“Let’s go camping” is basically music to the ears of anyone looking to escape reality for a bit. Camping is a default excuse to avoid showers, forget about your email inbox + to finally read your way to that last page of your book.
It turns out that “let’s go camping” + “a weekend of camping” can mean different things to different people. The differences are so far reaching that sometimes people will scoff another person’s version of camping. Ahem, no…not cool! Don’t do that! Camping is camping + getting outside is getting outside!
Let’s take a quick minute to take a peek at the wild variety of camping + how each one can rock your socks off.
What It’s All About: We’ll start with the most extreme version of camping — backcountry camping. This type of camping usually takes you far off the beaten path + into untouched wilderness. You’ll be treated to silent nights, stunning star-scapes + a cacophony of bird chirps as your alarm. There’s a really good chance you won’t see another human until you return to the trailhead. There is definitely a lot of appeal to backcountry camping!
Things To Consider: Backcountry camping is a *lot* of work. You need to pack every. single. thing. you anticipate needing for the entire trip into one backpack that you’ll be carrying around for days. It’s highly recommended you get your hands on lighter weight gear, which is expensive. You’ll also need to pack along all of your food, water, clothing + first aid gear. This takes a fair bit of planning + if anything is forgotten you’ll need to find a way to improvise. You’ll also need to spend some time getting versed in the Leave No Trace best practices — packing out *all* of your trash, properly ditching human waste, where *not* to set up camp, avoiding campfires, etc. You may also need to procure special backcountry permits, depending upon where you’re headed.
Ultimately, backcountry camping is amazing for a lot of reasons + a great way to truly escape the reality of everyday life. Just remember, it takes a lot of planning to be fully prepared for a backcountry trip. There is a much higher risk when it comes to worst case scenarios as your car + rescue are much further away.
Frontcountry Camping / Trailhead Camping
What It’s All About: While “frontcountry” isn’t quite as catchy as “backcountry” it is still a great descriptor for what many of us know as “car camping” or “trailhead camping”. Basically, frontcountry camping gets you into the wilderness, but with less risk that full blown backcountry camping. You may end up camping right near your car at a trailhead or hiking ~1 mile into the wilderness. This puts you close enough to civilization, but still away from the city + all of it’s noise. You’ll be able pack a bit more + have a few more luxuries such as an extra squishy sleeping pad or a two burner grill, which let’s you be a bit more lenient with the planning process.
A late night trip to a trailhead will also set you up for a successful, early start up the trail the next morning — without a coffee shop + donut stop to distract you from the trail-ventures you’ll get there faster!
Things To Consider: It’s a lot quicker to pack for a frontcountry camping trip since you’ll be able to just toss gear in the car + get it all figured out at the trailhead. This makes frontcountry camping appealing if you have a sudden urge to go camping on a Friday afternoon but don’t want to spend time fine tuning your packing list. If you’re lucky the trailhead may even have a pit toilet [but you’re still responsible for packing out your own trash!]. The risk is much lower with frontcountry camping because your life line [ie: car!] is nearby.
What It’s All About: People who spend a lot of time backcountry + frontcountry camping may avoid staying at more established campground. Once you’ve experienced the calm quiet of camping in the wilderness it’s hard to talk yourself into sharing close quarters with other campers. That said, there are some massive perks to campground camping. Don’t immediately think of overcrowded city campgrounds. There are some pretty remote campgrounds where you’ll still awake to untainted sunrises alongside neighboring campers. You can also find much more luxurious campgrounds closer to towns with cabins + full facilities.
Things to Consider: You’ll have to pay to stay at most established campgrounds. Also, various campgrounds tend to have themes in regards to the sports + activities nearby. For example, a campground near a town may be full of RVs with very few tent site. Or, a campground near a lake or river will probably have a lot of boats + people there for fishing. A few big perks that come with campground camping include reservations systems [so you *know* you have a place to sleep], full bathroom/shower facilities, designated campsites with fire pits + picnic tables, easy access to town, trash receptacles + more. Of course, each campground varies with some being more remote or more luxurious. A quick overview of the campgrounds website, brochure or a phone call will get you all the details you need.
At the end of the day — there really isn’t a *best* kind of camping. Each version has it’s own time + place in our adventures!
Camp however you’re comfortable camping! There tends to be a stigma against the luxuries of campground camping among backpackers. Don’t let that deter you! Even on an “off the beaten path” road trip you may find yourself seeking out an established campground. We’ve been known to snag a cabin at a KOA or something similar mid-trip just for the hot shower + extra space to dig through gear!
Most importantly, never be the person passing judgement on someone else’s version of camping. It might not be your cup of hot chocolate, but it gets them outside + that’s what matters!