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Coastal Camping

Bodie Island Camp

Camping on the Outer Banks of North Carolina can be a challenge.  A dispiriting wind blows here like no other place, picking up sand and blasting everything in its path with equal disdain.  In this treeless environment the wind plows through unchecked for miles searching out its next victim and cyclists are easy prey.  Imagine battling a horrendous headwind for forty miles, arriving at a coastal campground mentally and physically exhausted, then trying to pitch a tent while being pelted by sand.

Here are a few tips for pitching a tent in windy conditions. 

First, site location.  Try to pick a spot with some type of wind break.  This last trip out my wife and I were lucky enough to find tent sites just behind small sand dunes.  If you can’t find a naturally occurring wind break you may be able to make one by up-ending a picnic table on its side.

Tent selection is another consideration.  If you have the choice, go with a smaller tent.  When tents are strung taut with tent poles they become kites and smaller kites are easier to control.  We were using a Big Agnes Seed House 2; a small free-standing tent with a low aerodynamic profile.  It was a good choice, easy to pitch in the wind and never gave us any concern of blowing down in the middle of the night.

Tent positioning is as important as site location.  Obviously position the door away from the prevailing wind direction.  We witnessed several poorly positioned tents inflate and blow apart.  Don’t be shy about asking for help, or offering to help your tenting neighbor. 

Be careful with loose stuff sacks.  Loose everything for that matter; socks, underwear, maps are all fair game to rogue winds.

Lastly, anchor well.  If your tent comes with those skinny bent rod type stakes, consider changing them out for bladed stakes.  Rod stakes will never hold in the sand.  Bring extra line to tie the tent to a solid object, like a picnic table.  You can also make anchors by filling plastic shopping bags with sand and tying off to those.

Do you have any pointers for tenting in high winds?  Leave a comment.

Thanks for reading The Velo Hobo!

  1. August 20, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Very informative post. Will forward this info to my son, who is about to camp with his son. Thanks for sharing..!!

    • The Velo Hobo
      August 20, 2013 at 8:02 am

      Thanks, and I hope they have a great time. Jack

  2. arlen
    August 20, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Every thing you mentioned about beach camping at the O/B. Is just like the northern coat of California….. An all of the “Ticks” in the world…. Just for your warm little body….. I thought Point Reyes was the sand blasting capitol of north america…..

    • The Velo Hobo
      August 21, 2013 at 7:53 am

      Thanks for the comment Arlen. I hope you’re doing well and are out on your bike. Jack

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