7 Ways to Camp Without a Tent

Camping tarp and hammock

Published: August 19, 2021

If your recent camping trips have felt too dull or conventional, you may need a solid change in your routine. Camping should be a pleasurable and exciting affair, lush with a variety of activities and experiences to appreciate. When it comes to planning, you should keep yourself open to different ways to surround yourself in the outdoors. As technology and culture are constantly evolving, we’ve gathered your current best options to set up your next camping trip.

You may picture camping as sleeping in a tent, but there are certainly other ways to shelter yourself. As you go through the following alternatives, envision camping from new angles and consider how these options can cater to your needs. Each option provides a unique experience that allows you to camp in a new and exciting way.

Click here to learn more about primitive camping.

Camping in an RV or in Your Car

While it may seem to defeat the purpose of being amongst nature, using your car while camping can actually enhance your trip. A large vehicle, such as an RV, can help make for a fun road trip with friends or family. Additionally, such substantial storage space can ensure you’ll have enough food, beverages, clothes, and other supplies at your disposal.

As for sleeping, a car has got you covered there as well. Whether you bring a sleeping bag or blanket is up to you, but you’ll be safe in your car either way. However, you should keep in mind that some areas have outlawed sleeping in your car and that one car may not be enough to fit an entire group of people.

The biggest advantage of camping in your car is the protection it offers, which is even greater than that of a tent. Indeed, nature can be a harsh force, especially for those new to camping, and being properly protected is crucial. Plus, camping in your car can open you up to new places that would usually keep you away due to the extreme climate or wildlife.

 

Using a Tarp

Tarps work similarly to tents but present some key differences. Indeed, tarps offer less storage space, aren’t as expensive as tents, and provide more potential spots and views to explore. These features make tarps perfect for truly experiencing the outdoors without being fully exposed to nature.

However, if you are planning on using tarps, you must check the weather ahead of time to ensure you won’t need extra protection. Also, you’ll want to make sure you have the right tools and materials, such as stakes, guy lines, poles, and a cord to make a ridgeline. Some tarps may come with these.

The following options make decent tarps.

The Grossman Camping Tarp includes:

  • Waterproof and tear-resistant fabric
  • 6 guy lines and tensioners
  • 4 tent stakes
  • 3 stuff sacks

The Rottay Camping Tarp includes:

  • Waterproof nylon
  • 6 stakes
  • 6 guy lines
  • 1 storage bag

The Unigear Camping Tarp includes:

  • Water and tear-resistant fabric
  • 6 ground nails
  • 6 wind ropes
  • 1 accessory storage bag

Sleeping under a tarp is about as close to sleeping in a tent as you can get without owning a tent. Tarps offer decent protection while still letting you breathe in the air and smell the flowers. As a result, they’re a great next step in advancing your time outdoors.

 

Laying on a Hammock

Another creative option for camping is to use a hammock to relax and sleep. Just like tarps, hammocks offer you the chance to better experience the world around you and get a good view of the night’s sky. There’s also the added benefit of not sleeping on the ground, keeping you safely suspended, and waving with the wind.

Of course, no system is flawless, and using hammocks requires some planning. Weather is again an important factor here, as heavy wind or precipitations can ruin your time on the hammock. Cold temperatures can be helped with some type of insulation, such as an under-quilt. If you’re interested, you may want to look into putting a tarp above your hammock, as long as it is large enough.

The following hammocks are potential options for you.

The Wise Owl Outfitters Hammock includes:

  • Parachute nylon
  • 2×9-foot tree straps and 2 carabiners
  • 5 loops to adjust the height

The Aodoer Hammock includes:

  • Tear and dirt-resistance nylon
  • 2×10-foot long tree straps with 18+ 1 loops
  • 2 aluminum carabiners

The Covacure Hammock includes:

  • Tear-resistant 70-Denier nylon
  • 2×10-foot long tree straps with 5+ 1 loops
  • 2 carabiners made of nautical-grade aluminum alloy

Hammocks are great for replicating those relaxing summer evenings you long for. Bringing one along on your camping trip will recapture feelings of joy and help melt stress and pressure. As long as you’re bundled up enough, this can even be done during colder camping trips, ensuring your time eases you into comfort and bliss.

 

Sleeping on a Cot

For those who dislike the suspended or swingy nature of hammocks, cots can be a solid alternative. Just like hammocks, cots give you a clear view of the sky and keep you close to nature without confining you between walls. If you also like to read, you’ll enjoy the fact that cots are easy to set up, making them an even more attractive option.

Like most options on this list, being cautious of the weather is a must when considering bringing a cot on your camping trip. A unique drawback, however, is that the ground must be as leveled as possible to prevent any damage or injury to both you and the cot. Other than that, cots are a great way to comfortably rest during your camping trip. Using a tarp here with it is again a possibility.

Good cots to look at include the following.

The ALPHA CAMP Cot includes:

  • Steel frame and tubes
  • 600-lb. weight capacity
  • Accommodation for users up to 6’2”

The REDCAMP Cot includes:

  • A steel folding frame (no assembly required)
  • Holds between 500 to 600 lbs.
  • Works for campers up to 6’

The OSAGE RIVER Cot includes:

  • Carbon steel frame factory tested up to 300 lbs.
  • Coated polyester prevents moisture buildup
  • The frame is 6-feet, 3-inches long

To compare it to home life, sleeping on a cot is about as close to sleeping on a bed as you can get while camping. This sturdy yet comfortable alternative is a solid option for anyone looking for a familiar feeling of comfort.

 

Glamping in a Yurt

Associated with the modern trend of glamour camping, or “glamping,” yurts are dome-like housing units. Originally from Mongolia, yurts have made their way into the camping experience. As buying a yurt is expensive, costing up to hundreds of dollars, the best option is to rent one at a yurt campground.

Yurts are usually best for families as they can usually house up to eight people, although they come in multiple varieties. Bell-shaped yurts, for example, are smaller and better for housing a couple. You can read more about the different types of yurts at Home Stratosphere.

Like cars, yurts offer good protection and are ideal for those less seasoned by camping experiences. Glamping is generally for individuals who want to go camping but don’t want to deal with the rough edges of living in nature. There’s nothing wrong with that, as everyone’s different, and yurts are perfect for such types of campers.

 

Camping Like a Cowboy

Cowboy camping is a unique approach that consists of using as little as possible and that does not involve any sort of shelter. This method probably brings you closer to nature than any other, which strikes many as appealing. True lovers of the outdoors and minimalists will find this to be the perfect fit for them.

However, before you try cowboy camping, you should think through the logistics of it when planning your trip. If you’re new to camping, you may want to put this on hold as you’ll be exposed to nature in ways you’re unfamiliar with. Camping with a tarp should be tried beforehand as you’ll gain experience soldiering through the elements.

 

Once you’re ready to move on to cowboy camping, you’ll want to make sure you keep the proper conditions in mind, including:

  • Precipitation: rain is fine if you have a tarp or shelter of some kind, but cowboy camping doesn’t offer such luxuries. Thus, make sure the climate you’ll be in is safe and dry.
  • Wildlife: whether it be spiders or snakes, you’ll want to find an area where that is a relatively sparse possibility, such as cold places.
  • The right spot: set your spot somewhere you’ll be comfortable. Anthills and mud should be avoided, while soft ground protected from the wind is ideal.
  • Equipment: unless you feel the strong need to prove how tough you are to your peers, you’ll want to bring along a ground cloth, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag to situate yourself nicely.

You don’t have to fancy yourself as a cowboy to camp like one, although you should make sure you’re up to the challenge beforehand. Biting off more than you can chew is a surefire way to make your trip miserable, so it would be better to know a thing or two (or at least bring someone that does) before heading out in nature.

 

Building Your Own Shelter

If the previous option isn’t challenging enough for you, then hopefully, this one will be. For those seeking a true outdoors experience, crafting a survival shelter from scratch might be satisfying. This is only recommended for those who are experienced with camping and feel confident in their resourcefulness.

Essentially, building your shelter will consist of assembling many poles, sticks, branches, and leaves. Unless you’re camping in the snow and want to form an igloo, a nice supply of nearby trees will be useful. The main types of shelters you may want to build include:

  • Wickiup: resembling a tipi hut, this is made by first forming a tripod out of poles, which should be reinforced by other poles to form a frame. Then, cover with a layer of vegetation for protection. Make sure the structure is large and wet enough before lighting any fire inside.
  • Leaf hut: use a long, sturdy pole held up by two tight rows of branches to form a sort of an A-frame. This should then be covered by a thick layer of vegetation, especially in an area with strong winds.
  • Lean-to: this simple design is great for those who don’t want to invest a lot of time and effort into their shelters. Place a pole between two trees and cover one side with sticks and vegetation to protect yourself from any wind or rain. This can be described as half of a leaf hut, and it should be noted that while it may be easy to make, it won’t protect you as much as the other options we’ve discussed.
  • Bough bed: this structure is not a shelter on its own but is certainly useful. Two logs that are long enough to accommodate your height should be placed several feet apart to form a frame. This space should then be filled with a thick makeshift mattress of boughs, grass, leaves, and any other material you’d like to lay on.

Once you’re done camping, all you have to worry about is putting out any fire you created and collecting anything you’d like to bring with you.

(Side-note: You should learn to build yourself a fire before living off the land.) Incoming campers will sure appreciate anything you leave behind, even if just for inspiration.

 

Conclusion

While there’s nothing wrong with camping with a tent, it doesn’t hurt to try out other ways. Whether you’re on a budget or just looking for something new, you can find something worthwhile. Camping can be done through a wide range of activities and methods, so feel free to expand your horizons.

Before you try them out, be sure to conduct research ahead of your trip. Trying something new is exciting, but you’ll be better off knowing what you’re doing than being clueless. Planning is key, and both you and the members of your group will have a much better time after a little bit of care is put in first. Above all, have fun and get the most out of your experience with nature.

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