How To Bring Music On Your Camping Trip Without Electronics

campfire-604x350If you’ve ever been on a camping trip and wanted to hear or play music, you’re not alone. While the beauty in nature lies mostly in silence, the music of life is constantly chattering in the background of our subconscious. Whenever I go on a backpacking trip alone, I like to cary an instrument with me. Be it a small pocket sized instrument like a harmonica, a mouth harp or a kazoo, having an instrument whether alone or with your friends can mean an awesome layover day picking on some tunes. Leave the iPhone and your headphones at home and give it a shot!

5484222818_d2611954cb_zHarmonica- Harmonicas come in every key, whole and halfsteps. Make sure if you’re going on a trip with a guitar to bring these as well. Bring popular keys like G, C, A and E. You could bring a whole set, but if you’re on a long trip you probably wont want to due to weight. The non-fancy plastic mouthpiece harps are good for trips as they will not succumb to the moisture on the trail.

guitarBackpacker Guitar- These are like 3/4 sized guitars with very small bodies. You can find them at most music stores, and Martin arguable makes the best commercially available model, simply called “The Backpacker”. If you don’t mind slinging a small extra case over your pack, or strapping it to the outside, it is a wonderful thing to have when you get to camp. Great for large group trips where others have brought their instruments, or solo performances.

Jake Sherman melodica_2Melodica- This is advanced….if I ever heard a melodica in the backcountry, I would put on a big old smile. These things are super portable, light and able to pack into your pack without much trouble. Essentially a wind powered piano, you can get your “squeezebox” type tone to accompany your group.


Washboard/Spoons- Naturally good for washing, and eating! These every day tools have an extra purpose as well: Bluegrass music. Add these to your setup to achieve a booming percussion section. Blowing on a jug of whisky works fine also!

wpbaec190e_06Fiddle- While these are not always the easiest thing to bring, nor are they inexpensive, a “beater” fiddle in a case could be a welcome addition to a backcountry trip when properly taken care of. Fiddles have floating bridges, meaning, they are held down by the strings. Any movement or tweak can throw it off, or worse, collapse the bridge. With most folks bringing guitars and harmonicas on their journeys, it is always a welcomed site to find a fiddle player.

travel mandolin build 064Mandolin- Also slightly more cumbersome on long trips, but great for car camping, the mandolin is a pivotal part of the bluegrass lineup. Having one on trail is truly special but packing it is a different story. I always put mine in a soft-shell case, and bungee it to the back of my pack.

wakarusa2011-Kisida-pix6541-Split-Lip-Rayfield-gas-tub-bass-jeffWeedwacker String, stick and a bucket- It takes some doing, but if you whiddle a tuning beg and bore a hole through a solid length of wood, it is not inconceivable that you could make a bass with some weed whacker cable you have lying around. I always bring weedwhacker stirng camping…of course, a bucket will help for amplification purposes (the soundbox). Round up these things and you’ve Meguivered yourself a bass!

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