Camping is great, no matter what. Sometimes though, camping can feel a little… crowded. Certain campsites, especially in the Summer, can get pretty crowded, and, depending on how close together the campsites are, can feel a little cramped. Since the point of camping is to enjoy the great outdoors, sometimes it’s better to get away from a crowded campsite packed with amenities to escape to the isolation of nature. That type of camping – that camping that really gets you away from other humans - that’s what is now called ‘dispersed camping’.
Dispersed camping provides the perfect opportunity to connect with nature, away from crowded campgrounds and developed facilities. Obviously, without the amenities of a more popular and user-friendly campsite, with dispersed camping, you have to be really prepared. In this article, we will explore ten invaluable tips to enhance your dispersed camping experience and make the most of your adventure.
What is dispersed camping?
Dispersed camping, also known as primitive camping, is the practice of camping outside designated campsites, typically in public lands such as national forests or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas. It offers a unique opportunity to enjoy nature's beauty, solitude, and freedom. However, to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, it's important to follow certain guidelines and best practices.
10 Tips for Dispersed Camping
1. Research and Plan Ahead
Before embarking on your dispersed camping trip, thorough research and planning are essential. Start by choosing a destination that suits your preferences and interests. Look for public lands that allow dispersed camping and have the natural features you desire, such as mountains, lakes, or forests. Online resources and guidebooks can provide valuable information about different locations.
You should also check the regulations and permits required for dispersed camping in the area you plan to camp in. Some regions may have specific rules regarding campfire usage, maximum stay duration, and camping restrictions. By familiarizing yourself with the guidelines, you can ensure that you won’t upset locals and avoid any other potential issues during your trip.
You should also take the time to understand the area you will be camping in. Study maps, topography, and trail information to have a better grasp of the terrain and potential hiking opportunities. Being well-informed will ensure that you know what you’re getting yourself into, and what to expect.
2. Packing Essentials
Arguably, the most important part of preparing for your dispersed camping trip is getting your gear in line. Since you will likely be far from civilization, amenities, and other people, you need to make sure you have everything you need to be safe and comfortable. Here are some key items to include:
Shelter and Sleeping Gear
Carry a sturdy tent or hammock that suits your needs and the weather conditions of your camping destination. Additionally, invest in a quality sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and extra blankets to ensure a good night's sleep.
Cooking Equipment and Utensils
Opt for lightweight camping cookware, such as a compact stove, pots, and pans. Don't forget to pack utensils, plates, cups, and tons of water. It's also wise to bring a cooler or insulated bag to store perishable food items.
Clothing and Personal Items
Pack appropriate clothing for the weather, including layers, rain gear, and sturdy hiking shoes. Remember to bring personal items such as toiletries, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a headlamp or flashlight for nighttime activities.
Navigation Tools and Maps
Carry a compass, GPS device, or smartphone with GPS capabilities. Familiarize yourself with the maps of the area, both physical and digital, to navigate effectively.
First Aid Kit and Emergency Supplies
Always have a well-stocked first aid kit with essentials like bandages, pain relievers, and antiseptic ointment. Additionally, pack emergency supplies like a whistle, emergency blanket, and a multipurpose tool.
A Portable Pressurized Water Source
For sanitation purposes, including washing your hands, your body, your gear and your dishes, it’s important to bring a water dispensing device - specifically one with pressure. You don’t want to have to waste your drinking water for the reasons listed above, so having a water dispenser that allows you to use water with precision and pressure will make your experience much better.
A portable shower, specifically one with battery-powered pressure, is the best choice. This will allow you to spray your hands, your body, your gear and your dishes without wasting a drop. There are many options for portable showers, but if you want the most pressure with the most precision with the easiest setup, a RinseKit is the best option. We will explain this more later.
3. Leave No Trace Principles
When dispersed camping, it's vital to adhere to the principles of Leave No Trace to minimize your environmental impact. Here are some key aspects to consider:
Choose a previously impacted campsite to reduce further damage to the ecosystem. Look for durable surfaces like bare ground or rocks, away from fragile vegetation. Avoid setting up camp near water sources to protect them from contamination.
Proper Waste Disposal
Pack out all trash and dispose of it properly in designated receptacles. Leave nature as you found it by following the "pack it in, pack it out" rule. Don't bury or burn trash, as it can harm wildlife and the environment. This goes for gray water as well. Having a controlled water source that allows you to easily cut off flow will help with the control of that gray water.
Respect for Wildlife and Vegetation
Observe wildlife from a safe distance and never feed or approach them. Avoid damaging or disturbing vegetation, including plants, flowers, and trees. Leave natural objects like rocks and shells untouched for others to enjoy.
Campfire Safety and Extinguishing
If campfires are allowed, use existing fire rings or designated areas. Keep fires small, never leave them unattended, and ensure they are completely extinguished before leaving. Use water to douse the flames and stir the ashes until cold. This is another situation where having a pressurized water source that allows for precise aiming and spraying can be beneficial. If you have a portable shower, you can use to spray the fire at its base, instead of just dumping water on it.
4. Setting Up Camp
Once you've reached your chosen campsite, follow these steps to set up camp effectively:
Choosing a Suitable Campsite
Look for level ground that is free from hazards like dead trees or rockfall areas. Consider natural windbreaks or shaded areas for added comfort. Be mindful of any potential risks, such as flash flood zones or avalanche-prone slopes.
Pitching Tents and Setting Up Camp Gear
Assemble your tent according to the manufacturer's instructions, ensuring it is securely staked down. Set up camp chairs, tables, and other gear in an organized manner, maximizing space and convenience.
Creating a Safe and Comfortable Environment
Clear the campsite of any debris or sharp objects that could cause injury. Arrange your gear in a way that allows easy access and movement around the camp. Consider hanging a tarp or using a tent footprint to provide extra protection from rain or sun.
5. Food and Cooking Tips
Proper food handling and cooking techniques are crucial when dispersed camping. Follow these tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable culinary experience
Meal Planning and Preparation
Plan your meals in advance and pack non-perishable food items that are easy to prepare. Consider lightweight options like dehydrated meals, trail mix, and energy bars. Opt for simple recipes that require minimal cooking time and equipment.
If you are cooking, it’s important to wash and sanitize your food before cooking it, especially when you’re in dusty and dirty environments. This is again where a portable water dispensing device can come in handy. Spraying off your meat, veggies, and even cooking utensils is made much easier when you have pressurized water that you can control.
Packing and Storing Food Properly
Store your food in secure containers or bear-resistant bags to prevent wildlife from accessing it. Keep perishable items chilled in a cooler with ice packs. Divide your food into individual portions to avoid contamination and reduce waste.
Utilizing Lightweight Cooking Options
Choose lightweight cooking equipment like backpacking stoves or portable grills. These options are efficient and easy to transport. Remember to bring fuel canisters or charcoal if required for your chosen cooking method.
Proper Disposal of Food Waste
Dispose of food waste responsibly to minimize its impact on the environment. Pack out all food scraps and leftovers, sealing them in odor-proof bags. Avoid leaving food waste behind, as it can attract wildlife and disrupt the ecosystem.
After you cook, it’s preferable to have a way to clean dishes, cutting boards and utensils, instead of having to bag them up or store them dirty for later. This is where that pressurized water source can come in handy yet again. To have a pressurized spray that you can use on those dishes empowers you to use your water precisely, and have the pressure to knock off loose dirt and grime. If you’re washing it over a tub or water catcher for catching gray water, that water spraying precision also makes it easier to catch that runoff for disposal later.
6. Safety and Security Measures
Ensuring your safety and security should be a top priority while dispersed camping. Consider the following measures:
Being Aware of Potential Hazards
Familiarize yourself with the potential hazards in the camping area, such as uneven terrain, falling rocks, or poisonous plants. Stay vigilant and exercise caution while exploring the surroundings.
Wildlife Encounters and Precautions
Research the wildlife that inhabits the area and understand how to safely interact with them. Keep a safe distance and never approach or feed wild animals. Store food securely to prevent attracting animals to your campsite.
Staying Safe During Adverse Weather Conditions
Monitor weather forecasts before and during your camping trip. Be prepared for sudden changes in weather and pack appropriate clothing and gear. Seek shelter in your tent or a designated area in case of lightning or heavy rain.
Emergency Communication Devices
Carry a reliable means of communication, such as a fully charged cell phone or a two-way radio. Familiarize yourself with the local emergency contact numbers and know how to use the communication devices properly.
7. Leave Nothing Behind
Preserving the beauty of nature is essential when dispersed camping. Here's how you can leave nothing behind:
Packing out All Trash and Waste
Ensure that you leave your campsite cleaner than you found it. Pack out all trash, including cigarette butts and microtrash. Use designated trash receptacles or take the trash with you until you find appropriate disposal facilities.
Cleaning and Restoring the Campsite
Before departing, clean the campsite thoroughly. Remove all debris, including food crumbs and ashes. Scatter disturbed soil to mimic the surrounding environment, leaving no trace of your presence.
Practicing Responsible Outdoor Ethics
Respect the natural surroundings and other campers by following ethical guidelines. Avoid excessive noise, especially during quiet hours. Be considerate of fellow campers' privacy and maintain a peaceful atmosphere.
8. Respect for Nature and Others
While dispersed camping, it's important to show respect for both nature and your fellow campers. Consider the following:
Keeping Noise Levels Low
Enjoy the serenity of the outdoors by keeping noise levels to a minimum. Respect the peacefulness of the surroundings and avoid disruptive activities or loud conversations.
Respecting Quiet Hours and Privacy
Observe designated quiet hours to allow everyone to enjoy a restful night's sleep. Avoid shining bright lights or using loud devices during these hours. Respect the privacy of neighboring campers and maintain a reasonable distance.
Being Considerate of Fellow Campers
Practice good camping etiquette by being considerate to others. Keep your campsite tidy and avoid encroaching on neighboring campsites. If there are shared facilities, like toilets or water sources, be mindful of others and maintain cleanliness.
9. Enjoying the Experience
Finally, remember to take the time to truly enjoy your dispersed camping experience. Here are a few tips:
Disconnecting from Technology
Take this opportunity to disconnect from the digital world and embrace the tranquility of nature. Limit your screen time and enjoy the beauty around you. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of the great outdoors.
Exploring the Surroundings
Make the most of your dispersed camping adventure by exploring the natural wonders in the area. Go hiking, fishing, or birdwatching. Discover nearby trails, waterfalls, or viewpoints. Allow yourself to be captivated by the beauty of nature.
Appreciating the Beauty of Nature
Take a moment to appreciate the incredible landscapes, wildlife, and flora surrounding you. Observe the intricate details of a flower, the majesty of a mountain peak, or the serenity of a forest. Develop a deeper connection with nature and cultivate a sense of gratitude.
10. Keep Clean When You Can
Everything's better when you’re clean - even camping. While it’s obvious that you’re going to get at least somewhat dirty when camping, there are certain parts of it where being clean is a necessity. For example, you don’t want to track dirt into your tent or vehicle, you don’t want to sleep in your sleeping bag covered in dirt, mud and sweat, you don’t want to eat with dirty hands - there are some basic standards of cleanliness that even the toughest of campers attempt to adhere to.
So how do you keep clean when camping? As we discussed earlier, a portable, pressurized water system is the best way. A simple jug or bottle of water doesn’t provide the pressure you need to really wash off, and you will waste tons of water by trying to wet yourself accurately. A water source that has spraying capabilities will allow you to spray accurately and cut off flow immediately - saving you tons of water and making the most of what you have.
As we also discussed above, a portable shower is the best type of pressurized water source - particularly one that utilizes battery powered pressurization. The reason being is that, while other portable showers that are pressurized by other methods can work, their pressure is inconsistent, and they have to be repumped. They can also be overpressurized, they can explode, they malfunction easily, etc., and the last thing you want when you’re off-grid is for your portable water source to fail.
With battery-powered pressurization, the battery powers a pump inside the portable shower. This means that, as long as it has power, the pressurization stays consistent, and there is no repressurising or pumping required. It makes it so that using the portable shower is as easy as pressing the power button and activating the hose. When you’re offgrid and you’re trying to enjoy nature, you’ll appreciate that ease of use.
Why RinseKit is the Best Portable Shower for Dispersed Camping
If you’re going dispersed camping and you really want to be prepared, RinseKit Portable Showers are the best portable pressurized water source for all your cleaning needs. RinseKit exclusively makes battery-pressurized portable showers, which, as we have outlined above, are the best portable showers for camping for their pressure and ease of use.
Pressurization isn’t the only reason RinseKit is the superior portable shower. With both electric and propane powered heating accessories available, the RinseKit makes it so you can take a hot, high pressure shower anywhere. So if you’re out camping in the mountains and it’s cold - the RinseKit can warm you up with showers up to 110 F in 30 seconds with the HyperHeater.
The RinseKit is also made to be moved around easily. Its small compact shape means you can fit it easily in your trunk or passenger seat and its top handle makes it super easy to carry. This means you can move your RinseKit off the campsite to shower and back to your super easy and quickly.
Dispersed camping offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature and enjoy the solitude of the outdoors. By following these ten tips, you can ensure a safe, enjoyable, and environmentally responsible camping experience. Remember to research and plan ahead, pack essential items, practice Leave No Trace principles, set up camp properly, and respect both nature and fellow campers. Embrace the adventure, disconnect from technology, and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. Happy camping!