There are times when you’re traveling you don’t make it as far as you needed (or perhaps you made it farther), and you become stranded with nowhere to sleep and you begin to feel uneasy. There is always a safe place to sleep if you do it properly.
Stealth camping – Stealth camping is when you sleep in an unorthodox location. It could be in a deep ditch, behind a rock, in the woods, or… well… you get the point. These ideal stealth camps are found most everywhere, but there are things to know before you throw yourself and your bike into a ditch to sleep… here are 5 tips to help you successfully stealth camp.
1. Don’t trespass on private property – ask permission from the owner
You do not want surprises in the middle of the night when trespassing on property… I don’t just mean a pissed off landowner; I’ve read a blog about someone who got kicked out of their camping spot because a herd of sheep came to gnaw on their gear (and them).
2. Don’t eat / cook in stealth camps
Normally you would know if you’re going to have trouble down the road finding a place to sleep, and you should eat your last meal of the day away from your camp. Eating in a stealth camp (even a great one) can attracted unwanted company throughout the night and longer. Who knows, someone else might want to use the area for their own stealth camping in the near future… the last thing they want is to set their tent up on your spilled oatmeal or your camp dish suds.
3. “Leave no trace” (i.e. be respectful)
This goes for all camping spots (even paid spots). “Leave no trace” means what you bring in you must take out. It should look like it did when you arrived there. If it’s obvious you’ve been there you may ruin the spot for future travelers who might need to use it. Don’t act homeless, act like a traveler.
3. Be invisible
If you’re going to be camping in places which have a higher risk of being seen it’s best to reduce your beauty rest to the darkest hours of the night. Ideally, you should not be able to see the road or any cars driving by. If you can see them, they can see you. It’s important to know there are many reflective patches and strips on traveling gear and tents so just because it’s dark around you doesn’t mean you won’t shine when a car passes.
5. If you’re caught
Explain your situation. Honesty is rewarding. Sometimes the person (possibly a police officer) would allow you to sleep there, help find a different place for you nearby, or let you stay in his yard. I’ve never had a police man kick me out of a spot, but I have had one check on me in the morning to make sure I was fine through the night.
Please note: I do not promote illegal activity. Stealth camp at your own risk and realize it is illegal in places. I’ve put together these guidelines so people are safer when stranded between destinations in the dark.