Camping Etiquette 101

I often ask readers for input on blog posts and one topic in particular has come up multiple times in the past few months: camping etiquette and basic respect.

I’m a big fan of free camping! Free camping combines two of my favorite things: camping and bargains. I’ve actually written three articles on the basics of free camping herehere, and here.

Dispersed camping, freedom camping, boon-docking, primitive camping, or whatever else you might want to call it, is one of the best ways to get a true camping experience. You get away from the city, you get away from the lights, you get away from the crowds.

However, you don’t get away from responsibility. Nature is beautiful. If we don’t treat it with respect, clean up after ourselves, and practice basic fire safety it won’t stay that way for long. This post is written as a basic guide on camping etiquette. It’s doesn’t include everything, but it’s a good place to start.

Pack It In, Pack It Out

It’s that simple. If you brought it in, you not only have the space, but you also have the responsibility to bring it back out with you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled into a once-beautiful campsite, that is littered with cigarette butts, water bottles, and Doritos bags.

This includes poop, ladies and gentlemen. There are tons of options for carrying your little bundles of joy out with you. Here’s a basic option called the Double Doodie.

Leave No Trace

This step goes hand-in-hand with the “Pack It In, Pack It Out” step. Not only should you leave your campsite trash free, but you should also leave the natural setting relatively untouched. Here are a few tips to leave no trace:

  • Light fires in existing fire rings
  • Leave what you find
  • Camp on durable surfaces
  • Respect local wildlife

Fire Safety

sb201As a Californian, it is pretty apparent that people are not doing a great job of fire safety. It’s a sad reality that many of the large forest fires that destroy California’s beautiful natural forests are easily preventable. Please check out this link on fire safety, and always make sure that you’re aware of current fire warnings and restrictions.


Don’t be dumb. Follow the rules.

Rules and regulations are not there to stop you from having fun. Their purpose is the preservation of nature. It’s your job to make sure that you are aware of all the applicable rules and regulations before you go camping. The easiest way to do this is to contact the local Ranger Station before you head out on your trip.

Well, there you have it. A basic guide to camping etiquette. If I missed anything, please let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading, and thanks for being respectful.

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  1. Como Chingo August 13, 2017

    Add in a note about respecting the locals where ever you entitled so-cal people go. Most of us don’t enjoy your brand of loud boisterous activity, but we tolerate it because you bring money to the area. We live out here in the boonies for a reason. Respect that.

    • Josh August 19, 2017 — Post Author

      I agree that people should always be respectful, especially of locals. However, I think it’s unfair to generalize and say that all people from So-Cal are disrespectful. When you do that, you’re being disrespectful while asking others to be respectful.

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