Dear Primitive Camping Dreamer

Real camping awaits

Outdoor enthusiasts, if you haven’t already, give primitive camping a try. Camping can mean different things, but here is what true primitive camping (or sometimes called dispersed) is not. True primitive camping is not glamping (glamorous camping with amenities), it’s not having access to facilities, and it’s not getting to know the friendly neighbors that are camping 25 feet away. It’s quiet, it lacks secured entry, and it requires self sufficiency. A true primitive camping experience is immersing yourself in nature and nothing else. There are different methods of primitive camping to consider; using a vehicle or hiking in. One or the other will determine just how much ‘stuff’ you bring with you to experience the great outdoors. However, the key to primitive is the requirement of self sustainment.

Primitive camping can intimidate some. Especially if you are comfortable having essential needs close by. If the thought has crossed your mind to take the camping experience to the next level, you’ve already committed to trying it. For some, camping is driving to a new campground, finding your reserved spot, and pulling in the RV or truck. If your goal is to escape the noise and busy reality of life, primitive camping is a proper choice. Primitive camping is driving or hiking somewhere that does not receive regular grounds maintenance, and security is usually non existent. With proper planning, a primitive camping trip can reward and may change your mind about camping forever.

Finding the Primitive Site

There are many creative ways to find a true primitive site. Most depend on the region you plan to camp. For instance, some regions in the United States (Mid and West) have a plethora of public land under three categories; Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Wildlife Management Area (WMA), and National Forest’s. Most of the time, driving in and finding a random spot is free. If you find a forest or area that interests you, start with the specific land area website. These websites will give you plenty of information about where you can camp and any rules or regulations that may apply. It really is easy and most of the time, free. If you are lucky enough to live near low population density, finding free or public land is easier.

Some websites to start include BLM.gov, US Forest Service, or WMA (insert state).

Another option is to scour the popular websites where owners with large plots of land offer primitive camping for a small fee. This option may be a good first choice for someone wanting to get their feet wet with primitive camping. Although this type will most likely require registration, most of the time the land is private and still has the same luxuries for a primitive camper; nothing but nature.

Some websites to start include Hipcamp, Reserve America, Road Trippers, and The Dyrt.

Minimalist Packing

Primitive camping should not be a week or month long planning event. The reason many people go camping is to destress, recharge, and escape typical daily grind. Planning menu’s, packing lists, organizing bins, and extra shopping defeat the purpose. Try sticking with the bare minimum and basics. Ask yourself, do I really need this? Do you need the multiple chargers, ten different cooking utensils, five changes of clothes, movies and a laptop, fancy camping tools, four lanterns, pillows? Probably not.

Taking fewer items means less stress and fewer excuses for the lack of time you have while camping. Taking fewer items means less to pack, unpack, and risk losing. Taking only what you absolutely need may take some getting used to, but the benefits outweigh all. Having nothing to do while camping is impossible and having more ‘stuff’ only complicates the experience. Sometimes what we really need is a forced disconnection from reality.

Of course, determined needs will differ from one climate to the next. Don’t be the fool who plans to camp in an area where the temperature drops below 30 degrees and all you brought was a wool blanket. Plan accordingly and don’t skimp with the elements. This could mean your life.

Below are good starting points for minimal packing. Although the amount and any additional items are considerations for the elements or length of stay.

  • Minimal packing essentials include a five gallon water jug or canteen, tent (or sleep in the vehicle), flashlight, compass, multi-tool, sleeping bag, backpack shovel, first aid kit, wet wipes, cup, notebook and pen, bug spray, waterproof matches, book, toothbrush, and TP.
  • Minimal food essentials include jerky, trail mix, dehydrated fruit, instant coffee.
  • Minimal clothing essentials include a jacket, hat, long-sleeve shirt, hiking shoes.

If you can fit all you need in and on a backpack, you’ve got it right. Also, remember to tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. You could be far from any emergency services and safety should be number one. Finally, if you are near water or within a heavy wildlife area, don’t leave the fishing rod, camera, and binoculars!

Top rule for primitive camping — if you pack it in, pack it out!

Happy real Camping

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