If you’re new to camping, you may not have considered the many types of camping available. Below are 5 types of camping to consider:
Backpacking is when you carry all of the gear and supplies you need in a specialized backpack and you walk to your campsite. These backpacks are made specifically for backpacking and are very different from backpacks you would use for school and such.
When I was in Boy Scouts of America, we went on overnight hikes and carried our food, outdoor sleeping bag (you could carry a tent too) and other essentials in our backpacks. It was fun at that time of my life, but now backpacking would not fit my needs as a dad going camping with the family. But, I’m sure there are families that are more adventurous than me and would be open to backpacking with the family.
Backpacking is a great option if you’re okay with roughing it and you have a limited budget. It’s the cheapest of the 5 types of camping.
You can carry a small tent while backpacking, but for discussion purposes we’ll assume that tent camping is referring to packing up your car with a tent and other gear/supplies and driving to your campsite. Tent camping is the type of camping I did as a child. Nowadays, some campgrounds have tents that you can rent that are already set up upon arrival.
Tent camping allows you to bring more amenities than backpacking, like a full sized camping stove, multiple propane bottles, pots/pans, air mattress, ice chest, firewood, sports equipment/games, portable toilet, toilet tent, etc.
Tent camping is a good option if you want more of the comforts of home, but want to keep costs low. It is probably the most popular of the 5 types of camping.
There are two main categories of recreational vehicles (RV). First are motorized vehicles that have living quarters. Second are vehicles that have living quarters but no engine. They are pulled by another vehicle (like a truck or SUV).
Some common types of motorized recreational vehicles are: Class A motorhome, Class B motorhome, Class C motorhome. Some common types of recreational vehicles with no engine are: travel trailer, toy hauler, pop up and fifth wheel.
RV camping is not for everyone. It’s the most expensive type of the 5 types of camping because most people take out a loan to purchase their RV. Upside is that the loan terms are typically longer than car loan terms, usually 10-15 year terms, so the monthly payment can be low. Also, if you decide to quit camping, you can always sell your RV and recuperate some of your money.
Many people that own an RV choose this option because they like to have a bed and a clean bathroom and shower. Some campgrounds have clean bathrooms and showers, but many don’t.
Hotel camping could be where you reserve a hotel room near campgrounds that you plan on visiting. If you’re visiting a campground for the day and not camping overnight at the campground, you’ll typically have to pay for a day pass for visiting the campground.
But, for some this is the best of both worlds in that you are able to enjoy nature during the day and all of the comforts of a hotel at night. But, you’ll miss out on cooking/eating outdoors and enjoying a campfire. Some do not allow pets either.
Hotel camping is a good starting point for some people because it is cheaper than renting a home and usually the cancellation fees are lower if you need to cancel.
Similar to hotel camping in that you’ll be staying close to a campground or park you like, but instead you’ll be renting a home. Typically renting a home is more expensive than staying in a hotel because of all of the additional fees, like a cleaning fee. Also, depending on the rules, you may be able to cook outdoors and enjoy a campfire. Downside is that some rental homes do not allow you have guests or pets at the home.
Which type of camping is best for your family? Depends on your budget, time constraints and your overall interest in camping. Also, it depends on your interest in preparing/planning for your trips, setting up camp, breaking down camp, equipment storage and maintenance.