Beginner’s Guide To Campsite Set-Up

January 03, 2020

Beginner’s Guide To Campsite Set-Up

After several weeks of planning and you finally arrive at your camping destination. All of a sudden, you feel that you are stuck! You don’t know where to start with setting up the campsite. This situation is something many first-time or beginner campers encounter. Despite doing a lot of planning and spending a lot of time researching and finding the right gear, many forget about this equally important, if not more, aspect of camping.

There are several factors that need to be considered to make sure that your campsite is both safe and comfortable. Once you plan ahead, setting up your camp right will be easier than you think. Here are some important tips to keep in mind before you head out for your camping adventure.

Choosing a Campsite Location

One of the most fundamental aspect of setting up a campsite is choosing the right location. One thing that you should remember is to not rush making decisions of your campsite location. You can determine the best campsite location by taking into consideration the following elements:


Regardless of where you choose to camp, at an established campground or in the wild, you need to check and see if there are potential risks to your safety. For instance, it is common for campers to look for areas covered by trees, for the shade and to stay protected from damaging winds. However, there might be trees that drop dead limbs all of a sudden, which can be extremely damaging not just for your setup, but can also physically harm you. Some other points to remember are:

  • Choose a location that is leveled and relatively high. If you choose an area that has even a gentle slope, you not only risk rolling out of your sleeping bag during the night, but may also face floods if it rains.
  • Once you reach the location, look for signs of mud or water marks to know if there has been flooding in the area previously. If you find such signs, it is definitely not a safe place to set up your campsite.
  • Make sure that you set up your tent away from any animal and hiking trails in order to not be disturbed during the night.

Yes, it may seem quite challenging to balance all these factors when choosing a campsite. But, all that is required is some common sense and planning. Before leaving, study the weather forecast for the whole week, check the tide tables, and also learn about the commonly found tree species to know their dying period.

Water Source

Water is extremely essential for all camping activities, from drinking to cooking and more. Choose a campsite that gives you access to fresh water without having to walk a long way. Look for springs or streams and set up your campsite at a short distance from the same. After all, you wouldn’t want to walk for hours with a huge container every single day.

Setting Up a Tent

Once you choose the perfect location to set up a campsite, the next step is to pitch a tent. If you are RVing, then this would be an easy process. However, in the case of tent camping, there are some points you should remember:

  • Find a place that is large and flat to pitch your tent.
  • Remove pinecones, rocks, sticks, and any other debris you find at the spot. This is important because, in addition to making you uncomfortable while sleeping, these objects can also damage your tent.
  • Place the tent in such a way that your head remains on the uphill while sleeping.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the T while setting up a tent.

Once your tent is set up, place your pillows, sleeping bag, clothes, and other items you want to keep dry inside the tent. However, when storing items inside the tent, make sure that they don’t touch the walls in order to prevent them from getting wet.

Remember, NEVER store food inside the tent. The reason for this is obvious; if you happen to camp in bear country, you are likely to attract bears, and could get seriously hurt. Even if not, the smell of food can attract rodents into your tent.

Fire Place Setup

Starting a fire at your campsite is essential not just for cooking, but also for staying warm during cold nights. It can also be a great spot to spend some relaxing time after a long walk to reach the campsite. While setting up the camp fire, make sure that it is at a decent distance from your tent to prevent accidents. If you can, dig a fire pit; this will help contain the embers.

Toilet Setup

If you are camping in an established campground, first locate the toilets and make sure that they are within easy walking distance from your campsite. Even in this case, you cannot always be sure that there will be hand-washing or toilet paper facilities. Therefore, it is safe to carry your own hand wash or hand sanitizer and toilet paper.

If you are camping in the wild, you need to choose a toilet area around 200 feet away from your tent, for both comfort and privacy. Make sure that it is away from water sources and trails. And when it comes to defecating, make sure that you follow the regulations in that particular region. Bury the waste several inches below, and retain any used toilet paper and other hygiene items to dispose in the trash later.

Trash Disposal

One of the most important rules of camping is to always maintain a clean campsite. Whether you stay in a single camping location or will be constantly on the move, you will produce trash. Therefore, make sure that you carry a large trash bag with you to hold all the rubbish you produce. If you are camping in a bear prone area, you will have to hand your trash bag at least 12 feet high up from the ground, at a distance of at least 200 feet from your campsite.

At first, all of this can seem like too much information to grasp. But, you will find the process getting easier with experience. Go camping trips, both short and long, and practice setting up your campsite. Each time, you are sure to learn something new that works best for you.

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