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Minimalist Camping: 9 Tips to Keep Things Simple


If you spend too much time lugging and managing your camping gear, maybe it’s time you considered taking a minimalist approach to camping. To be considered a minimalist camper, your pack and all your gear shouldn’t weigh more than 12 pounds. 

For adventurers just starting out with minimalist camping, there are a few ways that you can simplify your current camping strategy and ease into the minimalist camping game. 

1. Find the Right Pack and Pack It Properly

There are generally two schools of thought regarding choosing a backpack for minimalist camping. Some campers prefer a lightweight, frameless backpack due to the reduced starting weight and smaller dimensions. Other campers gravitate toward framed backpacks, which, although they are heavier and larger than other packs, also offer structure and stability, allowing for more efficient packing. 

When it comes to minimalist camping, a backpack that can be packed efficiently is best. Look for a pack that features separate interior pockets for housing your minimalist camping gear, as well as ample loops and attachment points on the exterior for holding essential items that need to be accessed frequently. 

2. Choose Multipurpose Items

Why pack multiple items when you can just pack one? Minimalist camping is all about making do with the essentials. Multipurpose gear is ideal for any minimalist camper and enables you to  do more with less. 

A good-quality multitool should be a part of every camper’s pack. With features that typically include multiple knives, eating utensils, a screwdriver, tweezers, scissors, and other essential tools, a multitool is designed to help you deal with whatever situation the outdoors throws at you. 

A tarp can double as a groundcover and shelter and also turn into a rain cover for your pack when necessary. Trekking poles not only give you stability when scaling the slopes, but can also be used as makeshift tent poles.

camping gear

3. Quality over Quantity

Quality camping gear is the foundation of minimalist camping. Minimalist campers should always opt for quality camping gear over quantity. Quality gear keeps the weight of your pack down and is designed to last longer. 

High-quality minimalist camping gear generally costs more than standard gear, but it is a worthwhile investment, especially if you camp frequently. Quality gear is made from high-performance materials and often offers additional features that can make your minimalist camping trip much more comfortable. 

4. Don’t Carry Water with You

The average person needs to consume around a half-gallon of water per day to stay hydrated, and that is without engaging in strenuous camping activities like hiking, hunting, or fishing. 

However, a half-gallon of water weighs around four pounds. If you plan to carry enough water with you for your entire camping trip, you will have already gone over your minimalist weight limit. 

Opt for portable water filters rather than bottled water. Set up camp near a source of clean water and use either water sterilization tablets or a lightweight filter such as a LifeStraw to get your daily intake of fluids. 

5. Pack Nutrient-Dense High-Energy Snacks

Food takes up space and adds extra weight to your pack. While you may be able to forage a few plant-based meals, packing some energy-boosting snacks is essential to help you survive your minimalist camping trip. 

Choose nutrient-dense foods like nuts and jerky that offer a diverse range of vitamins and minerals, as well as plenty of calories. High-energy snacks also reduce the need for cooking while camping, which means you won’t need to pack heavy, cumbersome pots and cooking utensils. 

6. Use Clothing for Extra Storage

Functional utility clothing can be a great way to increase your storage space without taking up room in your pack. Look for jackets and pants that have plenty of pockets and belt loops for attaching smaller items like a flashlight or pocketknife. This frees up more space in your pack for other camping essentials. 

Layers are the key to minimalist camping. Layer a jacket over a vest and t-shirt to reduce the number of clothing items you need in your pack. If you are just camping for the weekend, wear the clothes on your back and pack a fresh pair of socks and underwear. 

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Get a Little Dirty

Camping is all about getting back to nature, and you can’t truly experience outdoor life without getting a little dirty. If you are planning a short weekend camping trip, leave your cabinet full of toiletries at home. 

Keep your pack as light as possible and just bring along a small pack of wet wipes, a stick of deodorant, a toothbrush, and toothpaste. You can take a long, hot shower when you get back home. 

tarp shelter

8. Choose Tarps over Tents

Ditching the comfort and security of walls to separate you from the elements can be one of the hardest things to get on board with for campers new to minimalism. However, during the summer months, a well-pitched tarp can provide you with all the protection you need to spend the night outdoors. 

If you really can’t do without a tent or you love camping in the colder months, there are plenty of lightweight options to keep you cozy and make packing for winter camping the minimalist way a breeze. Look for tents that have a compact footprint and which are constructed from high-performance fabrics that are lightweight while still keeping out the cold. 

9. Don’t Forget Entertainment

Although exploring the great outdoors is a fantastic way to spend your time while camping, during the evenings you’ll need something to entertain you until it’s time to sleep. Minimalist camping means ditching the electronics (and all the necessary—and heavy—accessories) and choosing more lightweight, low-tech options such as a short novel or a deck of cards. 

The Wrap Up

Minimalist camping enables you to spend less time managing your gear and more time enjoying the outdoors. Use some of these simple tips for minimalist camping on your next outdoor adventure, and you’ll be amazed at what you can learn to live without! 

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