A good night's sleep can make or break a wilderness adventure. Choose the wrong spot or set up your tent improperly and you could end up hiking in wet gear, while battling sleep deprivation or coddling a sore back. In the backcountry especially, selecting a good tent site is an important safety exercise.
Although modern tents are user-friendly, they still require patience to assemble, something you may not have when you reach the campsite at the end of a long day. Make sure you know the ins and outs of your tent before you hit the trails---practice assembly at home---and, if possible, read up on your preferred campsite beforehand so you know what to expect in terrain and weather.
Tips & Warnings
If you are using a new tent or one with which you are not familiar, practice setting it up at least once before embarking on your trip.
If possible, time your arrival to guarantee you'll have daylight when setting up camp. Bring a flashlight, preferably one that can be worn on your head, or a lantern in case you end up pitching the tent in the dark.
If your tent has L-shaped pegs, reserve one for hooking and removing the others when taking down the tent. Drive pegs at a 45-degree angle if possible to ensure tent loops won't detach themselves in gusty winds.
Think twice before pitching a tent directly under a tree. Trees may offer shade and some shelter from light rain, but they're also sources of falling debris such as twigs, leaves and bird droppings.
Article Written By Gary Olson
Gary Olson is a freelance writer, editor, photographer and designer with 34 years of experience. His work has appeared in such publications as Sailing, Northwest Living, 5280, The Arizona Republic, The Denver Post and many other newspapers and magazines. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota.