Setting up camp while hiking

Hiking and camping go hand in hand, setting up a comfortable home away from home has a big part in making you feel comfortable out in the wilderness or even a campsite. In this article I take you through my steps for it.

Order of business while setting up camp

  • Pick the right spot
  • Get out and sweep the spot and your surroundings
  • Set your tent up
  • Get your sleeping spot in order
  • Relax and decompress

Picking the right spot to set up camp for the night

In order to pick the right spot for setting up your tent you need to take in account a couple of idea’s. First of all look above you to check for any widow makers from trees around the camp site.

Widow makers are dead tree limbs that are still standing but can fall down in heavy winds or rains. Or just when it is their time to fall. Avoid at all costs to set up your tent beneath dead tree limbs or trees. They are not called widow makers for nothing.

Next check to see if the spot does not lay on a trail or just on the trail, the general rule of thumb is to be 100 yards away from a trail. This to not be directly on a trail and blocking other hikers or traffic. Some trails and spots are the exception and read any documentation for a specific trail to find the rules or directions.

Up next is to see if there are no game trails walking through or near your campsite for the night, last thing you want is to have a meandering critter poke its head in your tent at night. Game trails and tracks should be paid attention to while hiking in general.

Sweep the vicinity for resources and more

If you are going to go camping and hiking it is important to locate a place to get some more water. Carrying a water filter helps a great deal in being less dependant on water from non natural sources. But it still helps to pay attention to where you are getting your water.

Look out for cattle and sheep that may be upstream and any dead animals that are in or near your water source. Not the best idea to drink from those sources.

Look around for firewood if you are going to make a fire, campfires are illegal in most places. So read up on the rules and guidelines for that in your local place. Campfire wood should be readily available not to far away from camp. And gather 5 times more when you think you have gathered enough firewood.

On of the trips to Scotland. Camping at a loch.

In Scandinavia it is allowed to wild camp but there are some rules in place, pay attention to any houses, buildings or signs nearby. You should be 150 meters away from any commercial or residential building before thinking about putting up your tent.

Walking a wide circle around your campsite will make sure that everything is where it needs to be and perhaps if there is a better spot right next to you.

Sleeping in a small valley or low point should be avoided in most cases as water sinks and streams to the lower points.

Setting your tent up

Setting up your tent should not take to long, practice it at home or near you to get acquainted to your tent. Learn how to set it up in the dark with a headlight and get it squared away. This will make the tent setup and breaking down much easier when you are hungry or tired while out on trail after a long day of hiking.

Pay attention to any sharp stones or sticks while setting your tent up on top of that. And always use a tarp under your tent while hiking. If you want to read more about that subject I recommend reading that article.

A very important point while starting to set up your tent is to make sure that the ground is level, and if you can not avoid that then make sure your head is at the highest point! If you do not put your head up then you can welcome a screaming headache in the morning.

After you have setup the basis of your tent take a look at the weather, if you know there is a storm or high winds coming take out your storm lines and secure your tent. This will prevent you having to scramble around in the dark with high winds whipping you and your gear around.

The same goes for your sleeping gear.

Get your sleeping gear in order

In the bottom part of my backpack is always my sleeping system. I have everything in my Schnozzle bag or drybag to pump up my air mattress so I pull that out in one go.

After I take everything out and lay it out on my tarp, starting with the air mattress I pump that up first. Next I take my down sleeping bag out and reconnect the zipper part way. This makes getting in a lot easier and prevents having to screw around with that in the dark or with your headlight. Down sleeping bags take a while to loft up so I usually let it do its thing while doing other stuff around camp.

Next is my pillow and clothing bag that I lay out at the head of my sleeping bag. The pillow and clothing bag together act as my pillow. And you may want to put on some sleeping clothes so its easier to have them on hand in stead of still in your backpack.

Relax and decompress

After all those steps to ensure you have a good night while hiking is to relax and decompress! Take out your favorite book, smartphone to listen to some music, watch a movie or simply stare at the sights of nature. How you spend those hours are up to you. If you are camping with multiple hikers now is the time to tell trail stories, complain about the weather or a stubborn blister. And to simply enjoy each others company.

Hiking is all about walking and getting to the trail end, but it is also in a large part a relaxing event that escapes you from the busy day to day life cycle. If you bring that stuff with you on hiking trips you will not enjoy it as much as you should. So try to keep that in mind that you are there for fun. And not for your job or responsibilities.

Happy hiking and hike for purpose!

I'm Frank, the main guy and owner of this website. Loves hiking, gear and bushcraft. And can get quite nerdy about them. In the woods several times a week preparing for my next hike. Always searching for another hill, which is quite difficult in the Netherlands. That's why I search around several countries. More about me on the about page.

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