Where Not to Pitch a Tent?

Are you really camping in 2024 without knowing where you can NOT pitch your tent?
Are you really camping in 2024 without knowing where you can NOT pitch your tent?

Everyone dreams of getting out in nature, chilling around a fire, and escaping the daily grind.

But do you know what will ruin the whole vibe?

Picking the wrong place to set up your tent for the night.

We bet that you don’t want to wake up in a crappy tent spot that has you soaked or pinned under a fallen tree before the morning’s even started.

Make sure that doesn’t happen by reading about where you absolutely CANNOT pitch your tent.

Tent Spots to Avoid 101

Dead Tree Zone

Steer clear of areas with dead trees
Steer clear of areas with dead trees

Imagine you’re surrounded by tons of dried-up, rotting trees with loose branches just waiting to fall on you.

Hard pass, right?

Unless you want to play a fun game of tent squish roulette and have widow makers branch splat onto you at 3 am, avoid these.

Water Everywhere

That tiny dip might look flat and harmless when you’re setting up your tent, but wait until it starts raining.

You’ll find yourself floating on an impromptu slip-n-slide mud pit that used to be your tent spot.

Avoid it.

Large Tree Roots

Don't pitch your tent in large tree roots - your back will thank us
Don’t pitch your tent in large tree roots – your back will thank us

Having a bunch of big tree trunks and thick root systems poking up all around your tent just means you’ll be tripping all over the place when you gotta pee at night and you’ll wake up with a sore back the next morning.

Absolutely not worth it.

Let Mother Nature Guide You

Then what’s the easiest way to avoid a cruddy tent spot?

Stop and take a look at what your surroundings are trying to tell you about an area.

Debris Zone

Camping in areas with a lot of natural debris is not the way to go
Camping in areas with a lot of natural debris is not the way to go

If you arrive at a spot and all you see is a ton of sticks, leaves, and dirt piled up in one area, that’s nature’s way of saying, “This spot floods like crazy, and your tent’s getting washed away if you set it up here”. Leave.

The Sounds of Campsites

Heard creepy sounds? Abort mission
Heard creepy sounds? Abort mission

Most importantly, keep your ears tuned in as you scout around.

Hear any creepy creaking from dead trees in one direction? Hard pass.

The rush of flowing water that’s gonna turn into floods? Walk away.

Let those audible warnings steer you away from a bad campsite.

Common Sense is King

Beyond paying attention to your surroundings, all you need is to use common sense to choose a good tent spot.

Give Your Tent Room

Don’t just jam your tent right up against trees, boulders and slopes just because it fits there.

You need space around your tent to move around and not feel totally caged in.

Level is Life

Trying to pitch on an angled, lumpy surface is a one-way ticket to Strugglesville and a horrible night of sliding all over and hugging the slanted ground.

Find a flat, packed area or you’ll be sorry.

Soil Situation

Be mindful of the soil composition when securing your tent
Be mindful of the soil composition when securing your tent

Just like uneven terrain, you don’t want excessively soft, muddy, or rocky soil to set up on either.

Do a footprint test and make sure the ground is solid yet flat before claiming your spot.

Go for Established Zones

Whenever possible, pitch your tent in areas that are already worn and packed down from previous camping to minimize your environmental impact.

The site’s been trammeled, so work with it.

Listen Up

Another great & underrated way of learning more about camping spots to pitch your tent is by talking to (and mostly listening!) seasoned campers and even your parents, who despite having a lot of tent rules and tips, are a lot of experience under their belt that you need to learn from.

Unless you want to end up with a tree on your head, just be humble and talk to them – it’ll be 200% worth it.

Time It Right

Timing is crucial when spotting a right place to pitch a tent
Timing is crucial when spotting a right place to pitch a tent

You can try to use all the tips and tricks in the books, but if you don’t give yourself plenty of time to properly scout and test spots for your shelter in good lighting, you’re just asking for a tent pitching fail:

  • For drive-up camping, get to your site with hours of daylight left to wander and assess different areas

  • For backcountry camping, stop to make camp earlier than you wanted to scout out of your surroundings before the lights go dim

It’s worth taking on a shorter hiking day to ensure you don’t end up just desperately throwing up your tent somewhere sketchy in the last rays of light.

Final Thoughts

A little pre-planning and following the pro tips above can save you from a crappy night of camping. Make sure you put in the work so you don’t become the cautionary tale of camping woes that get told around the fire for years to come.

A rough tent pitch is the type of outdoor memory you just want to avoid making at all costs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it OK to pitch a tent on gravel?

No, pitching a tent on gravel is a big nope. That rocky surface is going to be super uncomfortable to sleep on + good luck getting those tent stakes to stay put. Unless you enjoy feeling like a human burrito roller all night, just find a smoother & more solid spot instead.

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