If you were to have a chat with a mad, adventure-loving camper and ask why spending a night in the jungle is such an addictive outing, you would get a blank stare. Well, that tells just how camping is so exciting that no one has the words to describe it.
Camping is fun!
And not just that – it is an endless serving of excitement and perhaps the only activity that can water down the stresses, inject new life to an exhausted soul and unplug the spirit. It is that one outing that would give way to several more, all filled with thrill.
Exploring the natural surroundings, enjoying the fresh breath and the cool breeze, listening to the midnight howls and early morning chirps, camping is priceless. Some go camping to sleep under the stars and get a little dirty, enjoy life away from technology and feel how serene life is in the wilderness.
Unknown to many, camping can take multiple forms. There’s ordinary camping where one jumps into an RV and drives to a front-country campground. It is many typical hikers, campers, mountaineers and adrenaline junkies’ favorite.
Such a typical style of camping is a bit too ubiquitous and sometimes lacks the thrill sought by many. Mostly, it doesn’t have various camping survival techniques that insane campers look for in the wilderness.
And then, there’s Minimalist Camping
Minimalist camping is quite fascinating. Ask any veteran camper and you will be surprised to find that no smart camping hack beats the art of spending days in the bush with the least possible gear.
The entire gear must comprise the absolutely essential items only and they all need to fit in a single backpack. Furthermore, in this elite level camping, no one comes with an RV vehicle of any type, nor large suitcases.
At the very apex of this insane adventure outing, the art of retreating into the wilderness with barely anything and having the best holiday is legendary. Being able to survive, go on thrilling outings and create lifelong memories is amazing.
This, to a typical camper, is almost as bizarre as it gets since how one would leave all their stuff behind and hit the backcountry is unimaginable. It’s even insane that the entire load often is 12 pounds at a maximum.
But that’s the reality of going miles from home, to share a tiny space and live on bare essentials only. The beauty of it, however, is being able to use the relative freedom and create a little private heaven close to nature and in the thick of the jungle.
Minimalist campers are an amazing lot.
Besides being frugal and nomadic, they find total comfort in a tent that is virtually empty and a bag that’s only limited to bare essentials. They skip all the fancy gear and opt for the unpopular one-bag rule while choosing to hit the jungle and stay like cavemen.
But it is the fun, comfort, and excitement they derive from it that adds to their addiction. See, if they can survive in nature with as little equipment as possible, then you are already a legendary camper.
How to Minimalist Camp
Camping environments vary, much as every camper’s individual needs and the willingness to sacrifice material comfort for lighter luggage while in the wilderness. And if one can customize the gear to fit the type of adventure, then it all becomes a seamless experience.
Essentially, it all boils down to understanding the camping grounds and knowing how to feel comfortable with the least number of camping gear. That shouldn’t be hard if the entire luggage is customized to make the outing as hassle-free as possible.
See, the greatest secret to being a minimalist camper has everything to do with knowing the right hacks. If you have never gone minimalist camping before, the prospect of going for one shouldn’t feel intimidating.
Before we get started with the best minimal camper’s hacks, tricks and secrets, it is important to mention that what this guide covers is best followed by a solo camper. The information is based on the individual experiences of seasoned campers.
To get you started, the following minimalist camping hacks might get you started:
Pick the right bag and pack it properly
The whole point of choosing this type of camping is taking the least number of equipment and coming back with the most unforgettable camping experience. And to pack the fewest gear, you must pick a bag that can only accommodate the few assortments for the adventure.
And so, while picking a bag is the first step, the chosen bag has to be perfect for this type of outing. It shouldn’t be too big for comfort and convenience. Neither should it be so small that it becomes extremely hard to pack the stuff in.
Some would go for a lightweight, frameless backpack with a small space. Others prefer to pick a framed bag that is a bit heavier and somewhat larger, but comfortable to walk with for hours.
A minimalist camping bag should also be efficient to walk with. If it isn’t too roomy but has several separate interior pockets and ample loops to shove utility gear inside, go for it. Orderliness is the greatest feature of the bag.
Pro minimalistic camping tip:
If you can’t carry it for five minutes straight, the bag isn’t right and you need to pick another one or reduce the stuff inside.
Observe the One-Bag Rule
As much as any type of bulk negates the whole idea of minimal camping, there’s one rule that draws the line. One bag is only acceptable during the entire trip. And it should not be a massive-sized backpack, but a simple one that can accommodate all the clothes, bathing and toiletries and a few food items.
Minimalism starts here, and under the one-bag rule, any backpack is acceptable, provided it isn’t too big to walk around with or bulky on the back. The rule is exclusive to simple bags and not the massive suitcases and all those other travel bags.
This one-bag rule isn’t something new. Many professional minimalist campers adhere to this rule, regardless of how hard it sometimes is. Smart ones know that the vital items to carry are the vital items and use the bag as a yardstick to limit the number of items one can pick and weed out the secondary ones.
Peg everything on a Minimal Camper’s guide
At a bare minimum, your phone could act as your compass. Your pocket knife might serve a variety of purposes, including when skinning game, digging an on-ground pit oven and when pitching the tent. That means you will have several gears to bring.
But to be safer and carry only what you know you will need throughout the entire trip, don’t grab that bag and begin shoving everything inside. Instead, use a well-curated checklist containing items that you know are absolutely essential for your survival.
Minimal camper’s guide
According to professional campers, the order of wants is what determines whether an outing outdoors would be memorable or not. And it is this order that dictates what’s worth ticking off when planning the holiday.
- Shelter: there’s no way you are going to forget a tent or any form of shelter. But considering how limited your luggage is, this particular factor has to be carefully looked at. It’s perfectly acceptable to bring a minimalist camper’s tent or swap it for a tarp. However, it is still OK to build a shelter or even choose a spot with tents. You could even opt to share one with a friend or simply convert any suitable gear into a form of shelter. Remember, it doesn’t have to feel comfortable to live inside. You can opt for rock outcroppings or caves, provided they are safe to spend a night inside and comfortable enough. Ignore the primitivism around it and embrace the glamor of sleeping like a caveman for a few days, at least.
- Food and drinks: packing what you will live on in the wilderness is a no-brainer. However, given every camper’s diverse preferences, it is advisable to go for specific types, especially dry foods and those that can be prepared quickly. Cookies, snacks, and those meals that require no much heating or complex preparations are the best. In some cases, foods that can be prepared using primitive cooking techniques are equally acceptable. While it is acceptable to pack a bottle of fresh energy drink, there’s no need to carry water from home. The jungle is abundant with clean water that you will consume upon filtering using a portable water filter. You must, however, ensure that you do not drink any water before passing it through your little, useful tool.
- Hygiene: minimalistic camping isn’t a license to adopt all the hacks of the bygone era, including going for days without taking a dip. Pack your toothbrush and paste combo, that shower soap, deodorant, aftershave gel and everything that you’d need to look well-groomed in the wild. On top of that, have all your basic toiletries with you. Bring a decent sized amount of tissue papers, wet wipes, and generally a full toiletry kit.
- Medical kit: this isn’t something you are going to take chances with. However, with ingenuity, you will comfortably make do with a few medical items. Do not spend crazy amounts of cash on an expensive emergency medical kit. A few important painkillers, an antiseptic and a sizable bandage as well as a scalpel can help arrest a serious medical condition in the jungle. But don’t forget to include a little clean rack and a few antibiotics.
- Multi-tools: All-in-one survival tools for campers come in multiple varieties today and they all are of importance out there. When hunting for them, however, go for those that have a pair of pliers and a sharp blade.
- Lighting: minimalism will limit you to one headlamp and a simple portable lantern. However, to brighten up the entire camp at night, you might have to light a bonfire and creatively use the headlamp.
- Inflatable mat: the ease of deflating one, plus how lightweight it often is makes an inflatable mat worth choosing for a backpacking camper.
When choosing camping gear, go for quality over quantity
In a camper’s world, minimalism entails living the life of a pauper or a caveman. Or more specifically, it is surviving on bare essentials only, like a homeless person.
However, it takes a lot of wisdom to pack the right gear for this unique type of adventure. Smart individuals will pick quality over quantity and go for those items that can serve multiple purposes.
This minimalist camping hack is reasonable on several fronts. First, choosing a quality item often translates to saving a ton on finances since quality and longevity often go hand-in-hand.
Buy a small, premium quality camping tent and you will never hunt for another again. Pick a top-rated and perfectly-sized backpack and it serves you for years. Go for a good camping knife and you will not worry about chopping game or slicing chicken in the jungle anymore.
Apart from durability, quality over quantity augurs well with the limited size of your bag. A good-quality sleeping bag will reliably do the job of a sleeping pad, a duvet and a mattress. The same is true for a stainless-steel pocket knife, stormproof headlamps, and any other multi-purpose gear.
It is almost natural for top-quality camping gear to be a performance monster. Across the board, quality is much more desirable than quantity. Quality guarantees extra features that a minimalist will find more convenient and comfortable.
Instead of fancy gear, go for essentials and multi-purpose items
Before you begin picking the gear to shove inside your bag, there’s one vital rule you must remember: instead of fancy and secondary items, choose essentials alone. Minimalism is all about making do with the little available – it is going through rough.
You do not need to pack your favorite hoodie, carry multiple cooking pots or buy a new pair of camping boots. Instead, carefully analyze every single item you would need and determine the ones worth carrying and the ones to leave at home.
A few clothes, several outdoor survival gears, and the most essential hygiene necessities and you are good to go. A good checklist should only comprise those camping items you know that you won’t survive without. Utility and multi-purpose tools are the best to start with, provided you know that you will not camp without them.
Still, go for minimalism
Why pack several items when one multi-purpose gear can do the job?
The essence of minimalism is making do with the least at your disposal. And that includes having multi-purpose gear and any utility item. Any other item beyond that defeats the purpose of going camping with a minimalist’s mindset.
Remember: a little planning ahead goes a long way in ensuring your camp is as smooth and worry-free as possible. Avoid large items, especially those that have a one-off use or any that you can do without.
Essentials that you shouldn’t miss may include a multipurpose knife, tweezers, screwdrivers, and other multi-tools. In some instances, a tarp can function as a groundcover and shelter, especially during summer camping, especially with trekking poles working as makeshift tent poles.
Of course, you should also scale back on non-essentials. Do not carry excess clothes, boots and wearables that you do not need. A practical pair of light outfit, plus a jacket and weather-friendly swimsuit with a towel is acceptable.
Such other items as your fancy tent, your top-dollar coffee maker, your MP3 player and the other non-essentials do not need to make it to your bag. After all, you are a survivor and you would love to experience the true serenity of nature.
Lastly, do not resist the urge to get dirty or uncomfortable, regardless of the situation. Holiday camping on a budget isn’t for the faint-hearted and there’s nothing wrong with skipping lunch to enjoy a heavy supper. Or, getting a little dirty as you survive on the little you have for that limited period you are away from home.
After all, you are doing this with a fixed mind, knowing too well that it’s a fun experience. If it is a short weekend of excitement in the wild, get your body and the mind ready for the limited luxuries. That warm shower will have to wait until you are home, for example.
You can choose a camping ground with free basic amenities
Camping away from home is an exciting experience and the adventure is even bigger if it’s on a site established by passionate, independent owners. At a fully-fledged camping ground, you are more likely to enjoy a hassle-free camping experience and still enjoy absolute minimalism.
In America, for example, there are several KOA campgrounds – huge favorites for minimalistic campers. In these facilities, they offer several essential amenities, including tents, washrooms, cooking areas and other facilities.
One good thing with camping grounds of this nature is how they manage to still guarantee epic adventure must-sees and undiluted thrill. They do not substitute visitors’ quest for a full and direct outdoor experience for anything less.
Going for a campsite with a list of already-established amenities isn’t automatically great for a minimalist camper with a fixed budget. If you choose such a camping ground, be ready to spend a little more since these facilities usually charge more.
While camping, be creative and always think outside the box
It is easy to talk about creativity and how you can apply it to survive the harshness of jungle life. But beyond living the life of a caveman, there are several hacks you must be willing to adhere to. Thankfully, the best hacks for happy camping include a bag of tricks that you will certainly find exciting.
The first and perhaps the most important survival hack camping in the jungle is fire lighting skills. You should be able to light a flame, pile dry wood and keep it burning the entire night. Fire is probably the greatest thing you will need to keep your camp alive.
You do not need to feast on cold, tasteless meat when you can dig a tandoor-style oven. All you will need is to dig a 30cm deep pit, light up a flame inside and wrap your diced chicken or lamb using aluminum foil before throwing it inside. It’s not something complex, especially if you have an idea or two about outdoor eating.
That tuna tin can be a perfect way to heat the water you’d need for your coffee. Just a firelighter and your water boil for tea. You can alternatively pack a liter aluminum water bottle, fill it with piping hot water at home and wrap it in that fleece sock. The water will remain relatively hot for hours, probably even longer.
Need to enjoy some fish for supper, but can’t because you have no cooking pot?
Instead of wrapping it on a foil and spreading it on top of an open fire, try tying it at both ends and spreading a soaked newspaper open an open flame to prevent direct heat. Have your fish cooking on top of the soaked newspaper.
Camping is fun until sunset and you remember you forgot to bring your lamp. Thankfully, your headlamp and a clear water diffuser can get the job done easily. Shine it through the clear water bottle and enjoy the beautiful illumination.
Don’t pack a compass. Once you arrive at the camping grounds, spend the first few hours determining the Eastside and other major landmarks around. Once you start pitching the tent, let its main door face the East. This way, the sun will shine right into the inside of your cold abode and wake you up to a beautiful day.
Aside from these minimalist camping tricks, shop for gear designed for thrill-seekers like you. Camping gear sellers often have a vast number of minimalist-style assortments, including tents, sleeping bags, tarps and other items.
Go for Nutrient-rich, high-energy food
Food is a basic necessity and there’s no way you are going to avoid packing them. However, there’s a little trick you should have in mind. Go for dry foods, snacks and those that you can devour without cooking.
If you have been watching many of those jungle survival tricks on YouTube, then rest assured eating won’t present any problems to you. However, I’d highly suggest that you go heavy on energy-boosting snacks, especially nuts and vitamin and mineral-rich jerky.
The best trick is to choose lots of high-energy snacks of different tastes. Instant energy boosters like crunchy cookies can make a hell lot of differences, especially at night when you feel the urge to grab a snack.
As much as your choice of food should comprise a majority of dry foods and those that are light and easy to prepare, minimalism also allows packing some fresh chicken and lamb. It is all upon you to decide, and if you know how to cook it without a problem, go with it.
Generally though, foods that are easy to prepare like pasta, rice, and noodles with sauce sachets and grilled meat are fantastic to bring. You should, however, avoid bringing lots of cumbersome pots and heavy utensils. If anything, don’t even bring them at all!
Lastly, master all the essential minimalist camping survival techniques
You can’t ditch those two luggage-filled bags and expect to enjoy a week in the wild if you aren’t properly equipped for its harsh realities. With just the basic gear, you should be prepared to sweat your hands out and customize whatever is at your disposal.
There is a list of camping techniques that you must be aware of beforehand. Some of them, you can be taught, while others; you learn on your own. Surviving on essentials isn’t something you expect anyone to teach you.
The first hack is to be prepared for the worst case scenario at all times. That tent might get carried away by midnight thunderstorms, your lighter may not work and it is the only one in the camp. Or worse yet, you forget to pack enough food and the nearest inn is several hundred miles away.
Basically, the greatest thing you should know is how to get more done with less. Know how that pocket knife can fashion a trekking pole; how your headlamp can offer a bigger, brighter lumen, and how you can save energy on your mid-morning mountain hikes.
Ingenuity doesn’t end with your packed stuff ahead of your trip. It extends to your everyday life in the camp, and specifically when a substitute has to be used instead of an ordinary gear. Need some water to drink, but can’t imbibe the water flowing right near your camp?
Use that water filter and save yourselves the hassle of drinking dirty water. Clean the same water for cooking or warm it and use it to shower and do some laundry.
Do not forget to take advantage of what’s freely available to your advantage. Use the old pieces of wood to light a campfire that you can use to roast your freshly caught fish. Cook before the sun sets so that you minimize using your headlamps once darkness falls.
It is against the ideals of a solemn minimalist camper to turn to the quintessential when an alternative, primitive solution can comfortably help. This not only applies to your choice of gear, but also those other electronic gadgets.
Gather your supplies during your everyday outings in the camp. This includes fresh fruits, herbs and wild vegetables that are safe and edible. You can even fish in a nearby lake, hunt in designated areas within your jurisdiction and gather as much fresh food as possible.
Bonus Minimalist Camping Hack – have a blast!
As tempting as it might get, do not bring any electronic gadgets to your camp. Avoid that iPhone, iPad or any entertainment tool of any kind. Basically, use the camping experience to unplug and stay away from any disturbing equipment.
You aren’t going to spend the entire holiday hiking, swimming or exploring the beautiful bushy surrounding. In the evening, when you are back into the camp, a little chit-chat around the campfire should be enough to look back to the beautiful day you had.
However, pack a few decks of cards, chess or draughts and a novel or two. Cards will keep you and your friends thrilled, while with chess and draughts, you will have no boring evenings.
Some other Minimalist Camping Hacks are debatable
There is a huge debate on whether camping in a campervan is as great as going with a single backpack to the woods for a week of camping. Those who swear by it say it is the easiest way to cut down on gear and other non-essentials.
Others are also of the opinion that minimalist camping has nothing to do with the camper’s budget and the price of various gear. This mostly is common among those who prefer an expensive campsite where typical camping accessories, including tents, cooking areas and bathrooms are set up.
The last group often comprises campers who believe that minimalist camping is pegged on the idea of spending as little as possible, but deriving the greatest thrill. It mostly brings together individuals who choose to rent camping gear, cost-share to save space and cook in groups.
To settle this debate, it is important to first go back to the original meaning of minimalist camping and acknowledge their diverse interpretations. If you can skip the fancy gear, camp on a modified tarp and survive for days on fresh food from the wild, and still enjoy the experience, then that’s what this mission is entirely about.
And so, always remember to stay safe and only go on this with an experienced camper. It has its fair share of risks as well, and sometimes the experience can be fatal. You, therefore, need to have the heart of a lion and a thrill-seeker’s spirit.