Camping can be great – whether you love it, it’s your first time, or you’re being dragged along by your friends, it can be a unique experience especially if it’s your first time.
A common question asked by newbies is, can i pitch my tent anywhere? The blunt answer – no. Where you choose to stay is an extremely important decision. Like in real estate, it’s all about location. This will be your home for the next few days. Would you want to be poked by rocks when you move or end up rolling down a hill in the middle of the night? Probably not.
Before You Leave
It would be a good idea to pitch your tent before you leave while you are at home. This is so that you can check for parts that are missing or any damages your tent may have. There’s nothing worse than getting to your campsite and realizing you don’t have any pegs or the zipper to your door is stuck. Also if it is your first time, it will be good practice so you can look like a pro when you are around other campers!
Look At The Ground
Remember that wherever you pitch your tent is going to affect not just your comfort but your safety so take the time to scout the area. If at all possible, choose flat ground. This may seem obvious but it’s not always that easy to do especially if you are camping in a heavily wooded area where the ground is full of roots.
So check the ground. You will be more comfortable if the surface is grass, dirt, sand or even covered in leaves, rather than it being rocky and covered with roots. Before you pitch your tent, clean your area of small rocks and twigs. If you have a rake, you can use that to clear your way. If not, using your feet or even just picking up the debris will do just fine. You can also test out the area by laying on your sleeping bag on the ground to see if it is comfortable enough for you.
Look Up Above
It is also a good idea to look for shade if possible. Too much sun exposure will not only turn your tent into a greenhouse or sauna but it can also damage the material of the tent with prolonged exposure.
This part can be a bit tricky because pitching too close to a tree for shade can make the ground uncomfortable because of the roots. Also, trees sometimes drop sap and birds sometimes drop something else.
Make sure as well that the tree isn’t dead or doesn’t have any dead branches because these may fall on you. But sometimes that’s part of the camping experience, so the more important factor is to look for nice, flat ground and some shade if possible.
Also find an area that can block the wind, such as big bushes, and then face your tent door away from the direction of the wind.
Try to stay away from hills as much as possible as they can be quite dangerous. Setting up your tent in the bottom of the hill or in a type of valley may protect you from cold winds or the sun but it is a vulnerable area to flash floods. If it rains your area might turn into a swimming pool.
You may not always be able to find flat ground and may have to pitch your tent on a slight incline. If this is unavoidable, position yourself so that your feet point downwards and position your tent so the door is downhill to prevent any rain from coming in. Don’t face sideways on an incline because for sure you will end up rolling right down the hill.
Where Other Campers Have Gone Before
Some places may already have established campgrounds. These are areas that previous campers have already chosen to be ideal for pitching a tent and you can use those areas as well. However if the ground is way too compacted from all the campers setting up in that area, it may not be a good idea anymore. If it rains, the compacted ground won’t be able to absorb the water and you will have another swimming pool situation in your hands.
One Last Check
Make sure to check your surroundings that you’re not in an area in danger of flooding, avalanches, snake hibernation or falling rocks. An ideal is 100-200ft away from a water source if you have any.
This is not just for flooding safety but also because many bugs like to hang around the surface of the water. You may also encounter some thirsty animals, and not all may be friendly.
Also, make sure that you are not damaging the nature around you. Don’t pitch your tent where there is vegetation on the ground. Camping is a chance for you to get close to nature so it needs the proper respect.
Camping can be a great and fun experience and it starts with selecting the right location setting up your tent to keep warm. Once you have all your equipment and your bags are all packed, it’s time to set out on your new adventure.
Just remember these simple tips so you don’t end up swimming in your bed instead of sleeping in your bed!