Stealth Camping

Just wondered if anyone has tried stealth camping with success. Doesn’t even have to be in my area. I know I should just buy the guy under the bridge a beer and get his knowledge but would also like to hear from folks with kayaks.

Commando camping
a true art form.

I’d tell ya all about it but then it wouldn’t be stealth.


be non-conspicuous and have fun


commando camping
read the article! just wondered what folks on long journeys with large areas of urban sprawl did. My long distance yak is not suitable for sleeping on board, which is allowed in some coastal areas near me.

leave no sign
i wish our world would adopt stealth camping.

OK, I 'll plead ignorance:
What is “stealth camping” ?



where there is no legal ‘campsite’.

Involves being berry, berry quiet, not building a bonfire, pulling your yak up and over a dune or behind some brush and not setting your tent where it can be seen.

camo camping. unseen…stealth.

steve (Columbia river stealth camper)

It has been a long time…
but when I was younger, I did quite a bit. Get a hammock, it opens up a lot more possibilities and leaves less of a trace.

All my stealth camping . . .
. . . thusfar has been by car, motorcycle and bicycle. This summer I will be goin’ down the Mississippi and plan on doin’ alot more.

I have slept under bridges, behind barns, in abandoned building, in cemeteries and down all manner of little dirt roads and logging trails. About all that is necessary is a place that folks goin’ by can’t see you. You can’t camp just about anywhere if you arrive after dark and leave at sun up. Get all you cookin’ done before you get to where you will camp for the night

Stealth paddling = stealth camping
Stealth camping is easy if you like paddling at night. Generally you’re nearly impossible to see on the water with a full moon. Then just pull up anywhere pop up a tent, stakes optional, quick stove breakfast and scoot on before its light out very long. Night is your ally and if all else fails say you got lost and cite the safe harbor law.

All the Time
Have spent most of my time on the rivers doing just that. No big deal. In Maine we do it on a regular basis, just leave no trace, sometimes make fires on flat rocks from the river and push the whole thing back in in the morning, just find a hole in the woods big enough for a tent, and call it good. Never been hassled and never felt bad about it.


cops and private land owners
somtimes refer to stealth camping as tresspassing. But if nobody sees you then no harm–and in some states (Maine included) they can’t arrest you unless they warn you first and then you refuse to leave.

A small, discreet tent or hammock helps, preferably green, brown, or dark gray to blend into your environment.

Ditch your boat behind foliage, or stack rocks and driftwood in front of it to prevent passing boats or hikers from seeing it.

If there’s fairly high traffic around, scout out a good spot before sundown, then return and set up after dark. In the morning, break down and hit the water early.

As always, Leave No Trace …

See ya (or maybe not) on the water!


I understand that anyone can access
private land in Maine unless it is posted.

I have a campsite and I do not have it posted. Its used a few times a year and quite responsibly.

Guerrilla camping

– Last Updated: Apr-07-09 10:18 PM EST –

Before I got into sea kayaking I used to do a lot of bike touring. Some of my favorite places to guerrilla camp were cemeteries; the grass is always well maintained and there is always a fresh water tap around somewhere. And the neighbors tend to be a quiet crowd.

A number of years ago I was working my way along the Maine coast and I found myself paddling past Mt. Dessert Island late in the afternoon in the fog and despairing of finding any place to sleep that night. I was right in on the shore, but because of the fog all I could see was the rocks and cliffs, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but an Adirondack style lean-to. I thought what luck, a campsite. But when I pulled in it seemed like the the lean-to was way too clean and nice to be a campsite. Screw it, I had nowhere else to go so I pulled out my sleeping bag and went to sleep.

In the morning the fog had cleared and I found that my wilderness campsite was tucked in between several very large mansions. As I was pulling away from the shore I noticed a gardener working in one of the mansions yards down by the water. I paddled over and asked him if the lean-to was a public campsite and he said no, it belonged to the Rockefellers. I said oh; well tell them I said thanks for putting me up for the night.

Got caught

– Last Updated: Apr-08-09 12:03 AM EST –

once in Wisconsin while motorcycle camping. I found a large isolated city park near a small town. It was 10 at night and getting cold and damp. I hid the bike behind the trees and unrolled my bag on the seat of a picnic table and was really well hidden. It was comfy enough.

Sure enough at about 2 am a couple sherriff deputies woke me up with a pretty much " Hey bum what are you doing here ? ". After a creative story about being way off schedule and just to tired to ride safely I had to get sleep. They didn't think the bike on the grass was too cool I also showed them my travel cash and credit cards to show I was not a vagrant.

Finally I got an " Alright but you be gone at first light " I was. I still do commando camping here and there. Always be very friendly, tell how low impact you are, point out you have no idea what camping options you have, etc.

Keep in mind that when talking to land owners they are considering calling the cops, And when talking to cops they are considering arresting you . Be really nice point out you meant no harm. It usually gets you a pass.

kind of
you can access unposted private land until you have been told to leave by the owner or his agent—if you refuse and the cops are called, they will tell you to leave–if you refuse then, they will arrest you and charge you with criminal tresspass-

True canoe camping
I twice was paddling through waters surronded by private land and needed to stop foe the night and camped laying in the bottom of my canoe.I tied to an overhanging tree once and made an improvised anchor the other. The first time went so well I actually planned the second,but the second time it rained and even though I had a tarp over me and most of the canoe,the exposed areas collected rain which was funneled directly under me!


Ah, thanks
I always just called that back packing or yak packing.

Now I know I am a “Stealth Camper” -At least when we don’t have the travel trailer with us.



public campgrounds
There’a form of stealth camping where one pulls into a public campground after the check-in booth closes in the evening, leave by 6AM in the morning, and not pay the fee.

I hate to take the mystery and suspense
away from this thread, but is there anything wrong with asking the landowner if you get some sleep on a remote corner of his property and leave no trace? I can think of many times when a landowner was furious over a trespasser and practically none where they were politely asked for access. I think most people are happy to share their slice of heaven with others who enjoy and respect nature. I would show this sign of respect before doing what is necessary to be safe.