Primitive tent camping is the most basic type of camping—and in my opinion—the best way to reconnect with nature. You don’t need to make a reservation, all you need is a water source and some dirt to set up your tent. There are no showers, no first-aid supplies and no bathrooms. Independence and self-reliance is the theme of primitive camping—and it’s awesome. It makes you feel alive and gives you a lot of time to evaluate your life and get to know yourself.
I’m super thrilled to write this article, just thinking about primitive camping gives me the chills! So let’s start with the pros and cons, shall we?
The good things about primitive camping
Silence – Noisy neighbors? Annoying kids? Barking dogs? I hate it. If I’m going to camp, I need it to be quiet and relaxing. That’s why I love primitive camping so much. You can scream as loud as you want, nobody’s going to hear you.
Privacy – Since there’s nobody around, you can do whatever the hell you want. Nobody’s going to judge you. You can skinny-dip as many times as you want, only the animals of the forest will see you.
Cheap – All you need is food, water, your gear and a tent, which I believe is much cheaper than an RV. You don’t even need to pay for a campsite reservation. National parks may require a permit though, but that’s usually a small amount of money. Camping may seem expensive at first, but you should keep in mind that quality gear is very durable. Still, it’s always nice to get it cheaper, so in this article, I share 6 ways to get your gear at a lower price.
Wildlife – Fewer people means more animals. Don’t forget your camera and spyglass because wildlife can keep you busy. Deers, otters, birds, squirrels,… it’s not uncommon to spot these animals, especially at dawn or dusk. It’s both very entertaining and relaxing. Check out the video below to see an otter amusing himself with nothing more than snow.
Healthy – Raw nature, silence and ultimate privacy is not only relaxing but also healthy. Primitive camping is a huge stress reliever, which reduces the risk of illnesses associated with stress. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. For more health benefits of being in nature, check out this article.
Beautiful nature – Moreover, raw nature is gorgeous too. Countries like Sweden and Norway feature a freedom to roam principle, meaning you can explore every bit of land, including private property. In the USA and Canada, you can wild camp in the backcountry of 62 national parks. Yellowstone, for example, is a huge piece of land with all sorts of animals like wolves, bears, coyotes, bisons and many more.
In addition to national parks, you can also visit national forests, grasslands, Bureau of Land Management lands, and Canadian Crown Land. For more information about which countries allow primitive camping, check out this article.
The bad things about primitive camping
Less comfortable – Although it can be very cozy in your tent, the lack of bathrooms and warm showers can weigh on you after a while. Do you like to chit chat with your friends over the phone? Well, in many cases, cell phone service won’t be available or have a very bad connection. So if you’re looking for a comfortable camping trip, you may want to consider a different type of camping.
Primitive camping can especially be uncomfortable if you have a bad back. Make sure you bring the right gear and knowledge.
More risk & more preparation – Getting lost, being attacked by wildlife, getting injured,… Primitive camping comes with a great deal of responsibility, but that’s also what makes you feel alive. And in order to properly handle this big chunk of responsibility, you have to make sure you’re ready. Preparation is key in primitive camping, I can’t stress this enough. Before going on a wild camping trip, you want to dedicate yourself to guides and videos. You want to make sure you bring everything you need and that you know how to use your gear.
If there’ll be dangerous wildlife, you should know about that too, especially if you’re visiting bear country. If you know that snakes could be hiding, read an article on snake safety. If you may encounter deadly spiders, know what to do when encountering one.
For safety reasons, you should know how to read a map and compass. Take a look at my article on getting lost in the woods so that you can return home in one piece.
And if you’re going to backpack through the wilderness, you may want to check out my 54 hiking tips. I’m sure there are a few tips you didn’t know yet.
You either love or hate primitive camping, and if you think the pros outweigh the cons, you might want to give it a try. Gather some friends and explore the backcountry of one of the national parks. As long as you’re prepared and bring the necessary gear, you can rest assured and explore nature in a safe way.