In today’s conclusion to our Camping For Everyone series, we discuss “primitive” camping. While most of our posts on this theme have been for newcomers to tent camping, primitive camping is advanced; it literally means camping in the wilderness in an area that hasn’t been settled or prepared for it. Most primitive camping takes place in large national and state parks, but far from established camp grounds. Though primitive camping isn’t the same as going back to cave days, it does mean going “off the grid” and exercising serious camping skills. (Sorry, RV campers – most RV resorts and campgrounds don’t offer the primitive experience!)
Here are a few tips for getting ready and getting the most from primitive camping.
Train up to it: Primitive camping usually starts with a fairly long trek to your proposed camp grounds. In fact, it really starts with packing up all of the things you’ll need to see to your personal and safety needs way off the beaten track. Both of these necessities are best handled if you already have hiking and backpacking experience. A few excursions in challenging terrain will help you know your limits and, just as importantly, teach you what you need out there and what you can safely leave behind. Speaking of which …
Prepare well: Get ready for a primitive camping trek as if you’re on a real expedition to uncharted territory. Your usual equipment for tent camping is a good place to start, but you might have to upgrade some things, particularly your shelter. A weather-capable, “rugged” one-person tent is essential. Also look at other useful tools like a water filtration system and a set of cast iron cookware for camping, such as products made by Coleman. A good water filter will make it easier and easier to get all the water you need in the wild; for examples, check out the selection from Camping World.
Find a group: Because of the challenges of primitive camping, you should never go it alone. Find a group of experienced camping enthusiasts, preferably including someone who’s familiar with the area you want to camp in. Though you’ll also have to divide rations and other essentials among each person, you’ll also have extra sets of eyes and ears to make sure that you don’t miss anything, and just as importantly, that you put it all together in a way that’s helpful, safe, and doesn’t slow down your team. Consider sharing the preparation work, too; for example, wireless signals can be awfully weak in the wild, so make sure someone has checked the weather and spoken with the local ranger station. Always make sure local rangers or other authorities know your off-grid camping plans!