Updated: Nov 10, 2022
When picking a place to hike, where you camp is important. Without a good camp and a good night of sleep a hike can become not much fun, so what are some of the things you should be looking out for when deciding on a campsite?
1. Make sure it’s on flat ground.
Flat ground is one of the most important parts of a campsite and can make or break a hike. Some tents can be very hard to set up on a slope and even when you've set them up, it can still end up keeping you awake all night because of how uncomfortable it may be.
A good night of sleep is always important but even more so while hiking so paying attention to where you are pitching is a must. Most campsites will have some flatter areas but they can often be the first snapped up by fellow hikers on the trail so definitely watch out when planning where you are going to camp.
A campsite should never be perfectly flat because after all, this is nature and nothing is perfect but simply taking a look at some trip reports and photos prior can greatly help you understand what the site is like before you arrive.
2. Find the basic facilities.
Turning up to a campsite that has no facilities is never good and can ruin a great day of hiking so it's important to look beforehand at what facilities that campsite has. The most important facilities you might want are toilets and fire-pits but showers and other facilities can also be important depending on what kind of hike you are doing.
Most campsites have very limited facilities so don't expect luxury because you almost certainly won't find it but do have a think about some basic facilities you might need.
Once you know what you want/need, do some research on what facilities the camp has by reading trip reports and visiting local parks agencies websites so you are not left disappointed.
3. Have a fresh water source close to camp.
Water is undeniably the most important part of any hike but actually getting water isn’t always as simple as you think. When hiking it is suggested that you take 2-3 litres of water with you so that you have enough to drink but finding it along the way is hard in some locations and that's why a campsite with a water source is very important.
This water source can come from many different sources but the most convenient is a source that you can easily get from your campsite to do all your cooking and cleaning with. On top of the cooking and cleaning a good source of water can fill all your bottles for the following days which is also very important to avoid dehydration and hyperthermia.
4. Make sure your campsite gives you cover.
Weather is hard to plan for but it is something you must take into consideration when planning your next hike. A campsite with cover is important as it can protect you from many extreme weather events.
Trees can provide great protections from rain and huge storms alongside bringing you much needed shade on extremely hot days. Through this cover is great you do want to keep some distance from trees encase they decide to break during those windy nights.
Other forms of cover that can be provided at campsites are hike shelters or huts, these shelters often have benches and tables and can also sometime have a map making it easy to navigate with a bigger map that tells you exactly where you are. Remember that not all trails have these features so that is why it is important to check before you set off.
5. Look for a campsite with a clearing.
This may sound in direct contradiction to my last point but this one is important and directly connects with the previous 'key'. When placing your camp it is important you strike the right balance between cover and clearing.
You can have a campsite with cover but it may not offer much space to camp and while somewhere with a completely clear surroundings may leave you venerable gusty winds.
As we spoke about earlier, having a clearing around your campsite also helps make your campfires safer and reduces the risk of windy conditions breaking any branches while you get your much needed, good, long night of sleep.
So those are the keys to a good campsite and they can help set you up for success when pitching your tent at a campsite on the trail.
If you are looking for great overnight hikes to try these newly learnt tips on then we have tons available in our find a hike area. If you need help packing for an overnight adventure then we some ready to go packing lists to help you jump right into your next adventure.
Written by Josh Welch