You may hold some fascination for high-tech camping gear, but the true meaning of camping is not about avoiding nature with your fancy luxury items. Those who want to learn how to camp the right way need to embrace the world around them. Every part of your environment is a potential tool, but only if you learn how to use it. So, if you want to camp like a boss, you don’t need to build a long camping list. Instead, you need a few key items and trust that nature will provide from there.
One of the first things you should realize about real camping is that it is not an activity everyone will enjoy. If you can’t stand to be outside of the air conditioning for five minutes, cringe when you get dirt under your fingernails, or avoid manual labor at all costs, you likely aren’t ready for the reality of the great outdoors. On the other hand, if you enjoy breathing in fresh air, feel more relaxed when you are surrounded by trees, and aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty, you might be ready to camp like a boss.
The first step to becoming a real camping master is to forget about those fancy gadgets you added to your list. You don’t need them. Despite what some companies might try to tell you, a real camping trip involves hiking. After you walk a few miles with a heavy backpack, you begin to realize that every ounce counts—and those fancy pieces of equipment weigh whole pounds. If you are really interested in going camping, your goal should not be to defeat nature, but rather to embrace it. In this way, you temporarily free yourself of all that technology so that you can just relax.
Try it once, and you will be hooked.
Wondering about what the right way to camp is? One word: primitive. Want music? Sing “Row, Row, Row, Your Boat,” as you hike. Need to take a crap? Hope you brought a small (and light) shovel. Need a fire to boil some water? You better have mastered the ability to build a fire bowl. Looking for shelter at night? Learn how to build a lean-to. The truth is, you have virtually everything you need around you already.
One of the best things about “primitive camping” is that it can be scaled. If it’s your first time in the great outdoors, just hike out for the night (in case you fail miserably). Bring along a good knife and pack your bag with food and water to get you through the trip. Also, carry some basic first aid supplies, paracord, a single, simple flashlight and heavy duty trash bags—you don’t want to leave trash behind. From there, use what nature provides. Build your own shelter, start your own fire, and experience what nature is really like. If you come back with nothing else, realize that surviving like this on your own in the wilderness is an amazing, authentic experience.
Of course, the truth that most outdoors enthusiasts don’t want to admit is that this is really not that fun unless you’re super into wilderness survival—so on your second trip you can be a little less spartan. After all, you already have the satisfaction of knowing you can make it. This time, go ahead and pack a sleeping bag (the lighter the better) and even bring a simple tent if you want. Pack a flint firestarter, or even bring some matches along for the journey. Don’t forget your toothbrush; oral hygiene is important. Additionally, you might want to pack iodine tablets or some type of water filtration system. Oh, and feel free to buy some biodegradable toilet paper to throw in your bag as well.
Remember, if you want to learn how to camp like a boss, the first thing is to understand that camping is about embracing nature, not defeating it. Once you get your priorities in order, you can get a practical camp list together and enjoy nature the way it was intended to be enjoyed.
Do you have any other tips to help others learn how to camp? What was your first real camping experience like?