Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Survival Skills: How To Pick the Right Camp Location

Search this blog

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Syndicate

Survivalist
In your Inbox

Enter your email address to get our new post everyday.

May 30, 2012
Survival Skills: How To Pick the Right Camp Location - 5

The location you choose to build a campsite is very important, regardless of your reason for being there. Whether you are camping out for fun, or you are stuck in the middle of nowhere, you want to pick a safe campsite that offers natural advantages against the weather and has ample resources nearby.

I always encourage everyone to look up, look around and look down when surveying a potential site. We look above us for things that could fall down and cause harm. We look around for hazards and protection from the elements. We look down for pests, drainage issues and other problems. The following simple guidelines can help you determine a good place to build a camp. But remember that there is no “perfect” campsite, so don’t spend precious hours wandering around. Pick a fairly decent spot and start building.

Look Up

Avoid places where rocks, leaning trees or large dead limbs could fall on your camp. Also watch out for hornet nests and other pests that might be right in the branches above you. If you are in an evergreen forest, plan a campfire spot that isn’t under a bunch of dead, dry evergreen boughs. Your campfire could light these up and seriously escalate your survival emergency.

Look Around

You should always look for structure that can protect your camp from the weather. Don’t set up shop out in an open field or on a mountaintop where all the weather hits the camp.  
But you don’t want to become smothered either. Don’t build your camp deep in a forest or jungle where it takes a long time to dry out and the air flow is poor. Try to find a place in between, like the eastern or southern edge of a forest or the south- or east-facing side of a hill or ridge. In looking around, we are also checking for hazards. Again, look for bees and other pests. While camping once, a friend and I set up camp after dark. It was a great campsite choice, or so we thought. In the morning, we noticed that the large tree on the edge of the campsite was heavily damaged. On closer inspection, the damage was the claw marks of a bear! We had camped at one of the bear’s marking posts, to which they often return. Yikes! Look around before you set up camp.

Look Down
When we look down, we are checking for many things. Scrape the ground clear of leaves and debris. Look for ant activity in the dirt across your entire shelter spot and the surrounding area. In the Eastern Woodlands, look for half-inch-diameter holes in the ground. These could be entrances to an yellow jacket hive that could contain hundreds or even thousands of bees. Observe the holes for awhile to see if they are active. Also, look for one-inch-diameter holes, which could be full of rodents, or things that eat rodents like rattlesnakes. Be on the lookout for poison ivy, larger animal burrows, sharp roots sticking out of the ground, etc. Also try to find a place with good drainage, where no water will build up or form a stream. Keep your camp at least 100 feet from any body of water. This prevents water pollution and keeps you away from the dampness around the water. It also helps you avoid insects that live around water like mosquitoes, gnats and other pests.

Got a good campsite selection story? Fire away in the comments.

Photo: Mat Honan

Comments (5)

» Write a Comment
Top Rated
All Comments
from mdsulli2 6/21/2012 at 01:03pm

Good post. A good tip is that a flat area of rock or dirt surrounded by grass on a down hill slope is where water settles. Found that out the hard way. Looked like the perfect spot. About 4am the rain run off made it into the tent.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Hansen 6/9/2012 at 10:21am

Hi...

Very interesting post, Tim. Looking for overhead dangers is something I rarely hear about.

What makes it super interesting is that when reading a book about when this area was originally settled, one of the most common means of unfortunate deaths then was by "widowmakers" (falling branches).

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tdmtneer 6/1/2012 at 02:29pm

Never camp next to a stream that could flood after a storm. A flash flood would wash you away in your sleep.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark Orlicky 5/31/2012 at 06:47pm

My girlfriend and I "just had to" get out of the college town for the weekend. We were, of course, late getting going. Campgrounds were full, but we found what looked to be a good spot in the dark and got camp set. About three hours later, we heard this rumbling that kept getting louder and louder...
We had set up our camp next to a train tracks (about 10 yards away) and I've never been so scared and surprised all at once.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from azduane 5/31/2012 at 06:23pm

Out here in the west we are required to camp at least 1/4 mile away from water so we don't disturb the animals that rely on that source. Of course, around some lakes, the permanent camp spots are not necessarily that far away but then we are talking about a large lake versus, say, a stock pond.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Write a Comment Your comment (200 characters or less):

from tdmtneer 6/1/2012 at 02:29pm

Never camp next to a stream that could flood after a storm. A flash flood would wash you away in your sleep.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Hansen 6/9/2012 at 10:21am

Hi...

Very interesting post, Tim. Looking for overhead dangers is something I rarely hear about.

What makes it super interesting is that when reading a book about when this area was originally settled, one of the most common means of unfortunate deaths then was by "widowmakers" (falling branches).

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from azduane 5/31/2012 at 06:23pm

Out here in the west we are required to camp at least 1/4 mile away from water so we don't disturb the animals that rely on that source. Of course, around some lakes, the permanent camp spots are not necessarily that far away but then we are talking about a large lake versus, say, a stock pond.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark Orlicky 5/31/2012 at 06:47pm

My girlfriend and I "just had to" get out of the college town for the weekend. We were, of course, late getting going. Campgrounds were full, but we found what looked to be a good spot in the dark and got camp set. About three hours later, we heard this rumbling that kept getting louder and louder...
We had set up our camp next to a train tracks (about 10 yards away) and I've never been so scared and surprised all at once.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mdsulli2 6/21/2012 at 01:03pm

Good post. A good tip is that a flat area of rock or dirt surrounded by grass on a down hill slope is where water settles. Found that out the hard way. Looked like the perfect spot. About 4am the rain run off made it into the tent.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Write a Comment Your comment (200 characters or less):