How to Find a Backpacking Campsite

How to Find a Backpacking Campsite

When you are backpacking, you will not always have the luxury of being close to campsites. Often, you will have to locate another remote area to rest for the night. This is referred to as dispersed camping.

When finding your own dispersed camping campsite, it is important to locate an area that is safe, private, and convenient. Here are some things you should look for when deciding on your dispersed campsite:

Flat Clear Land

The first thing you will want to look for when searching for a campsite is level ground clear of plants and debris. It is not comfortable to sleep on an incline. Trust me, I have done that before and did not sleep well. You will want to find land as level as possible to set up your tent.

Additionally, you will want the ground to be clear of rocks, branches, plants, and other debris. Sleeping on a rock can disrupt your sleep and leave your back aching the next day. You do not want to be backpacking with an aching back.

Near Water Source

Water is an essential resource for life, and, unlike when you are home, there is no running water in the wilderness. Some people choose to hike with a lot of water, but this takes up a lot of space and adds a lot of weight to your pack.

Camping near a water source allows you to have easy access to this precious resource. You can purify the water and use if for cooking, drinking, and store it for use later. Just make sure not to camp to close to a water source. Always camp at least 200 ft away.


You will want to camp in a private location away from any hiking or animal trails. This will ensure that you are private and won’t be disturbed by any animals that may be passing through.

Additionally, make sure that your campsite has sufficient coverage and is not visible to any hiking trails. You should keep an eye out for other campsites to avoid any potentially noisy (or nosy) neighbors.

Avoid Hazards

First off, keep an eye out for any dead trees that could potentially fall. These are known as widowmakers because when they fall, they can crush an unsuspecting victim below. Do not camp in the fall range of any unstable trees.

If it is windy out, you will also want to steer clear of any large branches that could fall off the tree and potentially hit you.

Also keep an eye out for any cliffs or hills that you camp by. You want to be aware of potential rock falls that can injure you or worse.

Avoid Fragile Environments

Ideally you want to camp on packed dirt that will not be too affected by a night or two of camping. You want the land to be able to recover after you camp there. Make sure to avoid camping on any plants, moss, or other vegetation. Always practice leaving no trace.

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