Organize Your Campsite With These Tips
When I was 10 years old I picked up a book that changed my life forever. At a free book giveaway at school, I walked up to a table and looked over hundreds of books until one caught my eye. It was My Side of the Mountain by Jean George. Reading about Sam Gribleys adventures in the Catskill Mountains ignited my passion for adventures in wild places. What started your passion for adventure in the outdoors?
At 13 our family took a trip from Michigan out to Boston. On the way out my dad had a “surprise,” undisclosed location that we were going to camp for the night. Traveling through New York and watching roadsigns I quickly discovered we were headed into the Catskills. That night we set up camp right at the base of the mountain.
Tent placement wasn’t even on our radar as we set up camp. It wasn’t till about 2 AM that I realized maybe we should have found a level spot for the tent. Every hour on the hour I slid from the top of the tent down to the bottom, only to wake up, crawl back to the top, fall asleep, and slide back down again and again. It was a fun experience, but man I was tired the next day. The Catskills were beautiful, and I learned a valuable lesson in those mountains, a well-planned and organized campsite is key to getting the most out of your camping adventures.
Choosing A Great Campsite
Whether you are choosing a designated campsite in a campground or a campsite out in the wilderness it always helps to do a little recon first. Be sure to choose a campsite that is:
- Safe from strong prevailing winds. Look for an area that has hills or trees that block strong breezes. Always place the door of your tent away from the direction of the prevailing wind.
- Free from deadfalls. Think you found the perfect spot? Look up and make sure there are no hanging dead limbs that can fall on your camp. They are called deadfalls for a reason! Let’s not find out why.
- Close to a water source. Water is something you will use to drink and wash laundry and dishes. Water is used often so don’t use all of your time in the wild walking to find it.
- High and dry. Choose a site that is above the water table. We want rainwater running away from our tent, not down into it.
- Flat. Your site doesn’t have to be completely flat, but if you are pitching a tent be sure you have a flat area to put it.
A Safe Layout For Your Campsite
Laying out your campsite in a safe way makes for ease of use and peace of mind while in the outdoors. If you happen to be far from civilization or have kids with you, you don’t want to mess with injuries. Keep these tips in mind for your campsite’s layout:
- Keep your campfire an appropriate distance from your tent.
- Don’t put your campfire in an area that you constantly have to cross through to get to the rest of the camp. No one wants to fall in hot coals on the way to the latrine.
- If you are digging a latrine make sure it is downwind from your campsite. Keep it about 100 yards away for privacy. If you are going to be at your campsite for multiple nights tie some paracord from your tent out to the latrine so it is easy to find in the dark. No one wants to get lost while they are half asleep in the middle of the night.
- Establish fixed locations where you keep gear. For example, all the cooking utensils are kept by the picnic table. Fishing gear is all placed by the old oak tree. The easier it is to find things, the happier your time will be. Keep your campsite picked up.
- Bring plenty of lighting. Be sure to tag any tent stakes and chords with reflective tape to avoid tripping and/or pulling the tent down.
- If there are no bear boxes it is a great idea to keep items that give off any smell at least 50 yards from the campsite. Preferably not by the latrine. Hang items 15 feet in the air and 5 feet from the tree trunk so a standing/climbing bear can’t reach it.
- Have specific storage designated for your trash. Keeping your trash outside of the campsite at night as well.
Organizing Campsite Gear
- Organize gear in clear totes according to item category. A clear tote means you don’t have to sift through all of your belongings every time you need something.
- Color code your totes and dry bags. It’s really easy to tell a kid, “go put this iron skillet in the tote with the green lid,” or sticker on it. For some this is overkill, but for others, it makes camp a lot more fun and organized.
- Be sure to have dry bags for storage of clothing and bedding items. Having dry items is key to happiness in the wild. No one wants to be wet and cold while camping.
- Keep anything you will need in a bear box in its own bags or containers. Bathroom items, food items, etc. Be sure the container these items are kept in will fit in the bear box. Special Note: Grizzly Coolers are BEAR PROOF!
An Organized Campsite Is A Happy Campsite
It might sound like something Mary Poppins would say, but seriously “A well-thought-out and organized campsite is a happy campsite!” We hope you can avoid common mistakes and increase your fun at camp with these simple campsite tips! Happy Camping!