I know what you’re thinking.
“There’s no way I’m going to camp out in the wilderness in a tent!”
“I’m too old to pee in the woods. I need a comfy and sanitary bathroom!”
“Primitive camping is living out of our RV.”
Well, those are valid points and I understand the need for creature comforts and toilet seats! However, hear me out.
Learning and practicing camping skills is an important part of being prepared. It’s doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, anyone can learn these skills, and they will come in handy in a variety of survival settings.
Define “Primitive Camping”
Several years ago my family dived headlong into tent camping. Although we do like modern toilet and shower facilities, it’s really, really nice to get away from all that and head into the wilderness where going to the bathroom requires a flashlight, shovel, and a roll of biodegradable toilet paper.
When I told some friends that we were into camping, they said, “Us, too! We head up north in our RV once or twice a year!”
I can definitely appreciate the comforts that an RV or a similar camping vehicle affords, but that just isn’t primitive camping. It’s living in a tiny house on wheels, complete with modern plumbing and electricity.
Primitive camping is tent camping, plain and simple. It’s going to sleep on the ground, yes, padded bedrolls are allowed, and enjoying nothing but nature all around. It’s cooking over an open fire, settling a Dutch oven in the coals, and then sitting back, anticipating another amazing meal. There’s something about the fresh air that intensifies the appetite and, somehow, enhances the flavor of food.
The very best s’more I ever ate was cooked on a clothes hanger wire over a campfire. Ditto for my homemade chili.
Why is primitive camping a necessary skill?
Primitive camping requires many sub-skills, and each of those has an important place in survival and preparedness. Here are just a few:
- Identifying poisonous plants and know how to treat the results of handling them
- Know what natural materials make the best kindling
- Safely start, maintain, and extinguish a fire for warmth and cooking
- Select the best site for your camp
- Prepare for inclement weather
- Know basic first aid and how to use the supplies in a medical kit
- Safely use bladed tools, including an axe and knife
- Make a tarp shelter
- Know how to respond correctly to changes in weather
- Set up and take down a tent quickly
- Cook over an open fire as well as various types of camp stoves
- Understand the basics of sanitation, the health issues of unsanitary conditions, and know how to set up a toilet/latrine station
Even if you ultimately never venture out and set up that tent, knowing these skills and practicing them will still put you at an advantage in any survival situation.
A lot of space on the internet has been devoted to the topic of bugging out and bug out locations. Few people have many options when it comes to having that safe little hidey-hole. However, having these skills, along with the necessary supplies, will at least provide you with one option: living in a tent. Tent-living in a scenario like this isn’t meant to be a permanent solution, but it beats living out of your car, sleeping under a bridge, or heading to a government shelter.
Read more: Living out of a car is something millions of people do every day. Check out these tips from one such person.
An affordable option
A bug out location by any other name is a “second home”. It’s a home that will require furnishing, insurance, and security measures. Primitive camping, on the other hand, is something that anyone can afford. Tents, sleeping bags, camp stoves, fishing poles, tarps, and much more can be purchased for pennies on the dollar at thrift stores, yard sales, and through sites such as Craigslist.
Acquiring these supplies doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Our family enjoys primitive camping and we haven’t spent a fortune, but we’ve still ended up with a few items we rarely, if ever, use. I have a darling set of mini-Coleman lantern lights on a string that we’ve never once used! Start with the basics, put them to work on a weekend camping trip, and only then buy anything else.
Those extra expenses should go toward providing:
- Sleeping comfort
- Sanitary conditions
- Maintaining a secure, cool area for food
Consider the primitive campsite you are planning and preparing for to be a back-up bug-out location. Have a number of different camping areas in mind and know ahead of time different routes to each destination.
You’ll get no closer to nature in God’s country than this.
Resources to get you started
- Bushcraft 101 by Dave Canterbury
- Fire Skills: 50 Methods for Starting Fires Without Matches by David Arman
- Learn how to tie knots on this Animated Knots website.
- Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties by D. C. Beard
- Terrific blog with primitive camping advice, Survival Common Sense.