Set Your Tent Up Right
Camping is one of our favorite pastimes. It’s tough to beat a few days or a week in a natural setting away from all the hassles of everyday life. Many people understand that.
A 2011 study released by The Outdoor Foundation reported that almost 40 million Americans participated in some form of camping in 2010. That equates to more than 14 percent of Americans over age six. Are you part of the 14 percent? I hope so.
While some people are turned off by the rustic nature of camping and others view setting up camp as too much work. It is not, and doesn’t need to be. Once you’ve established a pattern for camping (which includes packing your vehicle), preparing for and setting up camp is actually quite enjoyable. It’s a pastime the entire family can enjoy.
In an earlier column, I offer a number of suggestions on how and what to pack.
Here I’d like to focus on setting up camp and maintaining your campsite. There are a number of factors to consider. But first I’d like to remind you of a basic tenet of camping:
The best campsites are found, not built.
By this we mean you should look for a site that’s already been used for camping. Minimize your impact on the land. Don’t tramp down pristine land if you don’t have to.
How to set up campThe steps involved in setting up camp can be broken down into two broad categories, Safety and Logistics.
Safety:Avoid setting up camp next to hazards like dead (or dying) trees, power lines, critter holes, loose rock and those areas prone to flash flooding.
If the entire area is a flood plane, pick a spot that has good drainage. You don’t want water pooling around your tent.
Speaking of water, camping ethics recommend that you not set up camp within 200 yards of streams or ponds. This is so you don’t disturb wild game that uses those sources of water.
Also, avoid setting up next to plants and bushes that could cause a problem. Some of these include poison ivy (and related plants) and cacti. While more of a nuisance, these plants can still ruin a day or weekend.
Logistics:Assuming the area is free of obvious hazards, here are some additional suggestions to consider.
Inspect the ground for pebbles, sticks and other sharp objects. You may need to rake or otherwise clear a patch of ground for your tent. If you’re camping on an incline, position your tent so your head will be uphill. That is generally the most comfortable position.
Rarely do you find flat, smooth ground outside established parks and campgrounds. You get to your camping area and find one section that’s bumpy or grooved. Another spot is smooth but at an angle. Which do you choose?
Most people select the bumpy ground because they prefer being on the level. They know their air mattress or other padding will provide a comfortable sleep. Assuming drainage isn’t a factor, this type of decision is more based upon personal preference. Give it some thought when you face this scenario for the first time.
If you’re camping near the bottom of a large hill, walk around to get a feel for the run-off pattern(s). Even light rains can generate small streams for a brief time.
Setting up camp next to a large boulder may seem like a good idea – it creates a natural wind break – but inspect the area above the boulder. Do you see loose rocks? Those could come tumbling down on your head during a storm. Wind whipping around the boulder sometimes causes howling or whistling noises. If you’re a light sleeper, you may consider placing your tent somewhere else.
Trees and shrubs provide some protection from the elements, including a beating sun. Inspect for dead limbs, beehives and critter nests or dens.
Position your tent with the prevailing winds in mind. For rectangular tents, position the narrow side to the wind. If yours is tapered, the tapered side should face the wind. You’re trying to minimize the wind load and therefore overall effect of any winds. Some people prefer to have the door face a non-windy direction.
As for the front door, I like to have it facing the east. I get to view a nice sunrise to start the day, and it seems to warm the tent faster.
After you’ve experienced it, I’m sure you’ll agree that camping out is really quite enjoyable. A few days away with Mother Nature does wonders for the soul and body. When and where are you going to set up camp?
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Related Articles from Badlands Off-road AdventuresGet Staked for Camping! Camp Cooking Use a checklist for Every Outing Break Camp Fast and Easy Cook Anywhere, Anytime With A Campbox Campbox Tips Wine Adds a Nice Touch to Your Outdoor Adventure Tom’s Tips for Tranquil Tenting Tickle The Taste Buds With A Dutch Oven Camping in The Mojave Desert
Did you miss the previous articles?12 Must Have Books for the 4 Wheeler 6 7 Reasons Why Your Spouse Should Learn to Drive Off Road. Maintain Your Edge
September & October Schedule
Customer Appreciation Event is September 30.
Death Valley NP Expedition is October 12-15.
OAUSA Borrego Fest & Amateur Radio Testing is October 19 - 21
Getting Started Driving Off-Road Clinic : LA Area is October 6.
Free Customer Appreciation Event & trail Ride
Don't forget to join us in Hungry Valley SVRA on Sunday September 30th for the FREE customer appreciation event. We have teamed up with 5 of the local 4 Wheel Parts Stores (they are bringing raffle prizes and food). More details are posted on the web site. www.4x4training.com/Adventures/CustAppr.html
You are all invited! Everyone must register so we have enough food on hand - This is big! www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Cust
Getting Started Off-road Driving Clinic - San Diego September 22, 2012
Redondo Beach, CA – Badlands Off-Road Adventures today is launching an additional training location for their “Getting Started Driving Off-Road Clinics”.
Tom Severin, President of Badlands Off-Road Adventures, announced that Badlands Off-Road Adventures will begin conducting monthly clinics in the San Diego Area starting in September 2012.
The Getting Started Driving Off-Road clinic is specifically designed to meet the needs of novice off-highway drivers or someone with a bit of experience who is looking for a more complete understanding. The class covers basic information about 4WD vehicles. The class concentrates on safety and environmental concerns off-road. The bulk of the class is devoted to driving technique and picking lines to get you through a variety of terrain. Students receive a textbook and handouts of the material covered. Some of the topics covered in the class: Off Road Vehicles, How 4WD Works, Driving Technique, Safety, Pre Run Check, Survival & Peace of Mind Kits, Options & Accessories, Getting Unstuck / Winching, Post Trip maintenance, Trail Etiquette & Tread Lightly. This class does not address vehicle build-up options and issues.
The clinic is held in Borrego Springs, CA about 90 miles east of San Diego. Tom said “Our goal is to make it easier for students in San Diego and surrounding counties to attend a clinic on safe off-road driving.”
This is a one-day session. The session includes classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction. More Details...
You can register directly here
Getting Started Off-road Driving Clinic - LA October 06, 2012
The clinic is held in Hungry Valley State Vehicle Recreation Area near Gorman CA. This clinic is specifically designed to meet the needs of novice off-highway drivers or someone with a bit of experience who is looking for a more complete understanding. This is a one-day session. The session includes classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction. More Details...
You can register directly here
Advanced Beginner Clinic October 07
The clinic is held in the El Paso Mountains near Mojave CA. The goal is to help you get a "better feel" for tire placement and to visualize the obstacles as they move into your blind zone. You will gain more behind the wheel experience combined with picking lines. The difficulty level is one step higher than the basic class and you can expect some pin striping. More Details...
You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Basic2
Death Valley October 12-15
This is a 4 day trip on the back roads in Death Valley. We will drive the Panamint Mountains, drive past Badwater Basin (lowest spot in North America), visit Chloride Ghost town, Titus Canyon, check out Ubehebe Crater, Teakettle junction, The Race Track & Lippencott Mine Road, camp at the Warm Springs and leave via Steal Pass up to the high meadows, then take Dedeckera Canyon down to the Eureka Sand Dunes. All four days will see some light to moderate 4-wheeling. Much of the trip is quite remote with random or no cell service.
Check out the details and sign up on the website: http://www.4x4training.com/Adventures/Deathvalley.html
You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Deathvalley
The TDS Sweepstakes Vehicle will be at the Customer Appreciation Event
Volunteer at the Bickel Camp
Friends of last Chance Canyon are looking for additional volunteers to help by camping at the Bickel Camp.
Bickel Camp is a museum in the desert preserved in context with the help of volunteers and the BLM. Located in Last Chance Canyon below famed Burro Schmidt's Tunnel, Bickel Camp is mostly intact because of the help from volunteers. Friends of last Chance Canyon (http://www.tflcc.org) is a non-profit formed to help preserve Bickel Camp and other cabins and artifacts within last Chance Canyon.
Want to spend a week or a weekend in the desert? They are always looking for volunteers to help by camping on site (with or without docent responsibilities). It's fun! And you'll be helping to preserve our California Mining History. There is a motor home on site, a porta-potty and support from volunteers with water and other supplies. Contact Charlie Hattendorf through the website above so you can be scheduled in!
For more information about the Bickel Camp check out Bill Gann's web site. http://www.zyworld.com/billgann/BickelCamphome.htm
The Badlands Off-road Adventures StoreClick here if you cannot see the full store
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.
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Want To Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.
Copyright 2012, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.