Most new campers probably envision themselves deep in the woods, setting up a tent and sleeping bag, and cooking over an open fire for a few nights. While it’s possible this is how you will spend your camping trip, there are a few alternative choices, and each one has its own pros and cons. The one you choose is entirely up to you, your style, the equipment you own or purchase, and what you hope to gain from your camping experience.
Pros: Access to modern conveniences, protection from weather and other natural elements, can travel great distances in shorter periods of time
Cons: Expensive, lack of privacy, limited contact with nature
Recreational Vehicle or “RV” camping is probably the most convenient way of camping. An RV, sometimes called a “hotel on wheels,” generally comes with many of the luxuries of an actual house, including a small kitchen, bathroom, shower, electricity, and place to sleep. As a matter of fact, some people even choose to live in their RVs or take them on very long trips because they are not unlike living in a small house. If the weather gets bad or a wild animal is on the prowl, RV owners have an obvious advantage over their fellow campers.
Another advantage to RV camping is keeping up with all of your belongings. If you ask almost any experienced camper, they will tell you that at one time or another, they didn’t quite make it home with all of their possessions. Maybe they left something behind or maybe something was ruined by weather or other natural elements, but if your belongings stay housed in an RV, you run less risk of losing them.
Unfortunately, not everyone owns or can afford an RV, and while they are available for rent, that is not always an option either. Also, if you are looking for solitude and privacy, camping in an RV may not be the way to go. Most people who own RVs will park their vehicles in an RV park or campground when they take a trip. Finally, if you are traveling on foot, there will be many camping destinations you can reach that would not be accessible by a large vehicle such as an RV.
Pros: Adventure, privacy, make your own decisions, get as close to nature as you want, exploring places that can’t be accessed by vehicle
Cons: Lack of protection from potential dangerous situations such as weather or wild animals, carrying heavy gear, potentially packing the wrong gear
Backpacking can be one of the most exciting and adventurous experiences you have as a camper. Most of the decisions you make are entirely up to you. Generally, you can travel as deep into the woods as you would like and choose to spend the night in the area of your choice. Some say this type of camping will bring you as close to nature as you can possibly come.
Backpacking usually means exploring the most primitive wilderness at your own pace, with few or no rules or regulations, and being entirely self-sufficient. Backpackers carry their own gear and supplies and may travel many miles, but it is important to be prepared.
How far you plan to travel and any dangerous situations you may face are very important things to keep in mind while preparing for a backpacking camping trip. You want to pack enough so that you have enough of the proper supplies, but not too much so that you are unable to carry your supplies to your destination. Remember, if you are going to be walking for a long period of time, you don’t want to be carrying tons of unneeded gear.
Pros: Inexpensive, family-friendly, opportunities to explore nature
Cons: Potential bad weather and other dangerous situations, lost items
While RV camping is full of modern convenience and backpacking can be extremely rugged, tent camping can be found somewhere in between. This is the type of camping many people envision when they decide to try the activity. Tent camping is great for families with younger children because it’s fun, inexpensive, and the right combination of being outdoors without being too far from those modern conveniences.
When people chose to go tent camping, this usually means packing up the car, driving to a designated campground or campsite, and setting up their tents and other gear. Tent camping can be fun and exciting, but it is important to be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for potential dangerous situations.
Pros: Exercise, exploration, inexpensive, no need to carry heavy supplies
Cons: Physical ailments ranging from blisters to broken bones, potential bad weather, some argue it is not actually camping
Hiking is very popular because almost anyone in decent physical shape can do it. Essentially, hikers are spending their days in the wilderness and returning once it starts to get dark. Unlike backpackers, hikers will only need the few supplies necessary for that day (food, first aid kits, cameras etc.) and aren’t forced to carry heavy loads. As a bonus, hiking is a great form of exercise.
There are two important things to keep in mind if you plan to go hiking. The first one is selecting the proper footwear. You will be on your feet for most of the day. You want to choose shoes that are comfortable for you and usually shoes that are specifically for hiking. Poor choice of footwear can lead to blisters, sore feet and legs, and even other health problems.
The second thing to keep in mind when hiking is to make sure you know how to get back to where you began. It is very easy to get carried away when hiking, especially if you not traveling a specific path, but it is just as easy to get lost. Carry a map, compass, or any other tool you may need to help find your way back to where you started your hike. Also, be aware of when the sun sets. You don’t want to misjudge how much time you have to get home and end up traveling through the wilderness in the dark.