What is Primitive Camping?

Primitive camping is what you think it is. It’s a form of camping that requires very few amenities and offers a more immersive experience in nature. Essentially, it’s what camping was like before the invention of the tent or camp stove. You’ll find primitive campsites worldwide – but they’re most common in places where there are no facilities, like national parks and deserts. This blog post will explore what primitive camping means, what to expect when you go primitive camping, how to prepare for your first time going primitive camping, what gear you need for primitive camping (hint: not much!), and why people love sleeping under the stars!

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What is Primitive Camping?

With many individuals opting to forego traditional tent camping favoring glamping or RVing, modern camping trends are numerous and broad. There’s nothing like it for people who enjoy the outdoors and want to go camping. But some people believe that luxuries and facilities are excessive and not what it’s all about. Campers are increasingly choosing to go primitive camping for a new adventure. It’s the ideal little getaway from modern life, with no people, power connections, campsite reservations, or restrooms. If you’re not sure whether primitive camping is right for you, but your interest has been sparked, keep reading to find out if it is.

Primitive camping defined

Backcountry camping is a type of camping done in remote regions away from developed campgrounds with bathrooms, offices, and running water. Instead, go in the opposite direction on a trek to discover a more wild and isolated portion of the state park to set up your tent. The whole idea behind primitive camping is self-reliance. Everything you’ll need is carried on your back. For primitive camp groups, this kind of disconnection from today’s world may be therapeutic; it’s a wonderful opportunity to think about the most important things while seeing some gorgeous scenery.

If you’re going on a primitive camping trip, being prepared is crucial. Food, water, and a tent are all must-haves for your camping excursion, but if you leave something behind, there’s no one to turn to. On public lands, primitive camping is often free. When it comes to camping in an actual, genuine primitive way, you must go to the site without the benefit of technology. This implies that you may walk, bike, or horseback ride there. Rowing a boat is another option for getting there. Although driving your automobile up to the campground immediately eliminates the purpose.

Camping in a tent or hammock is an excellent way to get your family out into nature and away from modern technology for several days at a time. While primitive camping does not necessarily imply no access to water or electricity, it often entails being on a dedicated campsite with other families, while dry camping refers to setting up camp on public lands without the use of any facilities.

Why go primitive camping?

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There are several advantages to primitive camping, and it may be used as an alternative to traditional camping on your next excursion.

It’s a fresh experience: leaving behind all the comforts and luxuries we take for granted can be difficult, but survivalists thrive on it.

Get some relaxation: Going on a trip to the countryside, where no man-made buildings are visible, maybe quite soothing. Backcountry camping is an excellent technique to unwind and reconnect with nature.

It’s generally free: Camping in a primitive manner is an excellent cost-effective vacation option. Of course, you’ll have spent money on your camping equipment, but you may get a lot for your money thanks to no booking fees and plenty of free activities to do in the outdoors.

There are no neighboring campsites: There are no restrictions on noise, so you can play as loud music or be as rowdy as you like without disturbing other campers. If your goal is peace and tranquility, there are no other campers to interfere with it; instead, the soothing sounds of the state forest or park will lull you to

State Lands that Allow Primitive Camping

On many DEC domains, primitive camping is permissible, including Forest Preserve sites in the Catskills and Adirondacks and State Forest properties outside the Preserve. Camping in nonconforming areas such as Unique Areas, Wildlife Management Areas, and a few more kinds of state property is not permitted.

Where to Set Up Camp

The ideal site to camp is at established primitive tent sites. These areas are generally flatter than other locations and have deeper, more durable soils that are less affected by usage and erosion, minimizing the impact of camping. Nearby pit privies and rock fire rings are common in many places.

Campers should use designated tent sites, which are typically near hiking and biking paths. They provide a perspective of ponds, lakes, streams, or rivers and are frequently near trails. When properly treated, they may be a source of water.

Yellow and black “Camp Here” signs designate all designated primitive tent sites. A yellow number against a dark brown wooden plaque typically affixed to a tree near the water’s edge identifies many campsites on lakes and ponds.

Before you go

If you’re going on a primitive camping excursion, there are a few things to consider. Many people enjoy the solitude and far-apart experience that comes from camping outside of campgrounds and other campers, but it isn’t for everyone, so the first thing to think about is whether you’d like to be alone.

It’s also a major responsibility to backcountry camp on your own. When backcountry camping, you must always ensure that you leave no trace of your visit behind. Backcountry camping is all about being environmentally responsible in the way you maintain your site, which is why it’s critical to do it in a natural method possible. While you’re camping, leave no litter and nothing else in your wake. Also, be considerate of the environment and those who may use it after you. Another thing that might deter some campers is a lack of viable restrooms. Although having no access to water is an element of primitive camping, there are certain locations where primitive camping can be done

Different ways to primitive camp

If you’re going on a primitive camping trip, there are two alternatives: backpacking or organized primitive camping.

Backpacking implies camping with only the essentials in your backpack. This generally entails trekking for several days and putting up camp along the way. Only experienced campers may get a taste of this most basic form of primitive camping, however. The amount of planning and preparation needed, as well as an intimate understanding of the art, makes it impossible.

Organized Primitive Camping is a more civilized form of primitive camping. It involves using designated primitive camping sites. These are generally state parks or forests located far from typical campsites. They still require you to walk some distance away from your car and set up camp, although they make for an excellent compromise for individuals who want to try out primitive camping without having to plan for it.

The main difference between the two camping styles is that in organized primitive campsites, you can usually expect a full restroom and shower facilities, which are not typically available at backpacking sites. The other major distinction is what activities you’re allowed to do while staying there: Backcountry campers must observe rules about what they can and cannot do, whereas at organized primitive campsites, what you’re allowed to do is more up to what the governing body has set in place.

Pros and cons of primitive camping


Camping in a tent eliminates the problems of reservation campsites, such as overbooking, noisy neighbors, and limited area.
Get out of town and reconnect with nature’s majesty.
You have complete freedom to camp in any location you choose.
The alternative that’s less expensive and has no site fees or petrol expenses


There are no comforts like soft beds or beautiful restrooms.
There’s a genuine chance that there will be no cell phone service.
Some skills are required, such as lighting fires and providing basic first aid. These aren’t abilities that most people have.
There are no facilities like food refrigeration or a clean water supply.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to primitive camping, but in the end, it’s a matter of personal taste.

What you’ll need to pack

Planning a basic camping excursion requires preparation and forethought. When hiking to your camp, overpacking might cause difficulties because you may easily be on the trails for a few days. However, it’s critical to bring all necessities since there will be no spare gear available if you leave behind an essential item.

A hammock is a great alternative to an umbrella for those who don’t mind getting wet, but if you don’t want to get your hair or gear wet, then an enclosed canopy is the better option. A tiny standard tent with the most significant thing to think about being weight should suffice. For the stakes, you’ll need a hammer as well.
Suppose you wish to go hunting or fishing, as well as your equipment if you’re going out into the woods, bring food such as water or water purification tablets, food for meals, and any equipment you’ll need for cooking (for example, a camping stove). Always carry some food with you, whether it’s in case of emergency or because there’s no choice.
Backcountry Permit: Some countries’ national parks require permits to primitive camp on the premises, so double-check this ahead of time.
Clothes: You’ll need a pair of hiking boots and clothing that is appropriate for the weather.
Comfortable clothes for your camping trip are a good idea, as well as footwear appropriate for walking in the woods. Nylon or wool is best because it allows water from sweat to evaporate faster, so you stay more comfortable. Bring a sleeping bag, a map, sunscreen, first-aid kit, pocket knife, and ax for firewood if you.

Picking a destination

Photo by Stephen Meszaros on Unsplash

The goal of Backcountry Camping is to find a place that you’ll enjoy. With the whole idea being about going off the beaten path and into nature, selecting your camping trip destination is an essential step in the process. The United States has 59 national parks and state parks to select from, each with its natural features and activities. Here are

The greatest dunes in North America are found near the base of the Rocky Mountains. You may trek to an elevation of 7,500 feet, where you can pitch your tent completely alone and take in a pristine view of the night sky free from light pollution.

The Olympic Peninsula in Washington offers some of the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches in the United States. For some traditional beach camping, head to the Olympic Coast in Washington. This is one of the few times all year when you may camp on the beach. With tide pools and driftwood for bonfires, there are rocket beaches with which to enjoy it.
The stunning scenery of Utah’s Canyonlands, which includes the Needles and Maze Districts, is unforgettable. The Needles are a fantastic rustic campground in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park, and Utah’s Canyonlands is one of my favorite places on earth.

Choosing a campsite

Choosing a camping site is one of the most crucial aspects of primitive camping. Unlike standard campsites, where your campsite would have been carefully prepared and chosen ahead of time, primitive camping necessitates that you choose and prepare your own. Pay attention to nearby water sources as well as possible proximity to wildlife and human settlements.

If you’re going to a well-known primitive camping location, you should be able to discover an old campsite. Choosing one of these rather than creating a fresh site is preferable since it reduces all campers’ environmental effects. Because camping in an area has an influence on flora and fauna around it as well as the overall environment, it’s critical to search for a place that has previously been camped in.

When choosing a site, meadows at the base of mountains or hills with lots of accessible firewood are usually preferable. Avoid camping on top of a hill since strong winds will be more frequent throughout the night, and your camping trip will not be as pleasant.

Food and water

“What will I eat?” is a frequent question when it comes to wild camping. Many campers go out hunting, fish, or simply bring along ready-to-eat foods.

If you intend to hunt or fish, you’ll need to bring all of the required gear. Hunting equipment, including any tools needed to cure or smoke any meat, is essential, as is fishing gear such as rods and reels. Even if you’re a seasoned hunter or fisherman, we don’t suggest relying on this as your sole food source. Even the most experienced primitive campers may miss out on their supper from time to time, so always have an alternate strategy in place. Once you know what your food source will be, you’ll need to figure out how to cook it. The majority of campers prefer a tiny camping stove, but when possible, you may use a campfire instead.

Finding a dependable water supply is critical to our survival as humans. Locating a decent quality drinking water source is a crucial aspect of itinerary planning. Carrying all of the water, you’ll need for your trip is an option. This is the most practical but not the most convenient answer. You’ll require at least 2 liters of clean. This is a lot of weight to carry on your back for even short excursions. Water purification tablets make it much easier to obtain water. Still, if you decide to use them, you must first consider where your destination will be close enough to access clean emergency water. Whatever the case may be, we recommend always taking a few liters of clean

Campfire safety

Backcountry camping is usually associated with around the campfire time. It’s a true pleasure to feel like you’re self-sufficient in the woods, and there’ll be some s’mores involved. Unfortunately, forest fires occur every year, and some of them are campfires that campers mishandle. We all know the significance of fire safety, like Smokey the Bear reminds us: “Only you can stop wildfires.”

If you want to make a campfire, the first thing you should know is whether or not it’s legal. You must understand any fire limits in place around your campsite, which you may discover at the Forest Service headquarters. Only construct campfires if the circumstances allow for it, not when it’s dry or conditions are otherwise.

Look for a fire ring if you’re picking your location. Re-using a site where a campfire has previously been utilized will prevent new scarring of rocks, vegetation, and soil. Be cautious of low-hanging branches 15 feet away from tent walls, trees, or anything combustible.) Before striking a match, find an open and level location far from any possible fuels, and double-check the wind direction and strength. Campfires should be at least 100 meters away from any water source to minimize the impact on delicate vegetation. Before forming a ring of stones, clean the grassy area around it at least 2 feet in diameter.

Consider where your firewood is coming from. You may collect and make use of deadwood on the ground, which has never been cut from living trees. If you’re unsure whether or not there’ll be enough firewood, bring your own or discover an alternative to camping fires. Remember that many animals, insects, and little organisms live on the earth surrounding the campfire. This is what puts our planet in balance, but it’s also what makes your fire ring what you need to keep your campsite safe and free of any invasive species that might take over without humans around.

Once you’ve had your fun, it’s critical to extinguishing your campfire every time. You should be able to stick your entire hand into the ashes and stir around the embers to ensure that they’re all destroyed. Many forest fires are sparked by campsites that have been abandoned before they’re entirely burnt out; as you prepare to depart, keep these points in mind.

When you’re sure that everything is out, scatter the ashes and embers in a wide area. Re-cover them with dirt or rocks to prevent any possible ignition sources like lightning strikes, which can cause serious wildfires up to hundreds of acres long. Allow what remains to cool for at least an hour before burying it deep enough to prevent any possible smoldering. When you’re done with your firewood, gather what’s left of it and dispose of it in a designated area for trash or recycling after the coals are out completely.

Leave no trace

The last and, in my opinion, most crucial thing to mention is to leave no trace. The land you camp on should be preserved just as you found it by primitive campers more than other people. If we don’t treat the beautiful vistas, we may appreciate using primitive camping to their full potential with respect; they won’t last long. Always take everything you brought with you when you leave; take pride in leaving your site as if others hadn’t been there at all.

Final Verdict:

Camping in primitive conditions is an exciting and gratifying activity. There are new challenges to conquer and a sense of accomplishment from an entirely autonomous journey. Read our guide on camping alone if you’re committed to going the extra mile. All you have to do now is adore adventure, and the planet’s stunning splendor will be appreciated in its proper setting.

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