Keeping your valuables safe while camping – day and night

campsite safety and security

When we first started to camp, I was concerned about keeping our valuables safe during the day and night. If you have children, it is tough to make them understand about keeping valuables out of view, so you often have no other option than to leave valuables at home.

Keeping valuables safe whilst camping is mainly common sense, ensuring all valuables are out of view. Be aware of your surroundings and be selective about your campsite. Lock valuables in your car and your bag, and tuck your phone, purse, and car keys into the bottom of your sleeping bag at night.

All campers will have mobile phones, car keys, credit cards, money, iPads, portable TV or projector and cycles. Nobody wants to have any items stolen. It is the camper’s responsibility to be aware of potential theft and keep their things secure, out of view from temptation.

We have never had anything stolen from our tent during all of the years we have been camping. 

I am conscious of my security, which is at the forefront of my mind because we had our home burgled. So this has made me extra cautious when we are camping.

Not sure of your campsite? – join Facebook groups and read reviews

Take care when you select your campsite, join Facebook groups and ask other users about their experiences at different camps. Find out if they have stayed at campsites you are interested in and if they have had any problems.

Other campers will always be honest with you and confirm if they have had anything stolen or any other issues they have had.

Always read the reviews thoroughly, and don’t skim over them, as there may be some important information. It might not relate to theft, but other issues the campsite may have.

Recommendations from Facebook groups and gain knowledge of safe campsites

Speak to other campers on site

Get to know your neighbours, offer to keep an eye on their gear if they are away for the day, and they will return the favour.  Everybody looks out for each other; not only will this make you feel safe, but you will often make great friends. 

Find out if they have had any issues whilst they are there. Don’t be shy about asking, as everybody wants to ensure their property is safe.

Be aware of your surrounding area

Being selective about where you pitch your tent is a significant part of security whilst camping. We all love our secluded areas and want privacy, but privacy provides opportunities for burglars.

Camping near main roads or entrance areas to the campsite gives opportunists a chance for a quick getaway. Try to keep away from these areas. However, it may be difficult as many camps have already allocated your pitch before you arrive.

If you are not comfortable with your pitch, ask to move

Keeping your valuables safe when you are away from your tent

I always camp with a rucksack, big enough to carry valuables I do not feel comfortable leaving in our tent when we are away.

If your valuable items are too big to take with you or you do not want to, lock them in the boot of your car. These items would be a portable Tv, projector or iPad. 

If you leave your car onsite, try not to make it obvious that you are placing your valuables inside and don’t leave them uncovered. If you are taking your vehicle, secure them in your boot and ensure they are covered and safe, like when shopping.

Don’t forget to take your small valuables with you if you use the campsite facilities.

What to do with valuables at night

During the night, we always feel that this is a high-risk period of having our valuables stolen, which is no different to when you are at home.

Make sure your tent entrances are zipped securely, including the fly mesh. Plus, zip your sleeping area for additional security. Don’t place valuables in an obvious bag beside you or another area of your tent while sleeping.

Place mobile phones, car keys and purses inside a clear bag and place them at the bottom of your sleeping bag, Removing the temptation for somebody to delve into your sleeping bag looking for valuables.

You will feel more secure with your valuables close by, and if somebody is trying to gain access to your tent by the doors, you will hear them.

Removing temptation from view

Losing concentration and leaving items in full view only takes a second. Whether this is leaving tent doors open or leaving them on the table outside whilst you nip back inside your tent to collect something.

My car keys and purse are always safely secured inside, not in view. If nobody is inside our tent, the side doors are permanently closed. Like everybody, my mobile is always with me and placed in my pocket when unused.

Sitting outside, sit where you have a full view of the inside of your tent.

Nick finally understands about not leaving his Ipad in full view, although this has taken some time. When Nick was younger, we made a game out of where we could hide our items when we were near the tent so nobody could see them. But you do need to remember where everything is. 

We also make it part of his chores to ensure all items are secure.

Tag system with friends and family

Having a tag system will help keep your valuables safe.  It can either be with friends or family you are camping with or on the adjacent pitch.

If you need to use campsite facilities and be away for a short period, tagging another person to keep an eye on your tent is a quick and easy solution.

Tag another person to keep an eye on our item if you need to use facilities quickly

Do campsites have their own security?

Not every campsite will have security, especially if partial wild camping. These camping areas are usually a field with very basic facilities.

Camping on large holiday complexes with touring caravans, static caravans, and camping pitches have secure entrances to their sites. Security for access to the site will be high, and security cameras will be located around the areas. Security guards or other staff will often be around the site monitoring behaviour.

Smaller campsites will not usually have high security. Staff will be present, but they will not always have security entrances. They will monitor who is present at their campsites. It is down to the campers to make sure their items are secure and be responsible.

If there is security on your campsite, don’t assume you do not need to worry.

Are tent locks worth buying?

Tent locks will only give you peace of mind and act more as a deterrent than stopping somebody from trying to break into your tent.  If somebody wants to break into your tent, they can quickly gain access by slashing a section of your tent.

Tent locks will only protect the entrance to your tent by attaching to your zip. It may delay or deter an opportunist wanting to gain access, as they will want to act quickly and not draw attention to themselves.

Securing bicycles

You can secure your bicycles in several ways to deter them from being stolen whilst camping. Securing your bikes to items supplied by nature, such as trees and sturdy fencing.  

Use a solid, secure chain and securely wrap it several times through your bike frame, not just the wheels and padlock. The noise of a chain movement should alert you during the night.

Secure your bikes so they touch your tent. The rustling of your tent and the noise of the chains will alert you.

Another option is to place your bikes inside your tent if it is big enough.  Although they will not be in your sleeping area, you will hear any movement inside your tent.

Related questions

How to keep valuables safe in awnings

Treat your awnings the same as your tent, and remove all temptation from potential theft by always keeping your valuables with you. If needed, create a tag system with friends or family so that if you are away from your tent, another person watches your belongings.

Few people worry about removing chairs or cooking facilities from awnings at night, assuming that theft will be their mobile phones, iPad or money. Secure them inside your tent during the night or if you are leaving your camping area unattended.

How to stop your tent from being stolen

It is sporadic tent theft, especially in large family tents. If you are remote camping, there is a higher chance of having your tent stolen than on a campsite. 

Consider your pitch location, if you are tucked out of the way with no neighbours or hidden from view, it may be an ideal opportunity for theft.

All campers are aware of their neighbours due to human curiosity.  If they see somebody snooping around or potentially trying to steal your tent, your neighbours will ask them what they are doing. 

If you think about how long it takes to dismantle your tent and pack it away, it will be infrequent to have a large family tent stolen.

Securing your tent with motion sensors

Motion sensors can be used to help keep your valuables safe inside your tent. They can be placed outside your tent and sound an alarm if another person is nearby. 

The only problem with sounding motion sensors is often people wander around at night, especially if it is a large campsite. So you may find that the alarm will sound without reason and annoy your neighbours.

If you want to use motion sensors, the ideal sensor is a rechargeable light sensor, not a sounding sensor. Rechargeable light sensors can be placed inside your tent. If somebody enters your tent without your knowledge, they will create a deterrent. The unwanted guest will think that they have been caught and leave very quickly.


I'm a single parent who loves pitching a tent and exploring the countryside at any opportunity. I am working with a glamping pod company and helping them to set up a family campsite in East Riding Yorkshire.

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