Many people think that in order to camp you have to be super minimalist and forego all the conveniences of home. This can be true but the real truth is that camping comes in all shapes and forms. There are two extremes of a camper, (1) the person that goes out into the woods, forages for food and builds their own shelter, and (2) the person that drives an RV, fully equipped with hot water, electricity and enough food to feed a small village. In between those two extremes is a full array of camping, so it is important that you identify your camp style and prepare for what makes you comfortable.
Car camping is probably the most common method of camping but even within it there are so many options and ways to customize car camping to fit your own needs and camp style. It is really important when preparing to define your camping style that you ask yourself a few key questions to identify and customize your own style.
- What am I going to sleep on/in? - What am I going to eat? - Where am I going to use the bathroom?
Now that you’ve asked yourself these questions, make sure you answer them and be honest with yourself, keeping in mind your comfort zone. Do you have any answers yet? It’s ok, keep reading to understand some options to help you make a decision and define your own camp style.
What am I going to sleep in/on?
There are tons of options in this category, so think about how much space you need...if you’re comfortable with the elements and insects...do you have a good back...do you like being hot, cold, humid, or dry? No matter your preferences, there’s an option for you.
Hammock - If you are a minimalist, or don’t need a lot of creature comforts and all you you really want is a safe place to lay your head, then a hammock may be for you. Use a sleeping bag to stay warm and a rain fly/tarp to keep the elements off and you’re good to go. A suggestion here would be an Eno DoubleNest Hammock with additional bug net and rain fly.
Small 2 person tent - If you prefer a little more protection from the elements, but don’t need a huge space for family or gear, a small 2 person tent may be just right. With a small tent and a sleeping pad and sleeping bag and you are good to go for a night out in the woods. The Kelty Dirt Motel is a good option since it is lightweight and also has a small vestibule for outdoor storage of some gear.
4-6 person tent - Even if you’re camping alone, a larger tent can be a plus. If you are camping with someone else, make sure you at least double to the size of your party to determine the capacity of your tent or even plan to bring multiple tents. Pack your air mattress/sleeping pad, sleeping bag/blankets and even a portable space heater or air condition. For a larger tent, consider an REI Kingdom 6. It’s a great options for the glampers and camper in need of space and flexibility.
What am I going to eat?
You have to eat and there are food options to suit both the non-cook and foodie camper.
Freeze Dried/Dehydrated Meals - Are you more concerned with sustenance and don’t want to pack a ton of food? Fortunately there are some high quality and tasty options like Patagonia Provisions. As far as what to pack, all you’ll need is your JetBoil Flash, some fresh water and you can have a full meal in 5 minutes.
Preprepared Meals - If you love convenience, but the thought of freeze dried anything doesn’t appeal to you, try prepared meals. Cook food at home or go to your local grocery store and find things that heat up well. This technique allows you to eat good, without much preparation or cleanup. A GCI Cook Station, with Coleman grill or JetBoil with make for the perfect simple setup for all of your cooking needs.
Light Cooking - If you don’t mind cooking something simple, but don’t want to spend the entire day doing it, plan on a meat and veggie. Use this pro tip and prepare/marinate your meat at home to save extra time. For this option either cook over the campfire or using your camp stove. If you don’t season your food at home, make sure you pack seasonings and cooking utensils to make dinner just the way you like at home.
Full Course Meals - Does cooking bring you peace and you have plenty of space to pack everything you need? If you’re planning to camp for more than a couple of days, you may want to go all out. Pop-up your gazebo or shade tent, set up your Camp Chef Sherpa table with all your cooking gear and breakout your JetBoil Basecamp with full size pot and pan and go to work. If you enjoy cooking, your only limit is space. You can even setup an oven and make fresh baked biscuits…the possibilities are endless.
Dining Out - Now, who said you have to cook when you camp? Scratch idea of cooking, save yourself the planning and dine at a local restaurant. With this option, you’ll get away from the campsite and be able to explore the area.
Where will I use the bathroom?
This is probably the issue that keeps most people from camping. There can be a lot of anxiety around where to handle your bio break, but don’t fret, we have an option for you.
Shovel - You aren’t picky, you just need a little privacy, then pack a shovel and handle your business. A bush will be your best friend but make sure to dig a hole to cover you business and have toilet tissue on your list.
Public Facilities - If you must have somewhere to sit, but aren’t too picky, most camp grounds have bathroom facilities. This option requires little planning on your part, but you may want to select a campsite closer to the bathhouse for late night bathroom runs and pack extra tissue just in case.
Portable Toilet - If you’re like me, you need a seat and your own space, so invest in a portable toilet. Bring your Reliance Folding Toilet with Double Doodie bags for an easy way to use the bathroom. If you have a larger tent, your portable toilet can be setup inside, but a privacy of your own, set off to the side, will if you the ultimate thrown when camping.
Now that you have read about your options, I hope you have identified your own style, and tailor your camping experience to exactly what you desire. Don’t feel compelled to fit into someone else camping box. It’s the same with your personal stye, you have the flexibility to create your own camping style. Always do what makes you happy and comfortable.