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How to Camp and Backpack

Helpful Links, Advice, Rental Reservations, & How to Guides

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Rental Reservations

Many people are most comfortable calling us to put together their final reservations. We welcome your call anytime. Our contact number is (303) 699-6944.

If you need to rent camping equipment for a future date up to one year ahead of time, just go ahead and rent through our shopping cart by renting each item individually, or getting a rental package, or again just give us a call at (303) 699-6944. If you rent on line, we will bill you for your rental items and see that they arrive on time. Your job is to have fun and send things back to us when you get back.

What to expect when renting gear

When you rent from us, you do not pay for any of the transit time. If you need a tent, backpack, etc. for a three day trip, below is an example of a 3 day trip from Friday-Sunday.

Reserve your gear as far in advance as possible

Outdoors Geek will ship your gear to arrive on Thursday (the day
before you leave)

We will include a shipping tag for return shipping as well

      • We can ship your gear anywhere you want it shipped….like near your destination if you are flying in. Why pay to have an airline fly it in when we can send it UPS to a destination of your choice?

      • You have fun enjoying the great outdoors with the best gear made

      • On Monday, after you have returned home, pop your gear back into UPS using the shipping tag we have provided for you

Why rent from Outdoors Geek?

This is truly the no hassles way of going about renting gear. And no one else offers you the option to buy after you have tried your gear on a trip. You can rent from a brick and mortar store(if you can find one that rents decent gear) if you want to deal with all the hassle that goes with it….like going there before your trip and fighting traffic and needing to take gear back on time so you don’t have to pay extra. Or, you can rent from Outdoors Geek and avoid all of that while having the opportunity to try better gear than any other rental source offers. It’s up to you.

Need some advice?

We can and will help you any way we can. Call us at (303) 699-6944 or email us at and let us help you make your experience awesome.

Returning Gear Clean and Dry

All rental gear must be returned clean and dry. Dry is the number one thing. Wet gear means mildew and mildew means a lot of work for The Geek getting things ready for the next trip. We will charge a cleaning fee if your gear comes back wet.

With that said, we understand normal wear and tear on rental items. If items are damaged though, there is a fee for fixing or replacing. So, treat it like you own it and there shouldn’t be any problem.

What gear does Outdoors Geek carry?

First, we carry top brands. Others might make this claim, but we actually do it. Our rental items include tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, backpacks, water filtration, stoves, cooking items and more. You actually get to pick the brand and style you need depending on the type of trip you are taking (based on availability).

Are group discounts available?

We will make the ordering process and discount schedule easy for your group. When you set up your group trip with Outdoors Geek, you will not need any one individual to handle the rentals. We will set up a group code that will reflect your discount for each individual rental order placed. If you would rather coordinate a single order, no problem. Let us know how we can help and we will do everything possible to make this your best trip ever. Email us at

How should I plan for food items?

Here is what we like to do when we go backpacking. We eat hot meals in the morning and at night. In the middle of the day we make sandwiches and eat energy bars or granola bars. For breakfast we eat two packages of instant oatmeal per person. This satisfies most backpackers and we package this for you under camp food.

We have found the best way to do this is have one package of plain unflavored oatmeal and one package of flavored oatmeal. We sell pre-packaged breakfast oatmeal with one of each included for several flavors.

For dinner, each of us eat a freeze dried meal for two (backpacking makes you hungry) and this provides the kind of calories you will need (typically 700-1100). This often works for both men and women in a group. Alternatively, you could split a meal and bring a side dish, however, if you each eat meals for two the only dirty dish is a spoon or folk.

For lunch we take along two pieces of bread per meal and something to put in between them. The “stuff” we put in between includes peanut butter (individual packages), tuna (package for two or so), or chicken chunks or salmon chunks and more. These items can all be purchased in containers or bags that do not need to be kept refrigerated. As for mustard, ketchup, etc….we usually pick it up at a fast food restaurant.

Geek Tip: Although we are wheat bread eaters normally, we always take white bread on camping and backpacking trips. White bread doesn’t mold as quickly as wheat bread. Another great alternative is a pita or tortilla.

Other food type items

Don’t forget some energy bars, candy bars, or granola type bars to snack on during your trip.

Bring some hard candies for a quick boost of energy.

A little lemonade mix is light, doesn’t take up much room, and tastes great on the trail. Sometimes you will run into water sources that don’t taste great (even when filtered and safe some water tastes a little funky). Give yourself a taste break with some lemonade and it might be just what the doctor ordered.

How much water will I need each day?

Breakfast – 8 oz for cooking and 16 oz for drinking

On the trail – 64 oz to 80 oz

Dinner time – 16 oz for cooking and 16 oz for drinking

Sleep time water – 8 oz

That adds up to nearly a gallon per person / per day of water. I can tell you from long term experience that it is a realistic guide when backpacking in the summer time between 6,500 and 12,500 feet. When you are at altitude, the best rule of thumb is to drink enough water so that you pee regularly.

Can I drink water directly from a lake or stream?

NO! Well, you could but you are taking a big chance with bacteria. Filter or boil all of your water and you will avoid the chance of becoming sick in a really nasty way. You can rent or buy water filtration devices and water bladders from us.

How should I carry water and what should I drink from on the trail?

As far as carrying water goes, most people carry a 2 liter water bladder in their backpack with a water hose that is tucked into the strap of their backpack for easy access to water. This works well, but is not the Geek's personal preference. See tip below.

 Geek Tip: on carrying water

Here is my personal preference which may or may not work for you. I do not carry a water bladder. Instead, I carry the 96 oz soft side water canteen mentioned above. I also carry a 32 oz water bottle. This allows me to have water handy on the trail (water bottle). I can also pump enough water to cook with for 2 or 3 people and put it in my 96 oz canteen. Further, if I’m going to be without water overnight, the canteen allows me to carry enough water to safely make it through. This kind of flexibility works for me and gives me an extra level of preparedness.

How do I find rental gear on this website?

The easiest way is to go to the “Rent It” button on the top navigation or by going to the “Buy It” button on the side navigation. The “Rent It” button on the top (or the green button on the home page picture) gives you a list with links to rental packages and gear which might be helpful in both finding what you want and reminding you of everything you will need. I highly recommend you check out the “Rent It” page just to feel comfortable that you will have everything you need.

Why would I want a three man tent vs a two man tent?

Here are three good reasons.

    • You have three people

    • You like the trade off of just a bit more weight for a bunch more room. This is how my wife and I feel about it.

    • You have come to understand that what “three man tent” really means is “two people and a dog”

Should I carry a side arm?

Not until you check the local laws of the area you are visiting. If you are going to be inside of a National Park, be sure to check for site specific regulations.

Most backpackers and campers do not carry a side arm. If you take proper precautions with food items and use your God given common sense, the chances of an incident where a side arm would be helpful is very, very low. In many cases especially with non-experts, a side arm may be more dangerous than not carrying one.

Another consideration is comfort and weight. Remember, unless you have a concealed carry permit, your side arm must be visible when you are carrying it. This is not always easy or comfortable with a full size backpack.

With that said, I almost always carry a side arm. I’m a life-long hunter and I generally feel more comfortable with a fire-arm at my side. I have never actually used it while backpacking in the Rocky Mountains and I hope that will always be the case.

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How to Camp

It’s funny isn’t it. I know that some people who are viewing this information are thinking “how to camp”…..are you kidding me? On the other hand, the questions we answer most often focus around the whole “how to camp” idea. If it’s “how to backpack” you’re looking for, just hit that link for helpful information.

There are all kinds of questions tied up in the whole “how to camp” question. I have included information and links that will help you answer the question in the way that it directly pertains to you. Take a few minutes to look things over and if you have additional questions, and trust me I have heard them all, drop us an email at or call us at (303) 699-6944. We want to help you have the best outdoor experience possible.

What will I need to take camping?

I will give you a few ideas and we have a couple of good camping spots to check out. If you want a few reminders on items, go to either our purchase gear area and browse products (you can also rent directly from this area) or go to our rental packages area and check out the items that are in the rental packages. These packages are built for backpacking, but you will get some good ideas by checking them out. Also see below for pretty comprehensive information.

List of possible items for base or car camping

If your base camping, you have a lot of options and some of what you take will depend specifically on what you or your group/family are interested in. For instance, if you're a family that loves baseball or softball, bring your gloves or bases or waffle ball and bat. Allowing your group or family to enjoy things they are familiar with will help insure a great outdoor experience.

On the other hand, bringing everything including the kitchen sink is a big pain in the butt for a number of reasons. I recommend taking a few things of interest, but not trying to bring everything. You will generally have the best outdoor experience if you include time spent doing things you don’t otherwise get to do. So go for a hike, roast some marsh mellows, break out the fishing poles, enjoy the time spent under the stars, kick back, and let the fresh air sooth your soul.

Here is a base camp or car camping list of the “basics” I like to take

  • Tent - Make it big and roomy in case it rains and you need to spend some quality time in it. Consider an 8 man tent that can divide into two or three rooms for a little privacy and changing area or a second tent dedicated to gear and it can double as a changing area. If there are just two of you, check out a 3 or 4 person tent.
  • Sleeping Pads - A good pad may make or break your trip….or your spouse’s trip. I luv luv luv a two inch thick sleeping pad for a good night’s rest!
  • Sleeping Bag - You will not sleep well unless you are warm. Upgrade that Barbie sleeping bag before your trip.
  • Lighting – We carry head lamps that will turn your night into day. If you have not used head lamps in the past, give them a try. It’s nice to be hands free with a light that goes where your eyes go when you’re out in the wilderness.
  • Stove and/or Grill - I’d take both so you can cook over the fire and have a back-up in case of rain.
  • Camp dishes -We carry 2 or 4 person sets.
  • 7 Gallon water container - These can be really handy if you are more than 100 feet from a water source.
  • Several other portable water containers - Consider some 2 liter water bladders if you plan on hiking and the 96 oz canteen is really handy and multi-purpose
  • Camp Chairs – If you have the room, chairs are a key to comfort. We also rent camp chairs and tables.
  • Water filter (I always like to take a water filter so I don’t have to worry about having enough water. If you are being active at higher altitudes, you may go through a gallon of water per person per day. I know it sounds like a lot, but it’s what you need to stay healthy and active in the high country
  • Camp Food – Bring it from home or buy from us. You may want to buy just a few meals from us and give them a try. Dehydrated food is very good now-a-days and our breakfast items are quick and easy.
  • Bear Canister – if you are like most people your thinking you will just put your food in the car and it will be safe. Don’t count on it. Bears have torn apart plenty of cars to get to tasty smelling food. No need to panic, just get a canister or two and be safe.
  • Snacks – Hey, this is car camping. No need to rough it too much. We carry some awesome dried apples if you want a nice healthy snack.
  • Beverages – I only included this to remind you that if you are planning on drinking alcohol and you are camping at altitude, be very careful. Alcohol has an increased impact at altitude and high altitude hangovers are not fun.
  • Shovel – Most of us need to dig a hole at some point when we are camping. We provide a hand trowel free with our rental packages.
  • Saw or hatchet – If I have to choose, it is saw all the way. A saw goes a long way when it comes to working with logs for the fire. And, you can't chop a hole in your foot with a saw.
  • Multi-tool – Or a knife. But let’s face it, a multi tool is much more practical.
  • Side arm? – Only if it is legal where you are camping and you know how to use it. Check this information also.
  • Compass / GPS – I like to have both with us. A compass is a must and a GPS can be just as important if you are hiking.

Where can I camp?

That’s a good question for the forest service in general. The other question you might be thinking about is "Where should I camp"? Most national forest areas have free camping areas along the roads. Many of these areas are great base camp and family camping areas. I’ve included a few spots if you are in Colorado.

Where should I camp?

The first thing to consider is that you have choices.

1) You could camp at a campground with facilities

This is a great “pay to camp” choice especially if you have young children and/or you are just getting started camping. You have some extra support and you’re not way “out there” if you need a little help.

2) You could camp in a more primitive national forest designated campground

These are often “pay to camp” places like option one, but probably have fewer amenities. They may have a port-a-potty and they often have a well for water. You will likely be camping close to others on busy weekends, but some of these areas have a few nicely secluded spots.

3) You could camp along the road at “pull-off” areas along the road that are typically in national forest areas

Now you’re talking. Although I’m a backpacker by trade, if you find me car camping, it will be pulled off the road somewhere where no other campers can keep me up at night. These types of spots are common in the mountain west. They are free and you really get the chance to do your own thing without being way far away from some other people. My family has had a really nice time in spots just like this in the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming, on Weston Pass just south of Fairplay, Colorado bordering the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Area, near the trailhead leading to Mt. Quandary, and near the Spruce Creek Trail just south of Breckenridge, Colorado. In Colorado alone, there are literally hundreds or areas like this just waiting for you!

4) You could camp at a lake or reservoir that allows camping

Some of these areas are pay to camp and some are free. The most popular state park in Colorado is Cherry Creek State Park right in the Denver Metro area. Seriously, this is a great place for a first time camper or for folks who don’t want to spend the time traveling. Or, another nice spot not too far from Denver is Green Mountain Reservior. The nice thing about Green Mt. Reservior is there is a ton of good hiking close by in the Gore Range. Call or email us and we will be happy to help you with hiking in this area.

One more spot I can’t help but mention is the lake below the trailhead of Mount Quandary. There are actually a couple of lakes in the areas and a ton of “pull-off” camping spots. My wife and I spent a very nice night in this area before climbing our first 14er. And you might even catch a few fish.

5) How about trying a short hike and camp…..not too far from the car. This may be good if you have done some camping and have some confidence in your abilities.

I mentioned the Spruce Creek Trail earlier and this is a really nice hike and camp spot. It’s just south of the Breckenridge area. The hike in is maybe a mile to the Mayflower Lake area. It’s an authentic little hiking trip and don’t forget your fishing pole. My son caught his first cut-bow trout in a little stream near by not that many years ago.

Who do I ask for help on camping spots?

Ahhhhhh, me? Do some web searching and give me a call. I can usually tell by talking to you and looking on line myself if the area might suit your needs.

My partner is not a camper, how can I make sure she/he has a good experience?

Number one is to take a great sleeping pad for night time comfort. I’m serious as a heart attack about this. A good nights sleep will make all the difference. Number two, take it easy. You can push for a day, but don’t do a killer trip right off the bat. Smell the roses instead and save the challenges for later. You will be best served by base camping in an area where you can either hike or ride four wheelers. If you are coming to Colorado, check out the Westin Pass area and the Rich Creek Trail.

Will I be able to figure out how to set up the tent?

Yes, because we include the directions for every tent we rent. Most directions are just inside the tent bag. Or, in a pinch, call us and we will walk you through it. You may be surprised how often we have walked someone through a tent set up in their garage or living room.

What if it rains?

Oh the rain. If you are base camping, this is why big tents, a good book, playing cards and board games are a must. And, it’s also why a top quality tent is critical. Nothing sucks more than a river running through the middle of your tent.

How do we find hiking trails?

Decide on a destination and zoom in on your web searches based on that area. If that doesn’t yield any results, call a local outfitter or we have had good luck stopping in a local sporting goods store and asking for advice. Or, call us and we will help you find a good spot. Our phone number is (303) 699-6944.

What should we take to eat?

The good stuff. Especially hot dogs and marsh mellows baby. If your base camping and you didn’t fly in from out of town, you better be eating well. I mean, cook those brats and roast those weenies. And we sell oatmeal for an easy breakfast or lunches that keep things simple. Give our freeze dried dinners a try and you may be surprised how good they are.

Do I need to take wood for a fire?

You might. Especially if you are going to a camping “area” that concentrates people in one area. If you hike in or camp in a pull off area there should be plenty of dead wood in the area. One thing you should do for sure is check the local regulations to make sure fires are legal at that time and place. And take a saw so you can saw things up into reasonable sizes.

One more thing and I promise not to get too preachy about this, but use only dead wood. Don't be out there cutting down trees so you can get "a" dead branch. With all the pressure some camping areas get, a heavy dose of respect for the land is critical.

You didn't answer my question

Well call me then! My phone number is 303-699-6944 and our email address is