by Greg Illes
Everyone’s been there, perhaps many times. You found a good campsite, but you need to leave for a while. Whether it’s getting some groceries, going sightseeing, or just driving that annoying half-mile back to the entrance to register, you have to leave that (great or last) site vacant. Other campers are trouping by, eager for a vacant site. So how do you save “your” site?
If you only need to register, your traveling partner can stay behind. But if you’re both going out for an hour or the day, some other method is needed. Typically, a camp chair or a cooler will suffice to “mark your territory”, but these aren’t always noticed or heeded. I recall a time when we pulled into a site and got all situated, and the real occupant pointed out to us his “marker”, a camouflage jacket draped over the far picnic bench, virtually out of site of where we were. Poor technique, but we didn’t argue.
A really useful item to use for reserving your site is the collapsible traffic cone. These are sold in various auto and RV stores (and of course Amazon), for use as safety/emergency markers (a very good item to have handy in a roadside breakdown). They come in sizes from around a foot high, to more than two feet high, and they collapse into a 2-inch-thick square which packs away very nicely.
The cones are high-visibility orange, plus they have reflective bands which are easily seen at night (very useful when you arrive back at camp late and have trouble finding your own site). They also have that “mystique” of officialdom, and tend to garner a bit more notice and respect than the odd piece of camp equipment.
They have weighted bases, so they won’t blow away in a stiff breeze (unlike camp chairs). And at $10-15, if some rude traveler does make off with them, it’s not a major economic event.
Put one or two of these in the entrance to your campsite, and you will have to pick them up before you re-occupy the site. Using this technique, you’ll never leave them behind.