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Campsite Selection
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Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
Campsite Selection on 02/01/2011 15:37:01 MST Print View

I just came across this article about campsite selection on sectionhiker and was wondering if anyone had any additional tips. Being new to tarping, I'm particularly interested in any tips specific to selecting a site when using a tarp.

Matthew Zion
(mzion) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
water source on 02/01/2011 16:31:57 MST Print View

I'd have to disagree with being near a water source. These are often the most highly used and impacted sights which kind of contradicts the authors idea of solitude, certainly convenient though. Also depending on the size of the source will cause colder conditions and increased condensation. Not to say I go out of my way to avoid water sources but this is definitely not a central point of choosing a site.

I think picking a sight should include:
-not in a depression where water will drain through or accumulate
-sheltered from the prevailing wind
-off of snow pack if I can help it

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Campsite Selection on 02/01/2011 18:00:30 MST Print View

Camping beside many water sources, especially streams running through fairly narrow valleys will be much colder than even a few hundred feet upslope b/c cold air is funneled down the valley and "sinks" to the lowest spots, usually the river/stream bed. Even finding a small mound/hill could really affect the morning temperature at your campsite.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Re: Campsite Selection on 02/01/2011 20:18:05 MST Print View

You definitely want to stay away from trees that are completely dead or out from under trees with dead branches.

Camping in poison ivy and poison oak would be bad too.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Campsite Selection on 02/01/2011 21:46:40 MST Print View

The article actually states that you should be at least 200 feet from a water source. "Close" doesn't mean right on top, just that you don't have to hike a mile for water!

My criteria for a camp site--(1) safety, (2) avoiding condensation, (3) comfort:

--Well off the trail, at least 1/4 mile, for privacy.
--Not on vegetation, if possible. Pine needles and leaves (unless poison ivy/oak) are great.
--In an area that gets a breeze (keeps bugs away), but sheltered from high winds.
--On a knoll, but not where subject to possible lightning strikes.
--Under a tree if the tree is healthy and not in a location subject to lightning strikes.
--Not within range of dead trees or under dead tree limbs. This is especially a problem in the Rockies where there is extensive bark beetle damage. You may have to camp in a meadow just to be safe! In this case, I don't set up the tent until almost dark and get it down early in the morning in hopes of doing less damage to the vegetation.
--If possible, not down in a creek valley or close to a lake, but up a bit.
--Level but not hollow in the middle where water can collect. I'd rather be on a slope than in a puddle!
In early season, it's better to set up on snow than on mud or on vegetation that's just starting to grow.

Note that some of these are contradictory! Sometimes, you just do whatever you can and grin and bear it!

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Campsite Selection - sloping sites on 02/02/2011 21:31:04 MST Print View

I found that if my campsite slopes gently, it actually feels better to have the foot end slightly elevated rather than my head.

Otherwise, the tips on that site are pretty standard.

While hiking the PCT, I generally chose sites that were pre-used by other people so that I didn't have to wander far from the trail or cause any new damage. I never built a fire and the sites that I chose, although used before me, didn't have fire rings. Instead they were identified by usually four large rocks leftover from holding someone's tent up and a couple of flat rocks that had been used for the stove.

I actually prefer campsites that are away from water. I prefer to grab a little extra water at the last water source I expect for the day and then camp somewhere else. It's usually warmer away from water sources, quieter (sometimes water is really loud), more secluded and I just feel happier sleeping away from water.

The tip about not sleeping on animal trails is a good one. I found a spot to cowboy camp once that was right on top of some big bear tracks. I kind of wasn't paying attention, but when the bears came, I got the heck out of there fast!

Gregory Petliski
(gregpphoto) - F
RE on 02/22/2011 14:00:38 MST Print View

Youre risking the blood pooling in your head if your legs are elevated, I would advise against this or youre gonna wake up one day with a nasty headache!

Dicentra OPW
(dicentra) - F

Locale: PNW
If you plan accordingly... on 02/22/2011 16:17:50 MST Print View

Like getting water at the last available stop for water... There is no need to camp close to water.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Campsite Selection on 02/22/2011 17:48:59 MST Print View

> Camping beside many water sources, especially streams running through fairly narrow valleys will be
> much colder than even a few hundred feet upslope b/c cold air is funneled down the valley and "sinks"
> to the lowest spots,

We call them 'frost hollows' in Australia.


Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
Re: sloping sites on 03/11/2011 14:33:54 MST Print View

Actually, Ray Jardine advocated sleeping with the feet up a little bit after a day's hike in his book. He said it helped to prevent swelling in the legs. I tried it once, and it actually felt pretty good. Of course, you wouldn't want too much slope, then the problem of headaches might be an issue.