On a high altitude trek, there are enough challenges to put up with – the weather, the strain from trekking, the lack of homely comfort. When this is the case, a tent mate ought not to be a problem.
We have always held that a good trekker makes for a great tent mate. One of his prime qualities is that he thinks “giving is better than getting.” Added to that, he is genuinely concerned about his tent mates, even if they are strangers. He’ll do everything under his control to make his tent mate’s stay comfortable.
So here are a few rules of tent etiquette that you as a trekker should follow to make camping easy for your tent mate. Hopefully, you can set an example so that your tent mates reciprocate too.
1. Change your socks everyday. Even though you think your socks aren’t smelling after two days of trekking, there’s a good amount of bacteria growing on it. This bacteria latches onto the insides of sleeping bags and tents and spreads. Over the next few days, the sleeping bags and tents begin to smell. The very thought of it makes me cringe. So please change your socks every two days.
2. Keep your shoes and used socks ONLY in the balcony area. If it is raining, put it in a plastic bag and keep it out. Do not bring it into the tent at any cost.
3. Don’t constantly unpack and repack. I always see and hear people shuffling their belongings in their tents. This is the sign of an inefficient trekker. If you are leaving from Camp A to B, keep your requirements for Camp B in the top layer of your backpack. Your toilet essentials should be in outer flaps. Ideally, your aim should be to never unpack fully. That way you don’t inconvenience your tent mates, making them shuffle in and out of the tent and struggle for space.
4. Keep your things neatly organised. This stems in from my previous point. If your backpack is efficiently packed, you won’t really leave things lying around. Apart from a few basic things that you need – your head lamp and cutlery, nothing else should lie around in the tent. Keep your backpacks stacked neatly in the balcony area, even if you aren’t in the tent. So when you or your tent mate enter, the tent looks spacious and clean.
5. Don’t dry clothes on top of your tent. I’ve seen trekkers do this on many of my treks and frankly it looks ugly. The constant wet patch damages the tent over a period of time and the clothes don’t dry either. If you really want to dry clothes, take a small 6-10 ft string with you. Tie this up to two trek poles perhaps and hang the clothes a little away from the campsite.
6. Clean up everyday. It is a myth that you don’t sweat at high altitude. If you’re exercising, you sweat. So every evening, before getting into warm layers, wipe your sweaty parts with a wet tissue or a wet cloth. This makes a BIG difference to your tent mates. If you’re using wet / scented tissues, make sure you put them in a ziplock after use and dispose of them back at home and not at the campsite dustbins.
7. Leave your tent clean for the next set of trekkers. On my previous trek, I entered a tent and saw tissues and wrappers in the side pockets of the tent. This is never welcoming. Our staff members do clean tents often, but they too could miss something. Besides, it is your job to clean up after yourself. So make sure you leave the tent spotless, in a way that you would like to find it.
These are rules of tent etiquette that are practiced world wide. Besides, I’ve noted down just a few of the basic things you can do to comfort your tent mate.
You surely may have other thoughts around this topic. Do share your thoughts in the comments below.