“tourcycle.ca is committed to supporting our environment by offering tours that are safe, healthy and environmentally sustainable.”

Word just came this week of the death of a self proclaimed survivalist who left for an overnight winter hike without any food or shelter. He'd seen this done on television, and thought he'd like to try it.

I've watched a few of these survival programs and was more than slightly amused by the fact that there was a film crew following these guys around. Pretending to be a survivalist only encourages wannabe survivalists to do dangerous and often, may I use the term "stupid" things.

I've often been accused of encouraging people to do stupid things. Recently I was publicly reamed on the Internet for encouraging people to trespass on private property. If you have read my tomes on stealth camping you probably know that stealth camping by its' very nature is not trespassing, but many vocal members of the Internet community can successfully shout you down with loud and uneducated voices.

Stealth camping is not about trespassing, so I'll leave that topic as it has been repeated many times. What stealth camping is about is self reliance. Several months ago a supporter from England emailed me to thank me for helping her overcome the 'fear of the forest'. I was hugely flattered that I had helped someone become more reliant. There is far more to it than that. This person was not a cyclist but a hiker. Touring cyclists and hikers have much in common. We use a lot of the same equipment. I'm just too lazy to carry it on my back, so I've chosen what is probably the most perfect machine every devised to carry it for me.

There is one other difference between touring cyclists and hikers. We cyclists can cover far more territory in a day. That means that we can be urban explorers by day and rural campers by night.

Last year I had to forgo my yearly European sojourn because of a labour dispute. I did manage to run several tours around southern and southwestern Ontario, but no real stealth camping. I did have an opportunity to re-evaluate my equipment carried.

Someone gave me titanium cookware to evaluate. I've now dropped all the aluminium from my kit. The heaviest thing in my panniers was my tool kit. I've cut back in the duplication of tools and cut the kit weight in half. I've added something new this year; a netbook. It's small, but not as small as the Nokia tablet it replaces and it is a whole lot heavier. Because my web business has expanded I really need to stay it touch with clients and do my e-commerce while I'm away and I've decided I can't do it without a real keyboard. You may remember from my blogging that I spilled beer on my old folding keyboard and it didn't work after that. If you add a few devices together and compare weight size and convenience. I'll not bring my MP-3 player as the netbook will do that as well as play videos. I think the netbook comes out on top. We shall see.

The other thing I've changed this year is the amount of food I carry. I always said I'd carry a two day supply. Freeze-dried food is heavier than you think and I'm limiting myself to emergency rations and condiments and I will continue to shop daily while I'm on the ground.

More and more I need videos I can post on YouTube for clients to see. I've got a very compact and lightweight video camera that takes stills. The stills aren't great, but with my digital camera at 8 megapixels, I have to PhotoShop the images way down for the net anyway.

Does convergence lead to self-reliance? It can, but it can be a barrier. Years ago I was a photographer. I met a number of people who had far better equipment than me, but never took a photograph. Cameras are a tool. Collecting them will not make you a photographer. Equipment will not make you self reliant; your actions will. Foolishly going out into the woods unprepared will not make you self reliant either. Knowledge is strength and strength of body, character and spirit will make you self reliant.

I'll be in Europe from mid May to mid June. I'll be running my Romantic Road tour for 5 days in the middle, so that should give me lots of time to stealth camp and do my self reliance thing before I turn tour guide and hang out in 3 stars.

Hanging around in the forest is good for my soul. I actually do 'hang' in my Hennessy hammock. Solitude, the sounds of the forest and lots of exercise pedalling renews my spirit.

It’s something you just can’t buy

On being self-reliant

Self Reliance and Stealth Camping

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