When it comes to being in the great outdoors whether as a traveler, a backpacker, a camper or even just a globe trotter on a mission, one of the most important thing is where you will spend the night. For most locations, it is not too difficult to find a nice inn or bed and breakfast that can be used as a great place to stay during your journey.
However, when you are traveling or camping in more remote locations, you will have to rely on your accommodations. This is usually a tent that you may carry with you or in your car trunk. However, if you do not want to be limited in any way and are trekking in terrain that makes carrying the extra weight a hassle, then you might want to make use of whatever nature has to offer!
This might be too farfetched an idea for most of our readers because camping with a tent is hard itself so camping without one sounds like a real adventure! This is where we should probably add that our coming guide on how to camp without a tent is probably not for most people. It takes some real dedication and drives to want to decide that you will be staying over on rough or harsh terrain without the safety of a camping tent.
However, it does depend on the conditions and environment around you! If in case you are traveling during the summer months where it is nice and pleasant at night, then you can easily opt for one of the methods that we will list down below. If you are an enthusiastic explorer and are quite experienced when it comes to camping outside, then you might be up for a real challenge!
The whole point of this activity and this challenge is a commitment to pushing beyond your known boundaries and achieving something that you never thought you could achieve! You might be confused about the specifics of camping without a tent and since we are not all as experienced as Bear Grylls, maybe this guide will be quite a helpful place to start.
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Who should camp without a tent?
First of all, let’s consider the question of who this applies to? Who should camp without a tent? The most obvious answer would of course be any individual who wishes to travel only with the essentials and in this case that might not include a tent. While there are quite a few lightweight options available, there are still quite a few components involved and if you are constantly on the move, you will have to bear all the weight of your tent on your shoulders.
To avoid this, avid backpackers and campers who are not setting up a permanent camping ground might be the best contenders for this guide! Anyone who has been an enthusiastic camper for a while will tell you that there is nothing like waking up during the night while out camping and looking up at the stars. This review will help you achieve just that so whether you are out stargazing or just wanted to stop and look at the night sky with your significant other, it is not impossible or unrealistic to want to camp without a tent.
What are the issues with camping without a tent?
There is no point beating around the bush because we all know the inherent issues and dangers of wanting to camp without a tent.
The most important one is that it makes you way more exposed to the harsh and cold weather. You don’t expect to wake up during the night and find yourself wet due to rain if you are camping in a tent. So staying warm and comfortable can be out to risk.
Your belongings become exposed as well. This means you will have to opt for the age-old method of tying your food or your belongings to a tree so wild animals don’t get to them.
Similarly, your own life is at risk from wild and larger animals and insects. You need to learn how to bug-proof your clothes. Always keep the following on hand at all times:
These weigh practically nothing and are super crucial especially in hotter climates if you are sleeping without a camp tent.
A good spray of this and you will find yourself getting a good night’s sleep!
This is quite an underrated product but it is vital if you are camping in areas that bears can be found in. Bear sprays include capsaicin and this deters bears from venturing too close to you.
Now before we figure out how you can camp without a tent, let’s look over a few considerations when it comes to temperature!
Our main tips for camping how to camp without a tent in hot weather
If you are traveling and aim to set camp in a location that is a hotter climate, then we recommend you keep the following considerations in your mind and prepare for them:
- The ground beneath you should be completely level because if you decided to set up near a hollow or uneven area during the night, you might not realize that it is a hill or the edge of something even more dangerous. If you can find a place that has a natural shelter on top such as a nice bushy area or even a tree trunk that will cover you, you will be protected from direct wind and rain.
- If this is your first experience, we recommend beginning with a safer option and that can be a national park or a wildlife reserve where there are designated camping spaces that are so much more protected. It will do you some good if there is a local authority or helpline that you are in the range of in case of serious accidents.
- If you are staying out in the wild, we do not recommend that you set up near a water body such as a watering hole or a lake. This is because this is a location that might attract larger animals. It might be slightly colder but it is not worth the risk.
- When it comes to hot weather, the worst thing you can do to yourself is not sleep with some sunscreen on because if you don’t have a tent above you, it might expose you to the sun early in the morning. The same can be said for bug spray because hot weather means more bugs too!
- Finally, do not put your sleeping bag or tarp near bushes you do not recognize! Be wary of poisonous plants and shrubbery.
Next, we have our tips for camping how to camp without a tent in cold weather
Sleeping without a tent in colder weather is a whole other ballgame because it can get real hard real fast especially if you are staying in a location where the temperature drops down quickly and unexpectedly.
- Your first tip is to always have a detailed weather forecast at hand because you want to be prepared for anything. You need to consider that a lot of people do prefer tents since they are equipped with features that allow you to deal with zero-degree temperatures. So, if you want to experience a true adventure, you need to have everything set accordingly.
- Of course, the first step will be the same as before! Find good even land. However, the ground is also your worst enemy at the moment because this is where all of the colds will emanate from! If the ground is wet, you certainly do not want to sleep there like that without any protection or insulation. To keep from getting soaked, ensure that there is something below your sleeping bag such as a plastic tarp.
- You may pick a bough bed instead of a camping tent. This requires some leaves or grass and some sturdy logs that you can arrange to make a makeshift mattress where you can place your sleeping bag. You will still need insulation for the top.
- That’s why you should consider making a snow trench shelter instead. It is like a trench that you will dig out and it has two walls and a small roof covering it all made with snow.
- If that isn’t good enough and the wind is harsh that night, you can even invest some real-time and make an igloo. The easiest way is to add a lot of snow into a pile and add in a hole big enough to fit you in the middle. You will also need a tarp or some sort of plastic material to keep you away from the snow.
Is it safe to sleep outside without a tent when camping?
Before you commit to sleeping outside without a camping tent, you should ask the question of whether it is the safest thing to do! Let’s face it, if you are worried about big animals such as bears attacking, you should already know that even a tent will not deter them from attacking. So, the real cause for concern will always be the weather.
If you are well prepared, have carefully thought out your moves, and are committed to the idea of roughing it out, then yes, it can be safe to do this. Just make sure there is some amount of distance between you and the ground. This is how you will be safe from bugs and the cold.
Your most important tool will be your sleeping bag because even without a tent, you still need the protection that this offers. Since you will not be carrying the weight of an entire tent kit, we recommend adding in a good sleeping bag liner instead for extra comfort.
While it can be argued that it is pretty similar to a tent, we suggest investing in a good bivvy bag or bivouac shelter. This is a much more compact and lightweight structure that you can wrap around your sleeping bag and it has a raised roof that allows you some mobility inside as well. It is one of the best makeshift alternatives to camping without a tent. We will discuss more this later on.
What are the best alternatives for camping tents?
Finally, we are now at the point where we will get down to the details of the best alternatives that allow you to camp without a tent! As we have mentioned before, the best and most convenient full-protection is a bivvy sack or shelter which is the slang for a bivouac. This is a fully encompassing option for all those users who do not wish to lug around the assorted poles and connectors that you will undoubtedly need to set up a tent.
This adds weight to your travel especially if you are doing most of it on foot. For some people, traveling without a tent is a freeing and rejuvenating experience because you get to make your way out of tough and tricky situations all by yourself. It also lessens your load to quite an extent. If you want to camp without a tent your best friend is of good quality and a super light tarp. Tarps are made of reinforced and sturdy plastic materials and are waterproof, windproof, and super insulating.
These can quickly become your all in one solution! If you want a good alternative to having to carry even the weight of a small bivvy sack, then we recommend that you get two lightweight poles or even pieces of sticks and stick them between tree trunks. Add on your tarp and you have a wonderful shelter all done! Now beneath the tarp, you have a couple of great options. You might choose to set up your sleeping bag underneath if the ground is not wet or cold. However, if that is the case, we recommend setting up a hammock directly underneath the tarp with the aid of the sticks or trunk.
The last choice is to use all of these different options together. If you use a sleeping bag, a tarp, and a bivvy sack over your bag, it will still not weigh as much as a whole tent would. Although this depends entirely on the materials of your chosen options. If the weather is really pleasant, then you might not even need any tarp and you will do just fine with a hammock and a sleeping bag. We will add here, however, that the requirements for camping without a tent will vary from user to user and it will depend a lot on your skills and level of experience as well.
What about colder and rainy weather?
Of course, it is much easier to plan and prepare for tentless camping when the weather outside is cool and dry. This is because dry and hotter climates allow you to pass through the night with comparative ease. On the other hand, however, if you wish to camp in colder, rainy, or snowy weather, then it becomes harder to get by without the right kind of materials and a good plan in place.
Coming to the materials, you certainly need to find those that offer the best insulation. This is because if you are using a sleeping bag pad, lining, or even a tarp, this will be all that’s between you and the cold damp ground! Without it, you are making a recipe for disaster. The next consideration is that the material should also be waterproof. The IPX rating of your tarp, bivvy bag, or sleeping bag will be the deciding factor on your overall experience. It is never wise to invest in options that don’t have both of these features, especially in zero-degree weather.
With tents, there is an amazing contraption called a rainfly and they also have covered windows that still offer excellent ventilation. As an alternative, you will find that the bivvy sack you buy will also have the same coverage on top. Want to rough it out even more? Just set up your tarp in a way that all corners above you are completely sheltered and you will remain safe from rain and harsh winds. This will also provide way more airflow and circulation as compared to a bivvy shelter.
When it comes to using just lightweight poles and a really strong and sturdy tarp for rugged usage, there are quite a few advantages. The first one being that it is a cheap alternative! If you already have camping material lying around the house, all you have to do is take a couple of collapsible poles and the tarp and you’re good to go. This might be the tent’s rainfly because you don’t need the structure of the tent, you simply need the protection it brings from all the elements.
Another advantage of using this method is that it is super easy to set up and is a user-friendly method that you can turn to regardless of your skill level. They can be assembled in under 5 minutes and since they are makeshift options, it is a great way to quickly disassemble in the morning and be on your way!
The only thing to consider here is that most of the ideas and alternatives that we have discussed today are certainly meant for the individual as they are not going to offer a lot of space or even that much comfort. Of course, you can add on more lining, insulation, and covering to add warmth and comfort but if you are traveling with your family, friends, or even children, we do not recommend that you opt for this and a tent might be a much safer option in that case.
So why would you want to camp without a tent?
As we mentioned at the start of our review for the day, if you are tired of simply watching others live out your dreams and adventures on your television and want to attain that level of wilderness survival skills, then the first step might be to find how you can camp without a tent. There is an excellent sense of self-achievement and attainment when you accomplish something that others will only ever see on their screens!
Of course, another reason why anyone would want to be prepared for camping without a tent is for survival. In case you befall an accident or your tent and camping kit gets stolen or damaged, you should be quick on your feet and immediately salvage what’s left to create a makeshift camping solution! Just knowing that you will be able to come through with a good and safe alternative on short notice will give you more confidence in yourself.
Before technology and before even tents became a thing, our early explorers and ancestors didn’t have anything to protect themselves with other than their ingenuity and whatever nature offered them! So, if you wish to no longer rely on frivolous accessories and kits, then you should consider trying this but while ensuring your safety.
We have now reached the end of our in-depth and detailed review on how to camp without a tent. It is interesting to note how the definitions for camping have evolved and changed from a singular tent that was the standard, to whatever the individual desires to make of it! However, to summarize, we reiterate that the most important element for you will always be to plan and strategize and plan some more!
Planning doesn’t mean that you aren’t challenging yourself, it means that you are being smarter at ensuring that you are prepared no matter what life in the wilderness throws at you. Being adventurous doesn’t mean you can’t simultaneously be safe as well. If you keep in mind that you know what works best for your needs, you should be able to successfully camp without ever needing a tent.
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