When you arrive at a camp site it’s tempting to get straight to work and start pitching your tent in the first available spot. But it’s worth standing back and checking a few things to make sure you get the best pitch you can. There are a few things to look out for when choosing where to pitch your tent. It can mean the difference between a restful night’s sleep and waking up with a sore head and a sore back.
Slope of the pitch
It’s generally a good plan to look for a pitch that’s as flat as possible. It can be hard to find a flat spot at some camp sites, let along on the side of a hill or in a wood. But having a flat area is advantageous for a good night’s sleep.
If you can’t find a flat area, make sure you align your tent so that you can have your head pointing uphill and the door facing downhill. You might be different, but in general most people find it easier to sleep in line with any slope rather than across it.
Also, of there is heavy rain it is less likely to flow into your tent if the door is facing downhill.
You can never be sure what the weather will be like when you go camping, so it’s a good idea to plan for the worst when you’re picking a spot to pitch your tent. If it’s windy, or you expect it to be over the course of your stay, you should try to point your tent door away form the prevailing wind. This will keep you warmer at night as well as making it easier to cook, and more pleasant to sit out.
If you expect lots of sun then see if you can find a pitch that is provided with at least some shade during the day. Tents can really heat up when the sun is out and it can make it stifling and unpleasant if there is no shade.
Softness / hardness of the floor
How successful you’ll be with this depends on where you’re camping. If you’re camping in the wilderness you may have to make do with whatever vaguely flat spot you can find. But even in a well maintained camp site it’s worth looking out for a few things before laying your tent out.
- Car tracks
It may be you can move your tent a few feet and avoid any of these, or at least avoid having your bed on them. You may also find you can clear a lot of this away before pitching.
If the ground it hard it can be difficult to drive your tent pegs in so make sure you have a mallet.
It can be nearly as important to check what’s overhead if you’re in a wooded area. You don’t want to have twigs and branches dropping on you in the night. Nor do you want pine cone sap dripping on your tent. And you definitely don’t want your tent to become a latrine for the birds.
Distance to amenities
When you first arrive, take a moment to assess the camp site. You can take a brief look around to identify where the important parts of the site are, and build a picture of hat you need to be close to an what you would prefer to further away from.
It’s generally never a good idea to be very close to the toilet block as there will be a lot of passing foot traffic, and the possibility of bad smells.
On the other hand you may want to be close to other amenities. This about the consequences of being close to or distant from:
- Water tap
- Washing up area
- Children’s play area
- Roads / tracks
- Entrance / Exit from site
Proximity to other campers
If you arrive in time it’s also worth taking a moment to assess the nature of other campers. Who are they, what might you expect from them in terms of noise etc.
If you’re camping with children it’s worth camping close to other families as your children may want to play with others, and you may want them within earshot / sight while they do so.
On the other hand, if you’re a group of adults you don’t want your late night chatting to disturb other campers and nor do you want to be awoken at 7am by children playing outside your tent.
Look out for dog poo.
If you have any other ideas about what people should look for when pitching their tents please comment below.