Many of us who love the outdoors love it because there’s a sense of freedom and adventure that comes with being outside. While front-country campgrounds are nice, many folks are looking for a more remote experience in nature; this is where dispersed camping comes in. Dispersed camping (also referred to as backcountry, wild, or undeveloped camping) is the term used when you leave established campsites behind and head into the wilderness to set up your own tent or RV. Dispersed camping is an exciting way to experience nature, but it also requires some extra preparation.
Plan for the Worst
First aid kit: You should have a first aid kit in your vehicle at all times, but it's even more important when you're away from civilization. Have the basics covered with bandages, gauze pads and antibiotic ointment. If someone gets hurt on your trip and you don't have access to a hospital (or even if you do), you'll want to be prepared for any minor scrapes or cuts that might happen along the way.
Fire extinguisher: Even if there's no risk of fire during your camping trip, having an extinguisher can be helpful in case of emergencies like an electrical fire or grease splatter from cooking food over open flames. They're also useful for putting out campfires before leaving them unattended overnight so they don't spread past their boundaries and become major infernos.
Map: Know where you're going before heading out into nature so that if anything goes wrong on your journey—like getting lost—you'll know exactly where to turn around and go back home instead of wandering aimlessly through forested areas looking for help (which may not always be available).
You should always leave the campsite as you found it. This means packing out all trash and food items, returning any fire rings to their original condition and making sure that everything has been taken down and stowed away.
The best way to ensure that you are following this rule is to make sure that you’re not leaving anything behind when you pack up your gear at the end of the night. That includes trash! Make sure that nothing goes into any pockets until you get home (and then dispose of it properly). Don’t forget that even biodegradable materials like banana peels can attract wildlife if they aren't properly contained in a baggie or other container.
Carry Your Waste Out
The cardinal rule of dispersed camping is to leave the area you’re in as clean or better than you found it.
When packing out your trash, remember that while some things (like aluminum cans) can be burned, others are best left to decompose at their own pace. If you come across a plastic bag containing human waste, pack it out if possible—otherwise, use a trowel to dig a hole deep enough for burying and cover the hole with dirt when finished.
Use Biodegradable Soap
Biodegradable soap is better for the environment. Instead of polluting the land, water and air with harsh chemicals, biodegradable soap breaks down into simple organic compounds that can be broken down by bacteria and natural processes.
Biodegradable soap is better for animals. The last thing you want to do is accidentally poison a bear or other big animal with your camping toiletries! Biodegradable soaps are safe for animals—they won’t eat them and become sick, like they would if you used regular dish soap out in nature.
Biodegradable soaps are better for you. Using biodegradable soaps means that they don’t contain harsh chemicals like phosphates and chlorine which have been linked to cancer in humans when ingested at high levels over time through drinking water treated with these chemicals (source). They also don't contain surfactants which can irritate eyes or skin when exposed directly to them; however there's still some debate about whether this happens during normal use of these products because there's not enough scientific evidence yet out there about their long-term effects on human health (source). It's best just not risk it!
Don't Forget About Water Sources
Don’t forget that even though you are in the middle of the outdoors, you still need water. And not just a little bit—you need enough for food preparation, drinking and cleaning up afterwards.
As such, it is important to make sure that you have a way to access clean water from your campsite before setting out on any hike or adventure.
It is also wise to bring at least one backup water source such as a filter or iodine tablets in case something happens to your primary source of water during the trip.
Bring a First Aid Kit
Having a first aid kit on hand is an essential part of any camping experience. Whether you're heading out with just your family or with a group, make sure to bring along a well-stocked kit.
It's important that each person has their own first aid kit, and that there's one for each vehicle as well—sometimes accidents happen when driving around in cars or trucks. You also want to have individual kits for each campsite/activity location (e.g., boating trips, hiking trails) so that if something happens while you're out exploring nature, you'll have the supplies needed to get yourself patched up and back on your feet again!
Don't be afraid to speak up. It's a part of being an active member of any community, and dispersed camping is no different. Speak up if you see something wrong, or something you don't like, or something that needs to be done, fixed or improved. Don't be afraid to suggest alternatives and ways of doing things differently—but do it with respect for the people who are already working hard on making your camping experience great!
Be Mindful of the Wildlife
Never feed the wildlife: While some animals are used to being around people, others have not adapted well to this change in their natural environment. Feeding animals will only make them more comfortable with humans and potentially cause them to approach you for food on a regular basis. If an animal does approach your campsite, retreat inside your tent until it leaves.
Keep food sealed in containers: This one seems like common sense, but bears can smell food from miles away! Keep all of your food items (and clothes) sealed inside of a bear-proof container or backpack until they are ready to be consumed by you or yours.
Keep food out of reach of wildlife: Similar to keeping it sealed up tight, if there is any chance that wild animals could smell or access any part of your meal while camping out in the woods (such as cooking over an open fire), then put it up high where they won't be able to get at it! Make sure any cooking utensils are also placed securely overhead so nothing falls into their hands either!
Cover Up! (with Sun Protection and Bug Spray)
In the case of dispersing, you need to be prepared. You don’t want to spend the day battling sunburn and bug bites.
Before hitting the road, be sure to cover up with long sleeves and pants. Also bring a hat and sunscreen (and remember: sunscreen should be applied liberally before heading outdoors). Deet bug spray is highly effective in keeping ticks away from your skin and out of your tent, so it’s a good idea to pack some along on your trip.
If you do get sunburned or bitten by bugs (or both), there are many ways that you can treat these ailments at home or on the go:
Sunburn: Cool showers or baths can help ease discomfort for mild sunburns; for more severe cases, visit an urgent care clinic immediately after experiencing symptoms such as blisters or feverishness lasting longer than 24 hours after exposure; if necessary apply aloe vera gel directly onto burnt areas of skin; take ibuprofen every four hours until pain subsides
Have a Fun and Safe Time!
OK, so you’ve got the gear and know what to expect. But do you know how to have fun and stay safe?
Well, here are some great tips:
Be prepared. Take plenty of water and food with you—and don’t forget sunscreen!
Respect the environment. Pack out all your garbage (and any other trash that isn't yours). Digging holes in streams or rivers is not only bad for fish habitat, but can also be dangerous for yourself if it causes a flood or mudslide. Leave footprints, take photos—but leave no trace!
Respect wildlife by not feeding them or trying to get close enough for a selfie! They may look cute and cuddly when they're sleeping away in their burrows but they'll turn into vicious predators if they think one of their young has been threatened by humans; stay at least 30 feet away from all wildlife while dispersed camping as well as during any other outdoor activities.
Respect other campers by keeping noise levels down after dark; turn off lights when you go inside your tent so that others can sleep peacefully without being disturbed by light pollution (just make sure there aren't any bears hanging around!). If possible try leaving an extra camp site open just in case someone needs extra room later on during their trip; then pack up early enough so that no one else has trouble finding space near theirs later on either (especially important depending on distance travelled between sites).
Dispersed camping is great, but be prepared!
Dispersed camping is a great way to get away from it all. But before you venture out into the wild, make sure you are prepared. You don't want to be stuck in the woods without a plan. Whether your trip goes perfectly or not, have a plan for the worst and the best so that you can enjoy yourself no matter what happens!
Have a plan for emergencies
Have a plan for weather conditions
Have a plan for wildlife encounters
So, have I convinced you to give dispersed camping a try? It’s an incredible way to experience the great outdoors without spending too much money or time getting there. It’s also a good opportunity to see some of the more remote areas that may not be accessible by your average car. And with these tips in mind, you can go out there and have a very safe and fun experience!