What Is Camping For People Who Have Never Camped Before?
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I have camped in a tent, a retro Airstream, and a cabin. This makes me wonder “what is camping?”.
Camping is where you choose to sleep overnight outside in either a tent, an RV or a primitive cabin as a form of relaxation. If you do not sleep at least one night outside, then it is only a day trip or hike. And if you are forced to sleep outside because you are homeless, it also is not camping. In the rest of this article, we will examine the different types of camping.
The most popular form of camping is tent camping. This is because it’s the cheapest. And the most flexible. You can pitch your tent anywhere it is legal to do so. Even your backyard.
You want to camp in a tent to provide protection from rain as well as animals and bugs. But never keep your food or basic sanitary supplies including your toothpaste in your tent. In particular, in bear country. This is to avoid having an encounter with a bear while you’re sleeping.
Modern tents are made from synthetic materials such as nylon. They are easy to setup. Many of them can be ready within 10 minutes. And they come in a variety of sizes from 1 person to “cabin tents” designed for groups of 10 or more.
The tents are also waterproof. Most people prefer to get a 3-season tent because these tents will hold up well under the most common camping conditions. If you camp in places that snow frequently and wish to winter camp, you will want to get a 4-season tent. However, if you really want to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at you, an expedition tent designed for mountain climbing is what you want to buy. However, those are also very expensive.
It is a good idea to sleep at least one night during the rain in your backyard before you go camping. This way you can make sure the tent is waterproof. If there are any leaks, you can apply waterproofing to fix the leaks.
You also want to practice your sleeping setup. Modern tent camping now including a sleeping pad or air mattress. There are two reasons to bring these with you. One is for comfort. Nobody enjoys sleeping with a rock under their back. And another reason is to keep you warm. By keeping your body off the ground, your body doesn’t transfer its heat to the cold ground.
You also want to bring a sleeping bag or blankets. Sleeping bags are more common. But many people are forgoing a sleeping bag and just bringing blankets. Sleeping bags will do a better job of keeping you warm because it covers your entire body. But a blanket is often more comfortable to sleep in.
A recreational vehicle is any type of vehicle that has home amenities attached. They come in two basic types. A trailer that is towed and self-powered motorhomes.
RVs are popular because they allow you to camp almost anywhere without having to sleep in a tent. And most models come with bathrooms so that you don’t have to poop outside. And you get to sleep in a bed.
They also provide you much better protection against the weather, insects, and critters. But do not try to ride out a severe thunderstorm or tornado in one.
There’s several types of trailers. They range from pop-ups to travel trailers and up to fifth-wheels. While almost any car, SUV or pickup truck can tow a pop-up or travel trailer, you need a heavy-duty truck to pull a fifth-wheel.
Motorhomes are divided into classes.
Class A are very large and the size of a bus.
Class B are more popular known as camper-vans because they’re vans with interiors set for sleeping and cooking. Sometimes they have a very small bathroom.
Class C are known as campers. They’re recognizable for the cab over-hang. The over-hang typically contains an extra bed.
Both Class A motorhomes and fifth-wheel typically have so much space and amenities it’s less like camping and more like having a house that’s easy to move.
While tent camping is still more popular than RV camping, primarily because of the cost, it is still a very popular form of camping. And thanks to mobile Internet access, many people have elected to sell their house or give up their apartment. And live full-time in their RV traveling the country.
This is also a popular form of retirement living. In particular for “snowbirds”. These are people who live up north. They live in an RV during the winter to avoid the cold and snow at the southern RV campsite. They may never even move their RV. But as soon as hot weather comes, they relocate back to their northern homes.
One of the fastest-growing trends in camping is called glamping.
Glamping is a slang term that is short for “glamorous camping.”
The first time I had heard about it was while watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with my wife. The Real Housewives franchise is one of my guilty pleasures.
Glamping is about being able to enjoy the outdoors without the hassles and discomfort of traditional camping. And there is a wide range of options for glamping.
For example, my wife and I did a glamping trip. And it was very basic. A family-owned ranch located 20 miles from us had purchased a vintage Airstream trailer. And put it on their property. They had it connected to electricity and plumbing.
And rented it out on an AirBnB style site called glampinghub.com. If you are wanting to camp, in particular in an RV or cabin, you should check it out. Another option is of course, AirBnB. We also stayed at a house directly on a lake via AirBnB.
The benefit was that we could go stay in a trailer without having to bother with having to tow it. But we got away from the city. And were able to enjoy a nice campfire and long walks in the countryside.
On the other end of the spectrum are tents that are fully outfitted with fancy beds, Michelin-starred chefs and butler service. These are like 4-star hotels who just happen to have really great outdoor views.
And there’s a lot of variations in-between.
While there are many campers who dislike glamping because it’s not truly roughing it, I believe anything that allows people to enjoy nature is a good thing.
if glamping is about making sleeping outdoors as luxurious as possible, roughing it is the complete opposite.
I was in Boy Scouts in the 1980s. We did not have as many gadgets as we do now. Heck, it was a time when cordless phones still a luxury item. And mobile phones were a science fiction item straight out of Star Trek. The only options we had were radios, portable televisions, and clunky video games.
The “Madden” of the time was a portable electronic with an orange light on it. That I still don’t understand how you’re supposed to play.
My dad was our Scoutmaster and he forbid all electronics. No radios. No portable televisions. And no video games of all kinds.
I’m sure my dad would not allow us to bring our mobile phones now.
It is up to you about how much technology you want to bring with you.
While it is great to connect with nature, you are still likely to bring your phone. Because our phones are not just phones. They’re also great at preventing you from getting lost. Even if you are going off the grid, there are apps like OnX Maps that will work for you.
Plus you may need to call for help.
And let’s be candid. After the sun goes down. And it’s just you and your kids in the tent. At some point, you might just want to relax by watching a movie. Or let them play a video game just to give yourself a chance to catch a nap.
We’re not going to judge.
However, if you put the phone down, it is an opportunity to learn new skills such as making fire from just sticks. Practice knot-tying. Learn birdwatching. Or even how to whittle. I enjoyed whittling as a scout. Though I wasn’t very good and I haven’t done it in years.
But it’s something I constantly think about taking back up.
There are three basic types of campgrounds.
There first is “front-country” style at professionally run campsites such as KOA or Jellystone. These types of locations are more like outdoor-themed resorts than bushcraft-based roughing it. They have electricity and running water. You can just park your RV or car and be ready to camp. Many also have cabins.
The next type is a designated campsite in a backcountry area. You often cannot drive to these campsites. Some are close enough that you only have to walk a little bit. For example, I live along Lake Lewisville in Texas. Which is the largest lake in Texas. There’s a park about 5 miles from me where you can do a backcountry camping. While you can’t drive your car to your campsite, it’s close enough that they can provide a wagon to carry your gear for you.
Other backcountry locations require a half-day or more of hiking.
The third type of camping is dispersed camping. This is also known as wild camping. Many national parks, state parks, and similar government-owned public lands allow this. But make sure you have permission. In these areas, you are 100% on your own. You need to bring your own shelter, water, and food. In these conditions, you must bring along a way to purify water.
This type of camping should not be attempted by novices. You should either go with someone who is experienced. Or at the very least take a course. There are national brands like Outward Bound and there might be local schools as well. I would also recommend taking a first-aid course.
Camping is a fun and inexpensive way to spend your weekend and vacation time. Whether you want to completely disconnect from technology and society or just want to enjoy nature but sleep in a warm bed with a porcelain toilet, there’s a way to camp.
When are you taking your first (or next) camping trip?