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Having found the general area in which to camp, what should I look for when choosing the exact location for my tent?

I'm thinking specifically about conditions along the east coast and great dividing range of Australia. Typically this means gum trees and various low bushes. I'm not likely to be staying above the tree line.

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The best place is on a thick layer of deliciously soft tundra moss! –  gerrit Jun 4 at 14:43
@gerrit: ...except when it rains and the soft patch of moss turns out to be a small peat bog. –  Ilmari Karonen Jun 4 at 23:09
@IlmariKaronen Ah, true, but it's nice in October when everything is frozen ;-) –  gerrit Jun 4 at 23:13
Hmmm. One answer for camping under trees and one for not camping under trees. –  WW. Jun 5 at 0:19

2 Answers 2

I suppose the two main factors are how comfortable the location is and how likely the location is to have problems should the weather play an influence.

For comfort, the best location will be flat, free from bumps, and objects such as sharp rocks or sticks which can damage the groundsheet. Even with a decent sleeping pad or mattress, it isn't very nice when the ground is sloping and you slide about all night.

Regarding weather, the best location would provide shelter from strong winds, be unlikely to flood in heavy rain (not in a dip or near a river which is likely to rise), not be exposed to possible rockfall if camping near cliffs, etc. and not be in a dangerous location when lightning threatens, such as near a tree. Also it's best not to camp under trees as a branch could fall off (or worse, the tree itself may fall) and even though they provide some shelter from rain, they will drip on the tent for hours after the rain has stopped.

It is always handy of you can find a decent location near a good water source as this will help avoid having to carry water too far.

Obviously strong winds could be a problem in that there could be damage to the tent if the wind is strong enough, but even with moderate winds, it can be difficult to get a good night's sleep with the noise of the tent material flapping in the wind.

You may also have to consider whether you need to ask permission to pitch your tent at your chosen location.

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Camping under a tree protects against

  • rain
  • wind
  • morning dew
  • heavy sun (worst on beaches)
  • you can hide your bike from the rain ;)

But you lose the sight of the stars.

If rain is possible, it is a good idea to try to imagine how will the water be flowing downhill and not camp in its way. On the topic, if thunderstorm is possible, don't camp on top of a hill.

It is worth to investigate sources of water nearby and camp conveniently close to one. However, I think in some places, camping less than 100 meters from fresh water is prohibited.

Plan the safest and least windy fireplace (if using).

It is convenient to have a low tree nearby. You could hang equipment from its branches, plus food and rubbish sack - all things that are often needed in the camp and it is not convenient for them to be deep inside the tent.

I usually walk around the area, feeling with my feet the subtle bumps, hidden under the leaves and grass.

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But you lose the sight of the stars. Does your tent have a transparent roof? When I'm in the tent I anyway have no view of the stars, or at best a very limited view. When I was camping in desert mountains (California White Mountains) I crawled out of my tent at 2:00 for my stargazing. –  gerrit Jun 4 at 14:42
@gerrit It has "windows" in the first room. Lying on your back, watching the raindrops squash against the transparent nylon. –  Vorac Jun 4 at 15:13
Still you'd see only a small part of the sky... for the best experience I'd get out completely in any case. –  gerrit Jun 4 at 15:21
"Holmes retorts, 'Someone stole our tent.'" –  Joshua Taylor Jun 4 at 19:57

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