What Terrain to Choose for Camping and Survival

The livelihood is highly dependent on the terrain, regardless of the situation. Outside of the convenience of an urban setting, choosing the right location is a matter of life and death. This article reveals some of the secrets of choosing the best campsite to survive.

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Choosing the best terrain types to survive

Considerations when determining suitable terrain

Camping is like a survival boot camp. Yes, it’s fun and a cool way to connect with family and friends. But besides being a fun activity, camping trains you to sharpen your survival instincts. One instinct that needs to be trained is the ability to determine strategic terrain.

The ability to identify topographical survival benefits is anchored in our DNA. We have developed this ability through experience as prey and predator since prehistoric times. As modern conveniences became readily available, this particular ability was forgotten.

There are some considerations when narrowing down the criteria of what can be considered a great place to camp. By identifying these considerations, we can have a more systematic method of choosing a survival-friendly topography. Below you will find an overview of factors that are also benchmarks when selecting a site:

7 criteria in choosing the best terrain for survival

1. DefensibilityAn old defensive wall that runs along the crest of a mountain on the seashore terrain

In Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, the ability to hold a strategic position is a crucial factor in winning a battle. In the struggle for survival, the location advantage increases your chances of winning despite all adversities. The terrain you choose should be defensible.

Defensible means that you should be able to have the upper hand against attackers. Combat has shown that taking an elevated position gives an advantage over advancing enemies from below. Whether they are humans or predators, at a higher level you can see and eliminate them with better vantage points and more efficiently.

2. Proximity to resourcesSpectacular view from a boulder.  Hiking Mount Indregardsfjellet terrain

Food and water are basic resources necessary for a living in any situation. In the wild, having the best access to these resources is vital. One should be able to gather food and water with relative ease.

The further you are from the source of food, the more time and energy you are likely to expend. This is detrimental to your survival in the wild, as you save energy and spend time on other equally important tasks. And when you are far from your basic resources, you are also vulnerable to attack by predators.

3. Weather resistanceStone cave interior with a small river, surrounded by the tropical vegetation of the Brazilian rainforest terrain

The terrain you choose should also be strategic enough to withstand floods and storms. Experiencing poor weather conditions in the wild is a nightmare. People who lived to tell the story will attest to this. For this reason, it is important to choose a place where you are well protected from strong winds and heavy rain.

Speaking of rain, flooding is most likely to happen after a few hours of continuous rain. Avoid placing a camp in a location near water or canyons. The chances of escaping a rush of raging water are slim in these locations. So instead of low-lying floors, go to elevated locations.

4. Accessibility to fuel sourcesA tree in the middle of the path that branches off to the left and right in the forest

When you are in the wild, all you need is wood. In addition to building a shelter, wood is also needed to start a fire. Fire is everything when you are in the wild. They need it to cook your food, keep you warm and defend yourself against all kinds of predators at night.

It is therefore highly recommended to settle in a place where the wood is easily accessible. However, this does not necessarily mean that you should set up camp in the middle of the forest. For example, a place right on the edge of the forest is more recommendable. This gives you a better vantage point and view of attackers than in a place covered in thick trees and foliage.

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5. Ability to hidea stone entrance to the cave.  Karst failure in the soil.  dark black hole deep in cave terrain

Covering and hiding in the wild are important. This offers you protection from potential attackers, especially at night. The possibility of not being seen during an attack increases your chances of planning an escape.

Choose a location with enough natural structures to defend and hide. This can be a place covered with huge rocks, trees, or vegetation. With good cover, you also make yourself better able to see and neutralize attackers.

6. Accessibility to an exit routeCave-in-the-forest-in-Europe-terrain

When we are threatened, our basic instinct is either to fight or to flee. The latter is a very preferred option, especially when the odds are against you. Choose terrain that allows you to plan a quick and easy retreat during an attack.

Even before setting up the camp, you should be able to see the topography of the campsite. This will help you find the best possible escape route as well as an accessible assembly point in times of danger. The assembly point must be accessible, but also far enough and secure enough against attackers.

7. Proximity to potential alliesMale showing Milky Way galaxy over camping to his friends.  Boys sit at the campfire area

Strength lies in numbers. When choosing a site for your camp, it is also beneficial to be close to potential allies. When we say allies, we are referring to friendly villagers, natives, or even fellow campers. Again, preparation is key.

Measure the terrain beforehand. Find out if there are other people around. If positive, get to know these people and form an alliance. Your presence would be of great use in an emergency such as an accident or an attack.

Check out this video of Simply Hike terrain selection tips:

The chances of finding a site that meets all of these criteria may not always be high. The point, however, is to at least find a place where most of the above considerations are present. Have fun camping and be on the safe side!

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Where do you usually set up your warehouse and why? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Macallister Anderson

I am by no means an expert in every aspect of this stuff. I plan to learn, and when possible, enlist the help of experts in various fields to come together and offer their knowledge. In a few years, I dream that this site will be a virtual survival encyclopedia and allow a total novice to come on here and be supplied with everything they need to prepare for anything.

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