How to Set Up a Campsite

How to Set Up a Campsite
Though setting up a campsite might seem intuitive, there's more to it than just setting up your tent and finding a place to cook. It's not hard to have a safer, drier and warmer camping experience.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Equipment Trash bags Water
  • Equipment
  • Trash bags
  • Water
Step 1
Find your spot. Seek out a flat, shady spot that is on "high and dry" ground on which to set up your tent. Though that sandy creek bed may look enticing, it's where water will go if it rains. In a desert environment, the threat of flash floods is serious. It may not be raining where you are, but if it's raining upstream, a flood could devastate your campsite and possibly injure or kill those sleeping in a tent. Additionally, if you set up your tent on a slope, you'll be fighting gravity all night, sliding into the sides of the tent or your tent mate. Also check for animal dens, anthills and/or other spots where bugs/animals may dwell.
Step 2
Make sure there is water nearby. If you're at a campsite, find the bathroom and/or faucets; if you're in the wilderness, make sure you find a spring, creek or other water source within walking distance.
Step 3
Find a sheltered area (not your tent) in which to cook, and make sure that area is free of any flammable debris such as bushes or leaves. A sheltered area will make cooking easier because you won't have to worry about the wind whipping away your flame or food. Also, be sure to keep your cooking area far from your tent. This will ensure that animals exploring the smells from your cooking spot won't get too close to your tent. Make sure to keep all food either hung off the ground in bear territory, stored in bins supplied by campgrounds, and/or packed away so as to minimize the opportunity for animals to steal your food.
Step 4
Clean your dishes away from camp. Use cold water and biodegradable soap to minimize the impact on the environment (boiled water will kill plants!). And pack all of your garbage out of reach of animals (by hanging or storing in bins) and away from your tent. Finally, adhere to the "leave no trace" ethic by carrying out all of your garbage.
Step 5
Take care to not create new fire rings when existing ones are nearby, and never put a fire at the base of a rock. You'll l irreversibly change the natural color of the rock by staining it with wood smoke debris. Be sure to keep your fire away from your tent. Make sure to completely put the fire out when you're ready to go to bed, either by drowning it in water or by completely covering it with damp earth.

Tips & Warnings

Set up your campsite before dark. The suggestions in this article are easier to follow in the daylight.

Article Written By Lizzy Scully

Lizzy Scully is a senior contributing editor for Mountain Flyer magazine and the executive director of the nonprofit Girls Education International. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from University of Utah and Master of Science in journalism from Utah State University.

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