What’s Your Terrain?
Camping Types and Styles
Camping is a favorite pastime among many outdoor enthusiasts that are looking for nature’s raw beauty. There is no other feeling like that of a cool autumn breeze that greets you as soon as you emerge from your shelter after a good night’s sleep; the feeling you get when you have spent all day fishing in the lake and you’ve finally caught your dinner. Whether you are in the mood for luxury camping or primitive, a solo trip or one filled with the familiarities of your family, we all have a camping “type.”
Do you prefer peace and quiet, with zero camping neighbors, and no service on any of your devices? Or, are you more apt to choose a camping trip that includes air conditioning and a working toilet? Find your camping style here, and you’ll soon be on your way to having the time of your life in the simplest of places. From being on the road, to being in your tent, these camping styles will help determine which terrain is right for you.
The first of the camping styles is the most simplistic. This is primitive camping; good, old fashioned wilderness at its finest. Also known as backpacking, this type of camping requires little to no equipment, and anything you bring with you must be carried on your person. Most backpackers or primitive campers will purchase a lightweight pack, and fill it with lightweight materials. These campers will bring one or two outfits, and wash them as they move through the woods, depending on how long their trip is going to be.
Most primitive campers plan to backpack through miles of wilderness, so these camping trips will last anywhere from 72 hours to several weeks. Because of the lengthy time spent in the wilderness, these campers rely a lot on their skillset to live off the land. From knowing what plants are safe to eat, to fishing and/or hunting for their own protein sources, primitive campers very rarely bring prepackaged foods along with them. Of course, you want to make sure that you have a few nutrition bars with you, some coffee or tea, a water filter, and a Firestarter kit. Tools are the most important thing to have in your pack if you’re planning to do some primitive camping, with a good knife being the star of the show.
Primitive campers often choose rough terrain to backpack through. Expect boulders, steep cliffs, rocky hillsides, extreme weather conditions, and being without most of the comforts of home, such as toilet paper and clean socks. Primitive campers take their hobby very seriously, so they research the land extensively before just diving in. If you are a primitive camper, then you know to always carry a compass and a laminated hardcopy of a map of the area. If you’re a beginner to the camping realm, primitive camping should not be the first style you try out. Instead, opt for an easier trip with much more user-friendly terrain, such as our next camping type: convenience camping.
Convenience camping, or campground camping, is the most popular type of camping, and it is what we’re all used to. This is the type of camping that is usually done in established parks that offer amenities, such as restroom and shower facilities, electricity and charging stations, firepits, grills, and more. Rangers regularly monitor these parks to ensure that the wildlife surrounding the campground is not disturbed, as well as the campers themselves. Rules apply to all campers who enter these parks. There are usually fees and permits that are required to camp in these places, so be sure to plan for this.
Convenience camping means that you receive most of the comforts of home, so you’re free to enjoy nature without having to adapt to its sometimes-harsh conditions. Being that this type of camping is mostly done in established parks, the terrain is easy, but can be difficult is some of the more primitive sites. The added benefit of having security makes convenience camping ideal for families with young children. Most of these parks will ask that you reserve your camping space ahead of time, as these campsites can reach their capacity quickly. Certain parks may even offer cabin rentals, which is a step above the regular camping trip, bringing us to resort camping.
Resort camping is informally referred to as “glamping.” While there are many styles of resort camping in general, most experienced campers will argue that sleeping in anything other than a sleeping bag inside of a tent outside is “glamping.” Resort camping is defined as doing away with the tent and the mosquito nets, and opting for a fully-functioning cabin or cottage in the backcountry. Some resorts offer all the comforts of a 5-star luxury retreat, such as gourmet meals, guided excursions, plush towels, an outdoor spa, and more.
Resort camping doesn’t have to be luxurious. It can simply mean having the comfort of a toilet and four walls. However, most resorts offer additional amenities, such as day trips, nightly events, and community gatherings, which makes this type of camping seem far more advanced than the traditional styles, like primitive and convenience camping. Whether you are reserving a luxury cottage with a private chef, or just booking a stay in a simple backcountry cabin, resort camping is among the more costly of styles. Because of this, the terrain is usually as easy as it gets, with most of the resort being on paved, level ground. Guided horseback riding lessons through the mountains will be as rough as it gets.
These types of resorts can get quite expensive, and are recommended for couples and adults only. Resort camping gives you the opportunity to enjoy yourself, without having to worry about setting up camp, breaking it down, keeping your space clean, and fending off animals. Resort camping is for those who enjoy observing nature in smaller doses, and love having all the comforts they know close by.
Mobile camping is our last camping style. Mobile camping means that you’re in an RV, car, ATV, or some sort of vehicle that will get you from campsite to campsite. Most mobile campers will travel to several campgrounds during their trip, usually over a span of several states. Cross-country campers lean more toward RVs for this type of camping, because it is more convenient to have a “home on wheels,” rather than just a carload of stuff. Shorter trips, or cross-country primitive campers may opt for a car, being that they can take a much bigger supply along with them, and then leave their vehicle parked for several weeks while they explore an area.
Local campers may choose an ATV for mobile camping. Similar to convenience camping, mobile camping with an ATV allows you to take more stuff with you, resulting in a longer, more comfortable trip. Having an ATV with you while convenience camping means that you’ll also be able to explore the land further than the other campers. Be sure to bring a map with you before you go riding off into the unknown, and always check with the park to make sure that they allow ATVs within the campgrounds. Most parks do allow these types of vehicles inside the park, but certain areas may not, due to endangered wildlife or a lack of established trails. Mobile camping in general can be done on a variety of terrain, from paved roads to dangerous hillsides. Depending on what your vehicle of choice is, you could be enjoying an air-conditioned ride, or bouncing around on a backwoods trail.
Mobile camping inspires travelers to hit the road with a full tank of gas and a heart full of ambition. Most mobile campers choose this style because of their will to explore miles and miles of land. Mobile camping in an RV is perfect for all ages, because having a full kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping quarters inside, all make for a comfortable long-distance trip.
Whether you’re a primitive camper with a lightweight pack and knowledge of the wilderness, or a resort camper that prefers luxury in nature, there is a camping style that everyone fits into. What’s your terrain?