Backcountry Betty

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Multi-tasking Your Glam Gear


I’m a Betty, and I’m proud of it. I wear my fashionista-diva-urban glamazon persona like a stylish badge of honor. Maybe it’s because I never earned any Girl Scout badges when I was younger. Until a few years ago, I couldn’t tell the difference between ivy and poison ivy, but I could pick out a certain designer’s garment at 50 yards . . . without my serious prescription eyeglasses.

But something changed. I live in Seattle. Whether I like it or not, I have to venture into the woods, meander along the shoreline, wade in the water, kayak in the Sound. And mostly I like it. Sometimes I even love it. But I haven’t given up my Betty status. I just make sure I have an active-length manicure and a great moisturizer with SPF. Oh, and I wear a hat to protect my highlights. And carry loads of moist towelettes and hand sanitizer.

For all you Betty’s who haven’t put a manicured toe in the wild, here’s a place to start – some of your favorite glamour gear can also come in handy in the wilderness:

Multi-tasking your Glam Gear
The Betty staples that can serve another purpose in the wild.

Mirror: put in your contacts, signal for help, start a fire
Lipstick: rub on lips, use as firestarter smeared on cotton balls or tissue, mark a trail
Mouthwash: freshen breath, sterilize a wound
Moisturizer/lotion: hydrate and protect your skin, lubricate a stuck jar
Perfume: smell like flowers, sterilize a wound
Gum: freshen breath, secure a note to a trailhead
Blotting papers: absorb excess oil, write a note, crumple into tinder
Tweezers: pluck your eyebrows, pull out a sliver
Emery board: shape nails or file a downed stick to a point for a skewer
Nail polish: protect nails, cover a leak in a jacket or shoe, use as firestarter
Tissues: blow nose, wipe various body parts, use as napkins, crumple into tinder
Pill bottle: store matches, medication, and keys, turn into fishing lure
Lip gloss or lip balm with SPF: protect lips and if tinted, rub into cheeks as blush, can be used as firestarter when smeared on cotton balls


Backcountry Betty’s Advice for Making Light of a Dirty Situation


You are miles from your air-conditioned apartment, luxury salons, HBO, gossip magazines and perfectly chilled diet soda, but don’t fret Betty; with a little twist even the most hopeless of situations can swing into your favor:

It’s All How You Look at It
At first perspiration your outdoor adventure may seem grimy and icky but it’s really how you view it. Whether you feel the need to make excuses for your scummy appearance to others or yourself, here’s how to see your trip in a less-grody light.

Rash: “It’s the result of a chemical peel.”
Mosquito bite: “Oh that. It’s a hickie (or beauty mark). Yes, on my thigh.”
Sunburn: “I always burn before I tan. It’s my burden and my gift.”
Sweaty brow: “Flushed, glowy skin is in, haven’t you heard?”
Body odor: “It’s no worse than post-cardio-funk class.” “I’m flushing out toxins.”
Matted, greasy hair: “Dirty hair makes updos easier to manage.”
Cargo shorts: “These are the greatest inventions ever! The pockets hold lip gloss, cuticle cream, hair elastics, my sleep mask, sunscreen. . . . I need a pair for going out in the city.”
Scratch: “Oh, I got a little carried away last night . . . if you get my drift.”
Blisters: “The same thing happened when I broke in my red Manolos”


How to Turn Your Campsite into a Glam Wonderland Any Betty Can Love


Ah, camp. Visions of toasted marshmallows, pine-fresh scents (that aren’t coming from an air freshener dangling from your rearview mirror), and campfire ghost stories dance in your head. And then you reach the clearing.

There’s nothing there, not even a fire pit. No running water, no babbling brook. And there’s certainly nothing resembling that decadent love tent you remember seeing the bad guy enjoying in Raiders of the Lost Ark. How the heck are you supposed to make s’mores when there’s nothing in place for your campstravaganza? Where is the outdoor shower and the sumptuous down-filled tent.

In your dreams, that’s where. But there are some measures you can take to Betty things up. “Roughing it” doesn’t have to translate into “foregoing all traces of comfort and style.” In fact, you—a camping novice in some respects—can teach the most seasoned and grizzled of outdoorsmen and women a thing or two.

Betty’s, I know it looks hopeless, but don’t fret. Here are some effortless ways to transform your dull camping gear to create a campsite even you can love:

Repurposing Your Outdoor Gear

Before you go moaning about how you have nothing cute to wear or decorate your campsite with, take a minute to think about what you did bring along and how you can multitask it.

Backpack: pillow, medicine ball
Sleeping pad: rug, yoga mat
Sleeping bag: log cushion, volleyball net
Water bottle: squirt gun, cocktail shaker
Tent: hammock, shower curtain
Cooler: coffee table, seat (make sure it’s sturdy enough to hold your weight or you run the risk of harming the hinges), ottoman, clothes- or dishwasher
Walking stick: baton, shower curtain rod, Zen garden rake, limbo stick
Fleece jacket: oven mitt, camp flag or windsock
Rain hats: water holder, bowl

Use found items to your stylish advantage (remember, don’t remove or disturb anything if you can help it, keeping the “leave no trace” ethic in mind).

Pinecones: votive/taper holder
Pine needles: crush up and add to candle, bed padding, tie together for whisk broom
Fallen branches: hot dog/marshmallow stick, skewers, pole vault, limbo stick, backscratcher
Rocks/stones: hand warmers when heated next to stove, stack into cairns (return to original location when you leave), paperweights, hot stone massage, Mancala
Sand: foot exfoliant, ant farm, scrub out pots and pans (as long as you can rinse thoroughly), sandbags to weigh down tent or other items
Shells: individual appetizer bowls/cups, wind chimes, food covers
Seaweed: braid into necklace or crown, streamers, garlands, weave into placemats
Fallen leaves: placemats, coasters, hand fan


--Excerpted from Backcountry Betty: Roughing it in Style, by Jennifer Worick, Skipstone 2007

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