When breaking camp, be sure to restore the site as close to its natural appearance as possible. Taking down camp should be done according to the following guidelines to ensure everything goes smoothly:
- Begin by stuffing your sleeping bag and stowing your sleeping gear. If you really want to speed things up, open the valve on your air mattress or self-inflating sleeping pad while you are still lying on it, just before you get up.
- Top off your water bottles for the day's journey, if needed.
- Put items you will need quickly during the day in an accessible area of your backpack (if backpacking), front handlebar bag (if biking), or nearby small waterproof bag (if paddling). These include snacks, maps, compass, binoculars, sunscreen, sunglasses, and so on.
- If it is raining, take down your tent and the tarp last. If it's not raining, take tent and tarp down first. Shake off any excess moisture by holding the rain fly vertically and then shaking it wildly from side to side. Stuff your tent into its stuff sack. Wipe off the poles and stakes and place them carefully inside their stuff sacks if they're separate pieces, or inside the main stuff sack if not.
- If you cleared sticks and twigs from an area under your tent, return them.
- After your stove is cool to the touch, pack it away along with your pots and pans.
- Completely douse any fire with water and stir the mixture so that the coals become cold to the touch. If there was an established fire ring before you got to the campsite, leave it. If not, bury the coals, scatter the rocks, blackened side down, and smooth over the area.
- Walk through the camp with every member of the camping party to be sure that all signs of your presence are removed and all litter, yours or not, is carried out.