Escaping the city, feeling the breeze roll of the mountains, watching the stars pass overhead, camping can be a fantastic way to unwind. Whether for a weekend or a week it’s true that getting back to nature has a calming effect. One of the harder parts though is working out where to set up your tent. It’s perfectly possible to just wander around the bush and set up your tent but it’s just as possible that the spot chosen might have some easily avoided issues that come with it. This post has a bit of information on how to find the best campsite.
The first part of finding the ideal campsite is working out where you’re going to be going. Is it a national park? A caravan park? Maybe you’re just going to your mates backyard? In any case you need to do some research and work out what you can and can’t bring into those environments. Some national parks might let you camp wherever you want, others will have areas just for camping, some places you’ll have to reserve a spot before you arrive (and those places can be booked up a year in advance). In any case this is worth knowing, you don’t want to arrive only to find out you have to reserve a spot, and if you don’t have to reserve a spot make sure you have a backup plan. Camping is a lot more popular than many people realise and having a backup plan means you can keep your trip on rather than having to find a motel. Arriving early is your best bet for getting the best campsite.
If you arrive and your spot is reserved, good luck and happy camping! Most places with set out spots have made them as accommodating as possible. If you’re looking to set up your tent on your own there are a couple of points that are worth considering. Obviously you won’t be able to meet all of these points but meeting as many as possible will ensure a mostly hassle free camp. These points aren’t really in any order, and each person or group might have different preferences so please adjust to your needs and expectations.
Being close to water is important, everyone needs it, but being too close can also cause problems. If you’re too far away, you’ll spend too much of your camping holiday fetching water. If you’re too close, you might get flooded or swarmed by insects that love to hang out near rivers and lakes. Most guides suggest setting your base at least 200ft/60m away from water. This gives you the space to avoid animals that use the water while also being close enough to get water if you need it. If the place you’re camping at has amenities you don’t want to be too close to them either, the smell and the noise at night can be distracting to say the least.
Try to set up in a low wind environment
Setting a tent up can be a struggle sometimes, less so with pop up tents, and it’s made easier when you don’t have to worry about your tent flying away. Some wind is nice but too much wind will make it hard to get anything done. If possible pick a place with a light breeze but not so much that the tent is waving under the pressure. A slight breeze will also help to keep insects away as they tend to follow the wind rather than resist it.
Pick an area that is mostly flat
Even if you try to follow the weather forecast and avoid rain it could happen. Having your tent on a flat area, a small hill or a slight incline away from dips and holes means you won’t have your tent sitting in a pool of rainwater. When your only option is an incline, sleep with your head at the high point for more comfort. If you’ve set up on harder ground the water might build up over time in heavy storms, especially on well worn and compacted campsites. Finding a less traveled spot will help you avoid this. After all, why see the same spot that thousands have seen before, make some unique memories
Avoid the trails
If you can help it you want to set up away from the trails. Being near them is good to keep you from getting lost but they are trails with regular traffic. Keep your ropes away and for your own privacy stay a fair distance away like with water. You’ll sleep better and be more relaxed if you don’t have to worry about people tripping over your tent.
Dodge environmental hazards
Going outside can be quite an adventure but it can also be quite dangerous. You’ve got to be aware of your surroundings before you decided to place your tent to protect your gear and yourself. Here are some easy ones to look out for:
- Large trees – Lonely large trees are more likely to attract lightning and hence fires, both of which are best to avoid.
- Cliffsides – Falling rocks and other debris can make short work of an unwary camper. This is especially important if camping on a mountain. Avalanches and rockslides can come out of nowhere.
- Fallen objects – Sometimes trees and rocks don’t do all of their falling at once, instead being supported by other objects. If there was a storm or some other event it’s possible these objects would come loose and continue on their destructive path.
- Dry rivers – Sometimes rivers flow and sometimes they dry up, it depends on the source which isn’t always nearby. Camp in a higher spot if you have the option, some places have warning signs saying how high the water can be expected to rise so follow that advice.
- Animal Nests – You won’t know what lives in that hole until it’s too late if it’s dangerous so keep moving. In general you should try to avoid interrupting the lives of the local wildlife, most of them don’t come charging into your home.
Make it relaxing
It’s meant to be a holiday after all, keep a loose schedule. You won’t get everything done but having time limits and deadlines is more stressful than it needs to be. A looser schedule means that if something falls through you’ve got time to do your backup activity too. Unless you’re 100% set on one particular aspect a backup means you’ll always have somewhere to go and something to do, right from the start of the holiday. Doing little things at the campsite like remove the rocks from where you intend to set your tent can make your nights that little bit easier too. At the end of the day though it’s your adventure, you know best how to make it enjoyable.
Always keep in mind that the best campsites aren’t made by making space but by finding it. If camping sounds like something you’d like to do feel free to check out the range that Decathlon offers, read some of our other camping guides and have fun.