Babes in the Woods: The Woman's Guide to Eating Well, Sleeping Well, and Having Fun in the Backcountry


Looking to escape urban sprawl and stress? Ever wonder how to get outside and not end up being cold, tired, hungry, or bored? Babes in the Woods offers a take-charge and be happy perspective on being active in the outdoors.
Author Bobbi Hoadley shows women how to enjoy a more elegant camping experience - something even men will find enticing! From discussions on fitness and camping gear to being safe and comfortable, Hoadley's fun, easy-to-read...

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Looking to escape urban sprawl and stress? Ever wonder how to get outside and not end up being cold, tired, hungry, or bored? Babes in the Woods offers a take-charge and be happy perspective on being active in the outdoors.
Author Bobbi Hoadley shows women how to enjoy a more elegant camping experience - something even men will find enticing! From discussions on fitness and camping gear to being safe and comfortable, Hoadley's fun, easy-to-read chapters introduce you to the concepts of wilderness and backcountry adventure.
Inside you'll find tips on: personal hygiene; getting in shape; weathering the weather; traveling light; organizing gear; safety and first aid.
Also included here are gourmet camp recipes and trip-planning checklists, demonstrating that with a little planning, some know-how, plus a good attitude, you too can sleep well, eat very well, and have fun in the great outdoors.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762725304
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

As National Camp Advisor for the Girl Guides of Canada, Bobbi Hoadley has organized and directed many backcountry activities for women. She has expertise in lifeguarding, canoeing, kayaking, standard wilderness first aid, and fitness instruction—and she's a gourmet cook who has adapted some of her recipes to backcountry use. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband and has two daughters.

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Read an Excerpt

What is Women's Camping and Why Do It?

It's a sad, sad story: A woman comes back from a camping trip covered in bug bites and blisters, tired to the bone from having slept on a rock, hungry after eating gooey freeze-dried macaroni and cheese, and convinced that she hates hiking, camping, and possibly even the man who dragged her out into the woods.

The good news is—it doesn't have to be that way.

Camping has historically been a male-dominated activity, presumably because it is related to hunting and fishing, which are typically guy sports. It is time to recognize that camping has a "Mars-Venus" component. Since traditionally women have learned backcountry camping from men, not all have discovered a feminine perspective—but our day has come. Now that more and more people are heading into the wilderness, women can reinvent their role in the wilderness, as well.

In the 21st century, camping is no longer an activity for a few adventuresome souls but a way for many to escape the urban sprawl and stress. Advances in equipment, clothing, and communications technology have made camping an increasingly safe and popular activity. Campers can readily move into ever more remote areas to enjoy the beauty and peace of a pristine environment.

Women are exploring this new era, as well. We are challenging both male rules and female fears and demonstrating the special joys of camping, female style with high-tech comforts and a new set of ethics. We enjoy backcountry camping in very different ways from our male companions, using skills and practices that suit women and taking our own kind of pleasure from camping.

Backcountry camping is a wonderful, exciting activity, but there are ways and ways of looking at it and doing it. We can reject the role of a naive traveler in a fearful environment, a "babe in the woods." If women assert their needs and determine their measure of enjoyment, then we have opened the door to the outdoors for good and all.

Backcountry Camping Doesn't Have to Be Macho

Currently, there is an extraordinary overuse of superlatives to describe backcountry camping. Interaction with our environment is often characterized by marketing terms like "extreme," "on the edge," and "pumped."

Not only do we talk big, we are encouraged to act big. Society attributes heroism to people for taking unreasonable risks in the name of outdoor entertainment. "Gladiators," "Survivor," "No Boundaries" and even "Crocodile Hunter" are popular reality TV shows that exploit risk. Funny as it can be, the presentation of raw heroism is misleading and even men are having difficulty keeping up with the image.

Perhaps men have unconsciously exaggerated the dangers of backwoods activities in order to enhance their enjoyment of the activity and increase its macho aroma. Men seem to be far more attracted to the adrenaline rush, which increases with perceived danger. Many women however, will overdose on adrenaline rather quickly and want to go home. Women concede to their primitive survival need to avoid all danger while protecting themselves and their young.

Camping is Supposed to be FUN!

If you have never camped it is almost impossible to see how it could be fun. It is equally difficult to explain what makes it so much fun. Much like losing your virginity, a leap of faith is required. And once you've done it right, you are sure to do it again. Indeed, many women who camp as adults were introduced to the experience as children, when everything you do or learn is a leap of faith.

Camping, particularly a moving camp or backcountry camp provides opportunities that are hard to reproduce in any other setting. It can be a deeply rewarding exercise in understanding and using effective life skills. When we live communally for extended periods of time without many of the lifestyle conveniences and distractions to which we are accustomed, we draw on our inner resources and gain valuable perspective on ourselves. Far from being stressful, a challenging camping experience seems to draw out the best in us and it feels great!

It is with a heightened sensibility that we enjoy the experience, the beauty and the fun. Women have at various times described "never feeling so alive," "never laughing so hard," and having "more fun than any party and without the booze!" Geniality and friendship flow from the shared experiences and accomplishments. The relationships that are developed bond deeply and quickly and it is hard to go home and leave behind the friends and the shared adventures. Camping friends become best friends and memories are recalled for life. I have rarely known a woman to go camping because she wanted to toughen up or because she was just itching to 'rough it'. Testosterone may be a required ingredient in that kind of reasoning. Women will focus on comfort and ease, many will insist on it. This book offers a way to experience the outdoors in a more comfortable, fun way. And at the risk of sounding like your mother, "If you sleep well, and eat well, then you'll enjoy the experience more."

How to Camp Like a Woman

Put an end to death marches under 60-pound loads, throw out everything you've heard about the rigors and hardships of backcountry camping, and get ready to head into the backcountry with style, comfort, and plenty of fun.

In the 1960's when feminism was gaining a toe-hold on the cultural scene in North America, women embraced the role of a "mother earth". It fit with our preliminary view of ourselves as powerful and free in the caring and nurturing role that we had always played in society. However, it didn't take us long to realize that it was the same old servitude in a new dress.

Our struggles to find the right role since then have taken us into all kinds of places where we just didn't feel like we belonged because the rules around being there were made by men and for men. Our choices have been to adopt traditionally male attitudes and behaviors, which have left us feeling unfulfilled or to go with our feelings and be misunderstood or sometimes disregarded.

Taking a trip "back to the earth" with a feminine perspective offers the opportunity to taste those "earth mother" roles that were so appealing way back when. Only now the power and the freedom to be whom we chose to be is based on our preferences and generosity of spirit. Women traveling together will find that their personal goals will be more readily achieved when they are tied to the group's goals.

Once you've mastered the art of camping like a woman you may be able to teach the men in your life a thing or two. When the guys have tried it your way, they'll be looking for another chance to join you-at least some of the time.

Being a Lightweight

As we push on through our busy lives, it seems like we have fewer of those "take your breath away" experiences. Have a chance encounter with pristine wilderness; it's never anti-climactic. But it will become rare if we don't unselfishly work to preserve or recreate the natural integrity of the backcountry. Women can become a positive and proactive force in the use and preservation of what is left of our wilderness and strong advocates for backcountry ethics. As a matter of course, women adopt lightweight minimum impact as preferable once they understand the reasoning and the mechanics.

In the media there is a wealth of advertising that shows people in the backcountry with a car and the incongruence of this is never questioned. It seems as though everyone in North America wants to own a sport utility vehicle or a 4X4. The marketing around these vehicles is all about their "off-road capabilities." So now, on your Sunday drive, you can take your "Range Rover," "Yukon," or "Outback" someplace where you can rip-up and irreparably damage wildlife habitat and flora and fauna that could take more than ten years to regenerate with your "Wilderness" tires. All this smells of more machismo to me.

The challenge in this century is to use camping practices that prevent or limit the effects of overuse on the natural environment. Even though we may camp where there are established campsites or buildings, it is still important to use minimal-impact camping practices. It will limit the effects of our use and therefore leave more of the natural environment intact so that we may continue to enjoy the richness and diversity of life in the outdoors.

Environmental science has proven that our earth can thrive if we are an undemanding audience. While, many men share these same values for our environment and advocate for all of the same outdoor ethics, the feminine perspective lends itself to environmentalism and economy of use. We are less averse to being a lightweight, understanding that sometimes it is the stronger role.

Lightweight camping is a necessity for women, not only because of the environmental benefits but also for the practical benefits. A self-contained, moving backcountry camp requires that you be able to transport everything that you bring. Very few women can manage to carry as much as a man can. This is a case where less is definitely more as long as you choose the "less" carefully. And when your camping companions are all female, no one will make you feel like a wimp for doing so. When you can be smug about ensuring your comfort and ease minimally, you may teach your male camping companions a thing or two about excess.

Lightweight is a more cautious way to go because it is less interfering and antagonistic to a wilderness environment. You can adopt lightweight, minimum-impact camping practices for the backcountry without sacrificing comfort and style. When we incorporate environmental ethics and conservationist standards to the practice of backcountry travel, we can take nurturing to new levels. Embracing environmental stewardship can be added to our list of unique opportunities available to us through camping.

A Foodie on the Trail is Worth Two in the Bush

For whatever reason, male-driven camp cookery suffered for years from the three "Fs": fast, filling, and flavorless. With more women on the camping scene camping-food has steadily improved, perhaps because more women have become involved in the activity. The truth is, good food is crucial the enjoyment of any outdoor activity, even if some of our men are willing to make do with any food as long as they get enough. Without flavorful and interesting food, almost everyone will become peckish and loose their good humour.

Buying packaged food is one option but it is costly and not always appetizing. Preparing your own gourmet dehydrated meals is not difficult and will keep everyone on an even keel. Meals can be prepared so they cook quickly and without too much mess or fuss and gourmet camp cookery is your opportunity to shine. If there is anyone who doesn't understand why you want to camp like a woman, one or two lightweight gourmet meals will "strut your stuff."

You Can Do It!

There are many things we do every day that are more dangerous than going on a wilderness camping expedition, including riding in the car to get there. In everything we do, we feel safer when we know the risks and how to safely manage them, and then become familiar with the task. It would be very dangerous to work in your kitchen if you knew nothing about stove fires, burns, electrical safety, scalding water, slippery floors, and sharp knives. It is equally dangerous to be in the backcountry if you do not know how to deal with wild animals, weather, hypothermia, and trail conditions. It is of utmost importance that we go into the backcountry with a thorough knowledge and understanding of the task at hand. If we have that, then we can leave our fears behind. The key to not getting psyched-out is to get ready!

Finding the right combination of comfort, style, ethics, and good food guarantees the fun. The all-woman camping experience may be a way to break into this new way of thinking but once you've mastered it, do us all a favor and share it with the men in your life. Read on to see how to make it happen.

Planning a good, lightweight, humor camp must begin with the following essentials:

Do your research
Everyone deserves to have the opportunity to discover an untouched wilderness. Be prepared to do the kind of investigation and research required so that you leave no impact on your chosen site. Backcountry camping obliges us to examine the chosen ecosystem so that we can use appropriate practices with regard for the geology, plant life, wildlife, and long-term effects of our passing. When traveling in a fragile environment, plan ahead so that you can travel as lightly as possible.

Coordinate your gear
The more coordinated and cooperative your efforts are, the better your camping practices will be. Women have a tendency to bring along numerous "just in case" items. If you list and pack the group's gear together and agree to share everything, you won't end up with a lot of unnecessary duplication and weight.

Act like a guest
When you're in the backcountry, behave as though you are visiting a beautiful home (you are). Never pick, break or take anything from the natural environment. Stay on the trails and use existing sites to camp on. Avoid shortcuts through vegetation and don't pick the flowers or cut the foliage and trees. Leave what you find; you are not in a souvenir shop. Do not build or dig. Light fires only when necessary for emergency warmth or protection, and then know how to build them so that they can be cleared away with no traces left. Avoid making too much loud noise.

Haul out your waste
The rule of thumb is if you pack it in, pack it out. When you leave a site there should be no traces that you were there. Waste includes garbage, human waste, food waste, and wastewater. Keep track of everything that you use so that you don't abuse, overuse, or waste anything. Leave every site better than you found it.

For more information, "Leave No Trace" Outdoor Skills and Ethics program sponsored by the National Outdoor Leadership School in the United States provides the most extensive and up-to-date information available. They have materials and resources available to address specific ecosystems and teach a wide variety of no-trace skills. Visit their website at or call them at 1-800-332-4100.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Being a Babe in the Woods
Chapter 1: Ready, Set, You Go Girl!
Chapter 2: Getting in Gear
Chapter 3: Weathering the Weather
Chapter 4: Hygiene Hoodwinks
Chapter 5: Eating Well
Chapter 6: Safety and First Aid
Chapter 7: The Art of Happy Camping
Appendix 1: Pack-and-Go Trail Recipes
Appendix 2: Games
Appendix 3: The Checklists

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