A 10-Step Guide To Building A Safe Campsite

Despite the 2020–2021 global health limitations, approximately 50 million Americans went camping. And now that people have more freedom to go outside, campsites anticipate an even greater influx of visitors.  

It’s possible that you, too, are eager to explore the wilderness. However, you can’t simply set up a tent in the woods and call it a day. You should be aware of many precautions to have a safe campsite. That said, here’s a helpful guide before you go camping anytime soon.

10 Tips to Building a Safe Campsite

  1. Use High-Quality Tents
  2. Choose Flat Land with Many Trees
  3. Pay Attention to the Weather
  4. Pack a Well-Stocked First Aid Kit
  5. Pick Sites with Near-by Services
  6. Be Wary of Wildlife
  7. Have a Designated Trash Area
  8. Build a Safe Campfire
  9. Keep the Site Bug Free
  10. Stay Alert at All Times

1. Use High-Quality Tents

Many campers prefer tents over recreational vehicles due to their affordability and portability. They come in many sizes and colors, too. So, there’s bound to be one that’ll fit your preferences. However, if you want to ensure a secure shelter, your tent must be high-quality. It should also be spacious enough to fit everyone in your camping party. For example, military shelter systems are suitable for families and adventure groups since they are safe and durable. 

It would be best to take your time browsing for tents online or at an outdoor gear shop. Read previous customer feedback and product reviews to get an idea of what you’re getting. At the very least, your tent should have the following qualities:

  • Leak-proof
  • Tear-proof
  • Well-ventilated
  • Waterproof
  • Fireproof
  • Sturdy zippers and poles
  • Easy to setup

A low-cost tent may be appealing if this is your first time camping. However, you will fare better outdoors if you invest in a high-quality shelter. One of the last things you want while camping is a flimsy tent that keeps blowing away or falling apart.

2. Choose Flat Land With Many Trees

Most tents have durable poles and pegs you can hammer into the ground to stabilize the structure. However, that doesn’t mean you can place your tent anywhere. A shelter is only safe if it’s on stable ground. So, choose the flattest patch of land in the campsite to set up your tents. 

Remember to avoid building your tent on uneven or sloped grounds. Some experienced campers can do it, but it may be uncomfortable for you. It would be best if you noted that when it rains, flat ground is significantly safer and less likely to damage the stability of your tent. 

Furthermore, it is preferable if your chosen campsite has numerous tall trees because they protect you from strong winds and provide lots of shade. However, ensure sure the trees near you are in good health, as dead or dying trees can fall on your campsite and inflict serious harm.

3. Pay Attention To The Weather

Since you’ll be staying outdoors for the most part, you’ll be subject to the elements. Heavy rains, snow, and strong winds are a camper’s familiar foes. So, you must do a weather check before going camping.  

Keep up with weather forecasts on any reputable news outlet during the week of your trip. Then on the day itself, recheck the prediction before you leave home. The weather can change drastically in a couple of hours. Thus, it’s better to be ready for any possibility.  

As a precaution, pack your bags at least a month in advance. Bring all your camping essentials for any weather. If the weather changes throughout the day, you’ll be prepared.  

4. Pack A Well-Stocked First Aid Kit

If you’re going somewhere away from urban areas, you must never forget to bring a first aid kit. Even if a clinic or hospital is nearby, performing first aid is necessary anytime an accident occurs. Therefore, it would be best to have a complete kit on your camping trip.

A camper’s first aid kit should include the following items:

  • Adhesive bandages in different shapes and sizes
  • Antihistamines
  • Antiseptic creams
  • Cutting tools (knife and scissors)
  • Eye drops
  • Gauze pads/rolls
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Moleskin
  • Pain medicine
  • Portable first aid splint
  • Safety pins
  • Sterile wipes
  • Tweezers

You may also pack additional items such as prescription medicine and EpiPens for your companions who need them. Sunscreen protects your skin from sunburn, even when camping out in cloudy weather. If anyone gets a mild burn, aloe vera gel will soothe the pain until the injured person receives medical treatment.

Before you leave, make an inventory of everything you need to have and put it in your first aid kit. After your camping trip, please take note of all the contents used so you can replenish or replace them for your next adventure.

5. Pick Sites With Nearby Services

People think camping is a wholly off-the-grid activity that you do miles away from civilization. However, some campers continue to do so. Although in recent years, some have preferred glamping for its convenience while still enjoying the outdoors.     

side view of white glamping tent on wooden deck in green meadow surrounded by fir tree forest at sunrise

Pick campsites close to establishments like convenience stores. Keep in mind that being near a town seems counterintuitive if you’re camping, as your safety and comfort must be a top priority. For instance, a store can provide a charging station if you need electricity for your devices. They may also offer resources such as a map and a landline phone to make an emergency call if necessary. 

Typically, many campsites have limited to no network coverage. So, connecting to the internet might be challenging. Check for nearby amenities and services if your camp is in a rural area. In addition, it’s best to find the nearest hospital and police station in case something unfortunate happens. 

6. Be Wary Of Wildlife

Most campsites are teeming with wild animals. Being close to wildlife is exciting, but it also poses risks. Birds, rodents, and the occasional fox and bear are common. When not provoked, they are generally harmless. However, animals are unpredictable and may injure or ruin your camp without warning.

Camping near the trails will keep the wild animals at bay. Any location with high foot traffic is ideal. Numerous animals prefer staying in tall grasses and away from humans. Snakes, in particular, avoid areas where they can be seen. Moreover, you can also wear closed boots and long pants to protect yourself from bites. You should also ensure the smoke is directed downward when cooking over an open flame or on a grill to prevent luring in nearby animals. 

As an additional tip, store your food in the car and only take it out when it’s time to eat. You should never leave food unattended in the camp. In addition, if you’ve traveled to the campsite without a car, securing your tent’s zippers and keeping all food inside is crucial. A hungry raccoon may stop to sniff around, but it’ll eventually leave if it cannot access it.

7. Have A Designated Trash Area

Most campsites are designated wildlife preserves home to various endemic and exotic plant and animal species. As such, it’s crucial to keep the surroundings clean. You should check if any waste management regulations are in place on the premises. If you stick to them, you’ll spend less time cleaning up garbage and more time having fun at your campsite. 

The absence of regulations for trash removal does not absolve you of the responsibility to keep the area clean. Remember that food waste can attract animals. Thus, it poses a risk if it’s too close to you. To solve this issue, mark your designated trash area at least 20 feet away from your tent. It may still lure a bear or two, but it’ll be too far away to cause any harm to your camp. 

8. Build A Safe Campfire

If you plan on having a campfire, your campsite should be near a water supply. Even though fire can be challenging to manage, it’s still an element you can keep under control. When building your campfire, keep it at least 15 feet away from anything flammable, like grass and fallen branches. To start a fire, gather your tinder, kindling, and fuel on the ground. Avoid cutting down any living or dead trees, as doing so will disrupt the animals’ habitat. 

Your campsite must be in proximity to a natural or artificial water supply. Remember that the water you bring on your camping is only for consumption. You can use lake water or a nearby pump to wash items and put out flames. Maintaining a bonfire at a low, steady level prevents the need to add water constantly. If the flame is too weak, add some kindling and oxygen.

9. Keep The Site Bug-Free

Unless you’re camping in Antarctica, most campers often encounter various insects. If you’re well-prepared, you can still enjoy a day out in the wilderness without a bug always buzzing by your ear. The first thing you can do is spray an eco-friendly insect repellent around the campsite. Natural herbs and substances like lemongrass and citronella oil are excellent at keeping bugs away. Notably, campfire smoke is also a great alternative.   

Another way to maintain a bug-free campsite is to dispose of your waste correctly. If you can shower at the site, avoid using scented products that can attract insects by making you smell like a fresh piece of fruit. As an added measure, you can use campfire-cooked onions and garlic to keep pesky bugs from hovering near your food.

10. Stay Alert At All Times

It’s typical for people to have a great time while camping with their loved ones. Although many modern campsites are secure, you still need to take precautions.  

One of the common mistakes campers make is failing to stay alert. If you don’t pay attention to yourself or your surroundings, you could get into an accident or damage the environment. Keep in mind that the enjoyment you get out of camping is directly proportional to how well-prepared you are for outdoor safety.

Camping Gear Checklist

Now that you know how to set up the safest campsite for you and your family, let’s make sure you have all the right items. Your personal list will look a little different depending if you are tent camping, car camping, or RV camping.

Packing Checklist


  • Pots/Pans
  • Cooking Utensels
  • Sponge
  • Drying Towels
  • Paper Towels
  • Paper plates/eating utinsels
  • Cups
  • Coffee mugs
  • Marshmallow Skewers
  • Dish Soap/Hand Soap
  • Coffee Maker
  • Lighter
  • Trash Bags
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Containers for food storage
  • Camping stove

Beach/Lake Camping

  • Beach Towels
  • Suntan Lotion
  • Beach Bag
  • Ice Chest
  • Sand Toys
  • Umbrella for sun
  • Beach Chairs
  • Toys/Floats for Ocean or Lake


  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Sheets/sleeping bag/sleeping pads
  • Dog Bed


  • Bath Towels
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Soap
  • Body/Face Lotion
  • Brush
  • Deoderant
  • Make-up
  • Tooth brush/toothpaste
  • Razor
  • RV toilet paper


  • Medications/Vitamins
  • Lantern
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Tent, tarp, and stakes
  • Air mattress
  • Hats
  • Sunglasses
  • Dog Food and water bowl
  • Chairs
  • Bikes and Helmets
  • Clothes
  • Jackets
  • Tennis Shoes/Sandals
  • Laundry Basket/Detergent
  • Duct tape
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Rain Umbrella
  • Outside Table
  • Broom
  • Tools (ax, hammer, drill)

Final Thoughts

Camping is an exciting activity people of all ages love to do. However, staying at a safe and secure campsite will be more fun for everyone involved. If you follow the tips mentioned above, you’ll have a worthwhile experience without the stress and discomfort.

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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