6 Things You Need to Know About Primitive Camping

Primitive Camping

Published: July 15, 2021

Life in the modern era can be very monotonous, and with all the technological bindings, it seems you are always in the middle of a crowd you can’t escape from. But every once in a while, it is important that you make time for yourself in solitude and calmness, being at one with Mother Nature. Primitive camping can be one way to do so. That being said, what does primitive camping mean?

Primitive camping is one of the most popular forms of camping during which you can get away from your tiresome life and do some soul-searching. It is also known as backcountry camping, where you camp in a remote area without any reservation nor nearby facilities, like a bathroom, water, or grocery store. 

As life is getting busier by the day, people are getting more interested in camping to get some time for themselves. It is surely an effective way to get rid of any fatigue and clear up your mind. You can just camp in your RV or set up tents, alone or with friends, and enjoy the calm. But it is very important to prepare yourself if you want to go primitive camping and step outside the comfort of your home. Here are six things you need to know about primitive camping.

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What Is Considered Primitive Camping?

Primitive camping, also referred to as “dispersed camping,” is a form of camping during which you can spend some time by yourself in a secluded place in nature. It is not like the traditional camping experience encountered on campsites, with a lot of people around, which gives off a picnic vibe. Instead, primitive camping is all about leaving your comfort zone and exploring wild nature.

Mostly, primitive camping is experienced in the national forest areas, either by the main road or the roads that follow the forest access. You can also backpack several miles into the forest and find a place away from other people. As all the national forest areas allow free camping, you don’t have to reserve your site, but you surely have to fight for it with other campers. So, you have to secure your spot by being the first one to step on your site.

Primitive camping will provide none of the facilities that you can get in your home or neighborhood. There are very few to no water sources, bathrooms, or electricity, and depending on the place you selected, no mobile phone network either. As the name suggests, you will have to spend time away from the likes of your modern life. But, this is what makes primitive camping exciting.


Why Should You Try Primitive Camping?

Camping has always been one of the best outdoor activities to refreshen your mind and clear up your mental fatigue. In this day and age, where we are getting accustomed to the city life, away from nature, it is very important to go back to nature and enjoy the world outside brick walls. It not only gives you time to be with nature but also steers your thought process and makes you grateful for your existence.

If you are doing primitive camping with your family or friends, it can deepen your relationships and understanding of each other. Having a conversation under the open sky, surrounded by nature can help you get a new view of your relationship. Also, there is an added value of recreation to it, and a lot of memories can be made in nature.

Just a few years ago, I was not very fond of the idea of primitive camping. To get out of my modern amenities and be with nature, with no facilities around seemed like a very unattractive idea, until two of my friends dragged me to my first primitive camping trip. Then, I understood how exciting this could be if done properly.

Finding a water source, a good place to set up the tents, and gathering dry sticks to set up the fire was an amazing experience. It makes you understand the true meaning of independence and bonding. These are very much absent in the compound camping as it is more like a fun time or picnic than experiencing the wilderness. So, if you like to explore the wild side of camping, you should try primitive camping.


Pros and Cons of Primitive Camping

Primitive camping, like any other activity, has its pros and cons. These are very important to keep in mind as they might help you figure out how you should prepare for primitive camping, what you might face, and what you will get out of it. Here is a list of pros and cons I compiled based on my experience in primitive camping.


It’s free: Primitive camping, by all means, is free. Unlike compound camping, you don’t have to reserve nor pay for a spot. You can just set out anytime with your RV and tent and spend some time with nature without having to spend a penny. You might have to pay for camping permits, but it is usually cheap.

Freedom to select your spot: The best thing about primitive camping is that you can decide where you want to camp while exploring the wilderness. There is no need to reserve a spot as it is first come first serve, so you can select any place you find, perfect as long as you get there first.

Away from the crowd: The biggest problem with compound camping is always having many people around you. However, while primitive camping, you won’t have any unwanted people nearby. You can get lost in nature, away from the crowds, with no one to disturb you.

Being one with nature: The essence of primitive camping is in the fact that you can be at one with nature, its calmness, and beauty. It gives you a way out of the city life and allows you to enjoy the wilderness in a way unlike any other. It revives your soul and helps you recharge with all the natural energy.

Zero distractions: As you are away from human society and crowds, you have almost no distractions. There is no electricity, no mobile phone network (depending on your location), nor any kinds of human distractions. There is nothing between you and the wilderness.

A taste of primitive lifestyle: Even though it is short-lived, you get to experience a little bit of the lifestyle our human ancestors were used to. Without modern facilities, electricity, or bathrooms, you understand how life without modern equipment could have been, and it personally helped me feel more grateful.



Away from your comfort zone: Primitive camping will take you out of your comfort zone. You won’t get the facilities you get at home, such as your bed, bathroom, or electric and electronic devices. It can be a bother if you are not used to camping outside your comfort zone.

Limited water resources: Finding clean water is one of the hardest things in primitive camping. However, it is vital to find a water source to set up a camp. For that, you have to explore a fair amount of the area, which can be very tiring.

Making a fire: Most campsites allow fire, still, you should ensure that making one is allowed. However, making fire itself is a big challenge. You need to find dry woods and leaves to start and sustain the fire, and it can be very tiring. Please, remember that you are not allowed to damage any trees in the area to make a fire.

Finding a location: Finding a location to go primitive camping can be a bother if there is no forest around you. You might have to drive for hours to find a suitable place. Also, it is better to research the area you are going to camp beforehand, which can be time-consuming.

Clearing up the area: You must clear up the area you have camped in. You must make sure to leave no trace, as in packing up all your belongings, getting rid of your feces by burying them or packing them up in plastic bags. You also have to carry all your trash and leave the areas as it was before you arrived.


What Do You Need to Bring to Primitive Camping?

If you are going on primitive camping, you must prepare well for it. Indeed, if you don’t bring everything you need, you might not be able to enjoy the experience. I can tell you from my personal experience that camping without proper preparation can bring you more worries than what you wanted to get rid of. Therefore, let me help you with a list of things you need to bring to primitive camping.

Tent: I believe a tent is a no-brainer unless you want an open-air experience. But, a tent will protect you from all the insects and give you a secured space to rest your eyes. You can also enjoy reading inside a tent if you bring a lamp.

Sleeping bag: A sleeping bag is important to enjoy a sound sleep in the middle of nature. Bringing one will also help you with falling temperatures at night. Besides, bring a pillow to get a fulfilling sleep.

Food or other drinking supplies: If you prefer an all-natural experience, and therefore catching fish and collecting water from the stream, you will still have to bring ingredients, a water boiler/purifier, fishing hooks, and most likely a stove. Or, you can simply buy food or water on your way to the site. You should of course keep in mind your comfort over worries if you want to enjoy your trip to the fullest.

First aid kit: A first aid kit is essential if you are going to primitive camping. As there are no hospitals or health facilities around, you will have to take care of any small cuts or basic injuries yourself.

Backpack: A backpack is a must to carry everything. You have to bring a lot of things and even clear out the area once you are done. Thus, without a backpack, you can never manage to get through this smoothly.

Necessary tools: You need to have a lot of necessary tools, such as plastic bags to carry your trash, a screwdriver, a small knife, plates, tissues or wipes to clean yourself, a shovel for burying your feces, a lamp light if you want to read, and matches for fire.

Map: A map of the area you are camping in is a must. We can easily get lost in nature and we must find our way back to the camp or main road. And having a map can solve that problem.

Permits: Make sure to find out if you need any permit for your vehicle or camping in the area you are going to camp in. Some people tend to forget about it and get in trouble with the law.


What Should You Wear on Primitive Camping?

You must be sure not to overpack if you want to enjoy camping. But, few clothing items are necessary, such as some extra clothes in case your clothing gets wet, an extra pair of warm socks, warm clothes for the night as the temperature drops then. You can also bring a raincoat if it is likely to rain. Other than this, you can bring any normal camping gear, such as a hat, boots, or shorts.

Best Places to Go on Primitive Camping?

All that being said, what places can provide a perfect experience of primitive camping? Let me help you with a few of my favorite places to go primitive camping.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona: I had to start the list with the Grand Canyon National Park as it is one of the most exciting places to go camping. With its limited water resources, a vast area to hike, and heat, it surely makes camping exciting if you are into challenges.

Yosemite National Park, California: Yosemite National Park is a vast wilderness area, where you can spend time exploring and finding yourself a suitable place to camp. It has water resources, and nature makes it a perfect place for camping.

Olympic National Park, Washington: Olympic National Park is a camper’s dream. From mountains to the rainforest to beaches, you can find everything here. If you are into primitive camping, you must add this destination to your list.

Glacier National Park, Montana: Glacier National Park will give you a unique natural beauty experience. You get to enjoy near river camping, explore the wilderness, and find enjoyable challenges in hiking.

Acadia National Park, Maine: I wanted to end this list with Acadia National Park. It has unlimited water resources, including ponds and rivers, and a huge forest. It is a huge place to explore and open yourself to nature and its beauty, and it is an amazing place to camp.

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