The Pedalshift Project 161: Stealth Camping Tips for Bike Touring

Stealth camping lets bike tourists keep costs down and ride more miles per day… but is it right for you? On this episode, we cover stealth camping upsides, downsides, tips, philosophies, risks, and some thoughts on the number one question… what to do if you get caught!

Pedalshift 161 Stealth Camping

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Great  American Rail Trail reveal

On May 8, 2019, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and our partners across the country are celebrating the Great American Rail-Trail—and you’re invited to celebrate with us!

We’ll reveal the preferred route that the Great American Rail-Trailwill take from Washington, D.C., to Washington State at four trailside events, and we’ll be broadcasting it all live on our websiteand our Facebook Pagefrom 1-2 p.m. Eastern.

We hope you’ll be part of this moment with us as we unveil the details of this incredible trail, where it will go and what it will take to bring it to life.

Follow us on Facebook to stay up-to-date about the Great American Rail-Trail route reveal celebrations—and mark your calendars for May 8!

Five Star

Geocaching Misha via Apple Podcasts Canada ·04/01/2019
TOP NOTCH, I am motivated to tour!
Thank you! I have been listening with that happy feeling. I own the gear, a 1990 Cannondale T1000, burley trailer. I have toured including Coast of Maine and noumourous tours in The Maritime Provinces (NB, NS, PEI) and Vermont. Now I am planning tours YAY. Great to be motivated to do more than Swimming biking and running. As a plus loaded touring is great practice for racing 🙂

Slovenia checks in

I’ve subscribed to the Pedalshift project podcast a quite some time ago and listened to the my first episode of it. And what a surprise that the Pedalshift project podcast is the most popular in my country! Ha, however, just some time ago it is not anymore. I don’t know what is the algorithm and source data behind podcast ranking, but it is nevertheless funny 🙂
Anyway, in terms of cycling one can find all kinds of terrain in Slovenia – from plains, to hills and mountains. And although the country is small, tiny in fact, there is plenty of things to see and do so that the around-the-country trip can easily extend from a week or two to a more than a month of adventure. Welcome!
All the best from Ljubljana, Slovenia!
Freaking gorgeous country… even though we’re not the top outdoor pod, there was one brief shining moment and now I’m hoping to cycle there someday!

Pedalshift Society Exclusive Pod

Bonus exclusive podcast feed for all PSS peeps! If you’re a member of the society and didn’t get an email with the details, shoot me a note. Already have a shakedown ride on there and there will be more coming before the DC to Cinci tour kicks off in May. Not a member? Join at

The Lab: Stealth Camping 

Opening note… I am not a super experienced stealth camper. I tend to stay in designated campsites, free or paid. BUT… I’ve done a little and I have some in my future, so I thought I’d share what I know. Always happy to hear more from listeners, so please email/call with thoughts!
I don’t stealth camp often, because I generally don’t have to. But when I do, I tread veery lightly, leave no trace, get in and out quickly and respect places that are explicitly forbidden.
There are other philosophies and I don’t quibble with them, except for the absolute rule of leave no trace.

My definition

  • Sleeping/resting overnight
  • Zero impact/leave no trace
  • As not illegal as you can make it


  • No visibility 
  • Easy in and out
  • Sleeping only (some exceptions)
  • Very early exit, do not return


  • Minimal setup and backup
  • No lights/muffled light
  • Cover bike and bright colored gear
  • Ideally a blending colored hammock or tent fly


  • Expense avoider
  • Adventure!
  • Agenda enhancer

Good spots

  • Elevated above roads
  • Behind brush/trees
  • On public land, not posted with no camping/no trespassing

Bad spots

  • Off of highly used trails (good morning dog walkers!)
  • On farms (hello farm dog who smells me from a mile away!)
  • Anyplace posted no trespassing

Let’s talk about “not illegal”

  • In some countries, people have the open right to wild camp. Yay for these countries! In the US and Canada (and other places) it’s a lot fuzzier, but real talk… you are probably trespassing.
  • Some places are posted no trespassing. Avoid those.
  • Some places are obviously residential. Avoid those.
  • Some places are not public land, but not posted. Some of those spots are places to consider IF and only IF you can be in and out with no impact.
  • So many examples on YouTube of people doing it right and wrong. No, you can’t just go in a firehouse shed without asking and be a jerk about it. 
  • Example: behind a billboard off a road
  • Example: abandoned roads
  • Example: picnic shelters at rest stops (maybe)
  • I do not give you, nor can I give you permission to trespass. I know many people are comfortable stealth camping in spots that are posted, but otherwise public spaces (town parks, etc.) or private land where the impact of an overnight is minimal (edges of farms). Your line may vary.

So you got caught ¯_(ツ)_/¯ 

  • Be aware of your safety in the context of who’s confronting you
  • Don’t lie
  • Don’t be a jerk
  • Ask to stay, then offer to leave


  • I don’t stealth camp often, because I generally don’t have to. But when I do, I tread very lightly, leave no trace, get in and out quickly and respect places that are explicitly forbidden.
  • There are other POVs on stealth camping. I’m fine with what you choose to do, unless you ignore leave no trace principles. That make you a jerk.

Pedalshift Society

As always we like to close out the show with a special shoutout to the Pedalshift Society! Because of support from listeners like you, Pedalshift is a weekly bicycle touring podcast with a global community, expanding into live shows and covering new tours like this spring’s DC to Cincinnatti bike tour! If you like what you hear, you can support the show for 5 bucks, 2 bucks or even a buck a month. And there’s one-shot and annual options if you’re not into the small monthly thing. Check it all out at

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