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Camp Layout - How to Set Up Camp

The location and the way you set up your Tent can have a huge impact on your Outdoor Camping experience. It can make the difference between an unpleasant sleep and a comfortable night sleep. In this section, we will look at some basic tips in finding a good camp site:

Spotting a Camp Location

Finding a good camp site is essential, especially in difficult conditions. Here are some guidelines in finding a good spot and orienting your Tent:

  • Find a spot that is safe and protected. Stay away from mountain and hill tops as those are the places that will offer the least protection from hard winds and lightning. At the same time, do not pitch your camp on the lowest ground in the area. In case of rains, the water will flow to the lowest ground.

  • Find a spot that is surrounded by natural obstacles which will provide shade in hot conditions, wind breakers in windy conditions, and rain stoppers in rainy conditions. Concentrations of trees and rocks are ideal natural barriers.

  • If possible, camp near a stream, river, or other source of water that you can use for your dishes and cleaning up. However, make sure that you are on higher grounds and that there are no chances of flash floods.

Setting up Camp

Camp Layout - How to Set Up Camp The schematic at the right shows the four general areas that will form your camp site:
  • Tent Area
    In general, you will want to set up your Tent on an even surface of smooth soil or grass that allows you to easily secure your pegs.

    You will want to make sure that your Tent is the highest area in its direct vicinity to keep water from entering your Tent area.

    Set up your Tent firmly and evenly so that it can withstand possible strong winds that may develop overnight. For more information, read our next section on Pitching Tents.

  • Cooking Area
    Unless conditions force you to cook inside you will want to create a special Cooking Area. It should be at least 30 feet from your Tent(s) and is located in a way that the prevailing winds will blow possible ashes and sparks away from the Tent(s) and not towards it.

    As explained in our section on Avoiding Bears, you should keep all your foods in containers and wash all your utensils to prevent attracting bears and other animals. Read our section on Forest Fires for more details on responsible use of fire outdoors.

  • Washing Area
    The washing area is where you will take baths and wash the dishes. Having it near a stream or other water source will save you time and effort. If you are going to use soaps, make sure they are biodegradable and make certain that you wash at least 300 feet away from the nearest water source. Make sure not to leave any trace. Empty soap bottles and other containers are a natural disaster.

  • Toilet Area
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    You will want to keep this area at least a few hundred feet away from your Tent and other camping areas and out of sight of your camping mates and other people. Again, make sure you are at least 300 feet away from a possible water source. Find a place with soft soil that allows you to dig a hole at least 10 inches deep where you can bury your 'contributions'. Use fuel to burn any toilet paper that you might be using. Make sure to cover up your toilet area well before breaking up camp and you might want to cover the area with stones or branches to keep other campers from digging your toilet area.

As mentioned above, having a good camp location is important in order to have a pleasurable Camping experience. Just make sure not to leave anything that may harm the environment.

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Article Comments
Monday 1st December 2008 at 11:41:37 AM  

well i love this page it very edicatinal

Monday 9th March 2009 at 12:50:38 PM  


Tuesday 17th March 2009 at 12:22:37 PM  

i love this site because i like hiking and camping

Sunday 25th October 2009 at 9:46:25 PM  

Thanks for all the tips, this article was really informative and helpful!

Thursday 11th February 2010 at 11:36:26 PM  

Setting up a camping area in one of the vital thing in camping. Every campers should be aware of choosing area whether it is safety or not. Thanks for sharing such tips

Saturday 1st May 2010 at 3:38:35 PM  

I enjoy camping and found your site very interesting. I liked the one on Camp layout.

freak#1 and nonfreak
Wednesday 6th October 2010 at 1:20:28 PM  


Wednesday 9th March 2011 at 1:29:48 PM  

quite helpful for the project i am doing. thanks!

Friday 13th May 2011 at 12:55:34 PM  

OMFG this helped me so much with my stupid pointless project! OMFGGGGGG THANK YOU SO MUCH!
But.. how is a rock a toilet area? Or a washing area? Please respond. My E-Mail is:

Tuesday 12th July 2011 at 12:07:06 AM  

Actually, this picture is wrong. It needs to give the direction the water is traveling. In this picture the camp in inbetween the washing area and the toilet area. The camp should be upstream where you get drinking and cooking water. The washing area is in the middle, down stream from the camp, then the toilet area the furthest down stream. That is unless you like dringing and cooking with other peoples gray and black water. Lets assume that the water is traveling right to left. #3 should be your drinking and cooking water, in between #3 and #4 should be washing dishes and bathing, and #4 should be the toilet. Even if the toilet in in a hole behind the rocks, it''s still going to leach into the water. If you''re going to publish something like this, lets get it right.

Sunday 18th September 2011 at 6:35:05 PM  

This is a great article. i also appreciate the previous comments about the water. I had learnt that many years ago and forgotten!

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