Hiking on overnight adventures are what most people think of when they think hiking but finding the right place to pitch your tent can be hard, especially when your campsite doesn't have specific camping areas. Knowing what areas are good to pitch your tent in and the areas you should avoid are important as nobody likes sleepless nights with the wind shaking your tent or waking up with a damp tent and damp gear.
There are several keys to pitching in the right spot, it's no good finding the perfect spot out of the weather only to find you are kilometres away from water which you need to cook your dinner or make your breakfast. By making sure your campsite meets all of the criteria below you can almost guarantee you are going to wake up feeling great and prepared.
Find flat ground
You will often here this but it remains true, flat ground is best. Finding a clearing in areas where there are few rocks and sharp debris which could pierce the base of your tent is important as once you have a hole in your tent it becomes hard to fix. You want the area to be big enough for you to set up a comfortable campsite where you can have everything you need like your tent for sleeping and an area where you can set up your camp stove to cook your meals.
Beware of Hills and Valleys
A common mistake some newer hikers can make is setting up on one of the two extremes of terrain. These two extremes (Hills and Valleys) are typically not suitable for setting up camp for several reasons. In the case of the hill, you are likely to be very exposed to the elements and in the case of a thunderstorm may be putting yourself in danger. For valleys you can quickly become drenched after heavy rainfall because of the valley acting like a funnel for the water to flood your tent. If you don't have accurate knowledge of the weather forecast then definitely avoid pitching your tent in these areas.
Consider how exposed it is
Exposure is everything when trying to set up your tent, pitching your tent in somewhere with high exposure to the elements can mean a night of uncomfortable sleep. As we said before hilltops are typically exposed to wind and sun which is not ideal for comfortable sleep so try avoid these locations. Getting some cover behind natural structures is a great way to protect your tent from the weather and wind which can mean your picturesque campsite in the middle of a field may not be the best choice.
How close are amenities
Now this is often an afterthought for most hikers when pitching their tent but picking a spot not too far from the things you need is important. Water and other camping facilities can be important and being a fair walk away can be very annoying especially after a long day of walking when you are hungry and ready for a meal.
Leave no Trace
Finally it's always important to care for our environment which can be damaged by the misplaced tent. If you pitch your tent in the right place you should be able to pick it up the next day without leaving a mark but this means avoiding trampling plants, picking up your rubbish and doing your best to leave it how you first saw it. If you want to know all the principles of ‘Leave no Trace’ hiking and how to apply them to your entire hiking experience then visit this article which covers everything you need to know.
So that's a rough guide to pitching your tent! Remember to have a good think about what YOU need from your campsite and where you are going to set it up because where you sleep can decide how ready you are for the next day which as we know is even more important while hiking than at home.
Written by Josh Welch