Out of all the things that you must prepare for in the outdoors, many overlook the long process that can come with setting up camp. After all, what can be so hard? Pitching a tent, setting up your stove, and getting comfortable after a long day hiking in the backcountry shouldn’t be rocket science. However, for those who are new to backpacking or those who need a little refresher, being reminded how to efficiently set up a campsite can really make your backpacking trip as easy as possible. Just follow these steps, and you’ll have a perfect campsite in no time!
Finding A Spot:
Before you do anything, you must find a good place for setting up camp. Seems obvious? Maybe so, but you’ll be surprised how many people think they can just set up camp anywhere they please. If you’re headed into a national park, there are some public campgrounds that you can use. Keep in mind, though, that there are also many campgrounds that you’ll need a permit for. For more information, check out the Recreation.gov website, and if you’re visiting a local spot, just make sure you check with the appropriate authorities beforehand.
Additionally, make sure your campsite is clean and spacious. Be on the lookout for any wild animals nearby, pay attention to the signs, and remember to be courteous of others that may also be sharing the area.
Know What’s Allowed:
Even if you’re allowed to pitch a tent at your prospective campsite, there might be restrictions on what you can and cannot do. This could be anything from having a bonfire, to bringing your furry friend along. Make sure you check everything, so there are no surprises once you arrive.
Pitch A Tent:
Nowadays, there are many different kinds of tents out there that might not apply to the traditional “pitching a tent” guide. Though, if you’re not bringing along one of those inflatable or freestanding tents, then knowing how to pitch a tent is imperative for setting up camp. While you should of course follow the instructions that come with your specific tent, generally it goes something like this:
- Find a spot that’s clean and flat.
- Lay down your tent’s footprint or cover to protect it from damage.
- Prepare to build your tent in a good position on top of the footprint. Make sure to face the door away from the wind.
- Connect and assemble the poles together, and sleeve them through the tent as required.
- Locate where you will put the stakes, choosing the corners first. Add the other stakes, creating a tight perimeter for the tent. Then, place the stakes.
- Tuck in any lag on the footprint.
- Assemble the tent!
I don’t know about you, but I can think of about a hundred things I’d rather do than be bothered with pitching a tent. Though for some, it’s just part of the fun of setting up camp. That being said, if you are like me and don’t want to spend your whole trek worrying about your setting up your campsite later in the evening, then there are plenty of other options to sleeping in the outdoors comfortably.
Setting Up Camp Kitchens:
Before even thinking about cooking in the backcountry, you have to remember to set up your camp kitchen a good distance away from your sleeping quarters. Mixing food and sleep together in the wilderness can result in a pretty ugly situation, whether you wake up from your dreams with ants crawling on your body or a bear standing over your head.
Find an existing firepit where you can light your fire away from your tent and trees. Have an area to keep wood, and a place to appropriately store food. Make sure food is protected from bears and other animals, and keep it in the shade or in a cooler. Have an area to clean dishes and to let them dry when you’re finished with them.
Create Your Camp Bathroom:
There are a few other things that you can expect to do at your campsite. Besides eating and sleeping, you’ll have to go to the bathroom (unless you’re a super-human). Your campsite bathroom should be set up away from a water source, and if necessary, should be somewhat private. Keep a bag to dispose of tissues nearby and a shovel to dig a hole for you-know-what.
Make Room For A Shower:
Somewhere in your campsite should be a space for you to freshen up after an exhausting day in the outdoors. Whatever your campsite shower entails, have an area to hang up your towel, dispose of wrappers, and set down toiletries.
Customize Your Campsite:
Once you have all the essentials down, it’s time to make your campsite YOUR campsite. Whether you’re staying here just to get some short rest for the night, or you’re planning on camping out with the family for a long weekend, this campsite is your home away from home. While you shouldn’t expect to have all the comforts of your house, there’s nothing wrong with attempting to set up your campsite living room, or an area for the kids to play and the family to hang out.
Remember: Not all campsites are the same. Those who are car camping and those who are backpacking will have their camp set up differently. Most campsites share similarities, but at the end of the day, make it comfortable for yourself and your companions.