Camping at a National Forest does not need to be overwhelming or scary. Just follow some basic safety advice and you can avoid danger and enjoy your trip.

1. Know Your Gear

In order to have a trouble-free outdoor adventure, you have to pack right. This means not just having the equipment that everyone recommends, but also knowing how to use it before you get to your campground.

Practice setting up your shelter, making a fire, familiarize yourself with your emergency gear and GPS system. If it is your first camping trip or your first time with this equipment, it doesn’t mean you have to be inexperienced.

2. Practice Situational Awareness

Keep a lookout for signs of wild animals, monitor the battery life on electronics, and be aware of how quickly the weather is changing.

It’s important to be prepared for cold weather and rain when at a National Forest campground because it will affect your shelter, your daily activities, and even your journey home.

3. Know How to Get Back to Camp

If you are looking to go off the beaten path for your next camping trip, you need to know how to get back to the campground. A GPS is the best way to avoid getting lost. Satellite phones or walkie-talkies are a good backup if something happens to your GPS.

When using a map exclusively, you must be exceptionally knowledgeable, and even then, mistakes are all too likely.

4. Learn About the Wildlife

Hunting in on National Forests can be great, but animals can also endanger your safety. Know your risks and how to lessen your vulnerability.

Large animals like bears are not your only worry. Marmots can chew brake lines, ticks may carry Lyme disease, snakes can seek the warmth of your camp, etc.

5. Take Care of Your Keys

If you get locked out of your car, you are losing access to a secondary or primary shelter, supplies, and your transportation. With locked keys in car you have options to open the vehicle, but if the keys are lost or damaged, your choices are extremely limited.

Make sure electronic keys are kept in waterproof containers, and that when you are camping with children, they do not misplace your keys.

6. Communicate Clearly and Often

Hopefully, you were able to pick a hiking partner that you want to talk to, but it is important to have check-in times with the outside world or someone back at the campground. When you head out on an expedition, you want people to know.

Tell people your plan, and stick to it. If your plan is undefined, it will be more difficult for emergency responders to locate you and for others to anticipate that something may have gone wrong.

About the Author

Ralph Goodman is a security expert and lead writer for the Lock Blog, the #1 locksmith blog on the Internet. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about locks, safety, and security. They offer tips, advice and how-to’s for consumers, homeowners, locksmiths, and security professionals. Ralph has been featured widely throughout the web on sites such as Business Insider, Zillow, Bluetooth,, CIO, and Safewise.

National Forest Foundation