What to know about different camping types before planning a trip?

Before you decide how you want to camp there are a few things to learn about the different camping styles. These include frontcountry camping, backcountry camping, dispersed camping, car camping, stealth camping, RV camping, truck camping, van camping, canoe camping, cross-country camping, yurt camping, glamping, hammock camping, nude camping, long-term camping, and sustainable camping.

What to consider when choosing how to camp?

There are a variety of ways to camp, some suiting various group sizes better, some requiring more advanced skills and knowledge, and some requiring particular items of kit. To choose the type of camping most suited for your particular needs these factors all need to be taken into account.

What is frontcountry camping?

The most accessible form of camping, frontcountry camping, is characterized by staying at an established camping site that has amenities such as toilets, showers, and perhaps even electrical hookups or dump stations. Typically these sites are easy to access by vehicle and have regulations such as campfire restrictions and quiet hours.

What is backcountry camping?

Backcountry camping refers to staying in remote and undeveloped natural areas, effectively the opposite of frontcountry camping. Since these remote areas have no amenities or conveniences backcountry camping requires certain skills and knowledge to plan ahead, be self-suficient, and keep safe.

What are the various styles of camping?

There are a wide range of camping styles, aside from frontcountry and backcountry, that include the following.

  • Car camping
  • Backpacking
  • Tent camping
  • Glamping
  • Dispersed camping
  • Stealth camping
  • Hammock camping
  • RV camping
  • Truck camping
  • Van camping
  • Canoe camping

Is any camping style better than any other?

Whether any camping style is better than any other is simply based on personal needs and preferences. If comfort is a priority then car camping, where you can bring larger items such as cots or chairs, or glamping, which affords a level of home-from-home living, will be preferred. Alternatively, if adventure is a higher priority then backpacking, survivalist, or winter camping will offer more challenges and opportunities to practice outdoor wilderness and camping skills.

Many people enjoy a number of different camping styles based on their mood, the occasion, or even the weather forecasted.

Are any camping styles climate-specific?

Some styles of camping are inherently specific to a particular climate and bring their own set of unique challenges. These include desert camping, alpine camping, high-altitude camping, tundra camping, tropical jungle camping, and beach camping.

Is specific gear required for different camping types?

Yes, each camping type will require different types of gear. For example, if RV camping you won’t require a tent but will require sewage disposal hoses. When backpacking all your kit needs to be as minimal and lightweight as possible, whereas with car camping you can pack as much as will fit in your car! The seasons will also dictate the need for snow shovels over mosquito nets or what type of camp stove fuel to take.

What camping types are suitable for families?

When camping as a family there may be some limitations as to the type of camping you can do. For example, in more extreme climates or terrain, such as in the desert or at high altitudes, it may not be suitable to bring younger or older members of the family or those with medical conditions. However, there is still a wide range of camping types suited for all members of the family including car or RV camping, glamping, beach camping, or dispersed camping in National or State Parks.

What camping types are best for solo adventurers?

When traveling alone any style of camping is suitable, including those not best suited for group trips such as hammock camping. The only limitation may be based on any personal health restrictions or your current skills and abilities.

What are common types of camping?

There are several common styles of camping including dispersed camping, car camping, and stealth camping.

What is dispersed camping?

Dispersed camping is when you camp in undeveloped and often remote areas outside of designated camping sites. This style is a more basic standard of camping and requires greater forward planning and self-sufficiency since there will be no amenities such as restrooms, waste removal, or even reliable water sources at these sites. 

What are other names for dispersed camping?

Dispersed camping is also called primitive camping, wild camping, dry camping, wilderness camping, off-grid camping, and sometimes backcountry camping. If done in an RV it can also be called boondocking.

What are advantages of dispersed camping?

There are a number of advantages to dispersed camping including the following.

  • Seclusion and solitude
  • Immersed in nature
  • Freedom and flexibility
  • Little or no cost
  • Minimal regulations
  • Little light and noise pollution
  • Privacy
  • Develop wilderness skills
  • Adventure
  • Wildlife encounters
  • Disconnect from technology

What are disadvantages of dispersed camping?

There are also a number of advantages to dispersed camping including the following.

  • Lack of basic amenities
  • May require off-roading or long treks
  • First-come, first-serve means you may be too late to a particular spot
  • Safety concerns due to remoteness
  • Potential fire prohibition
  • Wildlife encounters!
  • Navigational challenges
  • Leave no Trace responsibilities
  • Waste disposal issues
  • No or little cell phone coverage

Where can you go dispersed camping?

Dispersed camping in the United State’s is permitted in various public land areas including Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, National and State Forests, National Grasslands, Wilderness Areas, and Wildlife Management Areas.

Are there rules for dispersed camping?

Yes, there are rules and regulations for dispersed camping that outline what you can and cannot do to maintain wilderness areas for the enjoyment of all and to protect their environments. Before you set off be sure to check with the managing agency of the land you intend to camp on for recent updates on site conditions and to learn of any regulations you need to adhere to. They may even advise that you need a permit to camp. When you do setup camp make sure it is at least 200 feet away from water sources, not on sensitive ecosystems, and away from any hiking or wildlife trails. 

Always practice ‘Leave No Trace’ principles including packing out trash, digging catholes for human waste, and minimizing any impact of campfires if permitted in that area.

What to pack for dispersed camping?

What you need to pack for dispersed camping will be dependent upon the season, climate, and terrain but in general, you will need the following.

  • Tent
  • Ground tarp
  • Sleep system – bag, pad, pillow
  • Water container
  • Water filtration system
  • Food storage – cooler, bear-resistant bag, etc.
  • Trash bags
  • Camp stove and fuel
  • Cookware and utensils
  • Fire lighting kit
  • Muti-tool or knife
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight/head torch
  • Maps/navigation tools
  • Repair kit (for tent, sleeping pad, etc.)
  • Appropriate clothing
  • Towel
  • Camp chair/seat pad
  • Toilet paper and sanitizer
  • Portable toilet or trowel for catholes
  • Personal hygiene items

Can you maintain hygiene when dispersed camping?

Despite there not being any washing facilities when dispersed camping with a little planning, and packing the right kit, you can still maintain your normal hygiene standards. Pack a hygiene kit that includes hand sanitizer, biodegradable soap, a cloth for bathing (away from water sources to avoid soap contamination), and toothpaste. Remember to bring trash bags to pack out all waste which includes used toilet paper as well as food trash.

What is car camping?

Car camping is when you use a vehicle, such as a car, to transport all your camping gear to your campsite and then sleep in some other structure such as a tent. This type of camping allows for greater flexibility and comfort in the amount and range of gear that can be taken camping.

What are advantages of car camping?

The advantages of car camping include the following.

  • Convenience and comfort ie. greater capacity tents, cots, larger stoves, etc.
  • Ease of transport
  • Family-friendly – can bring extra toys, games, etc.
  • More space to organize and store gear
  • Flexibility to meet different weather conditions
  • Greater options for meals – dutch ovens, grills, extra coolers
  • Less physically demanding
  • Ability to leave quickly in an emergency
  • Opportunity to explore further afield

What are disadvantages of car camping?

The disadvantages of car camping include the following.

  • Crowds and noise in car campgrounds
  • Campground fees
  • Regulations on campfires, quiet hours, etc.
  • May need reservations in advance
  • Limits site choice to car access only
  • Less opportunity to practice wilderness skills
  • Less opportunity for remote camping
  • Reliant on your vehicle
  • Less physically active

What to pack for car camping?

The items needed for a car camping trip will be the same as for other camping styles with the added flexibility for taking increased weight and bulk. More comfortable gear or additional luxuries that are great for taking car camping include the following. Larger capacity or heavy-duty tents along with camping cots or air mattresses to sleep on and pillows, blankets, hammocks, and other sleeping aids for extra comfort. Any mixture of camping stoves, portable grills, campfire grates, or dutch ovens along with multiple fuel sources such as cooking fuel cylinders, wood, or briquettes. Additional non-perishable foods and snacks, multiple coolers, extra cooking utensils, or coffee makers. For hygiene there may even be the option to bring some form of portable toilet and/or camp shower, as well as a toilet or shower tent. Camping chairs and tables are always a welcome addition for extra comfort at your site and you even have the option to pack a generator for any electrical goods you may want running or charged.

What amenities are available when car camping?

There are a wide range of different amenities that may be available to you when car camping. Most car camping is done at campgrounds where there will typically be at least restrooms and showers, potable water, and trash removal. Other amenities which may be available include the following.

  • Picnic tables
  • Fire rings or grills
  • Bear boxes
  • Level tent pads
  • Electric hookups
  • RV hookups
  • Dump stations
  • Information center
  • Laundry facilities
  • Camp store
  • Wi-Fi
  • Playgrounds
  • Boat ramps

What is stealth camping?

In a nutshell, stealth camping is discretely camping anywhere that is not designated for overnight camping. The aim is to inconspicuously camp out in a tent or vehicle so as to avoid detection by anyone in the immediate area. 

Is it legal to stealth camp in the USA?

The legality of stealth camping depends on the location and can vary from state to state. Generally, if you are in a city then stealth camping is prohibited, however, if you are on public land outside of a city then camping should be allowed. Make sure to check local laws and signs in the locality before setting up camp for the night.

What makes a good stealth camping spot?

An ideal spot for stealth camping includes the following attributes.

  • Hidden from view ie. by hedges, rock outcrops, etc.
  • Low foot traffic
  • Not trespassing on private land
  • Use hills, valleys, or other terrain to conceal yourself
  • Near (but not too near) a water source
  • Minimize any artificial lighting
  • Ability to exit quickly
  • Test your spot in daylight to check for suitability

What vehicle-specific camping types are there?

There are a variety of vehicles that can be used to camp in or to assist in camping out. The most obvious is using an RV or van to travel, and also sleep, in on your camping trip. Another option is to use a truck tent which offers camping partially in your truck and partially in your tent.

What is RV camping?

RV camping is using a recreational vehicle, a large vehicle designed for living in, to camp in. RVs can include a variety of vehicles including motorhomes from the smaller class C-s up to giant class A-s, camper vans, truck campers, and tow-behind travel trailers.

What are advantages of RV camping?

The advantages of RV camping include the following.

  • Comfort – beds with mattresses, private restroom, climate control, etc. 
  • Fully equipped kitchen with water and electricity
  • Shelter from the elements
  • Secure and lockable environment
  • Wide range of vehicles to choose from
  • Flexibility of travel
  • RV camping community and social life
  • Pet compatible
  • No setup or take down time
  • Ample storage space
  • Outdoor activities on your doorstep 

What are disadvantages of RV camping?

The disadvantages of RV camping include the following.

  • Ownership costs and expenses
  • Fuel costs
  • Regular maintenance required
  • Limited mobility on smaller roads
  • Limited accessibility to campgrounds for larger vehicles
  • Carbon footprint
  • Limited off-road capability
  • Where to park when not camping
  • Dependance on hook-ups for electricity, water, and sewage
  • Difficult to maneuver

Where is best to go RV camping?

The ideal place to go RV camping will depend mostly on personal preference. However, good places to start are National Parks, State Parks, or National Forests which often have well-maintained RV campgrounds within them.

How to find out where to RV camp?

Some good resources for locating RV camping sites include the following.

  • RV Parky
  • Campendium
  • RV Trip Wizard
  • AllStays
  • ReserveAmerica
  • Good Sam Club

What is truck camping?

Also known as truck bed camping, this type of camping uses a tent that attaches to the truck itself resulting in a sleeping surface elevated up off the ground. There are two main types of truck tents, truck-bed tents that attach to the bed of a truck and roof-top tents with attach to the top of the vehicle and are accessed via a ladder.

What are advantages of truck camping?

The advantages of truck tent camping include the following.

  • Sleeping surface elevated off the ground
  • Quicker setup that ground tents
  • Easy relocation
  • Off-road adventures in rugged terrain
  • Customizable – awnings, extensions, etc.
  • More compact than RVs
  • Flexibility between camping styles
  • Better fuel efficiency than RVs

What are disadvantages of truck camping?

The disadvantages of truck tent camping include the following.

  • Height restrictions for roof-top tents
  • Truck-bed tents require an empty truck bed!
  • More expensive than regular tents
  • Space limited to the size of truck-bed
  • Tent needs to be taken down to drive the truck
  • Only able to camp where the truck is parked
  • Getting in and out can be tricky
  • Not all truck tents are compatible with all trucks
  • Weight limitation of the truck
What features to look for in a truck camping tent?

The most important feature to look for in a truck camping tent is its compatibility with your truck’s make and model as well as its size in relation to your truck. After that look for features such as color-coded poles and quick-release buckles to simplify setup, elements that enhance durability such as waterproof fabrics, sturdy zippers, and reinforced seams, and also that it has adequate ventilation using vents and mesh windows. Other handy features include a sewn-in floor, awning, insect screens, and storage features such as gear lofts and pockets.

What is van camping?

Converting a regular van into a recreational vehicle that can then be used to camp in is what is then called van camping. The interior is equipped with some form of sleeping setup and storage features at a minimum and may also have some form of kitchen setup added as well.

What are advantages of van camping?

The advantages of van camping include the following.

  • Easier to maneuver than an RV, greater variety of locations can be reached
  • Versatility – boondocking, stealth camping, car camping, van camping, etc.
  • More comfortable sleep setup
  • Customizable
  • Secure and lockable environment
  • Protected from the elements
  • Van life community and social life
  • Minimal setup
  • Flexibility and freedom

Can you camp anywhere in your van?

This will depend on the rules and regulations of the area, but generally any public land is free to camp on. For example, on BLM managed land you can park up and camp anywhere you can drive to with a few caveats such as being at least a mile away from any already developed campsites. National and State Parks may allow for dispersed camping but you need to check for individual park rules. Rest areas, parking lots, and at the side of the road can be a grey area for overnight camping and you should also check with state laws and local regulations before setting up camp there.

What types of structures can be camped in?

Other than traditional camping tents there are a variety of other structures that can be camped in such as yurts, hammocks and various glamping formats including treehouses, tipis, safari tents, or geodesic domes.

What is yurt camping?

This is a style of camping that involves staying in a yurt, a traditional tent-like dome structure that originates from Central Asia. Yurts are typically constructed from canvas or other durable fabric that is held over a wooden lattice frame and so resemble a tent structure yet have far greater durability.

Are yurts better to camp in than tents?

Yurts and tents have their own advantages and disadvantages and so whether one is better than the other boils down to personal preference and the type of camping you prefer. For a more comfortable, home-from-home experience yurts are the better choice. Yurts are often equipped with beds, electricity, heating, and other home comforts that are simply not an option in a regular tent. They are also more durable and weather resistant than a tent and so offer year round camping opportunities. However, if you want a greater degree of flexibility in where you camp a tent is a better option. Tents also offer a more basic, rustic version of camping if you want to feel closer to nature and able to practise wilderness skills.

Where to find yurt camping locations?

Yurt camping is becoming increasingly popular and many State and National Parks, National Forests, eco-resorts, private campgrounds, or even private listings for yurt rentals are now available. A good place to start looking is with online campground directories such as ReserveAmerica, Recreation.gov, Hipcamp, and The Dyrt or with apps like Campendium, iOverlander, and AllStays. Alternatively, platforms such as Airbnb, Vrbo, and Glamping Hub also can offer yurt rentals.

What type of camping is glamping?

The combination of the words ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’ resulted in the creation of ‘glamping’, a more comfortable and luxurious version of traditional tent camping. Glamping structures are typically more sturdy than a tent, with popular options being yurts, treehouses, tipis, safari tents, or geodesic domes. These structures are also kitted out with features such as furniture, electricity, heating, AC, and even sometimes private bathrooms, to give a more upscale and pampered camping experience.

What are advantages of glamping camping?

The advantages of glamping camping include the following.

  • Comfort and luxury
  • Climate control
  • Amenities such as electricity, hot showers, etc. in your room.
  • Picturesque settings
  • Privacy
  • Unique accommodations
  • Secure and monitored environment
  • No setting up or taking down
  • Perfect for a romantic getaway

What are disadvantages of glamping camping?

The disadvantages of glamping camping include the following.

  • More expensive than other camping styles
  • Lacks the rustic and authentic outdoor feel of traditional camping
  • Bigger carbon footprint through use of AC, heating, etc.
  • Potentially less freedom for food choices
  • Overcrowding in peak season
  • Limited availability
  • Potential noise from communal areas
  • Less connection with nature

Where to find glamping camping locations?

To find glamping locations there are a number of online glamping directories and booking platforms including Glamping.com, Glamping Hub, and Canopy & Stars. Alternatively, there are a number of general camping apps with glamping options such as Hipcamp, The Dyrt, and AllStays or platforms with private listings such as on Airbnb, and Vrbo.

What is hammock camping?

This is a style of camping that uses a hammock instead of a tent to sleep in. The hammock is suspended between two trees or other anchors and provides an elevated sleeping surface for camping in.

What are advantages of camping in a hammock?

Under the right circumstances, hammock camping has a number of advantages over traditional tent camping. Primarily the weight of a hammock is minimal compared to a tent, the elevated camping experience offers greater views of your surroundings, there is greater air circulation which is ideal for warmer camping trips, and a hammock is quick to set up.

Many also prefer the feeling of a hammock contoured to their body. This relieves pressure points, as compared with sleeping on the ground, and along with the gentle rocking motion of the hammock enhances comfort and relaxation for getting a good night’s sleep.

What are disadvantages of camping in a hammock?

There can also be drawbacks to hammock camping in certain terrain and seasons such as being more exposed to the elements, the extra air circulation under the hammock in winter, and the need for having two anchor points to hang a hammock from if none are available in the vicinity.

Furthermore, there is a hammock setup learning curve for getting to know the correct angles and tensioning to setup at. Also, unless you have a hammock for each family or group member then hammock camping is more of a solo or couples camping game.

What to pack for hammock camping?

What you need to pack for hammock camping includes the hammock itself, a suspension system of straps or ropes, accessories such as a rain tarp and/or bug net, and your sleeping system which may comprise a hammock underquilt, sleeping pad, and hammock-compatible sleeping bag or top quilt.

Is a camping hammock or a tent easier to set up?

In general, setting up a camping hammock is much quicker and easier to do than setting up a tent. There are a far greater number of tent components such as groundsheets, guylines, poles, and tent pegs, as compared with the 2 suspension straps needed to hang a hammock, meaning once you are familiar with the distances and heights to hang a hammock at this is a far quicker process. The one exception to this would be if you are using an instant or pop-up tent.

Which is safer, a camping hammock or a tent?

Both hammocks and tents are safe to camp in but safety considerations will vary depending on the weather, terrain, and your own experience. Either way you will need to make sure your gear is suited to the temperature and weather conditions ie. insulation, waterproofing, etc. Safety considerations for setting up hammocks include avoiding dead or unstable trees and making sure the suspension system is in good condition and secured correctly. For tents make sure the site selected is away from trees, cliffs, or other known hazards and the tent is properly secured down.

When it comes to camping in bear country both modes of camping are safe as long as food storage and handling protocol is properly followed.

What niche camping types you can try?

Aside from the typical camping styles described above there are several other more niche types of camping including nude camping, motorcycle camping, canoe camping, long term camping, cross-country camping, sustainable camping, and romantic camping.

What is nude camping?

Also known as naturist or clothing-optional camping, nude camping is where campers undertake the usual camping experience except they are unclothed. 

Is it legal to camp naked?

Whether you can camp nude is dependent on which state you are in and what kind of land you are camping on so you will need to check local regulations. BLM lands are a popular choice for this type of camping since there is little law enforcement. NPS land is also a good choice since they don’t allow state and local laws to be applied in these areas. There are also established camprounds aimed at nude campers.

What are etiquette rules for nude camping?

There are some established guidelines when camping nude in campgrounds, primarily to respect the privacy, personal space, and boundaries of others. More specifically, no staring or approaching others without their consent is allowed and you must refrain from taking photos or videos without also first getting consent. Always use a towel or sit mat for sitting on any shared surfaces such as picnic tables or seats. It is also important to be discrete, avoid gestures that could be misinterpreted as lewd, and to sit and lie down in a way that respects others’ space and privacy, especially in the presence of children.

What is motorcycle camping?

Motorcycle camping involves the use of a motorcycle to transport both the camper and their gear between camping spots.

What are advantages of motorcycle camping?

The advantages of motorcycle camping include the following.

  • Freedom of the open road!
  • Geater flexibility of route selection
  • Minimalist lifestyle
  • Motorcycle community
  • Sense of adventure
  • Self-reliance and skill building ie. motorcycle maintenance, navigation, outdoor skills, etc.

What gear is needed for motorcycle camping?

Motorcycle camping-specific gear relates mainly to camping gear storage when riding with quality panniers to store larger items an important investment. Smaller storage packs such as swingarm, fork, handlebar, or tail bags are useful for organizing smaller components of your kit such as tent pegs or rain flys.

What is canoe camping?

Canoe camping combines traveling, and transporting your camping gear, by canoe to where you want to pitch up your campsite. This type of camping means you can explore more remote areas by water and offers a truly unique camping experience.

What are advantages of canoe camping?

Advantages of canoe camping include the following.

  • Improve canoeing skills
  • Scenic exploration
  • Minimal environmental impact
  • More remote and secluded
  • Wildlife watching
  • Physical exercise
  • Builds confidence and teamwork skills
  • Relaxed pace

What gear is needed for canoe camping?

Along with your normal camping gear, which for canoe camping will ideally be lightweight, there are other pieces of kit that are unique to this form of camping. This evidently includes the canoe itself, paddles, and fitted personal flotation devices for each person on the trip. Your gear will also need to be packed in water-tight and waterproof stuff sacks or bags due to the higher risk of your gear getting wet. Being on the water for long periods of time it is important to remember sunscreen due to the increased risk of burning from sunlight reflected from the water, sunglasses, and also insect protection since these environments attract all sorts of bugs.

What is long-term camping?

Long-term camping is the choice to live for extended periods of time at campsites or other outdoor locations. This period is longer than the average camping trip and could vary from several weeks up to years. 

Is long-term camping legal?

It is legal to camp indefinitely in the USA, however, you will most likely need to relocate every couple of weeks. Most campgrounds have a maximum limit for stays of between 14 and 28 days. For dispersed camping in BLM and National Forests the limit is also typically 14 days and for National and State Parks this limit can vary.

What is a cross-country camping trip?

This type of camping trip involves traveling across an entire country stopping off to camp at various sites along the way. A cross-country camping trip can cover substantial distances and is a great way to experience the nature, culture, and people of a country.

How to plan a cross-country camping trip?

To plan a cross-country camping trip you will first need to decide where and what you want to visit, estimate how long you want to spend at each place, and then plot a route between each of your destinations. Travel guides, the National Park Service, state tourism websites, and the AA road trip planner are all great resources to help. When you know what vehicle you will travel in, whether your own or get a rental, make sure to have insurance cover and roadside assistance in place for the entirety of your trip.

What is sustainable camping?

Sustainable camping, also called eco camping or green camping, is camping with the intent to minimize any environmental impact through responsible environmental practices. The aim is to preserve and protect wilderness areas and natural ecosystems while keeping any carbon footprint to the bare minimum.

How can you camp more sustainably?

Practices adopted to camp more sustainably include following Leave No Trace principles such as pack it in/pack it out waste disposal, minimizing campfire debris, camping 200 feet from water, sticking to trails and paths, and respecting wildlife. Other sustainable practices for camping include the following.

  • Using designated campsites
  • No single-use utensils etc.
  • Portable camp stoves instead of campfires
  • Water conservation
  • Energy-efficient devices and lighting
  • Solar-powered generators
  • Eco-friendly gear choices
  • Smaller group sizes

How to make camping romantic?

There are a number of ways to make your camping trip more romantic but number one is your location choice, ideally a secluded spot for some privacy! Other than that creating ambiance with lighting, music, and/or a campfire, packing extra blankets or a double sleeping bag for snuggling under, and planning a romantic meal at camp or dip in a nearby lake are all great ways to spark romance into your camping trip.

What are romance killers when camping?

Some quick-fire passion killers when camping includes bad weather, swarming insects, uncomfortable sleeping surfaces, forgetting essential gear, poor hygiene, and a lack of privacy.