Camping Etiquette: Camping with Friends

by Philip Welles about 1957

by Philip Welles about 1957

Have you ever been camping with someone who ignored all rules of common decency and shirked all responsibility? Perhaps that person rusted your cast iron skillet or neglected to clean up their trash at the end of the trip.

Short of vowing never to camp with that person again, there is little you can do to prevent others from taking advantage of you. However, you can make sure you are not the one that others grumble about after you go to bed each night by ensuring you obey the following etiquette rules for camping with others:

Divide the responsibilities in advance

Divide the responsibilities of camping before you go. Assign tasks to each camper, such as who is in charge of which meal, who will bring which tools and equipment, and who will be responsible for bringing activities. Advanced planning will help prevent arguments and relationship strains. When everyone has a plan, the time together is more enjoyable for all.

Assign daily chores

Certain tasks, like disposing of trash, cooking meals, gathering wood, building a fire, and cleaning up after meals occur every day. Assign a few tasks to each person per day. Make sure the same person is not stuck with the same job each day. No one wants to have to clean up the dishes after every meal.

Establish a campsite schedule and boundaries

Find out what each person expects from the trip. Some campers may want to arise early and get started with the day. Others may wish to enjoy a leisurely-paced morning before major activities occur. Set up boundaries for sleeping, a loose schedule outline, and a daily quiet time, if necessary.

Show respect to other campers

When you share a space with other campers, it is important to respect their personal space and equipment. Never use someone else’s tools, equipment, or food without asking. Do not enter other’s tents or personal areas. This will prevent crowding and allow everyone to experience downtime, if they wish.

Maintain a clean campsite

In addition to following basic campsite rules and regulations, keep your campsite clean. Dispose of trash immediately, and respect the plants and wildlife surrounding your campsite. Show your fellow campers respect by keeping your equipment and space tidy throughout the trip.

Following these basic camping etiquette rules will go a long way toward making your camping experience enjoyable for everyone.

Have you ever camped with a disrespectful camper? How did you deal with the experience?

Multi Tool on a Budget

Tim Leatherman

Ever since Karl Elsener  started producing the Schweizer Offiziersmesser, “Swiss Officer’s Knife”, in 1891 human kind has been producing multi-tools. Today, everyone from adventurers, military types and do-it-yourself enthusiasts have found various multi-tool configurations have become essential parts of their packs and tool kits.
While the Swiss Army knife has always been centered around the knife, Tim Leatherman chose to make pliers the core of his multi-tool platform and a new legend was created. He started production in 1983 and new models have been produced every year since.

I’ve owned several Leatherman models and every one has been stolen. While that’s very frustrating for me, it certainly says something about the tool’s image and desirability. I’ve certainly been happy with each model I’ve had and keep purchasing replacements.

Today there are about 30 different models of Leatherman so you’re sure to find one that will fit your need and wallet. Today we’re going to take a look at one of the more economical models, the Wingman. As of this writing you can pick one up from for about $35.

L_Wingman_ADThe Wingman was created in 2011 and has 14 tools. It’s a little heavy at 7oz. so you ultralight backpackers probably won’t want this model. However, the diy person or casual camper or backpacker on a budget will love this model. It’s put together well with very little play allowed in the joints. In fact when you first get yours you’ll find the tension and friction of the moving parts to be just slightly to tight. Leatherman’s are known for this and will loosen to be just right with some use. I personally think this is indicative of Leatherman’s attention to detail.

Like all Leathermans, the primary tool is the plier assembly. This model effectively gives you needle nose pliers, standard pliers and wire cutters. The plier’s are spring loaded which makes single hand operation pretty easy. Other tools included are a knife, file, wire striper, bottle opener and the list goes on. See Below.

While Leatherman has other models which have more tools, and some with tools more suited for camping, the Wingman is an excellent starter / budget conscience model.

Tech Specs

2.6 in | 6.6 cm (Blade Length)
3.8 in | 9.7 cm (Closed)
7 oz | 198.4 g (Weight)

Tools Included
Spring-action Needlenose Pliers
Spring-action Regular Pliers
Spring-action Wire Cutters
420HC Combo Knife
Package Opener
Wood/Metal File
Spring-action Scissors
Small Screwdriver
Medium Screwdriver
Phillips Screwdriver
Ruler (1.5 in / 3.8 cm)
Bottle Opener
Can Opener
Wire Stripper

More Info

Camping Etiquette 101

By Rick McCharles

photo by Rick McCharles

There is more to camping than simply packing up some gear and building a fire in the country. Most campgrounds have both written and non-written rules and regulations that make camping more fun for everyone. Make sure you follow these basic camping rules next time you head into the wilderness!

Obey ground rules

This is the first rule of camping etiquette. If your established campground has official rules, make sure you follow them. Many sites have rules about quiet hours, trash and waste disposal, permitted activities, pet control, and more. Always follow these rules above all.

Think like a Boy Scout

One of the goals of the Boy Scouts is to leave an area cleaner than how they found it. This should be your camping policy as well. Try to improve every campsite you visit by cleaning up trash and leaving wood for the next visitors.

 Protect the water

A campground water source is important. Never dump any chemicals or waste products into the water, and if you use the water for bathing or cleaning, only use bio-degradable cleaners to keep water and wildlife healthy.

 Dispose of trash properly

Nothing is uglier than bits of trash strewn all over a campsite. Secure all trash carefully away from pets, wild animals, and wind. Take all non bio-degradable trash with you, or dispose of it into designated receptacles. Bury all other trash several inches below the ground, unless otherwise specified by campground rules.

 Keep fires safe

Fire can spread faster than many people realize, especially during dry weather. It is extremely important to follow fire safety rules to avoid creating wildfires. Always fence in your fire with rocks. Remove all grass and other flammable materials within a 12 to 24-inch diameter around the perimeter of the fire. Never leave a fire unattended, even at night. Ensure the fire is extinguished when you leave by dousing it with water and spreading the coals.

 Respect the environment

Leave as little impact on the campsite as possible when you camp. Try not to disturb nature or the surrounding wildlife. Leave plants and animals alone, and if you bring your own pet, keep it on a leash to protect the surrounding wildlife.

If you follow these basic camping rules, you will show respect for the campsite, environment, and yourself. Camping is an enjoyable activity for many, and following the rules makes it more enjoyable for everyone involved.

What are your favorite camping etiquette tips?

Choosing Gear for Beginners

There are some essentials you’ll need to take. As you gain experience camping you’ll modify your list to suit your camping style.


kelty-tent-amazonIf you’re primarily camping in cold weather you don’t need to worry about windows, you won’t need them. For everyone else though, the tent you choose should include lots of vent windows. These windows are made out of a tightly woven screen to keep out bugs but allow air flow. Managing air flow is important; during sumer months you’ll want as much free flowing air as you can get, but during winter you’ll want to close those windows to block the wind and hold in heat.

There are two types of window coverings.

  1. Zippered windows sewn into the tent on one side and zippers on the remaining side. This style works great, but the extra material is always attached to the tent which could matter if you get serious about backpacking.
  2. No built in window covers at all. These tents instead rely on the rain fly to cover windows. This is nice on those mid-summer backpack trips where you want to save a few ounces of weight by leaving the rain fly at home.

Rain flies are important for more than just covering your windows. Their primary purpose is to protect the tent from moisture like rain or dew. Even with a light dewing you’ll find that touching the inside of your tent’s wall will cause that moisture to wick inside. But, with the rain fly installed, that moisture collects on the fly leaving the tent wall dry underneath. Some tents include a rain fly that extends out from the tent’s doors allowing you to stow gear outside the tent, but under the fly. This configuration is my favorite. I stow items like chairs, and other gear under the fly leaving more room in the tent.

Sizing a tent can feel misleading. When a manufacture says a tent will sleep three, what they mean to say is it will sleep three 5′ 2″ guys spooning. So, subtract one from the manufacturer’s suggested count and those two guys will be snug, bumping elbows. A manufacture suggested four person tent will sleep two 6′ guys comfortably.

The Kelty Trail Ridge 4 is a great tent for two large guys. Kelty makes a 6 person version of the same model as well.

Sleeping Bag

sleeping-bag-colman-amazonBags are rated for temperature. Pay attention to these ratings because their spot on. Taking a bag rated for 60 degrees on trip in Minnesota in November just might ruin your camping career forever. Likewise a 30 degree bag during July in Texas can have the same effect.

There are two styles; square and mummy. The mummy bag is shaped, just as the name suggests, to be as form fitting as possible. The pros are this means less material so less weight and it will warm up quicker since there’s less air to heat. On the negative side though some folks just can’t stand to be that snug.

The square style far more comfortable (a statement of personal preference if there ever was one). I prefer the square bag for two main reasons:

  1. You don’t feel like you’re in a cocoon,
  2. and you can store your shirt and pants in the bag with you in the winter months so they’re warm in the morning.

The Colman Dunnock is a great starter bag.

Camp Kitchen

The camp kitchen you build will be based on your cooking style. Generally, you should consider including:

  • Camp plates — these are flat dishes with high sides for serving soups, chili and stews.
  • Cups — Tin coffee mugs are a favorite since they’ll handle any beverage you can through in them, even hot coffee.
  • Various utensils — include knives, spoons, forks, serving utensils.
  • Pots and pans — you should have at least one small pot and one fry pan.
  • Camp stove — If you’re going to camp in a burn restricted area, you’ll need a camp stove. These stoves use propane bottles.
  • Soap — Bring some bio-degradable soap.
  • Trash bags — Pack in, pack out is the old adage and you should adhere to it. Bring a sack or two for collecting your camp trash in. Large plastic bags can also be used for rain ponchos.
  • Food — Plan each meal before you go and take exactly what you need.

Camp Furniture

colman-chair-amazonDifferent types of camping allows for different kinds a camp comfort. If you’re camping with easy access to your car, bring along some folding chairs and maybe even folding camp table.
If you’re backpacking then bring a tarp for sitting on.

For those car camping trips I like the canvas folding style chairs like this one from Colman.

First Aid Kit

You don’t have to be a super paramedic, but you should have a decent first aid kit along. Things happen when you least expect it and help is not just a phone call away. If one of your party cuts themselves you need to be able to at least disinfect the wound. Worst case you’ll need to know how to get the wound to clot so they don’t bleed out as you carry them back to civilization.


At the least your first aid kit should include some disinfectant, antibiotic cream and band-aids. You can get a more comprehensive kit fairly cheaply though so purchase the best bang for your buck.  Mountain Series from Adventure Medical Kits are highly recommended kits. Walmart also has some decent kits that will work in a pinch.

Knowing CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver is important as well. Check with your local Red Cross or hospital, they’ll usually have a course or two every year.

Putting it all Together

Experience and common-sense will help you decide what gear to take on your next camping trip. Think about each part of your day, what activities you’ll be doing and the weather. If you plan your trip before hand you’ll have time to enjoy your trip without worry.

Hiking Etiquette

hiking-moyan-brennNothing is as invigorating as a brisk hike in the outdoor air. Hiking is an excellent way to view nature up close, exercise your muscles, and enjoy the beauty and scenery around you. Nothing ruins a good hike faster than someone who doesn’t follow appropriate hiking etiquette. If you are new to hiking, you may be unaware of some of the unwritten rules. However, even old hiking pros can still benefit from a refresher course in manners now and then!

Follow these basic hiking rules and you will maximize the safety and enjoyment of everyone during your hike:

Stick to the trail

Sticking to the trail is the first rule of a safe hiking experience. Trails are used for a reason, usually because they are the safest way to travel through a particular area. Going off-trail is not only dangerous, but it could harm the surrounding wildlife or plant ecosystem.

Share the trail

Chances are, you will encounter a fellow traveler at least once during your hike. Generally, slower travelers stick to the right and passing is done on the left, just like on the road. Bikers yield to hikers, horses, and motorized vehicles. Hikers yield to motorized vehicles and horses. Downhill travelers allow uphill travelers the right of way.

Keep things clean

Just like the Boy Scouts, you should always try to leave a trail cleaner than you found it. Always dispose of trash properly, and if you see trash littering the trail, pick it up and dispose of it. If you must urinate during your hike, take a few steps away from the trail to complete your business. Use biodegradable cleaning products, if possible.

Respect the atmosphere

Most people hike to get away from the hustle and bustle of life. Respect this desire by keeping loud chatter and activity to a minimum. Rowdiness can not only disturb fellow hikers, but it will also disturb the surrounding wildlife.

Know and follow regulations

Before starting on any hike, make sure you know the regulations for that particular trail. Rules for building fires, eating, disposing of waste, and other trail regulations vary from trail-to-trail. Make sure you know the rules for your trail to avoid causing unnecessary and undesired impact on the area.

Chat with others

Greet others briefly, when you pass them on the trail. This is polite, and it can also act as a safety measure. Getting to know others on the trail can help prevent accidents and increases the safety of all involved.


What etiquette rules are important to you during hikes?