Dispersed camping

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Team Talent Blog

Here you will find information about dispersed camping to help get you started on your journey from tips, tricks and packing lists. Enjoy and cheers to the great outdoors!

It is great to first know....

 

What is dispersed camping??

Dispersed camping is primarily defined as camping within National Forests and other permitting areas that are not campgrounds. This means no toilets, fire rings, cell service (most of the time), picnic tables, campground hosts and does mean more solitude, more wildlife and much more adventure! Dispersed camping is great for those who have had multiple camping trips, don't mind getting dirty and looking to set up their adventure game. It is also almost always free up to 14 days in one spot! 

Even though you may feel as you are the only humans on earth while dispersed camping... there are still a multitude of rules and regulations for dispersed camping varying by location so please check out the US Forest Service website prior to your venture to ensure you are in compliant so we can support our outdoor services, stay safe and protect the environment

Why I personally LOVE dispersed camping but also why I do not do it all the time.

 

I grew up camping so I was also accustomed to being outdoors, sleeping in tents, cooking dinner on a campfire and so on. In my early 20's I started dispersed camping and instantly feel in LOVE! I would go dispersed camping with my now fiance or a small group of others, without any pets or children and with tents, backpacks and our all-wheel drive SUV. That being said... it was pretty easy to manage a trip like this considering our experience and current circumstances. We would pick a US National Forest on the map and then decide a few places we would like to disperse camp in. I enjoyed the thrill of not exactly knowing what spot we were going to find even though we were packing, training and planning which seems like it took forever... it was mysterious and freeing know that we must enjoy our journey there and not just the destination. After packing up the car and driving for days or hours... it was time to search for the perfect dispersed camping spot for us. We would arrive in the most beautiful National Forests that all seemed too perfect to be true. 

 

We then travel for an hour or even a few hours to find our one perfect dispersed camping spot. (A few hours after a long car ride has definitely been a mental struggle for me.. but I knew rewards were on their way).  And finally..... the perfect spot where it is only you and nature. Some of the spots we have stayed at have had the most scenic views and freshest air as you are in the middle of the most beautiful lands known to our planet. On occasions, we have stopped at a few extremely wet and buggy spots due to time constrictions dictated by the sun but most of the time we are happy to say we have gotten lucky with our dispersed camping spots. 

  • You can find the most beautiful and scenic spot with all nature and no humans

  • You can also find a pretty rugid location with all of nature - bugs, rain, mud

  • You can sometimes find popular National Forests filled with humans making it harder to find a dispersed camping spot

    • Tip - Avoid holidays, weekends and National Forests near large cities​

Once you have arrived at your destination, you are able to set up camp where you'd like, build your own fire pit, place your hammock where you would like, designate a bathroom area (Yupp, that is right!) and just have the space and freedom to be fully immersed with nature. It is more work, it is incredible!  I feel like an outdoor design artist at times building my own personal campground area. 

  • More freedom, more solitude and more reward

  • More work and less convenience 

I have always loved they day by cooking on the camp fire and watching the brightest stars I've ever seen in my life as the sun says goodnight. I have seen some incredible meteor shows in dispersed camping areas that many will never experience if they have never left the larger populated areas. As I snuggle in my tent at night, I am able to gently fall into my dreams once I become accustomed to how quiet the sounds of dispersed camping are (which sometimes takes a day or two). I have never slept better within the trees and mountains while dispersed camping but I also have had some days where I miss the sounds of people. 

Overall, I am forever in love with dispersed camping even though it is hard work and different from our norm as humans. I have had some of the most wonderful experiences that have shaped me into the adult I have become and I will cherish every single one of them. I now hope to give you my knowledge, past experiences, tip and tricks to get you going on your dispersed camping journey....

Tips & Tricks for Dispersed Camping

  1. Check dispersed camping rules and regulations in your area and make sure you are not camping on private property

  2. Have an emergency safety plan - first aid kit, first aid knowledge, etc.

  3. Trust your instincts.

  4. Know the predators in the area  and be prepared in case of an encounter.

  5. Know how to make your own toilet = we make a hold with an ax and it is awesome!

  6. Be prepared to get RUGID & enjoy it.

  7. Check the grounds upon arrival for feces and know your feces, you don't want to end up camping in a mountain lions home.... oh no.

  8. Always cook and leave your food away from your tent and camping gear - then change into new clothes before going into your tent to not attract animals.

  9. Download google maps area prior to losing cell service.

  10. Know how to make your own campfire and check current fire restrictions and bans in your area.

  11. Do your research and BE SAFE.

  12. Take out what you pack in - keep our wonderful earth clean.

  13. Make sure you have a vehicle that can handle the terrain.

  14. If bringing pets or children, I recommend doing additional research on dispersed camping with pets and children - I do not have much experience with this..... yet

  15. Bring water... more than you think. 

  16. Be prepared to not have a shower available to you. 

  17. Pack well - and double check your packing list. 

  18. Be open to new experiences.

  19. Enjoy the journey and the destination. 

  20. Take in all of this journey.

  21. Have a good time and enjoy the nature detox, sounds and peace.

Find your Journey and enjoy it!

Dispersed camping is not easy but also not as tough as backpacking. It is a great way to set up your outdoor adventures while not being too far from your car but being farther away from civilization. We have found some incredible spots that are sunken in deep forests or overlooking the mountain horizon. We also feel great dispersed camping because we are prepared and well-knowledgeable. 

And lastly... if you would like, here is my dispersed camping packing list I'd love to share with you.

Enjoy!!!

Dispersed Camping Packing List

  • Rugid Products - Sunscreen, Hand Sanitizer Lotion, Pain and Itch Relief stick, Bug Repellent

  • We personally like to bring - a writing journal, guitar, yoga mat and a good reading book

  • Tent - We love REI tents

  • First Aid Kit

  • Bear Spray - If applicable

  • Knife or multi-tool

  • Head lamp

  • Lamps

  • Food 

  • Toilet paper

  • Ax - to chop wood

  • Heated Gear - If applicable

  • Maps

  • Sleeping Bag

  • Trash bags

  • Hiking boots

  • Clothes

  • Camping chairs

  • Hammock

  • Towel

  • Mugs and Cups

  • Pots and Pans

  • Utensils

  • Toiletries 

  • Lighter

  • Compass

By Shelby Koutas

May 14th 2020