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Pick a Good Camp Site

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 14 Jun 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Camping Choosing A Campsite Picking Your

Choosing a campsite to will basically be determined by two factors. Firstly, there'll be people who will want to camp on a designated site with plenty of facilities like hot showers and flushing toilets, perhaps with an entertainments club on site and maybe a camp shop for all your provisions. In that case, you will need to do some research to find the right site for you.

However, this article focuses more on choosing a place to pitch your camp if you're travelling off the beaten track and things you should consider in order to locate the ideal camping spot.

Choosing Flat Ground

We all need a good night's sleep when camping, especially if we've been exerting ourselves physically the same day and, whilst your vision of a picturesque camping spot might be filled with grassy meadows and a nearby trickling stream, these sites can often be quite bumpy and undulating, wet and swarming with bugs and other flying creatures. More comfortable sleeping can be found in areas covered in pine needles or even sand and dirt. You'll also want to pick out an area which gives you plenty of space to pitch your tent(s) and is an appropriate place for cooking. One of the best ways to ensure that the ground is flat enough is to get out your sleeping bag and your mattress, if you have one, and simply lay it out on the ground and get in it to see how comfortable it is. This saves you the time and hassle of having to uproot your camp if you subsequently realise that it's not very comfortable after all.

Rain Runs Downhill

Although this would seem to be stating the obvious, it's surprising how often this is overlooked when people decide to pitch their tents. Valleys at the bottom of hills often provide excellent tree cover and protection from the wind but if it rains heavily, you'll literally be in deep water.

Consider the Sun

If it's possible, you should try to pitch camp in a shady spot. A tent in direct contact with the sun can soon turn into an unpleasant sauna. The sun's rays can also cause damage to your tent and can deteriorate the fabric over time.

Wind Factor

Try to select a site that has a natural windbreak and place the rear of your tent closer to the windbreak. Wind can be extremely annoying if you're trying to get to sleep and your tent's flapping all night long or the ropes are constantly buzzing and in colder weather, it can drastically reduce the amount of heat you're able to keep inside your tent which can also make for disturbed sleep.

The Water Factor

If you've not brought a lot of water with you, you might be looking to situate your camp near a stream or lake to gain access to readily available water supplies. However, it's important to bear in mind the weather and if rain is forecast, you may end up being woken up by the sound of you and your tent being washed away if the water level rises considerably. Furthermore, if it's warm and you're camping near still water, you'll be accompanied by millions of extra unwanted 'friends' as this setting is the breeding ground for mosquitoes alongside other unwelcome bugs, insects and creepy crawlies. So, whilst you may need to camp near water, don't pitch your tent too close.

Avoid the Trees

Don't pitch your tent right next to trees, especially dead ones, because of the danger from falling branches and lightning storms although, providing you keep at a safe distance, a wooded area will be a haven for collecting dead wood if you're planning on building a campfire.

Don't Leave Your Mark on the Landscape

Finally, it's important to remember your environmental responsibilities. Before leaving your campsite, do a thorough walk around and make sure you have packed up all of your gear and disposed of all your rubbish appropriately. If there is nowhere to dispose of it safely, you should take it with you until you can find a suitable place to get rid of it. Make sure any fire you have built is completely out and cold and dispose of any excess ash and coals in the correct manner. The general rule is not to leave your 'footprint' when leaving your campsite.

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If you do have to pitch your tent somewhere with sun, think about the orientation. Sun in the evening can be quite pleasant, whereas sun in the morning, especially in the summer, can mean rising earlier than you want. Use your compass to figure out the directions (or look at your watch and the sun to determine it) and site your tent accordingly. It can stop a nasty dawn surprise.
Oopnorth - 14-Jun-12 @ 8:58 AM
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