What is Primitive Camping?

What is Primitive Camping?

Technology is around us all of the time. You are sitting reading this article more than likely on a mobile, or a laptop. Society these days mean we are all on social media, sending messages to friends and we all tend to have our mobile phones attached to the end of our nose. We all need a level of escapism and if you are like me your escape will be primitive camping.

I like many get to a point where I need to get away from technology and the constant emails, messages, and notifications. I need a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the city, away from crowds and to forget about the chores back home. This is where Primitive Camping comes in.

What does Primitive Camping mean?

Primitive camping is when you go into the vast wilderness for your camping trip, away from all electricity, running water and as far away from civilization as possible. A primitive campsite is one that has no amenities and is off the beaten path.

Many experienced campers will call primitive camping by another name, backcountry camping. With primitive camping, you will go back to the basics. That means no technology to help, you will leave all the new fancy gear you bought back home and you live a primitive life in the wilderness for a few days. You

To get a true primitive camping experience you should pick a location you would like to camp but leave the car and walk for a few miles into the wilderness. Set up your campsite where ever you like and enjoy the experience of being truly alone in the wilderness.

Some campers who are new to backcountry and primitive camping will prefer to look for dedicated remote campsites. A primitive campsite might have a few signs for navigating and a fire pit as well as the possibility of another group of people. It will serve well for anyone who is trying their first solo trip or want to dip their toes into a new way of experiencing the wilderness.

Some advice would be to ensure you plan for your first primitive camping trip. You are back to the basics and likely miles away from the closest road and more than likely out of cell coverage. I strongly suggest you create a little checklist of what you will need and check them off as you pack your backpack. All you might need are the basics: Water, food, sleeping bag, and a tent.

Man fishing when camping

What gear do I need for Primitive Camping

As mentioned above you are back to basics but you will still need some supplies. If you have selected your campsite right then you might be miles away from other people, meaning you can’t ask to borrow something from another group. Planning is important.

Tent & Sleeping Bag

Already have a tent? You should still read this section, it’s important.

If you are planning your first primitive trip then be aware that you will be walking for miles and the current tent you have might weigh far too much to carry. If I am going on a solo camping trip I will take a one-person tent that is lightweight and can fit into my backpack. If there is a group of us then in my experience it is best to go with a 2 person tent for two to share and spread the other supplies out to the other members.

As for sleeping bags, you should have one. It might be warm throughout the day but at night the temperature can drop fast. It is wise to have a good reliable sleeping bag that you have previously used and know will work for the weather conditions you are expecting. You may want to read more about how to stay warm in a tent so you can prepare for your trip.

Primitive Camping Food & Water

If your campsite is in an area that has a clean water source then you can buy some water purification tablets or a water filter. Some primitive campers are completely against water filters but in my opinion it better to have clean water than carry it around with you in a large water bottle.

A lot of people use these trips to go fishing and eat what they catch. This is a great idea for many but you must also bring backups to incase you are unable to catch anything. I like to have a collection of tinned foods that can easily be cooked on an open fire (with or without a pot/pan). I also like to bring along a bag of dried fruit and nuts for a high-calorie snack. If you decide to bring some food that may spoil then I suggest you read through my how to keep food cold when camping guide for some tips.

Some other options for food are dehydrated foods or freeze-dried. More or less anything you can add warm water to, think mash potatoes, rice, fruits, and even noodles.

If you would like to try a little more back to the basics type of food then I would recommend going with a Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE). These are meals that those in the Armed Forces will at least recognize as being similar to a lightweight field ration.

First Aid

Cuts, scrapes, bites, and scratches will happen. It almost a guarantee when you are miles into the wilderness that you will get a little scratch or two, especially if like me you tend to explore into deep forests. I always carry a small first aid kit that has all the essentials for common injuries.

What Else?

You will be trying to travel as light as possible but are a few other items that are critical to a safe and enjoyable experience. A map of the area you are exploring is very important, I would also recommend two compasses too, in case one is broken. A lightweight LED flashlight is also a good tool to have.

Some other essentials that I always pack for a primitive camping trip are sunscreen if its summer, toilet paper, a poncho or rain gear if I expect wet weather.

If you are not sure how to start a fire without tools then you can either bring tools or a small portable camping stove – I prefer the open fire though.

Primitive Camping FAQs

How do I purify water?

The method I use is to collect water from a stream or small river and then boil it using the fire. I leave it to boil in a pot for 2 to 3 minutes just to be as safe as possible. I will then let the water cool and add it to a water filter bottle to make sure any sediment or dirt in the water is filtered out before drinking or using the water with food.

Can I camp anywhere I want?

This is a common question and is difficult to answer. You must abide by the rules your country, states and park set out for you. That may mean you can just turn up and pitch a tent anywhere or it may mean you need a license to legally camp on the land.

My advice is to make sure you research the area you want to explore and read through the rules for that area.

Is primitive camping worth experiencing?

100% Yes! If you like the thought of being the only people for miles in the wilderness with nothing but the beauty of nature around you then you should get planning now.

Is it safe to go with kids?

Assuming you know the area you are going into and you properly plan your trip then yes.

Wilderness Junkie’s Opinion

If you have ever thought about being able to look up at the stars in the pitch-black and know that you are miles away from other people then primitive camping is more than likely for you.

I can’t recommend it enough. I decided to try it once many years ago and now I do this more than what my friends call “normal camping”.

Go enjoy what nature gave us.