Backcountry Tent Camping: Tips for Finding a Campsite

Have you ever been backcountry tent camping? It’s a fun and rewarding experience, but if you’re not prepared, any number of things can go wrong. This is especially true when it comes to choosing a camping location. The last thing you want at the end of a long day of hiking is to spend hours searching for a suitable spot.

To avoid unnecessary stress, check out the following backcountry tent camping tips for finding and setting up the best campsite.

1. Plan Ahead

plan ahead

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The very first step to a successful camping trip is to choose where you are going to camp ahead of time. There are a wide variety of resources to help you find a campsite. Hiking guidebooks, National Park, and National Forests websites, are all good places to look for information regarding the the rules and regulations of a certain area when it comes to backcountry camping.

You may also want to plan the route that you will take to get to your campsite and make a note of it on a map. Consider choosing several locations so that you have a backup if it happens to be occupied. That way, when it comes time to pitch your tent, you won’t be scrambling to find a spot.

2. Basic Camping Tips

200 feet


There are a few rules that you should always follow when camping in the backcountry to ensure both safety and comfort.

  • The Rule of 200 feet: The basic principle of this rule is that everything should be 200 feet away from each other. For example, your tent should be 200 feet away from the trail,dishwashing station, etc.
  • Where to camp: The best campsites have a durable surface like pine needles. Alpine meadows and other fragile areas should be avoided.
  • Test your site: This can be done by placing your sleeping bag on the ground to make sure that you will be comfortable. If you are satisfied, start pitching your tent.

3. Important Considerations

  • Leave no Trace: When setting up your campsite, don’t build windbreaks or cut vegetation. Your goal should be to leave the site in the same or better condition than you found it.
  • Much Ado About Fire: You can usually build a campfire if your location has an established fire ring, if the managing agency allows it, and if conditions are safe. But, you should still check to make sure that its okay. Some places don’t allow fires during certain times of the year, or above certain elevations.
  • Bear Country: When you are camping in bear country, it is wise to be extra cautious. For instance, you may want to take an early dinner break before you pick your campsite. After eating, continue hiking until you are relatively far away from your dinner spot. This will keep the scent of your dinner a safe distance away from your tent.

4. Keep Your Camp Kitchen Clean

When camping in the great outdoors, it’s not uncommon to encounter curious wildlife. They especially love to poke around food. This is why you must make sure that you store your food properly. You should also take precautions when preparing meals — keep all containers closed and never be more than an arm’s length away from your food.

When you’re not cooking, store your food 200 feet away from your dishwashing station and tent. Two options include:

  • A Canister: When using a canister, store it in a place where it won’t roll into a river or down a hill. Consider a location where it won’t be compromised  if a curious creature decides to poke and prod it.
  • The Hang bag: Store your hang bag on a tall and sturdy tree. Use cordage or rope to hang the bag 6 feet away from the trunk of the tree and at least 10 feet in the air.

The Bottom Line

It can be hard to find the best location for your backcountry camping needs, but the above tips will help make things easier. If you have more questions about this topic, leave them in the comments below. Happy Camping!

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