Where to Pitch Your Tent
This article focuses on choosing a place to pitch your camp if you're travelling off the beaten track and things you should consider in order to locate the ideal camping spot.
Choosing Flat Ground
We all need a good night's sleep when camping, and whilst your vision of a picturesque camping spot might be filled with grassy meadows and a nearby trickling stream, these sites can often be bumpy and undulating, wet and swarming with bugs and other flying creatures. More comfortable sleeping can be found in areas covered in pine needles or even sand and dirt. You'll also want to pick out a camp area which gives you plenty of space to pitch your tent(s) and is an appropriate place for cooking. One of the best ways to ensure that the ground is flat enough is to get out your sleeping bag and your mattress - simply lay it out on the ground and get in it to see how comfortable it is. This saves you the time and hassle of having to uproot your camp if you subsequently realise that it's not very comfortable after all.
Rain Runs Downhill
Although this would seem to be stating the obvious, it's surprising how often this is overlooked when people decide to pitch their tents. Valleys at the bottom of hills often provide excellent tree cover and protection from the wind but if it rains heavily, you'll literally be in deep water.
Consider the Sun
If it's possible, you should try to pitch camp in a shady spot. A tent in direct contact with the sun can soon turn into an unpleasant sauna. The sun's rays can also cause damage to your tent and can deteriorate the fabric over time.
Try to select a camping spot that has a natural windbreak and place the rear of your tent closer to the windbreak. Wind can be extremely annoying if you're trying to get to sleep and your tent's flapping all night long or the ropes are constantly buzzing and in colder weather, it can drastically reduce the amount of heat you're able to keep inside your tent.
The Water Factor
If you've not brought a lot of water with you, you might be looking to situate your camp near a stream or lake to gain access to readily available water supplies. However, it's important to bear in mind the weather and if rain is forecast, you may end up being woken up by the sound of you and your tent being washed away if the water level rises considerably. Furthermore, if it's warm and you're camping near still water, you'll be accompanied by millions of extra unwanted 'friends' as this setting is the breeding ground for mosquitoes alongside other unwelcome bugs, insects and creepy crawlies. So, whilst you may need to camp near water, don't pitch your tent too close.
Don't Leave Your Mark on the Landscape
Finally, it's important to remember your environmental responsibilities. Before leaving your campsite, do a thorough walk around and make sure you have packed up all of your gear and disposed of all your rubbish appropriately. If there is nowhere to dispose of it safely, you should take it with you until you can find a suitable place to get rid of it. Make sure any fire you have built is completely out and cold and dispose of any excess ash and coals in the correct manner. The general rule is not to leave your 'footprint' when leaving your campsite.