The New Rules of Camping

- Sep 04, 2020-

1. Glamping is camping.


(Photo: Ian Allen)

Glamping was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016. The definition’s ambiguity—“outdoor camping with amenities and comforts (such as beds, electricity, and access to indoor plumbing) not usually used when camping”—allows for everything from bare-bones backcountry yurts to decked-out accommodations like the three-bedroom, two-bathroom tent introduced by the Resort at Paws Up in Montana last year ($2,908 per night). Are you a camping purist who’s become glamping curious? Read about Outside editor Christopher Keyes’s first glamping experience at Under Canvas Tucson.

2. It doesn’t have to be glam.

Tentrr partners with land­owners in 29 states across the country to set up basic canvas tents on their properties, each one stocked with a queen-size mattress, a heater, Adirondack chairs, a fire pit, and other essentials. Prices start at $50 per night.

3. Stay local.

Lost Dutchman

Lost Dutchman (Photo: Cassell Archinuk)

Many states are still under some level of travel restrictions. But even before the pandemic, more campers were sticking closer to home. KOA’s report found that 54 percent of campers traveled less than 100 miles to camp. And you don’t have to live near the mountains or wilderness to do so. For urban dwellers, here are five dreamy campsites within 50 miles of a city.

4. Definitely take that dirt road.

There’s a special joy in turning down an unpaved road, bouncing over miles of washboard, and winding up in an Instagrammer’s dream: gorgeous views, no other campers, and no-host plying your wallet for the pleasure of sleeping in nature. This kind of free camping in undeveloped sites, called dispersed camping, is increasingly popular in the U.S. on public lands that permit it, such as National Forest or BLM land. Not long ago, the locations of the best spots were traded like gold, each gleaned from sheer luck or hours spent poring over maps and exploring unmarked roads. Today you can use apps like OnX and Google Earth to digitally scope out tracks that could lead to potential campsites, or head to Campendium or to find spots marked with GPS coordinates and enhanced with user-submitted photos and reviews. However, you find a site, make sure to minimize your impact by Leaving No Trace. Outside contributor, Wes Siler has the rundown on dispersed camping.

5. Roughing it is out.


(Photo: Hannah McCaughey)

The best thing about car camping is that you get to bring everything. Here’s a shortlist of the guilty pleasures Outside editors have been known to bring car camping: the Kelty Low Loveseat camping couch; a Tempurpedic pillow; homemade dough and a cast-iron skillet to make campfire pizzas; an Aeropress and grinder to make good morning coffee; cleansers, toners, and moisturizers to keep the nightly skincare routine on point; and a comforter with a $135 organic-cotton duvet cover by Alterra Pure. Here are nine more unnecessary camp items you absolutely need to pack.

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