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Backpacking vs. Car Camping: What Is Best for You?

Backpacking is one of the most favorite pastimes. Camping trips, cozy bonfires, and stargazing is true contentment for many people. Planning for one such trip is easy, and it could be totally adventurous if you make the right choices.

A much simpler version of the backpack expedition is car camping. It is great for the first-timers who are not fully ready to venture into the usual camping locations. This article dives into both the options and you can decide what suits you best. 

What is the difference between Car Camping and Backpacking?

If you wish to sleep in a tent under the starlit sky, you will choose either car camping or backpacking. As is obvious from the names, the major difference between both the modes lies in the way you carry your gear.

With car camping, your car is close by, mostly at your campsite and everything you need is in the trunk of your car, which is easily accessible. You can drive to your campsite and unpack over there. Hiking is another individual activity where you can drive up to a trailhead. 

On the other hand, backpacking requires you to carry all the necessary gear in a backpack. You have to leave your vehicle behind and hike/canoe/kayak your way to the campsite. Upon reaching, you can unload and set up your tent for the evening.

It is definitely more intense when compared to car camping. However, the prize is that you get to explore more pristine and scenic locations. 

Is Car Camping for you?

If you are a newbie to backpacking, car camping is probably the better option to start with. Car camping is ideal owing to its many benefits, the biggest one being that you are not required to carry everything on your back. If you are new to strenuous hikes, you might be incapable of carrying a backpack with everything you need inside it.

When you camp in your car, you can also bring any kind of food without worrying about heat and cold-sensitive foods. You can take care of your sleeping arrangements by buying backseat inflatable mattresses from Planet Camping, which easily fit into your car and also provide room for more than 1 person. 

Possibly, one of the most important reasons why many people choose to car camp is the bathroom situation. When you car camp, it is comparatively easy to discover a campground with a running water facility and proper toilets. Some campgrounds have showers and water spigots for drinking-water. 

In a nutshell, opt for car camping if:

  • You are a newbie
  • You don’t quite find the idea of carrying everything on your back very appealing. 
  • You wish to cook meals that need a cooler.
  • You need access to flush toilets and running water facilities. 
  • You require comfy mattresses and additional blankets. 
  • You are afraid of wildlife and will need your car around to feel safe. 

Is backpacking for you?

If you have read the above sections, you probably already know what backpacking is and feels like. The big change comes in the aspect of carrying your gear everywhere you go.

In the case of food, you have to pack everything, including water and some kind of water filters as well. Most backpackers try to fit mini stoves in their bags and cook warm meals every time they want to eat. Perishable foods like meat and dairy are not an option anymore unless you carry a cooler with you. 

Bathroom situations are the biggest deterrent for many people who consider backpacking and hiking. You have to pack a shovel to dig up a hole when you need to defecate.

This could mean trouble for some women as they have to master the art of peeing outside without having it all over your clothes and feet (consider the angle of the ground).

If you are not comfortable, you can choose some backcountry sites that have pit toilets. Therefore, make sure you check that before you go, if it is something that concerns you. 

Opt for backpacking if:

  • You wish to experience and explore nature on your own and are prepared to give up on some comfort. 
  • You are okay with digging a hole when nature calls.
  • You can carry everything you need on your back for long distances. 
  • You like challenging adventures and physicality. 

Closing thoughts

No matter which option you decide to go with, you cannot go wrong with outdoor exploration. Camping outdoors only brings you closer to nature and yourself. Go with the flow and learn to live in the moment. Tiny adventures do good to the soul!

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