Even when camping on an established site, choosing the best location to pitch a tent is an essential factor towards ensuring a safe, comfortable and enjoyable stay. Even though many modern campsites include a range of amenities such as convenience stores, washing, laundry and bathing facilities, it’s still important to follow a few basic rules when selecting where to set up camp. Here we’ll take a look at the most fundamental tips to consider when assessing where to set up a camping tent wherever you choose to spend the night.
It’s pretty common sense not to pitch up a camping tent on a major incline, but when considering flat ground also factor in the presence of stones that may be semi-buried into the soil and difficult to spot with the naked eye. Even the smallest stones can cause discomfort when trying to sleep, so the best way to assess a ground for smooth flatness is to lay out sleeping mats and bags and actually lie down on the ground. Providing the surface feels smooth and even, it’ll likely be a sound location to set up camp.
Depending upon the local climate and time of year, choosing a location that offers both shade and shelter from the sun and rainfall is an important consideration especially when intending on staying at the same location for more than a day or two. Not only can the sun cause discomfort, but persistent warm sunlight can also deteriorate the tent fabric over relatively short periods of exposure. Look for locations with natural shade provided by trees (Though do not pitch right next to a tree, see extra tips below) and surrounding foliage, or alternatively use a lightweight sun canopy to provide artificial cover. Remember also that shade will also provide protection from the wind too!
Water runs downhill and this is true for both the steepest valleys and the gentlest sloping fields. Take the time to assess the gradient of the land and try to pitch as high as possible to avoid any risk of flooding, as even just a few puddles of surface water can cause muddy discomfort around the site. Most modern campsites will have drainage systems in place to prevent this is as far as possible, but it’s an essential factor when camping in more basic locations.
Picturesque as it may be to camp near a stream or lake, it’s best to keep a respectful distance from water features as not only can they occasionally flood, but they also are where nuisance insects and pests are likely to be in most abundance. Insects and rodents can cause considerable discomfort through bites, contaminate food and damage the tents themselves, so it’s good advice to stay a sensible distance away from these areas.
It’s essential good practice to respect the camp site and leave it as untouched as possible when packing up and moving on. Not only will this leave the land in good shape for the next group who come along, but it will also ensure that tents and equipment are all packed away without anything being forgotten or left behind. Fire pits should be filled in and properly extinguished, rubbish disposed of appropriately and temporary structures (washing lines, log seats, etc.) dismantled entirely.
You might also find this quick video useful!