Know How

Choosing a Campsite: 101 Guide for Campsite Selection on the Trek

Dhaarna Kukreja

Last updated: 10-08-2017

Choosing a campsite is like choosing your home.

It is all about choosing a good neighbourhood, proper drainage system, water source and best scenic views around.

Ever wondered how your trek leaders choose a campsite?

There are a lot of factors and careful inspection involved in choosing a campsite.

When trekking along a trek leader or local guide, one can get dependent upon them for choosing an ideal campsite but one would be helpless if one doesn’t know the factors that go into selection of a good campsite.

Choosing a Campsite: 101 Guide for Campsite Selection on the Trek

What are those factors that your trek leader assess before choosing a campsite? Let’s take a look:

1.Know in advance

While trekking in the mountains, you should already plan your itinerary in advance. You should know how much distance you will be covering in a day and where you will be camping at the end of the day.

You should be aware of all the possible campsites on the trail. Using topographical maps is the best way to judge but they are not available for common use. Talk to local guides or shepherds in the mountains. Get a fair idea about the location and ask them if it’s not really occupied by another trekking group.

2.Proximity to Water Source

Just like you need water connection in your home, you need water source near your campsite to carry out all the operations.

You need water to:

  • Drink
  • Cook
  • Wash utensils
  • Carry out your personal business

While choosing a campsite, keep in mind that your water source is running and not stagnant. Standing water may have chances of being polluted with animal carcasses and mosquitos. Better find a running or fresh water stream.

Also, make sure that you keep your water source clean and hygienic. Don’t pollute the water stream with your waste. Do not camp too close to a water source either.

Choosing a Campsite: 101 Guide for Campsite Selection on the Trek

3.Level of the surface

The ground where you decide to camp should be leveled and not steep. You will know the importance of leveled ground in the night while sleeping inside your tent. If the surface has a slope, it will roll you down in the sleep.

Also, when your head and toes are not at the same level, it disrupts the blood circulation in your sleep.

A leveled ground may not always be available but it is desired while choosing a campsite. If a leveled area is not available, then we can easily dig from one side and shift the earth on the other side to create a leveled area. Make sure that you select a very small area, 6’X5’ which would be at the center of the tent, to dig in order to minimize the impact on the trail.


Choose the area of campsite big enough to accommodate your trekking group. Mountains tend to have an irregular surface.  

If you are camping with a large group, choose a leveled ground that can accommodate all the tents. There should be enough water to cater to everyone.

Choosing a Campsite: 101 Guide for Campsite Selection on the Trek

5. Well drained

Your campsite should be elevated so that when it rains, the water does not get accumulated and enter in your tents. We mostly camp either in meadows or on spurs. Never camp near a reentrant on the trail because, in the case of rain, re-entrants carry all the running water and flow can become huge in no time. Getting confused about the spur & re-entrant? Read here to improve your mountain glossary

Make a narrow gorge using your ice axe or shovel around your tent to drain the water out. Don’t let waterlogging be a problem.

6. Toilet Area

Personal Business should be carried far away from the tent. The excreta will invite mosquitoes and flies and will spread the foul smell everywhere.

Select a spot which is far away (at least 50 mt) from the tents & water source and in the downhill direction from your main camp. The rain will wash away the waste into the stream polluting it and making it unfit for human consumption.

Choosing a Campsite: 101 Guide for Campsite Selection on the Trek

7. Wind factor

This is important when you are pitching the tent. The rustles from the wind can disturb you in your sleep.

The door of your tent should not be facing the wind. If you are unable to find the direction of the wind, use a scarf.

Usually, the wind comes from the mountains towards the plains (Katabatic) in the evenings. So, a simple thumb rule is to face your tent downhill.

8. Areas to avoid

Do not tent with dead trees above your tents. Dead trees can cause a fire due to friction. Avoid landslide and avalanche prone areas. There should be no loose rock ledge above your camping site. As discussed earlier as well, re-entrants must always be avoided

Choosing a Campsite: 101 Guide for Campsite Selection on the Trek

Choosing a Campsite: 101 Guide for Campsite Selection on the Trek

Also, keep in mind these small yet important things.

Be punctual

Arrive 2 hours before the sunset at your campsite so that you have ample time to make the arrangements before it gets dark.

If it is a popular trekking destination, reach early and reserve a good spot for yourself before it is taken.

Leave no trace

This is important!

When you are packed and are ready to move to another campsite, make sure you leave no trace behind.If you leave any waste behind, it will not only pollute the surrounding but also attract wild animals creating more ruckus.

Views are nice


You may not have beautiful views from the window back at your home. But at least, you have a good chance at the campsite.

With all these factors taken care of, you will have 100% sure a happy camping experience.

Dhaarna Kukreja

Heart of a writer. Soul of a gypsie. Read more

Add a Comment

* Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.