Camping is an outdoor recreational activity. The participants (known as campers) leave urban areas, their home region, or civilization and enjoy nature while spending one or several nights outdoors, usually at a campsite. Camping may involve the use of a tent, caravan, motorhome, cabin, a primitive structure, or no shelter at all. In many parts of the world, 'camping' refers exclusively to the use of tents or similar portable structures.
Camping as a recreational activity became popular in the early 20th century. Campers frequent national parks, other publicly owned natural areas, and privately owned campgrounds. Camping is a key part of the program of many youth organizations around the world, such as scouting. It is used to teach self-reliance and team work.
Camping is also used as a cheap form of accommodation for people attending large open air events such as sporting meetings and music festivals. Organizers often provide a field and other basic amenities.
Camping describes a range of activities. Survivalist campers set off with little more than their boots, whereas recreational vehicle travelers arrive equipped with their own electricity, heat, and patio furniture. Camping is often enjoyed in conjunction with activities, such as: hiking, whitewater kayaking, hill walking, climbing, canoeing, mountain biking, motorcycling, swimming, and fishing. Camping may be combined with hiking either as backpacking or as a series of day hikes from a central location.
Some people vacation in permanent camps with cabins and other facilities (such as hunting camps or children's summer camps), but a stay at such a camp is usually not considered 'camping'. The term camping (or camping out) may also be applied to those who live outdoors, out of necessity (as in the case of the homeless), or for people waiting overnight in queues. It does not, however, apply to cultures whose technology does not include sophisticated dwellings. Camping may be referred to colloquially as roughing it, and usually lasts for more than a day.
Campers span a broad range of age, ability, and ruggedness, and campsites are designed in many ways as well. Many campgrounds have sites with facilities such as fire rings, barbecue grills, utilities, shared bathrooms and laundry, as well as access to nearby recreational facilities, but not all campsites have similar levels of development. Campsites can range from a patch of dirt, to a level, paved pad with sewer and electricity. (For more information on facilities, see the campsite and RV park articles.)
Today’s campers have a range of comforts available to them, whether their shelter is a tent or a recreational vehicle. Today, backcountry campers can pack-in comfortable mattresses, compact chairs, and solar powered satellite phones. Those choosing to camp closer to their car ("car camping") with a tent have access to potable hot water, tent interior lighting and fans, and other technological changes to camping gear. For those camping in recreational vehicles (RVs), options include air conditioning, bathrooms, kitchens, showers, and home theatre systems. In the United States, Canada and Europe, some campgrounds offer hookups where recreational vehicles are supplied with electricity, water, and sewer services.
Other vehicles used for camping include motorcycles, touring bicycles, boats, canoes, pack animals, and even bush planes; although backpacking on foot is a popular alternative.
Tent camping sites often cost less than campsites with full amenities, and most allow direct access by car. Some "walk-in" sites lie a short walk away from the nearest road, but do not require full backpacking equipment. Those who seek a rugged experience in the outdoors prefer to camp with only tents, or with no shelter at all ("under the stars").
Although many people see in camping a chance to get out of the daily routine and improve their survival skills, others would rather benefit from the many amenities that campsites are nowadays equipped with. If a few decades ago camping meant a great deal of responsibility and knowledge about wild nature, today any individual who wants to spend a weekend away in the woods may also expect a high level of comfort.
The amenities that can be found in a campsite vary greatly, as do the prices campers must pay to use them. Usually, the most visited places tend to be more comfortable, more sought after, and more expensive. The cheapest option when it comes to camping still remains backpacking or tent camping, although it can lack some of the comforts of other options.
Many companies manufacturing camping accessories produce different types of equipment or gear that is intended to make camping a more comfortable activity. The gear used in camping is crucial and it can be a life saver. The right tent or food storage unit can easily save campers from insects or even bear attacks.
Backpacking is a mobile variety of tent camping. Backpackers use lightweight equipment that can be carried long distances on foot. They hike across land, cross rivers, and camp at remote locations, and select campsites at will, if resource protection rules allow. Backpacking equipment typically costs more than that for car camping, but still far less than a trailer or motorhome, and backpacking campsites are generally cheap. Backpacking is popular, especially amongst youth who are willing to go through a challenging experience. Although it can be among the cheapest ways to camp, backpacking is also the most uncomfortable and it is usually performed by individuals who are in a general good condition. The equipment one needs for camping must be carried on the camper's back making it an athletic activity not suited to everyone; however, the technological development and the increased interest in camping has led to an improvement in the equipment carried by backpackers. Many camping companies nowadays produce a wide range of equipment that is lightweight or otherwise specialized for backpacking. Special types of backpacks are manufactured for this particular type of activity. For many campers, backpacking allows them to experience the true wilderness but there is little chance to avoid severe weather and injury in the backcountry which can lead to serious issues.
Mobile camping may involve riding animals such as horses and mules. Pack animals increase the limited carrying capacity of riders or may assist hikers by carrying much of the load. Some pack animals such as dogs and llama cannot be ridden but can carry much of the weight of camp supplies. Horse trails and horse camps may be kept separate from "hiking only" areas due to the extra wear that the heavy animals can put on these areas.
Canoe camping is similar to backpacking, but uses canoes for transportation; much more weight and bulk can be carried in a canoe or kayak than in a backpack. Canoe camping is common in North America. Canoe camping is quite popular as a camping opportunity, although the equipment needed is more expensive than that needed when camping with a car. The advantage of this type of camping is that the canoe provides an easier way to transport everything is needed when camping; however, paddling can be a challenging experience. Rivers and lakes that are not suitable for canoeing may be dangerous, especially for novices. Electric motors or small gas ones may be attached on some canoes where allowed for a faster journey on the water. Waterproof bags and fishing gear are often used due to the constant presence of water.
Sail Camping is a form of camping while sailing or boating. Sailors will visit islands and campgrounds along the shorelines, dock their boats, and set up camp. This form of sail camping makes a variety of land based activities available to the boater as they may want a break from being on the water.
One form of bicycle touring combines camping with cycling. The bicycle is used to carry the gear and as the primary means of transportation, allowing greater distances to be covered than backpacking. A small number of "bike-in" campsites exist along trails only accessible by mountain biking. People who enjoy riding their bikes consider bicycle camping a great alternative to enjoy the beauty and quiet of the nature. Due to the lack of protection against bad weather, individuals who are bicycle camping usually carry a different type of equipment, which is helpful especially when raining. Poor road conditions and low temperatures are safety issues when camping during the winter. This type of camping is popular because it is more "pure" than car camping and yet easier than backpacking.
Motorcycle camping is more comparable to bicycle camping than car camping due to the limited storage capacity of the motorbike. Motorcycle camping riders, as well as bicycle touring riders, often use some of the same equipment as backpackers because of the lighter weights and compact dimensions associated with backpacking equipment.
The equipment used in camping varies with the particular type of camping. For instance, in survival camping the equipment consists in small items which have the purpose of helping out the camper in providing food, heat and safety. The equipment used in this type of camping must be lightweight and it is restricted at only the mandatory items. Another types of camping such as winter camping involve having specially designed equipment in terms of tents or clothing which is strong enough to protect the camper's body from the wind and cold.
Survival camping involves certain items that campers are recommended to have with them in case something goes wrong and they need to be rescued. A survival kit includes mandatory items but which are small and must fit in one's pocket or could be carried on one's person. This kit is useless in these circumstances if it is kept in the backpack. Such a kit should include a small metal container which can be used to heat water over a campfire, a small length of duct tape which is small and which can prove useful in many situations and an emergency space blanket. These blankets are specially designed to occupy least space and are perfect for making emergency shelters, keeping the camper warm. Also because of the aluminum-like color this blanket is also reflective which means it can be easily seen from an aircraft. Candle stubs are good in starting a fire as well as in warming an enclosed space. One or two band-aids are mandatory in this type of camping. Any camper, and not only the survival ones need waterproof matches and a large safety pin or fish hook which can be used in fishing. Rubber gloves, antiseptic wipes, tinfoil, jackknife, or halazone tablets (which purify the water) are also to be included into a survival kit. Although these seem too many items to be carried on one person, they are in fact small, lightweight and definitely useful.
Winter camping can be dangerous without respecting the basic rules when it comes to this particular activity. Firstly, the cold is fought against with clothing of three types of layers as following: a liner layer against the camper's skin (longjohns), an insulation layer (fleece), and a water- and wind-proof outer shell. Although cotton is one of the best quality fabrics there is, it is not recommended to be worn on winter camping because if it gets wet it dries out very slowly and the wearer could freeze. Rather than cotton, winter campers should wear wool or synthetic materials. The boots must be waterproof and the head must be protected against the cold given that more than half of the body's heat can be lost through this part of the body. Although it seems a good choice, campers are advised not to wear too many pairs of socks as they might restrict the blood flow to the feet resulting in cold feet. Gaiters should also be worn to avoid snow and rain wetting the boots. Secondly, one should include carbohydrates into their diet to keep their body warm as well as to provide energy. Hydration is very important so winter campers should drink plenty of water to keep themselves well hydrated, noting that water stores must be kept from freezing. Thirdly, the tent must be carefully chosen to shelter from the wind.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Last Update : Fri 27 March 2015
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