What’s the difference between car camping and backpacking, and which one should you choose for your outdoor adventures?
Believe it or not but there is a big difference between the two.
Below I will outline the definition for each one so you have better informed decision. After you’ve completed reading this article you will learn the main differences.
You will also know which one is more suited for you. Enjoy.
What is Car Camping?
Car camping is the most popular trip within the camping world, a lot further in front than backpacking actually.
To put it simply, an average car camping trip is when you pack everything you need in the trunk of a car without a care in the world.
No one has to worry about space (usually) and weight is never an issue.
And that’s why it’s extremely popular, because it’s so simple yet highly effective at the same time.
When the car is packed it’s just a matter of driving to the destination and sleeping in the tent you brought.
That is the most simplest way to put it.
What is Backpacking?
The act of backpacking is when you purchase a backpack for your outdoor adventures.
Now rather than putting everything into a car, you store ALL your equipment in your backpack and hang stuff off of it.
There’s two types of backpackers – ultralight and normal.
These people usually take the bear minimum with the least amount of weight.
They will likely travel a few miles every day, so they can’t be hauling around a 60 pound backpack.
Normal backpackers do worry about weight, however, it’s not AS important to them than it is for ultralight backpackers.
They don’t cover as many miles as ultralight backpackers. Most of the time they will travel to their destination, camp out, then travel back home.
You can choose to backpack into the wilderness for a few days or go on an “extended” trip, where you will be camping and packing up every so often, as they cover a few miles every day.
How to Find One that Suits You
Do You Already Have a Love for the Outdoors or a You a Mere Newbie?
First and foremost, backpacking is not actually for newbie outdoors people.
It is best suited for advanced car campers who want to increase their knowledge more, to make more memories and to be more adventurous.
If you have no idea about the outdoors yet, your best chance of having a successful trip is to start with car camping.
You’ll be setting yourself up to fail if you just “wing” a backpacking mission for the first time.
Are You Fit or Do You Shy Away From Exercise?
This is a good indicator for whether or not you’ll be a good backpacker.
You don’t have to LOVE exercise, but if you count yourself fitter than your peers, you go camping or hiking often (at least a few times a month), or you’re just an all-round active person, you may be okay for backpacking.
On the other hand, if you never hike, never camp, never exercise, and just care more about playing video games, eating junk food and scrolling through social media, you should stay away from backpacking at all costs.
Do You Prefer Simplicity or Adventure?
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about simplicity. It’s a good reason why everyone loves car camping.
However, backpacking is aimed more towards people that love adventure, learning and growing constantly.
It really comes down to personal preference.
Car camping offers simplicity and a wide range of challenges.
However, backpacking offers even bigger challenges. It will test and test you. As a result you will come out stronger and more wiser than you went in.
Does the thought of a Backpacking Trip get you Excited?
If you get really excited even at the thought of a backpacking trip into the wilderness with your friends and family, there’s a good chance you will absolutely love it.
Taking into consideration that you aren’t a newbie and already know what you’re doing of course.
Backpacking is exactly how you picture it in your mind.
- The challenges (good and bad)
- Knowing when and when not to rest
- Knowing when to pack up your site and move on
- Resting with a view of the mountains in the distance
- Or just setting up camp there so you have that same view for the night (or even longer if you want. It’s your trip so you call the shots)
- The mass adventure – discovering things on the way, seeing things you weren’t expecting to
Choosing One for You
I think you already know which one is for you.
Car camping is for people that love simplicity (the good kind of simplicity), and backpacking is for those who want to maximize adventure.
So if you’re looking to spice up your outdoor adventures, you’ve camped multiple times before and consider yourself “experienced” in this field, then you should definitely go on a backpacking trip.
However, if you don’t care about:
- walking through thick forest;
- getting tired and needing to stop for breaks often;
- having to shop around for lightweight items;
- packing up almost everyday to move on with your adventure;
then you should stick to car camping.
Sometimes simple is better, but it all depends on the person and what he/she enjoys more.
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