Get Your 4×4 Etiquette on Point Before Your Next Camping Trip
A camping weekend away in an idyllic location that does nothing but soothe the soul… what could go wrong? Besides for any essential camping items you might have forgotten, or the cooler box with all the meat in, let’s think a little deeper.
What impact are we having on the environment we choose to frequent? The Leave No Trail initiative is set out to ensure we, as campers, hikers and 4×4 adventurers leave as little impact on the environment as possible when we venture out into the country, and although many of us put much effort into the above, there’s always room for improvement.
Be sure to get your 4X4 etiquette in order before your next trip with these Leave No Trail tips.
1. Failing to plan, is planning to fail (plan ahead and prepare)
In order for your trip to run as smoothly as possible, and with 4×4 etiquette in mind, it’s vital to plan the trip properly – food, camping gear, 4×4 equipment and recovery gear – a checklist is your best friend in this scenario.
When it comes to the food, do yourself a favour and invest in a portable fridge for your 4WD – it’s magical! Top that off with some efficient 4X4 storage so that you can keep your luggage as compact as possible.
As part of your planning, remember to familiarise yourself with any rules and regulations the camping site may have and prepare accordingly.
2. Stay on track (travel on durable surfaces)
Many parks and outback areas are home to sensitive fauna and flora and as this is their natural habitat, it should be disturbed as little as possible.
Unfortunately, along with other environmental disturbances, 4X4 vehicles also contribute significantly to noise and air pollution and therefore sticking to the demarcated tracks as much as possible will ensure there is little impact on the surrounding landscape and wildlife.
A good compass will help to keep you on the right track and get from A-to-B safely. Alternatively, fit your 4WD with a UHF radio in order to keep in contact with relevant parties should you fall off the beaten track.
3. Leave all stones unturned (leave what you find and protect wildlife)
And we mean this literally! The whole point of camping is to enjoy the outback in its natural state.
In line with 4×4 etiquette, it is only fair that you leave the environment as you find it, if not in an even better condition.
Stay far away from wildlife so that their stress levels are kept to a minimum and make an effort not to touch or meddle with any natural objects or shrubbery. As we know, our kangaroos are quite unpredictable, so we recommend installing a ShuRoo in your vehicle, which will assist in detecting them and avoiding any unforeseen circumstances.
To ensure no environmental damage is sustained, try to set up camp well away from any water, wildlife and bush to guarantee that these areas remain intact.
4. Rank the camp (camp on durable surfaces)
When it comes to selecting the ideal campsite to set up in, there are a few things to take into account in order to support the Leave No Trail movement.
Keep your camp as small as possible
Be sure to choose a camping area where the ground is flat and sturdy, and where the environment is suitable to withstand campers.
Keep the camp as small as possible so as to reduce the impact on the environment – rooftop tents are ideal if you’re looking to stay off the ground, and also assist in keeping the campsite compact.
Park on a solid surface
Park your car on a solid surface, away from any plants and trees that may be damaged by the weight of the car, or people walking to and from the car. If need be, invest in a durable awning to protect your car and your campsite from the sun and other elements.
Stick to the trails
Should you choose to venture off on a hike, stick to the trails and carry enough food and water to last the duration of the walk.
5. Ditch the trash (responsibly!) – (dispose of waste properly)
The Leave No Trace movement focusses heavily on the careful and responsible disposal of waste products.
If possible, before you leave for your camping trip, try to re-package any food products and other camping supplies into reusable containers in order to minimalise the impact you have on the camping environment.
If you come across any waste or litter along the way, do the right thing and pick it up – we all need to work together.
Should your campsite not offer ablution blocks, biodegradable soaps should be used for bathing and dishwashing and all waste associated with other bodily functions must be discarded appropriately.
6. Fear the fire – (minimise campfire impacts)
Fire, as we are all aware, is one of the most destructible elements and in light of the recent fires that swept across a huge part of the country, wiping out masses of wildlife and land, it is imperative that any campfires that are lit, are monitored 24/7.
Ensure to keep the fire to a minimum in order to prevent it from spreading and don’t even think about bed time before all coals are burnt out.
The Leave No Trace movement encourages campers to use alternative methods where possible and to only use wood that is recommended by the campsite.
To be on the safe side, get yourself a good quality fire extinguisher and keep it stored in your vehicle at all times.
7. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – (Be conscious of other visitors)
As much as all surroundings should be respected and nurtured, so should your neighbours.
If there are other visitors there, it is only courteous that you consider them and let them enjoy the camp as much as you would like to.
This means giving way to others when on the track or trail; ‘campsite voices’ (just higher than a whisper); no loud music; and general adherence to any other campsite rules.
If the campsite is pet-friendly and you’re planning to take your furry friends along, ensure that they are on leads when necessary and don’t interfere in the camping experience of others around them.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to 4X4 etiquette and we all need to play our part.
As much as most of us take precaution when indulging in a camping getaway and don’t intend on harming the landscape, the reality is that we do, in fact, impact the environment and wildlife in some way or another.
That being said, the Leave No Trace movement has been put in place for us as campers to minimalise our impact on the surrounding area, and a quick recap before every trip you go on will keep it fresh in your own memory and enable you to educate others.