Categories of Camping

Inspired by several conversations between Brice and I between ourselves and others, I decided to create a list of the several categories of camping.  Categories of camping? Is there really such a thing? Yes.  Now, I don’t consider myself to be an outdoor “expert” or even a backpacker- but I have experienced enough campsites and parks to understand that “camping” no longer means the nostalgic family by the lake scene you’ve probably imagined.

Let’s get down to business. This list goes from rugged to…well…not rugged.

1. Pioneering: This type of camping is the toughest. Think Lewis and Clark trudging their way through new lands never discovered with no North Face jackets or nice little cookstoves? They ate raccoons and berries or whatever they could stab with a sharpened stick or shoot with their rationed bullets. Oh, and a “first aid kit” is for pansies. This is real camping.

2. Backpacking: This is downright luxury compared to pioneering. Here, you carry 50+lbs of weight through beautiful trails and mountainous streams 10+ miles per day.  Need to go to the bathroom? Better dig a hole. You carry freeze-dried meals heated on a camp stove or just survive on Cliff bars for anywhere from a night to a week plus. Actual campsite availability is negotiable.

Oh, and you’d better pack light. Not only are you carrying all your belongings but garbage too.  Pack in, pack out. (better ration the TP)

3. Canking: This is a combo between backpacking and canoeing. (Also called backcountry camping) This is my personal favorite type of camping. The most popular place do to this is in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in the most northern area of Minnesota.  Grab your freeze dried food from backpacking, paddles, maps, water filter and tent for one of the most amazing experiences in America.

Drive to Ely, MN and put your canoe in at an entry point filled with all of your survival gear and paddle 1-6 miles/day into dense wilderness.  Campsites, latrines and a fire-pit are provided.  At the end of your day, take a rock tied to a string and try to throw it through strong tree branches 150 ft away from your campsite and try to tie all of your belongings up to a tree- all while getting slowly eaten alive by any one of billions of insects trying to suck your blood.  Yay!  It’s completely worth it to have an entire island as your campsite for a week.

4. Dramping: (Driving+Camping) Ever driven your car to a 50 sq. ft area and slept in a tent right outside it? You’ve been Dramping. This is great for the family that wants a “rustic” L.L. Bean Catalog type outing. No need to dig a hole here, folks- there’s running water, bathrooms and dumpsters all there for your connivence. These are the type of areas bears really enjoy- even though you might abide by the rules of bear-lockers- the family next to you has 2 seven year old boys that are having a candy-eating contest in their tent….

5. Yarding: Remember sleeping in the tent in the backyard with your friends as a kid? Yep, this is it. Need something? Moooooooooom!

6. Cabining: Spend time in substantially more solid tent built above the ground at a Dramping-like area? This can also be referred to as “glamping” Think these will keep you a safe distance from wildlife? The previous family left you a present- crumbs all over your site and a family of raccoons has now moved in under your “tent”. Enjoy!

7. RVing: No, driving your hotel room around is not any sort of camping and never will be.

8. Outing:(Outdoor+Drinking) Even though I am sure Lewis & Clark had their share of whiskey-ridden celebrations by the fire, they also didn’t sit on a tube in lukewarm water all day drinking Coors Light. If you’ve gone on a trip where your heaviest item was a liquor-filled cooler and spent an adequateamount of time at a nature point called “Beer Can Island” or didn’t sleep in a hotel- you’ve been outing. This falls below RVing and is the least rugged because people generally aren’t marveling at nature or strengthening their survival skills. Or, I guess if you could classify strengthening your survival skills as trying not to pass out before noon.

More seriously, this type of camping is becoming very dangerous. Recently in our area there was a 20 year old man found in a river after a weekend of partying outside. This is so tragic. There seems to be a divide in the attitudes towards outdoor recreation- those who see spending time outside as an opportunity to become obliterated and not have to abide by laws and those who truly want to test their survival skills and seek adventure by climbing the highest mountain or seeing new wildlife.  It is sad that many times it’s the environment and people that seem to be mutually hurt in these types of situations.  A river is not for partying in, it’s for wildlife to thrive.


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