As the weather warms up across North America, more riders are starting to come out of hibernation. If you, like me, live in one of the colder and wintrier places, you’ll probably already have heard the siren song of your people on any suspiciously warm day this winter. It’s a hopeful time of year, when we have the whole riding season ahead of us—and we’re busy putting our future riding plans in place for the year. 

If some of those plans involve moto camping for the first time, then YouTuber Dork in the Road put together a short video to help first-time campers out with one of the most basic questions. Say you’re ready to set up camp for the night, and you think you’ve found a good spot. How do you choose where to actually put your tent? For anyone who didn’t grow up camping regularly (or for whom those scouting years are well out of memory), he lists some key points to consider. 

Flat ground is a nice thing, he says, but it’s not the only thing. What’s on that ground? Are there remains of a decomposing animal nearby, for example? Did other campers come through and leave a bunch of trash, debris, and ashes from a spent fire? Are there blackberry brambles, sharp sticks, or other stuff that you don’t want underneath your tent footprint or tarp? How much time and effort do you want to spend clearing away debris before you set up your tent?  

Another extremely important point to consider is where the rain is going to go, if it rains. If you’ve found a nice, flat spot to pitch your tent, but it’s in a valley and the rain and damp are going to collect there, it’s not a great choice. A gentle slope can be an OK camping choice, as long as you keep your head uphill and perpendicular to the hill so the blood doesn’t rush to your head while you’re trying to sleep, and you’re also not fighting gravity trying to roll you away all night.  

What about proximity to the fire? There are many schools of thought on where you want to put your tent in that regard, says DitR. Depending on where you’re camping, bears and other wildlife may be more or less of a problem—and what you do with regard to food, food storage, fire activity, tent placement, and just about everything to do with choosing your campsite will probably involve a good deal of local wildlife consideration. If you’re unfamiliar with the local area, do some research and talk to folks who are (particularly campers) as part of your preparation process.  

Two other points that DitR didn’t address in this video, but later added in a pinned comment on his own video, are that you should also look up when you’re considering tent placement. Avoid branches or other widowmakers that could fall on you in your sleep. If it looks sketchy, choose a different spot. Sun is also a consideration, and where it’s going to rise and set in relation to where your tent is, and also how much shade you might have. 

Do you have any great tent site selection advice for new campers? What do you wish you’d known about campsite and tent site selection before you started camping? Let us know in the comments! 

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