The Secrets Of Stealth Camping

It’s called many things: stealth camping, wild camping, guerrilla camping, rolling off into the woods, etc. In the end, they all mean the same thing.

Stealth camping is the act of quietly finding a place away from people where you can camp for the night and then quickly slip away in the morning without being detected. The key to stealth camping is to remain hidden at all times and to leave no trace of your existence during or after your departure from the site.

Stealth camping is not for everyone. It typically takes some time to work up to, but this is how it usually works:

As night approaches, you’ll be riding your bike along the side of the road. As you ride, you come across a large forest. When there are no cars around, you duck into the trees and quickly disappear.

Making sure that you are far enough away from the road and in a safe location, you set up your tent, cover the reflectors on your bike, and simply fall asleep. In the morning, you quickly pack up your tent, walk back out to the road, get on your bike, and then continue riding.

Many people choose to stealth camp as a way of saving money. Others do it because of the incredible campsites that it can create. Whatever the reason, stealth camping is an excellent choice for the smart and prepared bicycle tourist. It is not for the scared or timid.

If you’re thinking about doing some stealth camping of your own, here are some things to consider first:

Never camp in an area that is marked with “No Trespassing” signs.

Never camp inside of a gate or fence. You are likely on someones private property! It’s even possible that you could be locked inside that gate and have to remain there until someone comes to rescue you.

Make sure not to set up your tent inside of a dry creek or riverbed. Flooding can occur quickly!

Do not make camp in an area where animal tracks or dung can be found. You don’t want to be disturbed by a bear, raccoon, skunk, or mountain lion in the middle of the night.

When stealth camping, make sure that the reflectors on your bike are covered up so that passing cars do not give away your location.

Stealth camping works best if you have a brown, green, or camouflaged colored tent. If possible, use leaves and branches to help hide your tent and bicycle.

When you leave your location in the morning, be sure to leave the place in the same condition it was in when you first arrived. Pack out all your food and trash.

Warning: If you are traveling alone and you choose to stealth camp, know that you are your own rescuer. If you get into trouble, no one is going to know where you are. If you get yourself into a dangerous situation, you are the only person that is going to be able to get you out of it.

If you’re nervous about camping in a place without permission, ask!

If you’re on someone else’s land, ask them first if they will let you spend the night on their property. Many people are more than happy to help you! You might even get a free meal or shower just by asking!

If that doesn’t work, consult the police. Find a police officer or police station and tell them that you are traveling by bike. Be upfront and explain that you are looking for a place to spend the night. Many police officers (depending on the person and the location) will gladly point you to a part of town where you can spend the evening.

This usually works best in small towns where camping out under the stars is more acceptable. In such places, police officials may even be so kind as to escort you to a private campsite in the woods. Some may even bring you food and invite friends to come and hang out with you and hear your stories.

Other officers may not directly tell you where to camp, but give you the indication that if you do roll off into the woods, they aren’t going to mess with you. Often times, the officers will want to know where you are camping, just so they can keep an eye on you and make sure that you are safe. If this happens, tell them where you plan to sleep and kindly accept their protection.

Some police officials (especially in big cities) will rudely tell you to get a hotel room or move on down the road. If that’s the case, the choice is up to you. If you can find a place that looks save, feel free to enjoy a night of wild camping. Otherwise, it might be best to follow the officer’s advice and find other accommodations for the night.

In the end, the choice is up to you. Stealth camping can be scary and dangerous, but it can also be beautiful and rewarding. Some of the best camping spots on your tour might just be in locations where you chose to do a bit of stealth camping!

Do you have a story or piece of advice about stealth camping? If so, use the comments box below to share your thoughts with other readers.

65 thoughts on “The Secrets Of Stealth Camping

  1. Markku says:

    Of course, in the Nordic countries they have “everyman’s right”. This allows you to camp almost anywhere except in someone’s front yard or where you might damage crops or something. You can run the term through or read more about this on Wondeful! And the Nordic countries are safe!

  2. Bob Morgan says:

    I much prefer stealth camping to staying in most campgrounds; especially if it is an RV park. I have done it for many years. Basically it is not much different than “Leave No Trace”(LNT)camping ethics. As more and more areas are designated as “Wilderness Study Areas,” then we will all be “stealth” camping. The only addition to what you have already stated in the article is that I also try to eliminate my tire tracks when I am off the “road.” Sometimes I will even make false tracks in order to lead people astray. Most people are not very persistent in trying to find you. There are particular animal signs that I look for in the area that I am planning to camp. If I find tracks or signs, then I move on. For example, mountain lions eat deer, so if I find a lot of deer tracks and/or droppings, then I do not camp there. I also use the lay of the land and the landscape to camouflage my location. I cook and eat somewhere else so as not to send out signals. I bed down just before it becomes dark and I get up early to avoid detection. If I do meet someone before I camp, then I solicit as much information from them as I can and then almost invariably give them erroneous information on my short-term plans. This gives the whole adventure a kind of Indiana Jones feel.

  3. Bruce says:

    John Muir used to wander the wilderness and camp where he pleased. After finding a camp site he would probably make himself a campfire by gathering firewood or if necessary cutting down a tree near his campsite. Today, he would be required to file for a backcountry permit after he paid his $35.00 to obtain an Adventure Pass; Campfires would not be permitted. I tell this story to make a point, and that is, I take issue with the concept of public officials restricting the use of public land. You see, I’m old enough to remember when state property or city property was referred to as public property. Throughout our nation’s history (speaking from an America centric point of view), people have been able to camp when the need arose (FYI, I am not referring to private property). More recently, in the late 60’s and early 70’s, the idea of disguising your camping site would be unheard of as it was common practice for a young traveler to live amongst nature. Unfortunately more and more we are seeing federal, state and local government passing legislation restricting the use of public land. It drives me insane! Now because our society has essentially become soft, we dare not venture out into the wild and camp more that 20 yards off the main highway for fear off being hassled by the authorities or worse yet, “offending someone.” IMHO, I say camp in the open and challenge (politely, but firmly) all who question your right to stop for the night. Do so before we have no rights at all. I do not condone the slaughter of innocent trees. No trees were harmed in the writing of this comment.

  4. Chris Kmotorka says:

    I went off into the woods one time in Michigan. Strung up my hammock and tarp (best way to camp in woodsy areas!) and went to sleep. I was awakened in the night by the snuffling and snorting of a large animal rushing back and forth in the trees–Bigfoot? Black bear? What? After a few minutes of, I admit it, terror, I pulled out my flashlight and scanned the woods in the direction of the noise. I finally caught the reflection of two glowing eyes no more than a few hundred feet away. The animal stopped and stared into my light. Slowly, I realized it was moving toward me…closer and closer. Finally, it got close enough that I could see with my light that it was a very large whitetail buck. The fear mostly drained away, but he kept coming toward me. I didn’t know what to do and so I watched him. When he was about 50 feet away, don’t ask me why I made this choice because I don’t have an answer for you, I said, “Boo!” He bolted! But, for the rest of the night I could hear him in the distance galloping back and forth in a semi-circle in the woods. The best I could figure is that I was camped right in his usual path to the river and he was too much a creature of habit to comfortably go around me! I kind of felt bad after but, hey, he scared the crap out of me!

  5. Vince says:

    I didn’t have much experience in camping, none the less “stealth camping”, but I recently completed a Pacific Coast bike tour and stealth camped a few times. It wasn’t all that bad. I couldn’t/wouldn’t do an entire trip that way, I wreaked as is with showers here and there. Sometimes stealth camping was the best option. I couldn’t find any good campsites and didn’t have the funds for a hotel, I was just going to push through the night to the coast and crash out on the beach…but in the middle of nowhere, my headlight died. So I found a good spot off the road, setup my solo tent, read a little, wrote a little and woke up feeling a slight sense of freedom and independence. PS I had a mountain lion wonder out into the road after I shined my light on it, I didn’t think much of it until I googled mountain lion attacks bicyclist and read about people getting their necks bitten off. Since then I turned into a sissy and try to stick to daylight hours.

  6. Vince says:

    PS if your light ever dies, and you don’t have a spare(DOH!) you can use your cell phone to read road signs or a book if your bored….Lifesaver 🙂

  7. Darren Alff says:

    Yes, having a cell phone (or even a GPS or MP3 player of some kind) is a great way to find your way in the dark. I’ve done entire bike tours without a light of any kind. I just used my cell phone as my light whenever it got dark.

  8. Roy Reinarz Jr says:

    Yes, I certainly can see pulling off the road to camp when necessary. However, I plan my destination when I start each day. The destination usually has a campground or motel. I have backpacked the entire Appalachian Trail. So a campsite for me must have a spot large enough to pitch a tent and water within 0.5 mile. The water is for drinking and cooking. But, I do like campgrounds with water, picnic tables, and showers.

    I like touring with the ACA [Adventure Cycling Association] maps. They are a travel guide as well. I can call ahead and reserve a spot. That is necessary in season and on holidays.

    Primitive[stealth] or a B & B what ever is at the destination works for me.


  9. Darren Alff says:

    Yes, Rick. I do think one should try approaching the locals first. But sometimes that doesn’t work. And sometimes there are simply no locals around (if you are in a real remote area), so that is when stealth camping really comes in handy. There is a time and place for it, but it’s something many first time bike travelers do not consider, as they believe they have to be in a standard campground in order to actually camp. Stealth camping can really save you when used at the proper times.

  10. Ray says:

    I suspect that there will be plenty of future readers of this post (despite the fact that the last reply was months ago). So I have this suggestion:

    Instead of inquiring at the local police department, the inabitants of which I find are become increasingly paranoic in modern times, do what I do – go to the local fire station. Fire hall personel are nearly as much ‘law enforcement’ as cops are. But their attitudes are far more helpful, and you can always ask them to call the local cops for you to verify the legality of camping on county or city properties. This makes a huge difference. And more likely than not you will receive an invitation to stay with one of the fire firefighters in their home. So be prepared for such an invite . . .

  11. G Cronau says:

    Nice article with some good tips, but I do have some objections to the name “Stealth camping” and some of the emphasis on “slipping away undetected”.

    All of this seems to imply that when you camp in this way, you’re doing something wrong or illegal. The fact of the matter is, in most states, you’re NOT.

    There is a basic concept in the common law of most states that holds that undeveloped, unfenced, *un-posted* private land is available for anyone to hike, camp, walk, and even hunt and fish on. And you’re not doing anything wrong or illegal by doing so.

    In order to use the land, it must be:
    1.) “Undeveloped”, ie: no houses or structures, no cultivated fields, no roads, no radio towers, etc. No sign of any kind of human construction. Just forests and wild fields.
    2.) It can’t be fenced in.
    3.) It can’t be “Posted”. Ie: There can’t be any “No hunting” or “No trespassing” signs posted on the land.

    If the land meets the above criteria in the states of: Alaska, Arizona,
    Arkansas, California, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts,
    Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey,
    New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma,
    Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West
    Virginia, or Wisconsin* then you are free to use the land to hike on, camp,
    and even fish and hunt and you are NOT breaking the law.

    You are also generally required not to remove or damage anything from
    the land while you are there. And if the owner does show up and ask you
    to leave, then you are trespassing from that moment on and you are
    obliged to leave.

    In the remaing 22 states, you are required to obtain the landowner’s
    permission before you can hunt or fish, BUT the ability to hike or camp
    on the land without permission is still retained in most of those states.
    I do not yet have a definative list on which states, if any, have extended
    trespass to include hiking and camping.

    You can google on “posting statutes” for more info.

    *Wisconsin recently changed it’s law so that a person who hunts or
    fishes on unposted land without the owner’s permission is guilty of trespass,
    but it doesn’t state whether hiking or camping is also included. I’m still looking
    into that one. I *WAS* someone aghast at the statement that this law was
    changed so that all those “ugly no tresspassing signs would no longer mar
    the beauty of the Wisconsin roads” !! So, in a nation that’s increasingly more overweight and docile, it’s more important that people driving on the roads not have to look at a couple tiny little signs that it is to make land available for people to actually get out and see the planet? Sheesh!

  12. Eric says:

    Different places call for different strategies. In Ireland you will almost never find a place to camp that is not within some type of fence. If the gate is not locked and there is no livestock then go right ahead. You can try to ask someone for permission, they will either grant it or tell you it’s not theirs to give. Nobody has ever denied me permission. Just try to keep away from spots where young hoodlums might be wandering around. You can tell by the traces they leave, beer cans, etc…

    In Andalusia, Spain all private land seems to fenced off and often posted as well. You might ask somebody but the farm houses seem to be at the end of long driveways, behind locked gates, with lots of barking dogs. This leaves public park land which is illegal to camp on so you need to hide pretty well. People out walking tend to mind their own business and law enforcement doesn’t seem to stray far from their vehicles. In Portugal it is also illegal but I’ve observed a number of places where local people camp out near beaches pretty openly with no problem but then Portugal seems to a lot more relaxed than Spain.

    In the Czech Republic there are so many places you can camp the challenge becomes finding one that is relatively dry and aesthetically pleasing with birch or oak trees on the edge of an open field with a view over a picturesque valley. Planted pine forests are dark and kind of depressing IMO.

  13. Dzent1 says:

    Hurray for the Nordic countries! They have a habit of getting nearly everything right. America, on the other hand, has turned into the land of the over-privileged few.

    So I make sure to stealth camp as often as humanly possible, just to tweak them.

  14. Nikki says:

    I’m just curious how would it feel to do stealth camping.I guess I need to try this one of this days.But I’m afraid my husband will allow its too risky for me.Yet, I find it more adventurous.I guess I need to read more articles and tips in stealth camping before I’m gonna try this one.

    • Rhode island man camper says:

      Here’s a tip females should never steath camp alone ,unless said female has experience doing this. The woods can be a wonderful and also a very dangerous place. Always have your gaurd up for people lurking by. Never trust anyone approaching your stealth camp day or night. paranoia can be a gift while stealth camping use it.

  15. carolyn says:

    I appreciated camping very much, since I’ve been doing during my childhood days but we only do it in the backyard.And now I’m a little older I’m thinking of doing of more exciting activity that still relate to camping and I’ve heard about this Stealth camping,I’m curious and excited how it feel like to the said activity.I’m planning to do stealth camping so soon.

    • Tom says:

      LOL. I have camped many times in cemeteries. They’re usually well-maintained, often quite pretty, sometimes have picnic tables (!) with nice trees for shade. And the residents are always quiet and never bother me at all.

  16. Jamie says:

    My tip is to look out for ‘maintained’ land that is not strictly out of bounds. A good example is the landscaped area around some industrial estates – usually very quiet at night and great if you find a discrete position. I’ve done this in the UK to great effect.

    • Dave says:

      Good tip … just watch out for automatic watering / sprinkler / irrigation systems on maintained green spaces like athletic fields, parks, golf courses, and landscaping. I imagine a 5:00 a.m. full soaking would not be fun!

  17. Siavash says:

    of course!!…but I was with my friend! we went to Mahmood Abad Jungle, I really love that night although we coulden’t sleep well at night but the morning….the morning was beautiful……..Darren you know, I want to travel around Iran, I must pedal about 5000 km, I know it’s big decision but I have to go. I’m nevous about one thing and that is maybe I be disappointed in the middle of my travel, this feeling never stop me but I just feel like that….and you know these days in Iran people are very serious and they want to express their demands and almost we have protests and it make me dizzy…But I will do both of them, Freedom and Travel!

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      Hi Siavash. Your concerns about feeling disappointed in the middle of your travels are something many/most bicycle travelers have to deal with… so you are not alone. I too have felt very depressed, sad, home-sick, etc when traveling by bike for long durations. But you have to learn to get over that. You can’t just quit every time these feelings come up.

      For me, the secret is finding something in your travels that you are really looking forward to… and constantly having something to look forward to as you travel. I talk about this at great length in this video: Watch it and let me know if this helps.

  18. Laurie says:

    If you intend camping off a road or highway, you can reduce your chances of being seen, after covering your reflectors and laying your bike down,,by picking a site that is on the inside of a bend in the road, as vehicle headlights shine towards the outside of the bend, no matter which way they are traveling or the top of a cutting where the road passes through a hill.
    it may require some effort to get to the top, but only a stealth camping cyclist would bother with it,,,,and the morning view can be great, too.

  19. Joe Doakes says:

    I like the author’s suggestion of simply going off the road when no one is looking. It is important to not be seen. Period. I also like the suggestion by a commentator of finding a spot on “maintained land” and being unobtrusive, out of sight. What has worked for me is to stop before dark and rest and perhaps imbibe and enjoy an evening meal, relax. If the place seems quiet and no one has disturbed me, then I go to sleep when it is dark and plan to leave just about as soon as I wake up. I would avoid wasting time talking to locals, especially the police. Best to remain incognito. Good luck to all!

  20. Fran says:

    I found out by a local police officer that it is illegal to stealth camp in the state of Louisiana. Doesn’t matter if its deserted or woods or anything. It belongs to someone and you need written permission to stay there. If you are seen and reported they will arrest you.

    I was trying to find a place to stay but had a trike parked on the road as I walked into the place to see if it was stayable. He saw the trike and came after me. After some talking he checked my ID and let me go on my way.

    This happened in the latter part of 09 and it was a new law at the time.

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      Yes! Stealth camping is illegal in many parts of the world. Especially in many parts of the United States where people are more concerned with property rights and lawsuits. If you stealth camp, you should do so KNOWING that what you are doing is likely illegal. Don’t get caught! That is rule #1.

  21. brad says:

    Has anyone done any stealth camping on Pacific Coast Hwy., Ca. from Monterey to Morro Bay? Is the highway safe to ride?

  22. Jason says:

    I traveled across Canada and stealthed camped all across it. It was amazing and stayed in some cool places.
    Farmers barn,
    Old abandoned highway hiddend in the bush just off the old one,
    Beside a go cart place just using tarps for shelter and there tires for a bed lol
    In the middle of a freeway, on comming ramp and off ramp on a small hill
    peoples lawns
    beside train tracks
    beside the great lakes
    I totally recomend it but be safe about it!
    Im gonna be cycling all over Australia next and im sure it gonna be a challange stealth camping there. try to avoid crocodiles, snakes and every other dangerous creature.
    Cool website by the way!

  23. Max Hudson says:

    I didn’t even know there was a name for this when I did it, I didn’t even have a bike. I was 18 at the time and bought a greyhound ticket from Toronto to Vancouver and hitchhiked up an down Vancouver Island and the Okanogan for a month, camping out wherever I could get away with it. I broke rules #1 and 2 on the first night (avoid no trespassing signs and fences) and slept in a farmer`s field right beside the treeline. Camped on a few beaches in Tofino for 5 days, but the scariest spot was Stanley Park! I was convinced I was gonna get caught, especially with the bike trail just 20 meters away.

    Young and reckless, to say the least, but I would do it again in a heartbeat!

  24. Paul says:

    Whatever you do, be careful of wild/stealth camping in Holland. Tried it once, got arrested and given a seriously hard time! They really, really, don’t like it. Don’t know why, the Dutch are just funny like that.

  25. Castel says:

    I have stealth camped in Missouri a handful of times, mostly flirting with the concept and getting the unpacking/packing routine down. But lately I’m toying with the idea of making several trips to a secure, secluded location in the woods (I don’t really care if the land is considered to be owned or not, the land owns us) and building a hut out of compacted earth or adobe. If I start soon I will be able to add enough insulation and a small fireplace so that I can attempt to make it through the next winter. I believe by doing this I will hone the skills which may be needed in the potentially chaotic times ahead of us, giving me the ability to live with and travel upon this land freely. Namaste.

  26. Ryan H. says:

    Also, if you’re in a big city, like here in Seattle, and you desperately need a place to stay, the parks are generally not bothered by the police, and there’s nothing stopping anyone from staying the night in the tanning bathroom on top of any building they can get access to. They’re relatively clean and have a hot shower to use. Just make sure nobody knows you’re in there. Lock the door. That, or a parking garage. Just find a corner to duck into.

  27. Tyler says:

    Hi. This is a very interesting article on stealth camping. Especially the state law tidbits. Im not a bike rider but am going to be Backpacking from Davenport, Iowa to Boulder, Colorado starting a week from today as a personal accomplishment of mine. Im 26 and figure do it before 30 so Im not viewed as just some hobo lol. I estimate it will take 20-28 days depending on how many people I visit and sights I see. I will be bringing a small 3 season 2-person REI tent. More than likely, most of those nights are going to be spent dipping off into the woods just before nightfall to setup camp. My worry is that my tent will be seen because it is a dark blue in color with neon green trim. Ive pondered covering it with foliage to camouflage it but fear the risk of damaging the fabric or disturbing nature. Maybe just going further into the woods or something. Anyways, does anyone have experiences or tips on an extended journey like this? thanks!

    • Onnagodalavida says:

      A few tips I’ve found helpful:
      1) a water pump is a useful way to avoid needing to carry more than a quart of water. General Ecology First Need XLE filters out pesticides and viruses & tastes great.
      2) I like a double-burn wood stove (fueled by twigs) or a small alcohol stove like the one by Trangia. The downside of wood is it makes smoke, so it can be detected during daylight hours.
      3) Vegetarian pemmican made by heating coconut oil, adding in nuts, flaxseed, whey protein, and corn meal, plus cocoa for flavoring, then baked. It lasts for weeks without refrigeration, and is high in energy while lightweight.

  28. K says:

    Some advice, regarding stealth camping (based on UK/European experiences)…

    ID the general location while it’s still light, i.e way before dusk. To get an idea of dog walkers, horse riders, local movements.

    ID the actual lay-up position. Check you aren’t actually near to obscured pathways through woodland or close to rear gardens of houses. Wait a while before you pitch your bivvy/tent to avoid farm dogs hearing/smelling you and barking; revealing your position.

    After about midnight, you are probably OK regards local youths discovering your campsite.

    Protection: consider you may have to protect yourself from humans/animal attack during the night. Have an exit strategy, both from the tent and the location worked-out in your mind.

    Unpack only what you need to use and have everything stowed away otherwise.

    Plan to leave early; around first light. Once you have vacated your camping place you can rest nearby, with everything packed away, until later in the morning, when the shops have opened etc.

    Regards solo camping..time passes very very slowly. You feel it must be three in the morning, only to check your watch and is 23:30.

  29. JD says:

    I find that you really don’t need to be as descrete in less populated areas. I was passing through in NM and was forced to camp right in plain sight of the road many times. No trees or shrubs to hide behind down there. Worked fine for me. Actually had people stop and offer me food on occasion. On more densly populated land though, you deffinitly need to hide yourself.

    I find it hard to predict where I am going to end up at night, if I had a strong headwind, or a flat, or took an extra long lunch or something that kept me from making expected mileage that day (or perhaps I did 20 miles extra!!). This makes it hard to schedule campeground sites and pit stops. I usually just bike from 6-4:30 ish and pitch tent wherever I stop. Do like the OP said and scuttle into the woods when no one is looking and you have the forest all to yourself. Never had a problem with it.

  30. JJ says:

    I respect those who can plan so accurately. This summer I cycled from Boston to Chicago, doing between 100 and 140 miles per day. It was difficult to tell which were going to be good days and which weren’t. Three days of literally constant head-wind going through Ontario was highly unpredictable. I only made it 70 miles to Western MA on the first day before it started raining (for 24 hours). I stealth camped ten of eleven nights, (including an amazing spot on a beach on lake Eerie). Never had a problem with animals, other than loud coyotes and territorial deer keeping me awake. I always make sure to camp out of sight of roads. Most people drive, and so by default most people who hurt people drive.

    While it takes some extra effort to look for the best places, and can become risky as you lose light, more discrete can often mean more comfortable. Most mornings I felt safe enough to sleep in a bit, finally warm from the rising sun, and enjoyed a stove top coffee and a sandwich before leaving.

    I found out on my final night, at Warren Dunes State Park on Lake Michigan, that by Federal law State parks have to provide camping space for travelers who arrive by bicycle. They were totally booked up, no more spots left, and I was given a place to camp.

  31. Scott says:

    Stealth Camping is being invisible. I do it for peace and quiet, and it makes money go far.I used to do it in my small airplane at very small airports or grass runways. Sometimes in the mountains or near a stream.It was great! Nobody usually comes out unless there’s an airport manager who has OCD. Near railroads is good. There are lots of travelers there who are riding and have camps. No autos though. I camped once on a mountain in what that night turned out to be the opposite side of a snow slide chute! There were signs of it but we were just to fatigued from climbing to pay attension before we set up camp. I do it all the time in my small car out west. Not right in town! While driving, find a deserted turn off. Pull off and park.Out of sight of the road is best. Check around for signs of people. If there’s very little you should be fine. Set up the tent and cook a steak from the store or what ever you like. Camping in the California Red Woods is great. You can let your soul drink in their peacefulness. Biking should be easy. You can get your bike right off into the woods. And nobody would bother you if it was a rural forested area and you made no noise and were careful about light. I don’t know about the South US. They probably like to “coon hunt” at night in the woods or something there. I’d be careful. I spent a year in Outter Mongolia. Campers paradice! Everywhere is public land for camping and people are quite friendly : )
    Cheers and good luck!

  32. Jeff says:

    I did a battlefields bikeabout in NE Europe this summer past. Stealth camping was a regular part of it.
    I made very little use of my tent, and ended up mailing it , with management’s knowledge and permission, to my final destination, a hostel I’d booked in Luxembourg City. I found my hammock far more stealthy and comfortable; I used a lightweight green tarp, secured with the shock cords I was using to secure my drybag to my luggage rack, as overhead rain cover. Far easier to find two trees of an appropriate distance apart than a patch of dry, clear and level ground suitable as a tent pitch. If you’re new to hammocking, a tip: sling it low, so that it clears the ground, with you in it, no for than six inches or so. Much stealthier that way, and far easier ingress and egress.
    About the legalities, I can’t answer for Holland; Vrienden op de Fiets accommodations (google it, it’s terrific for bike touring) there were ubiquitous and cheap enough to make camping unnecessary. In France, Belgium and Luxembourg, I was told by locals that it’s no problem as long as one stays no longer than a single night. Lots of forests around there and finding an appropriate place to swing the hammock was never difficult. Push the bike back in about fifty meters, look around, and you’re in business. I was discovered on one occasion, early one morning packing up, but the guy didn’t seem to care about my presence.
    One word of warning – I was visiting battlefields of the First and Second World Wars. One of the reasons those areas are so heavily forested is because they’re good for nothing else, ’cause they’re cratered with shellholes and still seeded with unexploded ordnance. I myself found the carcass of a WWI era French 75mm shrapnel shell close by my campsite. So don’t go picking up anything weird in the woods.
    Carry a plastic, lightweight trowel (couple-three bucks on Amazon) in your pannier so you don’t have to bag and carry out your poop. Useful for burying your trash, too.

  33. Thatguy says:

    I took a ride with a guy when I was backpacking. On the way to the trail his car broke down. I asked him how far it was and he said it was about 6 miles. In reality it was 14 miles. To make a long story short I was exhaused after 10 miles of uphill. I found a place in the distance that was a perfect campsite and camped there. The next moring my tent was shaking and when I opened up the flap a gujy had a rifle on me and wanted to know what I was doing on his property. It was a rude awakening to a very pleasant sleep. I explained the situation and apologized and didn’t get shot. The guy turned out to be very nice and let me use the bathroom at his house. I later learned he’s found people selling drug on his property before. So, you can never be too careful and realize things can happen and be prepared to apologize and tell the truth.

  34. sean says:

    i spent the night in my hammock in cumbria,lake district u.k. it was a lovely night lots of stars out and i climbed into my hammock wich was a good 10 feet above the ground at about 1am and just lay there star gazing until 3am there was just something about being off the ground in the canope of the tree with all the sounds of the night its great so peaceful and to be awoken by the birds and feel the warmth from the morning sun is priceless

  35. Wingnut Rogers. says:

    I like to Bungie cord my sub compact 45 caliber to my bike frame. Plain sight and having a GuN no one will bother you. N.R.A all the way. Be safe out there and please clean up your campsites.

  36. mr goat says:

    wingnut – your method will only draw the wrong kind of attention in Canada.

    Sadly Baby boomers hold most land rights in Canada – gobbling up the Vancouver Island fast – they are terrified people and are not very dependable when it comes to being accomodating to outsiders. Sad facts. So stealth is the option 90% of the time.

  37. bradley thompson says:

    hey guys so first I would like to say I read the article and most of the comments. I go camping up at an abandoned quarry and I am making a very low profile wild campsite about 400 yards away from it. the land is owned by somebody but I do not know who. I have seen no trespassing sings but they are at least ten years old and really rusted. also in the quarry are literally thousands of bullet casings. I have also found beer cans and things about a third of a mile away. I have had a close call with somebody on an atv but im not sure who it was. So now onto my questions. first is it illegal to do what im doing? Should I ask the guy if its ok to go up there? if he says no do I just go up there and escape and evade anyways? lastly is escaping and evading like ive been doing a big deal? I live in Alabama. ive set up an email for your answers because I really need to know what to do. the email is thank you for giving me your time and advice.

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:


      If there are “no trespassing” signs in the area, then yes, what you are doing is probably illegal. I would find a new place to explore.

      But yes, sometimes you can simply ask people if it is okay to go onto their land. Some people are fine with this… as long as you ask. But if they say no, then you have to go away.

  38. michiganareatouring says:

    I am looking at getting the eureka tcop tent its a camouflage colored one man blackout tent used by the marine corp. I also carry a 60in by 120in thin camouflage material to wrap around the bike. the bike wrap worked great and weighs less than a pound.

  39. scott england says:

    I frequently tour through rural regions in the intermountain west, mostly mormon country where they are generally wary of strangers. I would like to start asking locals if I could camp in their yards and fields. What are some tips on appearing less threatening when asking permission for camping. I am a 34 year old male, bearded, and tour solo.

    • paul carpenter says:

      I’ve biked and stealth-camped in 26 states and 3 Canadian provinces. When I have asked to set up a tent on someone’s land, I’ve only been told “no” once.

      To appear less threatening I find these things helpful:
      1) No large groups. For me 2 people has been my max
      2) Conservative haircut
      3) No visible piercing
      4) no visible tattoos.
      5) No clothing that can give offense
      You may want to shave the beard or keep it very trimmed.

  40. spring says:

    thank you for all posting. learn a lot.

    i did camping all the way when i hitchhiking travel. only one night pay 6$ camping fee. most time i camp in church lawn or church porch.

  41. lynn oliver says:

    Thanks so much for your article on stealth camping. I am really looking for a good tent I can use for a long time. There are so many and in many different price ranges and qualities. I will be in the south: Florid, Georgia, and perhaps some South Carolina. I will be trying to avoid the larger cities as you stated, they appear to be more aggressive toward such camping.

  42. Ruthie Schnitt says:

    Hello! My name is Ruthie and my sister and I will be traveling in Sardinia this summer. We are bringing camping hammocks and would like to both “stealth camp” and also meet locals as you described. Do you have any further advice on camping this way Sardinia or any recommended places we should visit? Thanks!

  43. Onnagodalavida says:

    I’m a big fan of using a camping hammock for stealth camping. Mine is made by Hennessy with entry through the bottom. I recommend getting the optional larger rain cover. Get the underliner if you camp in conditions under 50 degrees.
    Things I love about it:
    1) Way more comfortable on my back.
    2) Stays dry no matter how much rain, since it’s not on the ground.
    3) Very light and compact, about 2 lbs.
    4) Doesn’t require flat ground, just 2 trees about 15 feet apart.
    5) Super stealthy — low profile, doesn’t look like a tent, dark green


    valuable advice, night camping in the forest is very dangerous. snake attacks, elephant attacks, lion etc. thanks darren for sharing thoughts.

  45. Rollingthru says:

    I agree with Spring. The wife and I just rode from Bellingham Washington to Virginia Beach last summer. Though we did camp in all sorts of campgrounds/motels, several times there was none. We pitched our tent in several church lawns in very small communities and were never questioned once.

  46. Alex says:

    If both a stealth site, and a designated campsite were equally convenient, I’d go with the “true” campsite when traveling alone (given the risks you’ve described). Plus it’s nice to have showers or other amenities sometimes. That being said, I’ve found a great app called AllStays, which offers a comprehensive database of standard campgrounds including: commercial/independent campgrounds; town, county, state, and national parks with camping; plus – wildlife refuges, forests, and other public lands which might have campgrounds or serve as a starting point for your “stealth” camping search. All of the sites can be viewed on a USA/Canada map, and filtered by amenities. FWIW.

  47. Christopher says:

    I will be leaving for a 10-14 day trip from Central Illinois to Baraboo Wisconsin. Sadly where I live is 99% corn or bean fields, do you have any suggestions for finding a spot? I plan on taking a biking/hiking trail for the first part but a majority will be on old country roads until I get to Baraboo. Should I reach out to smaller towns along the way an see if there’s a spot I can set up shop for the night? Thank you any advice will be appreciated.

    • Darren Alff says:

      Yes, in your instance, maybe just asking to camp on someone’s property is the best approach. But usually there are little patches of forest or trees between properties. These might be good places to stealth camp. Maybe.

  48. AR Hill says:

    I am preparing to do a 6 to 9 month “tour the USA” excursion on a bike. Over the years, I have gotten to know local deputies through neighborhood meetings and events. Also, the local fire station is a mile away and we take them pies on a regular basis and say “Thank you”. I asked if they would give me Introduction Letters. They are more than happy to do that. They just say that I am known to my local Fire Department and Sheriff’s office as a good citizen and would the town I am in please extend me courtesies. I have used these letters on short trips (2-5 days) and they always help. So if you have time, get to know your local law enforcement and Fire/EMS people a little.

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