How to Set Up a Campsite

What to do if you get stuck camping in the rain. Getty Images / PeopleImages

When you're out camping, it's essential to scope out the best place to set up your tent, kitchen, and bathing area. Safety is the most important thing, so make sure to find a flat area for your tent and fire as well as dispose of any trash and food to avoid attracting wildlife. Once you organize your camp, you're sure to have a fun weekend in the woods.

Look For Relatively High, Level Ground

There's some truth to the saying "high and dry." You should never set up your tent on a slope, or you'll find yourself rolling out of your sleeping bag all night.

You also won't want to arrange your campsite on low ground or you could have flooding problems if it rains.

Check for a Water Source Nearby

Water is essential for camping; you'll need it for all your drinking, cooking, and cleaning up. You don't want to have to walk far with a five-gallon container. Some campgrounds have water pumps either at every campsite or within an easy walk. But if you're backcountry camping, you'll want to know the lay of the land before you go and look for rivers and streams where you could get water. Bring a water purifier and chlorine tablets if you plan on going this route.

Choose a Safe Area for Cooking

When you're dealing with a campfire, you need to be very careful. Locate a flat area—away from any leaves, twigs, or brush that may catch fire—in which to set up your kitchen. Do not cook anything in your tent. When you're done making your meal, make sure to put out the fire.

You never want to leave a campfire unattended or burning for a long amount of time.

Use Eco-Friendly Bath Products

Hot, soapy water is not good for the flora, but there are some green alternatives. Use bio-degradable soap, and only dump gray water in designated areas or where it will do no harm. There are also portable shower bags that are eco-friendly and some of which are even solar-powered.

Don't Forget the Garbage

Always keep a clean campsite. Throw away all trash and keep it gathered away from your tent in a location out of reach of any of the local critters or pests. Also make sure to hang your food in a bag to keep bears or other animals away.

Pick a Campsite With Some Shade

It's nice to have a shady spot to relax in during the heat of the day or while hanging out at the campsite. If you're camping at a place with not much foliage cover (a beach or a meadow, for example), you may want to consider packing a lightweight pop-up tent to block the sunshine. A comfy foldable lawn chair and cooler never hurts, either.