Have you ever considered going camping but then remembered how much of a hassle packing a tent can be? And let’s not forget the fact that it can be a hassle to set it up, especially if you’re out camping on your own.
Well, if you have, then you’re definitely not the first person who’s been put off camping simply because you don’t want to spend half the day packing and then unpacking your tent. On the other hand, you really enjoy spending time outdoors.
Now the question is ― do you really need to bring a tent, or is it possible to go camping without one?
Luckily, we’re here to explore some alternatives you can consider, and to ultimately answer the question: “How to go camping without a tent?”
- 1 Have the Right Mindset
- 2 Camping With a Tarp
- 3 Camping In a Hammock
- 4 Combine a Tarp With a Hammock
- 5 Make Your Own Shelter
- 6 Camping Tips
- 7 A Few Last Words
Have the Right Mindset
First of all, if camping is something you absolutely love, then all you need to do is have the right mindset. Try going tentless, and see if you like it. Maybe you’ll love the experience, and decide to do it more often.
If you enjoy camping alone, then you should do so. However, if you prefer going camping with one or more friends, then ask them to try out your method. You’ll probably have more fun if you have company, and you’ll also have someone to help you build a fire and talk to while you’re out there.
Camping With a Tarp
A great alternative to a tent is a tarp. A tarp is lightweight and compact, unlike a tent. They have a minimalistic, classic design, and you’ll only need a few extra things to pack along with it in order to set it up. Having said that, there are numerous different ways to set up your tarp. However, I’m going to show you the easiest way.
What you will need:
- A tarp (this is the tarp I use from Amazon)
- At least 15 feet of rope
- A pocket or bushcraft knife
- Anchors (optional)
- Backpacking sleeping bag
Find a good spot
What I mean by this is that you need to find a spot between two trees. The trees should have some distance between them. Also, you should check to see if the ground is level and doesn’t have a lot of twigs on it.
If you’re happy with your spot, then you need to tie one end of your rope to one of the trees. Ideally, you should tie the rope above tree limbs to keep it from slipping. Furthermore, you should wrap the end of the rope at least two times around the tree in order to secure it.
Once you’ve secured the rope onto the first tree, bring the other end of the rope to the other tree, but don’t secure it just yet.
Position the tarp
Next, you need to position the tarp onto the rope. Make sure to center it between the two trees. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to secure the tarp to the rope, so it doesn’t slip. For this, you can cut up small pieces of rope and pull them through the center eyelids of your tarp.
Now you need to wrap the other end of the rope to the other tree. Make sure it’s nice and tight. Then, it’s time to secure the corner eyelids of the tarp. You can also use small pieces of rope for this.
Finally, secure each corner piece to a bush or another tree (if available). If there aren’t any other trees or bushes around, you can anchor the corners to the ground.
Camping In a Hammock
Camping in a hammock is probably the most exciting alternative to a tent. Just imagine, sleeping out in the open, underneath the stars! If you’ve never tried it, you don’t know what you’re missing.
First of all, hammocks (like tarps) are easy to pack up and install. Also, if you’re not really thrilled about sleeping on the ground, a hammock is the perfect choice for you. You’ll feel comfortable, and you won’t wake up feeling sore after tossing and turning because the ground is uncomfortable.
Even when you’re sleeping in a tent, you’re still on the ground. Unless you bring a thick sleeping bag, you’re probably going to crave sleeping in your own bed.
What you will need:
- A hammock
- Tree straps
- S-hooks or carabiners
How to hang your hammock
First, you will need to find two trees. They shouldn’t be too close or too far apart. The best way to measure the ideal distance is to use your hammock. Try to match the distance of the trees to the length of your hammock.
Wrap your tree straps around each tree. Next, hook together the tree strap and the hammock rings. Make sure that the rings are sturdy enough to hold your weight. And that’s it! Now all you have to do is adjust the height of the hammock and enjoy floating beneath the stars!
Combine a Tarp With a Hammock
If you want to take it a step further, try camping with a tarp and a hammock. The setup is the same for both. The great thing about using a tarp and a hammock is that you can use the tarp for shelter and the hammock for comfort. Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you’re going to hang your hammock underneath the tarp, or over it.
If you want to look at the stars, then hanging a tarp under your hammock is your best option. Then, if the weather suddenly changes, you’ll have shelter under your tarp. On the other hand, if you just want to use your hammock for comfort and prefer to be under your tarp, just hang it over the hammock.
Make Your Own Shelter
In case you don’t want to take a tarp or a hammock on your camping trip and would rather “rough it” bushcraft style, building your own shelter is a great idea. The only thing you will need to bring from home is something to cut up tree branches. For example, this is the axe I use for the job.
However, the most difficult part about making a shelter without bringing any equipment is that you will need to find the perfect spot in order for it to work.
Remember, there are a vast number of bushcraft shelters which you can read more about here. Just to skim the surface, here are a few ideas for your shelter.
Build a lean-to shelter
A lean-to shelter is the smaller, simpler version of the previous one. You will be using the same material for this one, namely a Y-shaped tree or branch, a long tree limb, several branches, and dead leaves and branches.
Basically, you need to place the long tree limb against the Y-shaped tree/branch at a 45-degree angle. Next, make walls around the limb using smaller branches. Again, it’s best if you push them into the ground a bit. Cover them with the dead leaves and branches. Finally, for additional support, lean a thick sturdy branch against the long tree limb. They should be forming a 90-degree angle.
If you’re out camping in the sweltering heat, you’ll need a shelter that can provide as much coverage from the sun as possible. A Ramada shelter has a roof, sturdy branches, and some lightweight ones. While there are several different ways to make this shelter, I will show you how to make the simplest version of a Ramada.
In order to make this type of shelter, you need to bring along a tarp or a mat, some rope, and possibly a pick-ax. Push the thick branches into the ground as much as you can, forming a rectangle or square shape. Make a roof using the lightweight branches. Tie the end of the lighter sticks to the thicker ones with your rope. The roof should be rectangular or square, depending on how you placed your thicker branches.
For a sturdier construction, add more lightweight sticks across the roof and tie them together. Finally, secure your tarp or mat to the roof with the rope.
If you don’t want to use a tarp or a mat, you can place some branches and leaves instead. However, they won’t block the sunlight as well as a tarp/mat.
Now that we’ve established that camping without a tent is not only possible, but it’s also extremely enjoyable, here are some camping tips to make your trip an amazing experience!
Tip #1: Choose a time
Before you jump into your car and head for the woods, you need to choose the best time to go. This means you need to check the weather forecast for the following week, or however long you’re planning on going. Rain will definitely ruin your trip, and you won’t be able to make the proper shelter for yourself. I wrote a great article about determining if a storm is coming here.
Also, if it’s going to be cold, it’s best to wait until it warms up a bit, as you can seriously damage your health.
However, even when you do pick the perfect time to go, you need to prepare yourself for the cold. Inevitably, when the night-time comes, you’ll be cold. It’s always best to bring along some warm clothes, just in case.
Tip #2: Make a list of necessities
Yes, being spontaneous is fun. However, before you decide to go camping, make a list of necessities. If you have allergies, remember to bring along all your medication. If you’re a diabetic, remember to pack some healthy snacks. Also, pack plenty of water. You won’t be able to pop into a store if you’re in the wild, so make sure to take anything you might need.
Tip #3: Build a fire
You’ve seen enough movies to know that a fire is an essential part of any camping trip. If you know how to build a fire using sticks, that’s great! However, don’t decide that you’ll learn this skill once you’re already on your trip. It’s best to bring a lighter or matches along, just in case you can’t do it without some help. I would recommend to know at least 3 different ways to build a fire just in case your matches get wet or you lose your lighter.
Furthermore, if you’re going with a friend, a fire is obviously great for making s’mores and telling scary stories!
Here is another post of mine with some must have knowledge: how to keep a fire burning all night. Camping can be somewhat unpredictable at times, especially without a tent.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
Tip #4: Get ready for the bugs!
Bugs and camping go together like PB and jelly. Get ready to deal with some critters, and bring along some mosquito repellent!
Overall, you shouldn’t have any trouble with them. Remember, you’re in their home.
Tip #5: Enjoy your time outdoors
Finally, take the time to enjoy your surroundings! Nothing beats spending some quality time outdoors. Take this time to clear your mind from daily stress and just breathe in the beauty. This is what we are all about at Pursuing Outdoors!
A Few Last Words
Hopefully, after reading these suggestions, you’re ready to try camping without a tent. It’s a new, exciting way to bond with nature, so give it a try!
In the end, no matter which alternative you choose, you need to ensure that it is sturdy and comfortable. Happy camping!