What Is Stealth Camping and What You Need to Know?

Camping has become a favorite activity in the last decade. More people are spending large on camping trips, allowing them to enjoy nature for days, weeks, or months. But what happens if you don’t have a large budget? Well, stealth camping is your perfect bet.

Stealth camping is camping in an area without getting noticed. This can be in the woods or the streets. This article highlights all you need to know about stealth camping, so you can have a fulfilling camping experience. 

What is Stealth Camping?

Stealth camping, as the name suggests, is camping in areas where you are not supposed to. It entails staying stealthy, ensuring you don’t expose your camping activities. In short, you are staying invisible and not getting detected by anybody.

You can stealth camp in the wild or in the streets. While most campers do it out of sheer curiosity, others might find it necessary when traveling over long distances. Whichever the case, the main objective is to avoid campsites and parking lots, which might charge a fee. 

Stealth camping provides you with an opportunity to enjoy nature outside the traditional camping constraints. You can, for example, stealth camp near a river or lake and enjoy fishing without paying for it. Likewise, you can enjoy the culture of a city without paying for parking.

As exciting as it may seem, you should observe local laws, respect privacy, and take care of the environment.

Is Stealth Camping Legal?

The legality of stealth camping depends on the state, region, or city you are in. While some states encourage it, others might term it as illegal. You should familiarize yourself with the laws of the state you want to stealth camp in to determine whether it is legal or illegal.

Is Stealth Camping in Cities Legal?

As mentioned, most states will mandate cities to create laws governing stealth camping. Most large cities will have unfriendly rules than smaller towns. For example, most will prohibit sleeping in a van, tent or bus on a city park or sidewalk. 

Until recently, overnight campers would enjoy camping in parking lots, such as Walmart and Target. However, the stores have become stricter, preventing overnight camping. In fact, most Walmart stores have the “no overnight parking” sign. Cities also prohibit camping near campgrounds, parks, and other recreational areas. 

Is Stealth Camping in the Wild Legal?

Stealth camping in the wild is generally legal in most public lands such as forests and national parks. That said, you need to follow certain rules such as camping 100 ft from a water body and 150 ft from a roadway. This is to avoid disturbing sensitive fauna and flora in that area. You can, however, camp in the wild for up to 14 days. 

Is It Safe to Stealth Camp?

Like traditional camping, stealth camping is safe. It however depends on the location  where you choose to camp. Before embarking on your camping trip, familiarize yourself with the area. Read articles about it and research rules and regulations for a peaceful camping experience.

The same case applies to camping on the streets. Some areas are rife with crime. You should avoid such places. Look for areas that are relatively peaceful and are popular with overnight campers. Fortunately, there are many overnight campers Facebook groups that can help you with such information.

Types of Stealth Camping

Generally, there are two types of stealth camping: tent and RV camping. 

Tent Stealth Camping

Tent stealth camping is the cheapest and most flexible option. It is popular with hikers. All you need is a sturdy tent and personal effects and you are good to go. You don’t need a parking lot. Just identify a hidden spot in the woods and enjoy a peaceful overnight camping. Here’s how to go about it.

Choose a hidden spot

The first step is to choose a hidden spot where no one can spot you. Most avid hikers will perform spot checking to identify the most appropriate area to camp. Ideally, you should avoid ridge lines. You should also eat before sunset to avoid attracting wild animals. If possible, the spot should be near a water source.

Set up Camp

Once you’ve found a flat ground, set up your tent immediately. Do this before the sun sets as doing it at night using a flashlight will attract wild animals and maybe people nearby. Make sure the spots has plenty of trees and relatively dense vegetation. 

Camouflage with Your Surroundings

You don’t want to use a white or red tent that can be spotted easily. Instead, choose one with a natural shade of gray, green, or brown. This will blend in with the vegetation around you. You may also remove any reflective or luminous labels on your tent. 

Leave No Trace

Finally, minimize your stealth camping footprint by adhering to the Leave No Trace principle. Furthermore, it helps reduce environmental damage. So, when departing from your campsite make sure to collect your litter.

RV Stealth Camping

Unlike tent camping, RV stealth camping involves staying discreet while spending the night in your RV. It is popular with avid campers since most will camp in the streets for weeks without getting noticed. Most are digital nomads, leaving behind their conventional lifestyle for an adventurous one. How can you succeed in RV stealth camping? Let’s find out.

Choose the Right Vehicle 

You first need to choose the right RV for your camping needs. If you’ll be stealth camping in the woods, you’ll need a vehicle that can handle rough and wet terrains. 

The RV should accommodate modifications since not all areas are the same. For street camping, converting a conventional van into a camping RV can reduce your chances of drawing attention.

Prepare your Vehicle for Stealth Camping

Before embarking for the camping trip, make your vehicle as unmemorable as possible. This involves using subtle colors and not placing accessories such as solar panels on the roof. Avoid large logos and similar prints on the car’s body.

The vehicle should also be spacious and practical to avoid numerous trips from your campsite to a nearby town. The RV should have minimal tinted windows to avoid exposing its interior. If possible, use window covers or blackout curtains to improve privacy.

Choose a Parking Space

With the vehicle ready for stealth camping, it is time to choose the most appropriate parking lot. You should choose one where you can camp undetected and unbothered. Apps such as Vanly and RV LIFE help you find parking lots in different states. 

Essential Gear for Stealth Camping

For a comfortable stealth camping experience, you will need the following gear:

Source of Power

Since you’ll be camping in the wild away from campsite amenities, you’ll need a robust source of power. And the only option is to carry with you a solar system. With solar panels such as the  BLUETTI PV200 Solar Panel | 200W and a battery, you can charge just about any device you have. 

For this you an opt for the BLUETTI AC180 Solar Portable Power Station | 1,800W 1,152Wh. It has a 1,152Wh capacity, which is adequate for running most devices you’d use when stealth camping. And since it is portable, you can carry it in your RV with ease. With the portable power station, you can rest assured you’ll have a seamless stealth camping experience.

Alternatively, you can use the BLUETTI AC70 Portable Power Station | 1000W 768Wh. While it has a lower capacity (768Wh), it is ideal for charging small devices and running electric stoves. The best part is that it can fully charge within two hours. So, if you’ll be camping deep in the woods, this is an ideal option for you. 

Lightweight Tent

Choose a lightweight tent that you can easily carry around. It should also be robust enough to withstand weather elements. As mentioned, the tent should blend into your surroundings. Look for one with ample ventilation to avoid build up of condensation. 

Camping Stove

When stealth camping, you’ll need a means to cook your food. And one way to go about it is to use a camping stove. You can use an electric or gas stove. A gas stove is cheaper, but the gas might not last for an extended period. On the other hand, an electric stove is expensive but will serve you for extended periods, especially if you have a power station.

First Aid Kit

Another essential gear is a first aid kit. When you’re stealth camping, you are responsible for your own health. Having a first aid kit will protect you against illnesses and other emergencies. An ideal kit should have a compass, thermometer, bandages, scissors, and other essential gear.

High Calorie Food

Whether you plan on hunting or foraging for food, you’ll need energy to maneuver the woods. This is where high energy food comes into play. Choose dehydrated and nutritious-rich packed food. It allows you to consume small food portions while staying energized throughout the day. Furthermore, using packed food reduces the use of cooking equipment, reducing your susceptibility to being spotted.

Final Thoughts

Stealth camping is no doubt an adventurous and exciting activity. It allows you to enjoy nature with minimal investment. That said, you should stealth camp in areas where it is legal. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting a fine. Carry the right gear to bolster the camping experience.