Stealth Camping 101

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by Rev, Mar 17, 2016.

  1. Rev

    Rev Asshole

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    So I do a LOT of camping, all via motorcycle. I've been asked a few times elsewhere on tips for stealth camping and I thought some of you guys might be interested as well.

    First things first, I am fully aware that some of the things I do could be potentially dangerous or illegal by nature. I never leave the house with breaking laws in mind, and neither should anyone else. That being said, what you do is your choice and liability.

    Stealth camping or gray area camping as a lot more people call it can be a great and fun way to experience things you normally wouldn't, and can be a big money saver on trips. Like everything else camping related, it all comes down to prep. Having everything you need when you leave the house (or as close to everything you can) is a mindset you'll get into. After some time, you'll have a gear list in your head. I will go more into what gear I take later, but basics are:
    • Sleeping gear. Can be a hammock, tent or bedroll. Some options are better suited for this than others, more on that later
    • Food & food prep. A lot of the time, an open fire will not be an option, so a small stove and appropriate cookware is a must. Dont forget food & water!


    Site selection is key to any good night camping, and with gray area camping it's even more important. NEVER cross a fence or locked gate (even just latched) or go where no trespassing is posted. Don't be in places near high traffic either.

    Some of the places I find work well (again, depending on the gear you use) are:
    • Churches/cemeteries (again following the gate rule). Most churches have nice open areas where you can sleep behind without being disturbed.
    • Interstate round-a-bouts. This one is tricky, but I've slept many nights in the trees that fill the interstate on/off ramps. Lots of noise and potential eyes, but if done right you'll be perfect here. Once I slept on the side of the interstate near where the fence line is. It was heavily wooded so cover wasn't an issue, but the next morning I discovered a wreck a few miles up where the car was basically where I was sleeping. Too much potential for injury or worse so I do NOT recommend that!!!
    • Parks. A lot of state and national parks are open 24/7 and you can just ride up to a place and camp out. I've heard stories of people going into a park purposefully after the rangers have left (so they didnt have to pay) and leaving early the next day to avoid paying the camp fees. I don't condone that, but it can be easily done if the situation calls for it. There are many advantages to parks, like showers and fire pits, and while I have camped without paying upfront, I've made sure to go and cover the fee before I leave.
    • Abandoned buildings. This also has potential safety hazards, including hobos that may have the same idea. But on more than a few occasions I have found a good nights rest behind old factories (inside a few times too when I felt the building wouldn't collapse on top of me!)


    Last thing to preface, as with all camping you should be mindful to Leave No Trace. The LNT mindset is to leave an area the same or better than when you got there. Many reasons for this, but aside from keeping the world beautiful, it helps to keep off the radar for future campers.

    If you are found camping in a place that you shouldn't be, I've found apologetic ignorance and speed are your best friends. I've been found by everything from law enforcement to landowners, and as long as I'm not camped out under a sign prohibiting it, I've never had a problem. I also use gear that is quickly taken down and doesn't look like I'm camping overnight, such as a hammock or bedroll. I find the hammock particularly well suited for stealth camping because it's almost like you're not even there, as opposed to a tent which requires foresight and effort to put up.


    Thats a start! If theres any interest in this, please feel free to post questions and your own Steal Camping stories!!!
    #1
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  2. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

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    Sports field areas, or just find a lone road and camp in the trees
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  3. Lizzard323

    Lizzard323 Solo rider. Lover of solitude and corn meal.

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    No, hotels are safer.....NOT.
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  4. Brycycle

    Brycycle Adventurer

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    Cemeteries???... you can sleep behind without being disturbed?!? :pope
    So, do you offer the dead a warm meatloaf? Or shovel and bury, careful not to look like a grave robber? :D
    :hmmmmmActually, I might have to try that graveyard stopover thingy out, especially on Friday the 13th. Bucket list added!
    #4
  5. Rev

    Rev Asshole

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    With cemeteries, I only do it where theres a large expanse of UNUSED land! And I have the Winchester Tattoo...
    #5
  6. froger

    froger Been here awhile

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    Have spent more than a few nights in unused rock pits. You can usually find a nice spot along the side somewhere. Dirt roads without mailbox's can be productive too. It don't take much room.

    Being out of sight is nice, but out of the way is good enough most of the time. Of course I'm not building a bonfire or starting a party. The local's can plainly see I'm just a tired rider who don't want to pay. Most people are ok with it.

    We don't have a corner on stealth camping. Lots of day's I've woken up with cars doing the same thing down the road.
    #6
  7. Rev

    Rev Asshole

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    You're absolutely right! A lot of what I do can be applied to hiking and other vehicles as well, its not just a motorcycle thing, altho I do feel we can get in to some places other vehicles can't.
    #7
  8. FixnPCs

    FixnPCs Polisher of Turds

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    Hiding the bike. Easier with the DRZ .... harder with the FJR.
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  9. shotsprockets

    shotsprockets Adventurer

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    Pick your spot before sunset. I will roll into a park at night without hesitation,as mentioned earlier, but choosing a stealthy spot at night is tricky at best.
    I once found what I thought was a primo location off the beaten path until the first of many log trucks started rolling through about an hour before dawn. Two pulled over right near my "camp" to rid themselves of the morning coffee.
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  10. Erinaceous

    Erinaceous ...................O#O

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    ...question, if you don't mind about the hammock. I just bought a Hennessy and wonder if there is disadvantage of having too much distance/length of the ropes attaching to the trees. It seems that some locations won't have the most desirable distance between tree and hammock.
    #10
  11. statsman

    statsman Long timer

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    There has been a change in stealth camping over the past 20 years or so and not for the better.
    When I did it in the 1980s, you dug a hole when you snuck onto private property.
    This is where you did your business and where you dumped your trash in the morning.
    Then you filled he hole back in when you left.
    Nowadays, people leave the site strewn with trash and other waste for the property owner to clean up.
    Stealth camping could easily result in the Sheriff waking you up at 3AM and taking you to the local jail to face trespassing charges the next day.
    Or being run off the property in the middle of the night by a farmer with a shotgun.
    It has been ruined by the irresponsible and IMO is no longer worth the risk.
    #11
  12. BiGR Rich

    BiGR Rich Been here awhile

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    Erin, the problem with tree spacing and hammocks is this:

    If the trees are very far apart, you'll need to have the tree straps further up (possibly out of reach) in order to get the hammock suspension at the proper angle. If the trees are too close, you might need to wrap the tree straps around the tree a couple times for the proper suspension angle.

    So trees close to one another can usually be worked around (within reason), but too far apart can be a deal breaker. I highly recommend spending some time on the hammock forum....it'll make your head spin sometime, but we'll worth the info.
    #12
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  13. Erinaceous

    Erinaceous ...................O#O

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    BigR,

    Thanks for the prompt reply.. To the forum I go....
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  14. Tall Man

    Tall Man Priest, Temple of Syrinx

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    If you bed down on private land and the property owner later initiates contact, be polite to a fault. It doesn't matter if you didn't know that it was private. You do now, so remember your manners. Correctly suggest that you just needed a place to sleep, not to camp. Make it look like you'll pack up and leave immediately -- because that's what you should be doing at this point -- and your chances of being allowed to stay will increase dramatically. I say this not as a stealth camper, but as the fellow who has dealt with a few...all to a good end, to date.

    Remember: one gram of 'tude can be heavier than one pound of courtesy.

    And, yes: police your waste, please.
    #14
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  15. Rev

    Rev Asshole

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    Hammock Forums is a great resource, I've done a lot with them including hosting SC hammock events and such. You WILL get good answers!

    With the Hennesey, I believe they come with a ridgeline attached (mine did, the Deep Jungle XL). When you hang the hammock, that line should be taught but you should be able to bend it with a thumb and finger from horizontal to vertical with your full weight inside it. Too taught, you are putting too much weight on it and risk breaking, too little and you may not be able to be comfortable as the hammock needs specific angles to lay correctly.

    What BiGR Rich postes is correct as well. Keep in mind that when youre in the hammock, your weight is effectively multiplied. With your straps at different angles you will be adding a different dynamic load and can potentially cause failure. 30* is the magic number.

    [​IMG]

    You may also want to look into a book called The Ultimate Hang, I believe you can download it from Amazon. It will give you all sorts of tips
    #15
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  16. Mastery

    Mastery Mr. Funny Man

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    That sure is a lot of math especially after a long day of riding. Think I'll just use my tent.
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  17. BiGR Rich

    BiGR Rich Been here awhile

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    Mastery, you've never tried a hammock? I've read plenty of your gear reviews here, so I'm surprised....

    The math isn't that hard (nonexistent really). Don't use paracord for suspension, and a guesstimate for suspension angle is all you really need.
    #17
  18. Erinaceous

    Erinaceous ...................O#O

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    Rev,

    thanks for taking the time to share that. Excellent!!!

    I have been pouring over Hammock forums and there is a plethora of opinions. Age, health, wind, peeing in your boots, and becoming bear bait are some of my non-concerns, lol.

    This forum is a gold mine....even if there is some fools-gold rising to the surface now and again.
    #18
  19. Mastery

    Mastery Mr. Funny Man

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    I live and ride among corn and soybean fields. I'd have trouble figuring out the cord tension when the trees are 856 feet apart. :D

    I know a few people that hang and enjoy it. Just not something that ever appealed to me personally. It may be something great I'm missing out on.

    I've been told that I'm missing out on free climbing mountains but it never appealed to me either. :hide
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  20. Rev

    Rev Asshole

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    Just to let you know Mastery, some hammocks can be used as a Bivy when supports arent readily available. Ive hung between 2 tow trucks (i had the keys to both) and many other structures before. Dont gotta be trees!
    #20