How To Set Up Your Next Campsite the Right Way

When you’re on a camping trip, your campsite becomes your home away from home. Naturally, you’ll want your home to be comfy and convenient; you also want it to be safe! How do you set up a campsite, so it meets all of these criteria? Read on if you want to know how to set up your next campsite the right way. We provide advice on choosing a campsite and setting it up in a safe, productive, and homey way.

Choose a Site

Before you can set up camp, you need to choose a campsite. Walk around the area and keep an eye out for spots that look like prime campsite locations. Once you come across an area you’d like to camp in, ask yourself: does it have these qualities?

  • Close to a water source, but not so close, it could potentially flood.
  • Far from dead trees, cliffs, the center of open fields, and other areas that can become dangerous during heavy rain and lightning storms.
  • Level ground for easy setup and proper drainage.
  • Uphill so it doesn’t flood when it rains.
  • Close to your car, but far enough away that you can’t hear busy roads.
  • At least 200 feet away from the nearest ravine or trail to prevent water contamination and hikers randomly wandering into your campsite.

Use these suggestions on what to look for to find a safe, convenient, and sustainable area for you to set up camp.

Set Up Camp

Once you choose your campsite, the next thing you’ll want to do is set up your shelter. For most, this will be a tent. Typically, you assemble tents on the ground and secure them using stakes, but there are also rooftop tents that attach to vehicles. If you’re using a rooftop tent like our LOFT, setup is easy and takes just minutes; park your vehicle or kayak trailer on stable ground, mount your tent, untie the latches, lift upward, and secure. It’s quick and hassle-free.

Locate or Set Up a Bathroom

The next thing you’ll want to set up (or find) is a bathroom. Many campsites will have a porta potty or bathroom facilities not far from the main trail. If not, you’ll need to set up your own loo.

Your bathroom area should be located a minimum of 200 feet away from your tent and any water source. Ideally, you should bring your own portable toilet and toiletries. Not only will this make your experience more comfortable, but it will also help keep you and the environment tidy!

Set Up Your Camp Kitchen and Dining Area

Next is your kitchen and dining area. If you want a traditional camping experience, you may opt to cook on a campfire and hang out in your trusty foldable chair. If you’d prefer a more advanced setup, you can set up a camp stove and a portable dining table with chairs to make mealtime feel more like one you’d experience at home. If possible, set up your cooking station, so the smoke wafts downwind; this way, the smell of food is less likely to attract animals to your campsite.

Locate or Set Up a Trash Disposal Area

Take care to store and dispose of your trash correctly, and never leave any garbage behind when you leave. Properly disposing of waste is part of the seven principles of Leave No Trace, which is the key to sustainable, safe-for-the-environment camping. It’s also key to keeping you—and your camp food—safe. Leaving food unattended can attract wild animals, such as pesky raccoons and even formidable bears. This means you’ll need a place to throw out or store any food; ideally, one that’s at least 20 feet away from your campsite.

If you’re camping at more established grounds, you can keep food in your car, leave it at a designated food storage area, or toss it out in one of the many bins along the trail. If these amenities aren’t available, place your food in trash bags or sealed containers and store them in an area 20 feet or more from your campsite and downwind. If you’re worried about animals getting their hands on your grub, you can hang bags of your foodstuffs from a tree limb.

Optional Set Up

Once you’ve set up your shelter, bathroom, dining, and food disposal areas, you can call it quits and start exploring. Or you can personalize your site further using these ideas:

  • Set up a clothesline by stringing a cord between two trees to hang bathing suits, towels, and wet garments.
  • Hang triangle flags, garlands, or streamers around your campsite for a fun, custom touch.
  • Use string or lantern lights to give your campsite a warm glow. Alternatively, use tiki torches for illumination and to keep bugs at bay.
  • Throw down an outdoor rug for somewhere warm and dry to rest your weary feet.
  • Decorate your camp’s dining table with a tablecloth, placemats, and a centerpiece.
  • Make a custom sign for your campsite and stake it in the ground.
  • Hang a cozy hammock between two trees so you can rest and relax.
  • Personalize your tent or camper with blankets, throw pillows, and assorted decor.
  • Not a fan of bugs? Hide from them in an outdoor screen tent with a protective mesh.

So, how do you set up your next campsite the right way? Truth be told, apart from a few general safety rules, there’s no one “correct” way to set up a campsite. The perfect campsite is one that’s set up to be convenient and functional for you. Using these tips on setting up your next campsite, you can make your campsite your personal home away from home.

Do you have any of your own tips for finding and setting up the perfect campsite? Let us and your fellow campers know! And don’t forget to check out the camping products SylvanSport has to offer. We have everything you need to set up your ideal campsite. Our LOFT car rooftop tent is an easy-to-set-up shelter that fits one to two people. It’s convenient, spacious, and comfortable. We also carry privacy tents, camp kitchens, and other great gear to help you set up your camp your way.

How To Set Up Your Next Campsite the Right Way


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