Okay...here's my tip for the day. It might save your life sometime.
If/when you just can't get a fire going...particularly in inclement weather...and you know you're not going to get back to base today...do this.
ALWAYS keep at least one highway flare (railroad fusee) in your gear at all times. It will start a fire under even the harshest of conditions...!! It can also be used for signalling, and for extra light if needed.
For those new to backpacking and wanting to reduce gear weight. Go on a trip wit everything you think you need. When you get back place everything you had in your pack in two piles. Things you used, and things you didn't use. Next time think long and hard before you take things from the didn't use pile.
Tip #1 10/2/12 To make your water filter cartridge last longer, use a rubberband and secure a coffee filter to the end of the hose that you drop into the water. Even if you are using a prefilter this will help keep out debris that would shorten the life of both the prefilter and the main filter cartridge.
When concidering gear, speically when you have options of what to use, concider the versitility of the item. The more uses, or potenial uses the better. For example, instead of a store bought rain fly for a hammock, concider instead a tarp. Might weigh a little bit more, but 1) can cover bigger area 2) can be used as a ground cover to pack (depending on where it goes in your pack) 3) could be used as a minimal tent with you hiking poles if you cannot hang/use your hammok for what ever reason.
Oct 2 For longer camping trips with multiple coolers, plan ahead and fill coolers for specific day use rather than all the pop in one cooler. Taped shut and placed in shade, those coolers containing food and drink for the later days of the trip will maintain their ice just fine.
Also, chill or freeze everything before packing in the coolers to minimize the heat exchange between food and ice.
We're all familiar with DEET...which the CDC advises against applying on infants. And, as many grizzled hikers know, DEET can eat right through a tent, and should not be applied when using sunscreen (has to be reapplied too frequently). And my own personal experience has shown that it will also dissolve paint...!!
SIERRA recommends the following homemade bug spray:
Pour 1.5 oz of witch hazel in a pump-spray bottle. Add 40 drops of citronella oil and 40 drops of eucalyptus oil. Shake vigorously. The result was an effective repellent using natural ingredients.