So you have your new tent and you're ready to make that first camping trip. You get everything packed and ready right? STOP Always set it up at home first. The first time with a new tent will take you longer to set up and it can be embarrassing to get to the park and still be trying to read directions in the dark or maybe even missing pieces.
Ok so now you're knowledgeable about putting together your tent and have all the pieces, you're ready to head out to the park. You stop at the campground office and check in. If you've preregistered, but they have sites available you might want to check them out first and see if there's a better site then the one you have been assigned. Most campgrounds will let you do this.
Something's you might consider are;
• Level sites with good drainage
• Water and Electricity (This is a must for my wife)
• Do you want to be near RV's or a quitter location
• Elevated sites
• Open area or more shaded area (I'm in Louisiana so I tend to look for shade)
• Do not select a spot too close to bathrooms or showers where people might be constantly walking through your site. Of course you might want to be close if you have small children.
• Close to water activities (again since I'm in Louisiana water = mosquitoes so I stay away from the water setting up)
• Which site might be more family oriented
Regardless of what's important to you there are still three primary things to look for which are the same as in business. Location, location, location …
Once you find the site you like that takes into consideration the above items that are important to you then you need to prepare the site. I take a leaf rake with me and rake the loose and sharp objects away from where our tent will be. Make sure you look not only around the ground but also overhead to make sure there are not any loose branches or limbs that might come down in a wind.
Use a footprint for your tent. You can purchase footprints that are specific for the floor layout of your tent. They serve a number of purposes such as protecting your tent floor from sharp objects that may make tears or punctures but it also provides a clean surface for laying out the tent to unfold it. It should not be bigger than the tent floor but if it is than make sure you tuck in any excess. You do not want any of it extending beyond the floors floor where it can catch water. It's best to use a footprint but if it's not available then a tarp will do. You can get a painter's tarp at Lowes or Home Depot.
If you do not expect any foul weather then you do not need to use your rainfly, but if there is a possibility of rain then at least secure it to one side so that you can pull it down quickly when you feel that first drop of rain. In colder weather it will provide insulation for the tent. If you have to pitch the tent in the direct sun during warmer weather then it provides protection from the ultraviolet rays to your tent body. The fly also will give you a vestibule area for storage like your dirty footwear. Some flies provide a large over hang area for the door. Stake the fly down securely and away from the tent body for ventilation.
Tents with full flies are better in rainy weather. The full fly keeps the tent body dry and keeps the humidity lower once the rain stops and the sun comes back out. Usually you just see the full rainflies on the better quality tents.