Top Tips for the Perfect Campsite
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Top Tips for the Perfect Campsite

Dave Challis, Outward Bound’s summer adventures pro, shares with us his top tips for pitching a tent and lighting a campfire.

What's that saying again? "The wise man built his house upon the rocks... The wise camper found a comfortable patch of grass"...OK, so I made that up, but you get the point.

Whether it's a quick one-nighter or you're there for the long-haul, it's important to consider the foundations of what makes a comfortable campsite. Here's some top tips to help get you started:

Pitching your tent

Aside from telling you to pick a sheltered spot or put your pegs in at a 45° angle, there are a couple of extra hints that can help super charge your camping experience.

Firstly, take your time and pour yourself a brew, sit down and tune in to your surroundings. Look for some higher ground that is flat and away from any trees, then suss out which way the wind is blowing and where the best views are.

Once you’ve settled, lie down to make sure it’s comfy and check there aren’t any roots, branches or other hidden surprises that might keep you awake. You should also steer clear of anywhere that's liable to flood, like low land, mud or marshes.

Once you're happy, it's time to consult the instructions and make sure you've got everything. Peg your tent out so the front is facing away from the prevailing wind and make sure you use your guy ropes too. Finally, don’t forget to use your air vents, it’s good for air flow, reduces condensation and keeps bad smells at bay.

Lighting your fire

As any Outward Bounder will tell you, campfires are great at bringing people together and an integral part of any campsite. A source of warmth, they also double up as nature's TV, captivating you with roaring flames and crackling wood.

However, just like a real TV, a fire is useless if you don't tune it correctly so listen up!

First things first, before you grab a fire steel or your box of matches, make sure you have permission from the landowner. Once you're sure it's all OK, you can start hunting for some tinder to get things going. Paper, or lint from your tumble dryer burn great, as do plant-based fibres or cotton wool.

Once you've sorted your tinder, collect lots of dry wood that gradually increase in size from twigs as thin as a match, right up to branches the thickness of your forearm.

The next step is to find a spot that’s out of the wind and away from your tent. Build a miniature pyramid from the thinner stuff and then light the tinder in the centre of it.

Slowly feed the fire, but don’t be tempted to overload it! Let each layer catch before adding the next, until you eventually have a roaring fire big enough to toast some marshmallows.

Once you’re done be sure to leave without a trace and tidy up after yourself.

So whether you're camping with your family, mates, school or scout group be sure to put these skills to the test. Or if you're feeling really outgoing, why not join us for a summer adventure of your own? We'll show you some truly wild places to pitch your tent!

Further Reading