Ten Tips For A Low-Impact Bug-out Campsite

Ten Tips For A Low-Impact Bug-out CampsiteBuilding a low-impact bug-out campsite means tread lightly. Protect rather than destroy. Leave it cleaner than you found it. Melt into the environment and leave no trace. Above all, it’s an attitude and method for healthy living in the outdoors not only for preppers but also for the average camper.

Building a low-impact bug-out campsite means tread lightly. Protect rather than destroy. Leave it cleaner than you found it. Melt into the environment and leave no trace. Above all, it’s an attitude and method for healthy living in the outdoors not only for preppers but also for the average camper.

This style of “camping” has nothing to do with tree hugging environmentalists or social media influencers. Low-impact camping isn’t a trend, it’s not exclusively for backpackers who look like they’ve stepped out of a camping magazine.

Minimum impact involves principles that most outdoorsmen and survivalists can appreciate: the nomad’s respect for the land, the guerrilla warrior’s stealth, the American Indian’s harmonious use of nature. The following ten tips are guidelines for a low-impact bug-out campsite. See how many you have already incorporated into your own camping techniques.

Ten tips for a low-Impact bug-out campsite

1. Prepare well

Don’t plan on living off the land because that’s harder than it looks in the movies and survival TV shows. It’s even harder when you find yourself in a new environment. Bring clothing and equipment that will keep you warm, dry and comfortable. Know the basics of first aid, navigation, and survival. Things like how to build a shelter from natural resources or improvise one with a simple tarp. What adequate food and water should you bring and what to do when you run out of supplies.

Another thing I keep stressing all the time is to build up knowledge about the environment. You should know all you can about your area and the route you will take. A well-established bug out plan needs to take into account all the challenges of the environment (topology, weather, population density, etc.)

2. Management guidelines

In a normal situation you should follow the guidelines set forth by the appropriate land manager (e.g., U.S Forest Service, National or State Park Service, or Bureau of Land Management). Obtain the proper wilderness and fire permits ahead of time and know the guidelines. The wilderness is managed for reasons of preservation and solitude. Regulations governing group size, fires, cans and bottles, mechanized vehicles and basic conduct help protect the land and the quality of experience for users.

When SHTF you may think that all the above don’t matter anymore. However, knowing the routes, for example, can help you make the right decision when bugging out. For example, the routes for mechanized vehicles will be the most traveled. If you want to keep a low profile, you may want to avoid those routes. The same goes for popular areas where people are gathering. Those will be packed when people head for the woods and sooner or later “disagreements” will cause social upheaval.

3. Trail use

Select footwear that is appropriate for comfort, safety and the terrain. Heavy, lug-soled boots have an adverse impact on fragile terrain. Use a light pair of boots for safety reasons and then switch to well-cushioned running shoes whenever possible. Moccasins in camp will even further lessen your impact. Avoid the desire to shortcut switchbacks. When taking a rest break, choose a hardened area slightly off the trail that will absorb your impact.

If you don’t know how to cover your tracks, it’s advised to avoid trampling vegetation and contributing to soil erosion. Hike on the trail only and leave it only when danger arises. Keep in mind that cross-country travel requires experience and an extra sensitive back-country traveler.

4. Selecting a bug-out campsite

As a main rule, you should locate your site at least 100 feet away from natural water sources. The site should be level with adequate water runoff. Leave pine needles, leaves and soil in their place. It’s alright to remove small rocks and pebbles, but don’t bulldoze your tent site. Use a waterproof ground cloth under your tent and avoid digging ditches around your tent site.

Generally, it’s better to use an area that has been previously used so as to eliminate further expansion of the camp. Try to position your tent so that it blends in with the surroundings. Picking a bright colored tent is not recommended for a discrete bug-out campsite. Planning and building a shelter in the wilderness becomes a form of art after years of doing it. I recommend reading the following:

Planning A Shelter In The Wild

5. Sanitation

Always use established latrines if there are any on your trail. Where there is no outhouse, take a garden trowel and dig a small hole at least 100 feet away from water sources, potential runoffs, trails, and campsites. Try to find biologically active soil so that wastes will decompose. Sand or decomposed granite soil is porous and allows organisms to leach into the water table. If you bring along, sanitary napkins and disposable diapers you should never be burry them. Burn them in an existing fire once you know it’s safe to make one.

 6. Fires

When it comes to making a fire when bugging out, there’s a lot of controversy around these topics. Some will use existing fire rings and keep fires small. Others will choose not to make one in many areas. Campfires may be totally inappropriate because of topology, limited wood supply or danger of forest fire. If you must have a fire, use only dead and down wood.

Even when fire is possible, consider your options. There are many fire types you can build, depending on your needs. Some are cooking over a propane stove since it’s a lot cleaner and easier to do so. However, carrying a propane stove will only add weight and bulk to your bug out bag.  I recommend learning how to make a Dakota fire hole and how to mask the cooking odor in the wilderness.

7. Garbage

Carry out what garbage you can’t burn; otherwise you will leave a trail of crumbs leading back to you. Have several large plastic garbage bags on hand for this task. Besides carrying garbage, they make good rain-coats and backpack covers.  There’s no point in telling you that a good tracker can identify a lot about you and your party just by looking at the garbage and human waste you leave behind.

Before leaving your campsite, sift through the ashes in your fire ring for pieces of foil or metal. Smokers should be aware of what they are doing with their cigarette butts. If you fish, burn or carry out the entrails. Never bury food or trash. Animals will dig it up and will reveal the location of your campsite. When you leave the area, make sure it is spotless.

Some survival experts recommend picking up any trash as soon as you encounter it —even if you weren’t the one to drop it.

8. Dish washing

Never wash dishes in rivers or streams. Stay at least 100 feet away from water sources and use only a minimal amount of biodegradable soap if you must. One of the best methods for washing dishes is as follows: wipe off remaining food with toilet paper or paper towel (burn this in the fire).

Scrub off remaining food using a little biodegradable soap and wipe totally clean with paper towel. Now rinse pot or dish with boiling/very hot water. Wipe dry and place in the sun for complete drying. This method uses very little water and hardly any soap. For this method to work, you need to start heating water as soon as you begin to prepare your meal. Clean the dishes as soon as you’re finished eating.

9. Washing yourself

Just as with dishwashing, stay at least 100 feet from all water sources. Use only a little biodegradable soap. Solar showers work great. Most of them hold about five gallons and come with a hose and nozzle. One half of the vinyl bag is black to absorb the sun’s energy. After a few hours, the water is heated to around 100 degrees. The bag is then hung from a tree limb in a secluded place at least 100 feet from water sources. A great way to take a wilderness shower! At the very least, heat up a pot of water and have a sponge bath in your tent.

10. Impact on the environment and other travelers

In general, people go camping to get away from loud music, smog, traffic, people and civilization. When you are bugging out, you may encounter some of these campers, but probably, they are running from something different. To avoid any unpleasant encounters you should have as low an impact on the environment as possible.

Keep groups small and speak softly, you don’t want to scare birds or other animals that can give away your position. Also, if you have vivid debates, others may hear you and start following you. Save rowdy games and songs for another time.

If you don’t have well-trained pets, honestly, you are better of leaving them behind. Dogs will bark at everything they sense and will make a lot of noise if not properly trained. Try to blend your bug-out campsite into the surroundings. Use camouflage as best as you can or improvise some if for some reason you need to get away from your bug-out campsite.

A last word

Be thoughtful and conserve the peace and solitude of your environment. Reckless travelers with their destructive practices will never really be able to conceal their presence in the wild.  If your preparedness plan includes a long distance bug out, these are certain considerations you need to pay attention to for building a safe bug-out campsite.

You will not be able to travel without resting stops and you don’t have to push yourself over the limit. Going out unprepared is just a gamble and you’re betting with your own safety.

Useful resources to check out:

How I Got My Own Backyard Fortress For Under $400

How To Start A Fire Using Your Pee

The Long-Lasting Food That Amish Pioneers Turned To In Dark Times

This Bug Will Kill Most Americans During The Next Crisis 

Leave a Comment

book cover e1586100880799

Subscribe To Our Newsletter and Get your FREE BOOK!

Join our ranks to receive the latest news, offers and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!