Choosing a Campsite
Choose even surfaces. It might surprise you to learn that the most comfortable sleeping spot isn't a soft meadow (which can be bumpy, wet, and mosquito-infested). Instead, look for forest duff or pine needlesor even mineral soil, sand, or gravel. On a mattress, you'll find that it's more comfortable to be camped on a hard, flat surface that a soft, bumpy one.
Spend a little time. Sometimes it's hard to find a flat spot. The ground might be too rocky or hummocky or densely vegetated. Once you've spotted a possible home for the night, lay out your groundcloth and lie down to check out the slope and whether there are big protruding rocks that will poke you all night long.
Look for overhead dangers. These include the possibility of rock-fall from a scree-slope and widow-makers (dead trees that have started to fall but are held in place by other trees).
Drainage. Choose sites that will drain well, even in a downpour. This means avoiding flat areas that lie in slight depressionsespecially on non-porous, hard-packed soil. In dry country, avoid flash-flood zones, like the sandy creekbed of a canyon.
Bug-free sleep. Mosquitoes are worst on a warm, humid night, especially if there is no breeze. Heading for an exposed knoll or a wind tunnel (look for a saddle between two hills) might find you a breezy spot.
Windy nights. On very windy nights, you'll want the wind at the back of your tent. If possible, hide in a clump of bushes, behind a rock redoubt. When storms threaten, give up comfort for safetychoose a protected spot over a flat one. And batten down. A calm evening can become a windy night. Set up your tent right the first time, with firmly planted stakes and taut guylines. When the weather changes at 2 a.m., you can roll over and go back to sleep, rather than having to get up and fix things.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication