Bear Grylls’s Dos and Don’ts on the Where to Make Camp


Going camping is a great adventure, and Bear Grylls has always been passionate about people enjoying the outdoors. He says that camping is one of the best ways to make the most of the outdoors and to experience nature at its best.

“Have you experienced the hypnotic patter of rain on your tent, the clear call of an owl, or the rustling of the wind through the leaves at night?” writes Bear in A Survival Guide for Life.

“Sitting around a campfire under a sky of stars is the most ancient and wonderful of human activities. It reminds us of our place in the world, and in history – and it’s hard not to be humbled.”

A couple hiking and camping.
Credit Jordan Siemens via Getty Images

Bear’s Camping Tips

Finding a good location to make camp will allow you to enjoy your surroundings while also being respectful of the environment around you.

A good rule when looking for a campsite is to camp at an existing campsite. It’s easier to camp at a site that is already set up than to try to find a new one.

You should also feel safe in the campsite, so choose a place that’s away from obvious dangers (and the not-so-obvious ones). To make sure you get it right, here are Bear’s dos and don’ts on where to make camp.

Where not to camp:

If you are making a new campsite, consider the dangers of flash flooding. Avoid camping anywhere near the bottom of a waterfall, washout, or gully or on the floodplain of a river—these can all become deadly when it rains.

Don’t set up camp at the bottom of a cliff or a steep rocky slope. It might look like a good place to shelter, but loose rocks can fall at any time.

Don’t sleep directly under a tree. Dead branches can be dislodged by wind or wildlife, and even healthy branches can drop without any warning.

Don’t camp under a slope during or after heavy snowfall, as there is a risk of avalanches.

Man wildcamping, setting up tent
Credit Geir Pettersen via Getty Images

Where to make camp: 

Make sure that you pitch tents on clear, level ground. “The ideal place for a mountain camp is on flat ground about 30 meters above the valley bottom,” says Bear in Born Survivor.

Make sure your tent is a safe distance away from any campfires. Take note of the wind direction and place the camp upwind of where you will be lighting fires.

If you are making a toilet or latrine, make sure that it is at least 150 m from the campsite and from water. It’s also a good idea to camp upwind of toilet areas.

What tips would you add to this list?

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