Just as there are many ways to appreciate the outdoors, there are many ways to camp. The choices range from amenity-packed recreational vehicle (such as a camper van) camping to an ultralight ramble with just a tarp and some cord to rig a makeshift shelter. The more luxurious the camping setup you require, the more money you’ll spend on gear and the less time you’ll spend in direct contact with nature’s elements. Choose the style of camping best suited to your disposition, budget, and fitness level.
Front country camping
Defined as the style of camping where you can drive right up to the campground or campsite, frontcountry camping lends itself to packing a lot more gear than you would for backcountry camping. Frontcountry camping includes RVing, glamping, car camping, van camping, and walk-in camping. When frontcountry camping, the size of your vehicle determines the amount of gear you can pack. Many frontcountry campgrounds include wheelchair-accessible paths and toilet facilities, running water, food-storage boxes, fire rings, picnic tables, and sometimes even showers.
Car camping is most commonly used as an umbrella term for frontcountry camping. But in its truest form, car camping refers to parking right next to your campsite. This makes unloading gear incredibly convenient. Some car-camping campgrounds provide outhouses or composting toilets, while others are outfitted with amenities such as restrooms, a campground store, and sometimes even a swimming pool.
Camper vans and RVs are permitted only in select campgrounds, so you should check ahead to make sure you can camp at your destination in a motor home. RV camping is appealing to people who want the comfort of certain amenities to make it easier to sleep, cook, and use the bathroom, while also enjoying easy access to the outdoors. Some RV-friendly campgrounds provide hookups for electricity, and sometimes even a dump station for disposing of human waste from RV toilets. It’s possible to park RVs in some campgrounds that don’t offer hookups. This is called dry camping, when no electricity, water, or sewer connections are supplied. RVs and camper vans are also well suited for roadside camping on long road trips in areas where campgrounds are few and far between.
A term used to describe a luxurious camping style, glamping can be very high-end and almost resort-like, depending on the destination. Certain home-rental and camping reservation websites now advertise yurts, platform cabin tents, and bare-bones structures that come with amenities that make the camping experience feel downright deluxe, while still allowing for easy access to scenic areas. This type of camping is not covered in this book, but it’s easy to find online.
Many campgrounds include both car-camping and walk-in campsites. While you can park your car right next to car-camping sites, walk-in sites require you to park in a designated parking area and then haul your gear on foot to a campsite located away from the car. Some campgrounds provide wagons to help transport gear. Although walk-in sites require some extra work to unload the car and set up camp, they are often much quieter and farther removed from other campers. This is a good option when you want the ease of car camping but choose to avoid the potential downsides of nearby neighbors.