Solo stealth camping safety

Discussion in 'Americas' started by IRideASlowBike, Feb 23, 2011.

  1. IRideASlowBike

    IRideASlowBike Banned

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    I'm planning a coast-to-coast trip to California and back this summer. It should take at least a month.

    Since I'm on a budget, I'll be camping as much as possible, preferably not in designated campsites, but "stealth". Think behind churches, off a gravel road somewhere, etc. I've done this before successfully, but on a much shorter trip. I have to admit, there were times when I felt pretty vulnerable while falling asleep. For example, I once woke up when I heard a guy jogging in circles about 100 feet from where I was sleeping, at 5 in the morning in the middle of nowhere. Probably nothing, but still kind of creeped me out. I got out of there anyway. Laugh all you want.

    The question:

    What, if anything, do you inmates carry for personal protection while stealth camping? Gun, knife, pepper spray, nothing? Have you ever had to use whatever you were carrying? Do you even feel there is a need to carry anything at all?

    Please, DO NOT TURN THIS INTO A PRO-GUN/ANTI-GUN THREAD. I just want to take a survey of all the ways people stay safe while camped in out-of-the-way, "non-traditional" sites.
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  2. vagt6

    vagt6 Bit the Bullet

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    No wonder you felt scared: if you were camping on private land the owner was problably just trying to protect his property! Almost anyone would do the same. You're lucky as hell he wasn't some armed-to-the-teeth nutball who shoots first and asks questions later. Really lucky.

    Now, you seek "protection" with a firearm in order to break the law (e.g., trespassing)! Brilliant! With such a trip strategy, your vacation may end up with you behind bars and some innocent property owner six feet under!

    Holy cow, man, use your brain! Plan your trip carefully, take quality time to map it out; take a route that lands you near places where it's legal to camp, and don't break the law! At least do your homework and learn where the best places to camp are along your intended route. Then, you won't need any greater "protection" than the throttle grip on your bike.

    Trespassing is looking for trouble: when we look for trouble by doing stupid stuff (e.g., trespassing), it's easy to find.

    Camp only where it's legal, in a government park, public campground, etc. Don't tempt fate.:norton
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  3. IRideASlowBike

    IRideASlowBike Banned

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    I was not trespassing, and the guy was not the property owner. It was in the middle of nowhere, Georgia. He was dressed in track clothing. The fact that he was jogging around in circles at 5AM in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE struck me as odd.

    Do a search for "stealth camping" on this forum. It's more common than you think, and doesn't necessarily mean trespassing. There's lots of BLM and National Forest land where it's 100% legal.

    What part of "non-traditional" do you not understand?

    BTW, I don't own a gun and don't plan to acquire one for this trip. It's too much of a hassle.
    #3
  4. RideAbout

    RideAbout Mentally Retired

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    I stealth camp and rarely have issues. I stay safer (safe=absence of risk... impossible) by taking a positive attitude, the ability to capitulate and a smile. Dis-arm them with a freindly demeanor and the humility to apologize.

    Taking a situation to a deadly level is not something most are willing, able or should be encouraged to do. That being said, our human nature is to defend ourselves against harm... and I sometimes carry.

    And to GT6, Trespassing is only defined when you have been warned as such. If you are standing on a patch of ground with no signs or have not been asked to leave, you are not "yet" tresspassing. But respect of others property is always a good place to start.
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  5. vagt6

    vagt6 Bit the Bullet

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    Rideabout, I don't disagree with your assessment, and debating the legal definition of "trespassing" won't be of much consolation if we're on the wrong side of fate while "stealth" camping.

    I'm familiar with the "stealth" thread. It appears that some folks simply choose to ignore the risks and do it anyway, usually with no negative consequences. Good for them.

    The fact remains that if you do not have permission to camp on someone else's property, either implied or explicit, you're on thin ice from a legal standpoint, especially if something goes wrong. And, when you're on thin (legal) ice, things DO tend to go wrong.

    Be careful out there, folks.
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  6. Uglyprimate

    Uglyprimate UglyPirate

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    Out west, stealth camping is as easy as pitching a tent outside. Vast tracts of BLM land are all public owned.

    Protection is as simple as remaining invisible and staying off the obvious corridors.

    East and midwest, do yourself a favor and ask for permission from farmers. Or use public land. Yeah, you may have to pay $3 entrance fee, but suck it up and buy a smaller coffee at Starbucks in the morning.

    Check out the tent space thread. I doubt if there's one single area that doesn't have another inmate's couch, spare bedroom or backyard available for free.

    If you're paranoid about sleeping in a tent, turn off the AM radio, recycle that tin foil helmet and understand that the boogeyman was just a figment of your imagination. You're not that cute and Bubba is only interested in blood relatives anyway.

    Or I highly recommend a hatchet and cyanide pill for polar bears. Chop off your own foot, eat the cyanide and the bear will die from indigestion.
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  7. IRideASlowBike

    IRideASlowBike Banned

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    I'll keep that in mind.

    :lol3
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  8. cpuckett812

    cpuckett812 Man of Leisure

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    Vagt6 speaks the truth there brother. I made a trip last year from Va to Wa in April, and had no problem finding a hotel every night of my 9 day journey with the exception of a night where I was forced to sleep in a trucker lot, centerstand style, just outside of vegas because I found my account had been frozen because Bank of America took it upon themselves to determine it was suspicious that my card was going cross country. Something to keep in mind if you use a debit card. Anyways the most I paid was 35.00, and one of those nights I spent in a Mineral Spirit spa and resort somewhere in Illinois! All I did was either do a search with my phone or gps a couple hours before dark, and call a couple places, or kept my eyes out for the signs. Theres plenty, and I mean plenty of cheap motels out there, and theyre more than happy to get your business. And I tell ya something else, you dont have to have a big wad of money to do it, but if youre so far in the red that you cant afford 35.00 a night, you might wanna find another vacation spot closer to home. Other things to think about, you ll probably need new tires either right before you go or during, think about your brakes, lights, and any of the other 100 things that might go out from normal wear and tear, and know that you may have to go to a dealer to get them. I paid 100 bucks for some rear pads at the BMW spot in New Mexico, because I didnt have the option of ordering a 20 set off ebay. As far as protection goes, the best you can have is your head. Gun laws are a bitch to figure out state to state, sometimes county to county, you should have a knife anyways, for tool purposes, but nothing will help you more than your brain. You ll get alot of questions, be polite, and move along, but unless its an emergency, do not go trespassing and all that shit, because chances are, your trip may end up with a totally different outcome than what you envision right now.......Especially if I caught you camped behind my damn house!
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  9. IRideASlowBike

    IRideASlowBike Banned

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    Just to clarify, everyone...

    I have never gone, nor do I intend to, just go onto peoples' property and pitch my tent there.
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  10. Flashmo

    Flashmo Whatever...

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    Blowing this way out of proportion aren't you?
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  11. alpiner84

    alpiner84 Been here awhile

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    I'm not familiar with the east or midwest, but out west there's no problem with all the BLM land, and I wouldn't worry much about safety.
    1. Hang your food or lock it in metal panniers away from you if you're in bear country.
    2. I camp with an airhorn for bears--don't need to aim it like you do pepper spray, and it makes them tuck and run in no time :evil

    For the most part, the people you run into "in the middle of nowhere" aren't looking for trouble, they're just trying to get away from it all the same as you. Have fun!
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  12. Flashmo

    Flashmo Whatever...

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    My stealth camping has always been in the western states. There is a lot of public ground out here, but sometimes you find yourself on a piece of unused private ground.

    The risks are very small. If you have someone approach you, just talk to them like another human "I was tired and needed a place to stop for a quick sleep. If it is a problem, I can move on."

    Land owners will not come talk to you brandishing weapons, they will simply ask you to leave if they don't want you there. Usually, they will point you to a place where you will not be bothering anyone. On that note, if you strike up a conversation with a local, just ask them where they would throw a tent locally if they needed to.

    My only concern is mistakingly ending up at a traditional "keg party" location on a Friday night and finding out only when the drunk kids start raising hell.
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  13. IRideASlowBike

    IRideASlowBike Banned

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    Yes, this is more what I had in mind. That, or drug spots. Meth use out in the woods is more common than you might think.

    Basically I want to avoid an Easy Rider type of scenario... :lol3
    #13
  14. bikertrash101

    bikertrash101 Adventurer

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    when you come to a small town ask if you can camp in the park alot of times the police will tell you ok.
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  15. tcourdin

    tcourdin Resident Spooner

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    Never camped on my land before huh?:D We've had people trespass on the family farm before, and they were always greeted with a weapon.


    I agree with the camping out west, it is alot more open and there is lots of places to camp. I cant wait to do that sometime myself.
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  16. tcourdin

    tcourdin Resident Spooner

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    Yes it is! I've ran into my share of shady characters around here out in the middle of nowhere.
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  17. SeanF

    SeanF Long timer

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    I've done a fair bit of stealth camping in Russia, Mongolia (shouldn't really count since it's all essentially free camping), and through the 'Stans. I never had problems, IMO mainly because I wasn't noticed. My method is to start looking for a campsite about 1/2 hour before sunset, looking for dirt roads that get some traffic, but not too much. Tire tracks in the dirt should be few, and not fresh. Usually if there is a dirt road, there are small side roads that lead off into the bush proper. By the time you're setting up your tent, it should be after sunset, but still with available light. Don't use a flashlight, and drape something over any lights or reflectors on your bike if you think you are visible from the road. No camp fire, unless you are completely sure you won't be seen. Your tent should be dark or earthy colors, or at least not bright yellow or lime green. In the morning, before you leave, spiffy up the place, don't have wads of TP or tissue lingering in the weeds. Or beer cans.

    In a pinch, when I was reduced to scouting campsites after dark, I have camped under towers for high tension power lines, near landfills, at unused sites for road construction equipment, behind mounds of dirt near a gas line project. I've found that being quite close to the road is very stealthy. At night, car drivers have tunnel vision and cannot or don't care to glance out into the trees. Just have some concealment between you and the road.

    I don't recommend official rest areas near highways since they tend to attract thieves and other scum. Also if you see a No Trespassing sign, honor it. If the landowner cares enough to post it, they likely care enough to enforce it.

    But if someone does notice you, just be honest about what you're doing. Keep a tidy campsite in case your visitor is the landowner or Johnny Law; you'll want to make a good impression. And you have nothing to lose by asking someone if you can camp on their land. Even if they say No, they might point you to a good spot.

    Yes, there is the chance that someone with bad intent could find you. In the US I think it would most likely be on weekends when the locals head out into the woods with various intoxicants and guns to blow off some steam. Or maybe a landowner has just had his land demolished by trespassers for the third weekend in a row, and he's in a bad mood.

    But there will be times when no campsite can be found, or the ones you do find don't feel right. There's nothing wrong with finding a cheap motel, even with a strong camping ethos. Riding at night, tired, hungry, trying to scout campsites gets more dangerous (and less likely to yield fruit) with each passing minute. Know when to call it a night, live to ride another day.

    HTH
    Sean

    PS: Don't ride to a campsite at night that you can't ride out of in the morning in the rain. Deep ruts on a dry dirt road usually means it turns to slime in the rain. If you're on an overloaded bike with street tires, it won't be fun.
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  18. Truckin_Thumper

    Truckin_Thumper low profile

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    I have done it and will do it some more starting Monday.

    Rulez:

    One camp where it looks good to you
    IF you get caught by the land owner, plead ignorance, and BE POLITE, Apologize for trespassing.
    Setup out of the way of the traveled part of the dirt road.
    STAY OUT of a pasture, beside it, behind it, etc.
    DO NOT open locked gates...use common sense here.


    I have been busted a couple of times and it turns out all good using the above.

    NOW, go to a National Park and get a yearly pass...I think it is called "America the Beautiful Annual Park Pass"

    Most parks you can primitive camp, unless posted otherwise.

    As for protection...
    I keep a survivial knife by my side, never needed it, but I slept better with it there.
    Guns:
    While I have a CCW, it is not recognized in all states.
    Having it will give you a piece of mind, and possible chance for a good dinner, BUT, get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, it could turn your trip into a felony hell.

    This might help
    http://www.handgunlaw.us/

    Atleast if you get caught with a 12" survival knife, camping is a good excuse.

    what else ya wanna know? :D
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  19. tcourdin

    tcourdin Resident Spooner

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    Yes because thats what we American gun owners do on the weekends. LMAO!:huh I cant wait till saturday to load up my various intoxicants and firearms and go cause trouble.
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  20. DSM8

    DSM8 Where fun goes to die....

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