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  1. #1
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    Default Better term than "stealth" for legal, non-hidden camping?

    I develop custom 10' maps on canvas for AT hikers which include a timeline of where they camped each night (as well as many other customizations). I have a spacing problem which is related to the usage (misusage) of the word "stealth"

    Many times, hikers will describe where they camped on a particular night as a "stealth site" when in fact, many times they are simply camping at a completely legal, non-hidden site that is simply a campsite that is not a shelter site or not noted in a guidebook.

    For those types of scenarios, I think the word "stealth" is being misused, and in fact it seems to be widely misused as any non-shelter site.

    So, I am searching for a more appropriate term to describe such a legal, non-hidden campsite. One challenge I have on my maps is available space, also, so the word or phrase should also be short!

    The best phrase I have come up with so far that is also short is "free camp", perhaps even "freecamp". Since these forums are widely read, I am putting it out there to see if any hiker has a better suggestion than "free camp". I had also considered "wild camp", but think "free camp" or "freecamp" is preferable. In this usage, I mean free as in "you are free to camp", or you are "freely camping". Again, the shorter the better. "Stealth" has 7 letters, "free" only has 4!

    Attached is a map fragment to show the space challenge. I like, where possible, to put the text below the elevation profile, so it is clear that it corresponds to the stopping point that night on the hiker's timeline. If the elevation is low, I might be forced to split the text above and below the profile, or even put it completely above the profile, but below the profile is best, so a short phrase is best.

    Note the "free camp" notations on the nights of May 14 and May 26 on this hiker's timeline and in the elevation profile above that. Even using "Free camp" instead of "Stealth camp" on the night of May 14, I still had to compress the text. And, on the night of May 26, "Stealth camp" would not fit, but "Free camp" does fit.

    You can see some other map examples at www.instagram.com/Red_Eft_Mapping

    Thanks for any and all suggestions.

    CheeseGrits

    Screen Shot 2020-05-08 at 1.55.42 PM.jpg

  2. #2

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    How about tent, tarp, and hang with a symbol for each. Even cowboy. Since your are customizing for the buyer, they will indicate the location and you could ask for type.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
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  3. #3
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    I think the broader term for what you're describing is "dispersed camping" and more specifically would be an unmarked/unnamed but legal dispersed site. At least on Guthook and in conversation during my thru-hike, that description was cumbersome, so "stealth site" was a common substitute simply for brevity. I know a "real" stealth site is one where it's not actually legal to camp, but I generally try to respect the organizations that manage/maintain the trail corridor and therefore I don't camp where it's illegal. So when I talked about "stealth camping," I was typically referring to using an unnamed or unmarked dispersed tent site found somewhere along the trail, not at a shelter or otherwise designated camping area.

    Obviously "unnamed but legal dispersed tent site" is not a viable option when your objective is to be concise, so I support your use of "free camp" as an alternative.
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hiker
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  4. #4

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    You could use stars for cowboy and a star with a cowboy hat for the symbol.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

    Whiteblaze.net User Agreement.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    How about tent, tarp, and hang with a symbol for each. Even cowboy. Since your are customizing for the buyer, they will indicate the location and you could ask for type.
    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    You could use stars for cowboy and a star with a cowboy hat for the symbol.
    Good suggestions, Alligator. I had not considered icons for this instead of text, but it is a good option to consider. I already have the camp locations each night from the customer - the problem is mainly one of labeling and space.

    I like the star with the cowboy hat idea as an icon for true cowboy camping - ha! The current customer I am building a map for actually did some of that.

    I still am searching for a good text option, though. Keep those comments coming - one of you linguists will hit the magic short phrase.

  6. #6

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    Just use the universal Tent symbol like everyone else and link it to more detailed info.
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  7. #7

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    Find the logo for "Dispersed Camping Area", such as that used on the Official Ice Age Trail maps.

  8. #8
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    The Florida Trail Guthook app uses the term "random camp".

  9. #9

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    How about, “camp”? Or “cAmp”. Or “c^mp””?

  10. #10

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    And that’s a cool idea, how do you get the data? How do I sign up for my now 2021 SOBO?

  11. #11

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    In addition to dispersed and random, I have seen primitive camp used.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by KnightErrant View Post
    I know a "real" stealth site is one where it's not actually legal to camp
    Stealth camping is to me trying to stay invisible to others, off trail, LNT, fluff the duff type of camping. It lends itself for the type of camping that one would do if they were camping illegally, but no I don't see stealth camping as illegal camping in itself.

    For the OP, those sites are just unmarked camping spots, not stealth spots, if they are so easy to find, and yes using symbols instead of words seems to be the way to go.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by HankIV View Post
    And that’s a cool idea, how do you get the data? How do I sign up for my now 2021 SOBO?
    HankIV: The hiker's nightly location data comes from their personal journal if they kept one, a SPOT device if they wore one, photographic data, or just plain old recollection.

    My advice to all hikers is to please make sure that GPS is turned on so that your photos are geo-tagged. TEST that your photos are including the Latitude and Longitude in the EXIF metadata before you hike.

    Also, be extremely wary of how you edit or send your photos after taking them. Usually, texting a photo strips out the location data, as well as some other image manipulation programs. So, I tell hikers to send me the photos they want to include "straight out of the camera" (smartphone) so there is the best chance of me being able to extract Lat/Lon. Then, once I have Lat/Lon, I have written a custom python program to convert that to the AT trail milepoint for the year that they hiked.

    For some hikers, they sent me their SPOT logs, or nightly messages to extract Lat/Lon from.

    Personally, when I thru-hiked, I would always snap a photo of my tent site at the end of the day, to document the location where I stayed, as my photos were geotagged.

    I have also written a python program that will extract Lat/Lon for all photos in a folder, and then also additionally convert that to AT mileage for that year. I have written probably hundreds of auxiliary programs that do various functions in the development of this map!

    CheeseGrits

  14. #14
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    Bivouac is pretty short.

    RON is even shorter. Remain Over Night, a TLA we used in the Army.
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  15. #15

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    In the UK they use the term "wild camp or "wild campsite", which to me is just camping in the way you describe it...or the legal terminology, "dispersed" camping. It is used for any camp site not in a camp ground, and is a term used for both legal and non-legal campsites (not technically legal to camp in England, but legal in Scotland).

    Just a suggestion

  16. #16

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    FWIW - Dispersed camping implies all manner of legal camping techniques (tent, hang, tarp, etc). In States or trail sections that allow dispersed camping a letter "D" in a stand out color on the map with a link (or expanding text) describing dispersed camping, have a short list of LNT procedures, and notation of where the section of trail allowing dispersed camping begins and ends.

    Additionally, there are some states that do not allow dispersed camping and only allow camping at designated camping areas and shelters. There are also sections of the trail and through entire States that have campfire prohibitions. Some symbol of these prohibitions should be made in any map to advise people where camping and fires are not allowed.

  17. #17
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    We call it free ranging or free-range camping, though those may be too long for your purpose

  18. #18
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    I was going to point out that the term wild camping is used in Europe, but that was already mentioned. After college, our son did a summer internship for the NFS in NW PA surveying the impact of dispersed camping. They used the term dispersed.

    However it is not entirely accurate to to say stealth camping just refers to illegal camping. In this usage, "stealth" means camping so that you are not detected by other PEOPLE. But for some, stealth camping is the practice of camping at a location other than where you cook your meal so that you are not detected by ANIMALS. I believe this usage is more common out west among PCT and JMT hikers. Is it confusing to have two different definitions of the same term? Yes. But I'm not sure it is reasonable to say one group is right and the other group is wrong. It's just different.

  19. #19
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    Being ex-USAF aircrew, I would propose SA Camp (Space Available Campsite). No illicit connotations here.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by greentick View Post
    Bivouac is pretty short.
    Good thought. And Bivi or Bivy is even shorter implying a place to spend the night, often just enough space to safely roll out a sleeping bag?
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

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