How to Camp on a Mountain? (With 8 Easy Steps)


I have never camped on a mountain before. Nevertheless, I plan to do so when I go to the Everest base camp, one day. As I keep thinking about that trip, one question keeps popping to my mind; how to camp on a mountain? I have plenty of experience with camping in open areas; however, mountains are probably more complicated. To answer this question, I dug through the internet and collect all the tips I could find from different experts and bloggers. Now, I will share all I have found with you.

Follow these steps to camp on a mountain successfully:

  • Know your campsite and pick one which features plain surface, water sources, and wide camping area.
  • Divide your equipment into categories and select only the most crucial pieces of gear.
  • Conduct a practice camp in your backyard to get familiar with the equipment and the atmosphere.
  • Reece the site as soon as you arrive and understand its topography.
  • Organize your water supply.
  • Set up your heat source (campfire, stove), and start cooking your meal.
  • Keep a distance of 10 feet between your tent and the bonfire. Also, get familiar with the campsite restrictions.
  • Make a list of activities beforehand to keep yourself entertained.

1. Pick The Right Campsite

With the increasing popularity of camping, there is no shortage of sites these days to camp. For an average camper, however, this can be a confusing proposition rather than a natural choice. The first thing which you need to do is to choose an adequate campsite for your particular needs. 

I will today share with you a few guidelines to keep in mind when selecting the campsite (source). Once you compare the different campsites on these few guidelines, picking the right one should be more accessible than ever.

  • You should always look at the itinerary which you follow when you choose a campsite.
  • You have to gather information about the topography around the campsite. You need to understand if it is on a slope or a plateau. Even mountains feature open areas; you should stick to those.
  • Ask yourself, is there a water source nearby? You need to find the answer before selecting the campsite. It will help you gain access to water for washing, drinking, and personal hygiene applications. Water sources should also feature a proper purification system, try to find those online.
  • Check what the size of the campground is. It is an essential step since you are not likely to be alone at the campsite. That is why, only if it is large enough to house multiple camps, you should choose that campsite. Otherwise, you might face disappointment.

Once you stick to these guidelines, choosing the right campsite is quite easy. After selecting the campsite, you can proceed to the next tip.

Pro-Tip

If the campsite is regulated and allows prior booking, you have to make sure that you book a slot in advance.

2. Pack Right

Packing right is essential to have a successful camping trip. With so many different things to pack, the chances are pretty high that you might forget one thing or the other.

That is why; a much better idea is to divide them into different domains so that it becomes easy to manage your packing list. The categories can be (source):

  • Personal hygiene items
  • Gear
  • Shelter
  • Food and water supplies
  • Clothes
  • First aid and emergency supplies
  • Tools

Each one of these should have a proper checklist so that you do not forget anything. While preparing each list, you have to take into account the expected weather in the mountains.

Packing for a mountain camp is much different than packing for a regular one. You have to be very selective while packing. It will ensure that you do not over-pack. Only when that is the case, it will become easy to pack only the essentials rather than overpacking.

If you feel uncomfortable in this section, I highly suggest that you read an article that I’ve written on what to pack for mountain climbing. I divided the list into three groups: 1, 2, 3 days and over to make sure you won’t pack unnecessary things.

3. Conduct a Practice Camp

You might be thinking, why I included this step in my guide?

The answer is that it will eliminate all the chinks in your camping plan (source). The advantages of conducting a practice camp include:

  • It helps you check all the gear.
  • It alerts you of missing equipment.
  • It prepares you for the real adventure.
  • It makes you aware of the hardships that you might face in the camp.
  • It familiarizes you with the camping lifestyle.

All of these ensure that you are ready for the camp even before you arrive there.

You might be thinking, where should the practice camp be?

Well, you don’t have to go far away at all; you can organize it in your backyard. If you’re going for the camp on a solo basis, you can be the only one who takes part in it.

Otherwise, if you’re taking your family or a partner along with you, you should include them in the practice camp, as well.

The practice camp aims to make the experience more fun and easy. It might take a couple of hours to indulge in it, but it will save you hassle and time at the actual camp. That is why it is a step which you should not miss.

4. Recce The Actual Site on Arrival

Each campsite is different. You might have gone through the details of the campsite online before booking or shortlisting it, but it is essential to conduct a recce as well.

The recce will make you aware of the space available as well as the resources around the campsite. The reasons why you should conduct one are plenty, like:

  • It will help you find the best place for setting up a tent.
  • It will help you understand the topography of the campsite better.
  • It will help you know about the areas which are out of bounds.
  • The survey will also let you know about the resources around.

It is not that easy to change the location of your tent once you pitch it. That is why, instead of doing it in a hurry, it is advisable to conduct a recce first and then erect the tent.

If you are worried about the effort, well, you shouldn’t. From my experience, it will not take you more than 20 minutes to survey the entire site. 

5. Start the Setup Right Away

After the recce, without wasting any time, it is essential to start with the setup. It will involve various tasks like the following.

Pitching The Tent

The first thing which you need to do is to take care of the shelter requirements. Sure enough, you would have brought a tent with you. You have to first and foremost erect it. It is always a good idea to pitch it on flat ground.

Instead of improvising on the tent installation method, it is a better idea to follow the instruction manual, which comes with it. It will ensure that you can pitch the tent in no time.

I also recommend that you watch an online video (on Youtube or the manufacturer’s official site), so that you can see how to set it up properly.

Taking Care of The Water Requirements

If you have water packets for the first day, you need not worry about this step. If you are relying on a nearby water source, it is time to procure that water.

You can use a filtration system or purification tablets to make it potable. Nevertheless, it is one of the first tasks which you need to accomplish after pitching the tent.

If you’re counting on heat to purify water, I highly recommend that you read an article that I’ve written on how long does water need to boil to kill bacteria. I have spent more than 8 hours explaining what would be the right way to do so while relying on scientific resources. 

Only once you complete both of these steps, the camping site will become habitable. These two tasks will ensure that you can proceed further with cooking the food.

6. Get Started With Food Preparation

Once you have water for cooking as well as drinking, it is essential to cater to the food requirement. It is crucial to set up the heat source to cook the food.

Setting up The Heat Source

The best way to cook food at the campsite is to use a backpacking stove. It is easy to ignite and will not require you to collect wood and create a fire. You need to attach the fuel tank with the backpacking stove, and you’re good to go.

I also suggest that you read an article I’ve written on how to use a propane camping stove. Besides the necessary steps, I also included what you should do when the gas runs out.

Preparing The Meals

Have you brought ready to cook meals? Do you plan on cooking from scratch?

I always prefer to bring ready to cook meals along with me. These are packets that only require heating. That is why they are much convenient to use.

Depending on the time of the day at which you arrive at the campsite, you might need to start cooking right away.

Once you have set up the backpacking stove, the time required for cooking will be pretty less. It will be similar to cooking at your home. The first meal is the most time-consuming. Nevertheless, once you take care of it, the rest of the meals are merely routine.

If you rely on a bonfire, I recommend that you read a previous article of mine on how to build a campfire for cooking. In there, I described how to build a fire for short, medium, and prolonged cook.

7. Do Not Ignore Safety

Most of the campsites have been in use for years together. Therefore, as such, they do not pose high safety concerns.

Still, I tend to follow a safety checklist, which ensures that the camping trip is safe not only for me but for my co-travelers as well. I will share a simple list below to have a secure camping experience.

  • Check for any hazards around the camping site. These can include cliffs, ditches, and other such formations.
  • Keep a distance of 10 feet or more between the cooking area and the tent site. Campsites often face windy conditions, and therefore having at least that much space is a must. The higher the amount of distance between the campground and the cooking area, the better it is.
  • Each campsite has proper rules. You need to go through those rules to ensure that you do not break them. Also, you have to make your companions aware of those rules as well. It will ensure that everyone can have a safe camping trip.
  • It is a must to keep away from the restricted areas. So, you have to go through the brochure or the manual to know such sites and avoid them.

The simple 4-step checklist will ensure that your camping trip is entirely safe. The beauty of this checklist is that these are simple and easy to follow steps that can make your entire trip safer.

8. Do Not Forget The Activities

What fun is a camping experience without any activities?

I like to plan activities. It ensures that if you need to take any supplies with yourself to the camp, you can do so easily. Some of the activities in which you can indulge are:

  • Riddles
  • Charades
  • Stargazing
  • Storytelling
  • Kayaking
  • Climbing Trees
  • Yoga
  • Man Hunt
  • Board games
  • Playing cards
  • Constructing a lean-to

These are just some activities that you can schedule during your camping trip. Many of them require you to carry minimal supplies. So, it is necessary to plan these activities.

Once you do so, it will become easy to ensure that your camping trip is fun-filled. Also, if you are solo-camping, you could read an article by me on 15 exciting activities to do when camping alone.

What to Avoid When Camping on a Mountain?

There are a few things which you should strictly avoid when you go mountain camping. These may include:

  • Choosing a tent that is too heavy nor too small.
  • Haphazardly packing for camping.
  • Impulsively choosing the campsite.
  • Delay building a shelter.
  • Drinking from unpurified water sources.
  • Over-packing for the trip.
  • Wandering into restricted areas.
  • Breaking the campsite rules.

When you avoid these few things, it will become easy for you to have a relaxing and fun camping trip.

How Can I Make my Tent Warmer While Mountain Camping?

The cold increases as you climb; there is no way to avoid that. However, there are a few simple steps that you can follow to make your tent warmer. These include:

  • Insulate your tent by adding an extra layer of carpet and a tarp.
  • You can use the disposable heat pack inside the tent.
  • You can reduce the ventilation a bit by closing one of the windows.

These are three necessary steps to warmer your tent. Nevertheless, I suggest that you read another article by me which discusses seven tricks to heat a tent quickly and safely.

How to Make a Sleeping Bag Suitable For Mountain Camping?

If you wish to warm up your sleeping bag, I have a few simple suggestions. The temperatures in the mountain can dip to below 0C. That is why such solutions can come in handy. These include:

  • You can use an additional sleeping pad or a portable blanket.
  • Add a layer of insulation between the sleeping bag and the ground.
  • You can use a separate sleeping bag liner to add another layer.
  • You can layer yourself up even more.

These four steps will make it easy for you to make your sleeping bag warmer and insulate yourself from the harsh weather outside.

Conclusions

Are you heading to the mountains for the first time to camp? Searching for tips on how to camp on a hill?

Well, my guide above will certainly make your trip easier. Camping is an enjoyable and fun-filled experience. However, to enjoy it, there are a few steps that you need to undertake.

Rather than camping in the plains or on the plateau, you can head out to the mountains. The pristine beauty of the mountains, along with the close experience with nature in a camp, can undoubtedly make your trip memorable.

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