7 Simple tips on how to set up a tent in the perfect spot
1Practise at home first
This is a must and will save you hours of embarrassing struggle at the campground. It is also an essential exercise in making sure all the parts of your tent are there and correct. Even brand new tents can come with things missing or the wrong components.
Checking your new tent may seem like an unnecessary precaution but it really is a must. On an hiking trip in Iceland a few years ago, my friends pitched their brand new tent for the first time on the night we arrived in the country. Unfortunately they soon discovered that the poles were the wrong size for the tent, and so it was rendered useless. Thankfully it was the night before we set off into the wilderness for 5 days, so they were able to go and buy a whole new tent (with a very steep Icelandic price tag!). Don’t make the same mistake!
2Arrive to the campground early
This greatly increases your choice of the best camping spots and also ensures that you don’t have to put the tent up in the dark.
3Choose the best camping spot on the campground
Take your time to look at all your options before you make a decision. This is your temporary home for a few days so don’t settle for anything but the best that’s available. Consider the following when looking for the best camping pitch:
The toilets – Avoid camping right next to the toilet block, but also don’t go too far from it. This may depend on how much you tend to visit the bathroom in the night. If never, then go further away to avoid being disturbed by others walking past your tent to get there. If frequently then stay a little closer for convenience.
The view – If you plan on hanging out at camp during the day then having a great view will make it all the nicer. Pitches on the edge of the campground usually provide more to look at than just your neighbours’ tents.
Water supply – Filling up water containers and bottles is so much easier if you are not too far from a water supply. However if you are in mosquito season, this might not be as appealing.
Traffic – It may sound silly, but campgrounds have main ‘roads’ in them. And although the average speed of the traffic is probably well below 10 mph, to get the most tranquil setting possible, opt for a camping spot off one of the smaller roads.
4Scope out your potential neighbours
As you explore the campground in search of the perfect spot, discreetly take note of the people nearby. If you’re hoping for a sleep in during the mornings, then maybe avoid being close to the family with young kids! Likewise, if you are planning to stay up late around the campfire then distance yourself from the families and allow them some sleep.
5Assess the sun
Take a moment to note how much sun your camping spot is likely to get and at what times of the day. This depends on the time of year, the climate and your preferences. Will the heat and light of the sun wake you up when it rises at 5am? Or will you be shivering in the shade by 4pm in the afternoon?
6Assess the weather
Never expect the weather to be perfect. Even when the forecast is looking glorious, plan for unexpected changes. So if possible, consider which way the wind is blowing and pitch your tent so that the strongest part is face on into the wind. Make sure there is space to stake out your guy lines and if possible, pitch your tent next to some natural shelter like a hedge or undergrowth, or lower on a slope. You can even park your car close to your tent to provide some extra protection if needed.
7Check out the ground
One of the most important things when choosing the perfect camping spot for your tent is the ground that you intend sleeping on. You can have the best view and the quietest spot ever, but if you are sleeping on uneven ground then none of that will matter. So make sure the ground is not only as flat as possible, but is also free from rocks or tree routes that will make sleeping an unenjoyable event.