stealth camping while bikepacking

Stealth Camping While Bikepacking

Stealth camping allows someone to temporarily camp at a location in a secretive or convert way. Its often done in the wilderness or even in big cities. Stealth camping while bikepacking can be a fun way to move from one place to another. You have to make sure that you are able to keep yourself hidden, and that you leave the place exactly how you found it. The perfect stealth camper can come and go without anyone having any idea they were there.

Stealth camping has a few different names that you may have heard in the past. It’s also been known as ninja camping, wild camping, or free camping. Many people should give this a try if you spend a lot of time in nature. But be sure not to ruin it or make a big mess. Many cyclists, hikers, and kayakers enjoy stealth camping.

Stealth camping should be done with the intention of not breaking any laws or causing harm to the environment. If you change the surroundings or leave a mess, then it’s not stealth camping. If there are laws that forbid you from camping in a specific area, its best to find another location.

Stealth camping can be a lot of fun. When done correctly, anyone can stealth camp in a legal and respectful way while enjoying nature. When you’re stealth camping while bikepacking, it is easier to explore the world and have a safe spot to sleep at night. Basically, stealth camping is intended to allow camping in the wilderness, while making sure that future generations get to enjoy a free wilderness experience as well.

stealth camping bikepacking
The Benefits of Stealth Camping

There are a lot of benefits of adding stealth camping into your arsenal aside from typical campgrounds, hotels, and hostels. This can save you lots of money if you plan to be bikepacking for a considerable amount of time. You will find that stealth camping provides you with a good place to sleep provided you find the right spots. If you are bikepacking and handling everything on your own, then you want to keep costs low and stealth camping helps to make this happen.

Many people like stealth camping because it helps get them closer to nature and they can be alone away from prying eyes. You can find new places to camp each night, perhaps going to some locations you never considered before.

It not only allows you to connect better with nature, it makes it possible to enjoy helping nature out. If you do stealth camping well, you will not leave a mess behind or any indication that you were there.

General Guidelines

There are a few different guidelines that you should follow while stealth camping. These are the unwritten rules but knowing what they are and how to follow them will make a difference in how successful you will be stealth camping.

Leave no trace. You should not cut firewood or have a campfire, move rocks, or change the landscape. At most, you can move a few leaves to make your sleeping location a bit softer but spread them out when you are done. The goal is to make sure no one else knows you were there.

Try to leave the area cleaner than it was when you get there. If you see litter, take the time to clean it up and pack it out when you leave.

Take care of your waste. Some spots may have restrooms nearby, but not all of them will. Dig a hole and burry it. This is something that happens while stealth camping, especially with bikepacking in the backcountry so be prepared for it.

Understand the law. If the area looks like you should have permission to camp there, then you probably do. Do some research beforehand. It’s perfectly acceptable in some parts of the world while other areas may strictly forbid it. Do so at your own risk in these areas if you plan to do so. If the area is posted as “no trespassing” or “private property” its best to move on and avoid the area. Some land owners can be unpredictable.

Know how to setup and break down camp quickly. This will make it easier to get in and get out as fast as you can to limit the time of being discovered.

stealth camping while bikepacking

Don’t camp in groups. Stealth camping is best when done alone since it’s easier to stay quiet. When you are in a group, its also easier to be seen. It’s best to do it on your own and enjoy the solitude.

Ask around. Asking locals such as farmers, shop owners, city workers and even police officers may be able to help point you in the right direction when it comes to good spots to camp for the night. I’ve had some great luck doing this. I’ve been invited to stay on farms as well as front lawns of police stations.

Avoid camping in areas that flood or fill with water. Dry riverbeds and desert washes are best to be avoided. Waking up in the middle of the night to find your sleeping pad has just turned into a river float is not fun at all.  

Try to setup camp just as the sun is going down and avoid doing so in the dark. If you need to make camp while its dark, try to keep the flashlight use to a minimum. Lights flailing around only draw unnecessary attention.

Look for fresh animal tracks or game trails. You don’t want to camp in the path of any predatorial or other aggressive animals. You could be woken up in the middle of the night by a moose sniffing at your tent like I once did.

Try to camp on higher ground. Its natural for people to look down so camping at an elevation slightly higher than the rest of your surroundings can help keep you from being spotted.

Try to use gear that blends into your surroundings. A bright orange tent will be much easier to spot in the forest than one that’s brown or green.

Some campsites will have amazing scenery, but others may seem a bit unwelcoming. Don’t be discouraged about camping in an area that is a little unsightly. You are only going to be spending the night there and if you are stealth camping correctly you should be out relatively quickly limiting your time spent at that location.

Try to avoid having a fire. A fire will give off your location and could even perhaps be illegal. If you do have to make a fire, try to keep it as small as possible. And as always make sure its 100% out before leaving.

Minimize your use of electronics such as your phone and flashlights. This is just another way to give off your location to anyone that might be passing by that would otherwise not notice you.

Don’t set up camp as soon as you find what seems to be a suitable spot. Look around and listen to your surroundings for 10 or 15 mins. You might find out that there are other campers close by or realize you are still too close to the road you just came from.

Break camp early. If you can get packed up and headed out before most people are starting their days you’ll be much less likely to be caught.

The more you do it the easier it gets. The first couple times will be a little intimidating but once you have done it a few times you will learn what types of areas to look for.

Cheers and thanks for reading!