Going Camping Without a Tent

star-filled-skyTents are one of the most fundamental pieces of outdoor gear. It’s hard to even think about camping without picturing a tent. And when it comes to car camping with a large group of people, a tent is the best possible shelter option. Of course, there are other types of camping. You’re not always going to roll up to a cushy campsite, dump a mountain of camping equipment, and proceed to party with a dozen companions. Sometimes you might get the urge to go on a solo camping trip, or maybe you just need a shelter for two. Backpackers need to save as much space and weight as possible, so tents aren’t always the best choice. Here are some other shelter options to consider if you want to go camping without a tent.

Why wouldn’t you sleep in a tent?

Don’t they make two-person tents? And don’t they make one-person tents? Don’t they make tents that are lightweight and designed specifically for backpacking? Yes, yes, and yes. However there are still occasions when a tent isn’t the best shelter for camping. It just depends on your needs.

  • Weight: While one and two person tents are lighter than say a four or six person tent,  they still weigh more than some other shelter options. If you’re serious about saving weight, you can do better than a tent.
  • Space: Backpacking tents are designed to be small and compact, but they typically take up more space than some of the ultralight shelter options.
  • Expense: You can find some cheap tents out there, but nothing near as cheap as a good old fashioned tarp. There also tends to be a correlation between how light and compact a tent is and how expensive it is.


Hammocks are lightweight, compact, and relatively affordable. The biggest drawback to a hammock is that you need sturdy trees that are fairly close together. Hammocks don’t provide the warmth of other shelters. A tarp and an underquilt can take care of this issue, however.


If economy is your main concern, a tarp is the way to go. With some cordage and stakes, you can set up your tarp in multiple configurations. There are also backpacking tarps designed specifically for use as a shelter. Tarps are simple, lightweight, and compact. Tarps will keep the rain off your head, and might offer a little heat retention, but don’t do much else.


A bivy is the perfect one-man shelter for any type of terrain or condition. Bivies are basically bombproof and can provide as much protection as a tent. They are also much more compact than most tents. Of course, some bivies can be just as expensive as tents, and if you’re even slightly claustrophobic, you should explore other shelter options.


If you already have a tent, you might be able to leave it at home and just take the fly and poles. Some tents allow you to set up the poles and essentially drape the fly over the frame to create a fairly lightweight shelter. This provides good protection from the elements, but won’t keep the bugs out.

Beneath the stars

Not so much a shelter as a lack of shelter. This can be refreshing given the appropriate conditions. If the temperature is in the 50s, there’s a zero percent chance of rain, low humidity, and you’re not worried about bugs or critters, sleeping outside of a shelter can be pleasant and rejuvenating. This option is reserved for the more resilient campers…

Whether you need a tent, hammock, tarp, or other type of shelter, we can help you out. Stop by and see us in Evelyn Hills Shopping Center.


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