew “most bears are right-handed” and managed to fend one off.]
- We’re Better Packers
Okay, so maybe some of us try to bring our whole wardrobe in a suitcase on a typical vacation, but the majority of female campers I know manage to pack for camping in a way that balances comfort with carrying capacity. I’ve tripped with dudes that didn’t even bring a tarp when it’s raining buckets. This emphasis on roughing it and being miserable for the sake of a few ounces has no place in LadyCamping. LadyCampers bring little luxuries like lightweight camp chairs, mosquito shelters, warm layers and personal hygiene items. On that last point…
- We’re Cleaner and More Hygienic
Baby wipes are your friend. So is soap. After a week of slogging through the backcountry, your socks are going to be rancid and your body rank. Enter the magical Dr. Bronner’s All-One soap, which can be used for cleaning practically anything. Stuff those stinky socks in a dry bag with some soap and water, close up the bag, slosh it around a bit, dump the suds away from shore, rinse with fresh water and hang to dry. You won’t get trenchfoot and your tentmates will stop complaining that you smell like a beaver lodge in a pond of malt vinegar. Cuts and scrapes can get infected easily if you don’t keep them clean. After trudging through muskeg and alder bushes in shorts, give yourself a nice sponge bath around the campfire. I use biodegradable Wysi-Wipes for washing, which I then burn in the fire instead of letting them slowly decompose in dirt.
- We’re Better At Teamwork
The ladies I camp with are far better at delegating tasks and getting shit done than the dudes. We prioritize, assign and accomplish camp chores efficiently and in an organized fashion. The men I camp with (and I love them, I truly do) tend to pursue useless and solitary exploits like chopping a hole through three feet of ice to go fishing when there are boughs to gather, firewood to cut and stack and meals to prepare. Women recognize and accomplish common goals without fighting over who gets to use the axe. LadyCampers know that in order to truly relax and have fun, certain things need to be taken care of first. It will always rain if you don’t set up a tarp.
- We’re Better At Making Campsites ‘Home’
No, we’re not decorating every tree branch with twinkle lights and making quilts out of birchbark and moss, but we are using the natural world to our advantage. I (and other women I camp with) construct sturdy, functional three-wall firepits for cooking as opposed to giant bonfires. I’m adept at finding the flattest, most comfortable tent sites – I am The Princess And The Pine Cone – and setting up/tearing down the sleeping quarters. Women have a keen eye for design elements in the outdoors: perfect sloping rock for suntanning over here, interesting tree branch as a lawn ornament there, our food barrel should really be a hundred feet back over here, etc.
- We’re A Solid Voice Of Reason
Women tend to be more cautious in the outdoors. If storm clouds are on the horizon, we start looking for the next place to camp. If the route is too challenging, we’ll figure out a way to get it done or modify our plans. We listen to and accommodate others’ feelings, worries, insecurities and weaknesses. We’re more likely to talk through than grind through an uncomfortable situation before things become unbearable. Maybe it’s a lurking maternal instinct or even just high emotional intelligence, but compassion goes a long way to soothe even the grumpiest group members on the toughest days. I’ve never seen a woman kick over a firepit in anger because the wood was too wet.
- We Have Better Backcountry Style
Though the offerings from outdoor clothing manufacturers are slim (literally and figuratively) for women, we find a way to repurpose items and get the most out of our outerwear. One of my favourite things to wear on hot, summer days is a $20 H&M muumuu. It shields me from the sun, is light and breezy, works as a bug net and has cool zebra stripes. Have you ever seen a ManCamper in a muumuu? No, you haven’t, because ManCampers prefer sunburnt shoulders and waxed canvas shorts that weigh 50 lbs. My friend and fellow ManCamping guest blogger Mercede Rogers wears a wool skirt for winter camping to keep her bum warm and allow free movement of her legs while also looking awesome. We know how to dress comfortably for the outdoors without wearing the same Fjall Raven pants as everyone else on Instagram. Again, don’t @ me.
- We Can Read A Map Just Fine, Thank You
Whoever started this whole women-are-bad-at-navigating thing needs to STFU. I am perfectly capable with a map and compass, thanks. As trip planner, I generally have a better idea of where I’m going than my partner. I Am Wielder Of Maps, Hear Me Roar.
[Photo 8] The navigator studies. I’m basically Rambo with scrawnier arms
- We Pay Attention To And Appreciate Nature
Okay, so this one is definitely not exclusive to women, but perhaps we are just naturally more poetic in remarking on our surroundings. Or maybe it’s my ADD and not my womanhood that causes me to say things like, “Check out this tree branch that looks like a giant squid!” In any case, my partner is colour-blind, and he can’t see a red flower in a green field to save his life. I see those red flowers and smother them with love and affection.
- We’re Used To Being Told We’re Dumb And Do This Stuff Anyway
More than one person has commented on a YouTube video that I was a total idiot for saying a 12×12’ pentagonal tent only gains two extra square feet of internal space over a 10×10’ square shape with taller walls. Someone even said, “I think her boyfriend was trying to talk her out of the bigger tent to save money,” because yes, my fiancé makes all the financial decisions in our relationship and does all of the mathematical calculations so my pretty little brain doesn’t get tired <insert biggest eyeroll ever>. We know what we’re talking about. We know our own experiences. We think things through, get shit done, and can keep up with the boys. Instead of focusing on weaknesses, we focus on strengths. We empower other women to get outside and take on challenges.
I know this listicle is going to piss some people off. It’s not Rocket-Scientist-Barbie-Girls-Can-Do-Anything and it’s also not Woman!-Make-Me-A-Sandwich. There are some really cool Instagram accounts out there right now chronicling the diversity of women’s outdoor experiences (@brownpeoplecamping, @fatgirlshiking and @outdoorwomen, to name a few).This opinion piece is not based on empirical scientific evidence and it’s not a complete representation of the many women in the outdoors who continue to fight for equality. Take what you can from it, though, and embrace your inner LadyCamper. We’re fun, experienced, and make a damn good backcountry cocktail.
Tierney Angus is a journalism student, canoeing enthusiast, Friends of Temagami vice president and backcountry blogger. She spends every opportunity outside, exploring Ontario’s wild places. She is a horribly pretentious beer snob and eats an obscene amount of bacon. She is a long-haired, tree-hugging, muumuu-wearing hippie freak. If you liked this story, check out her backcountry blog at thehappyadventure.com or follow her on Instagram @tear_knee and @friendsoftemagami.