Last Updated on July 14, 2021 by Jody
Camping shouldn’t be miserable, and doesn’t need to be all roughing it, and being dirty and uncomfortable. If you want to enjoy sleeping outside, and being in nature, you can do so while also holding onto comforts that are most important to you.
In this guide, we bring you solutions to the top reasons people hate camping. Some recommendations do require investment, but others are simply a change in habits. Either way, a few changes can make a huge positive impact on your camping experience. Who knows, maybe after a few alterations you’ll begin to love camping!
Solutions to the Top Reasons People Hate Camping
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1. Being Cold
It’s taken me years to conquer this particular frustration. It’s all about the layers. For clothing, skin close base layers, plus mid layer, puffy, beanie, gloves, and wool socks. Next, invest in a sleeping bag that fits your body (height, width, male/female) and is rated at the correct comfort level for the weather you’ll be in. After countless nights of shivering, I finally bought REI's Women's Magma, and have been cold two nights since, over 100+, even in snow.
Sleeping pads also need to fit one’s body. Too skinny or too short for one’s frame and cold will creep up from the ground. Alternatively, shove extra clothes where cold spots appear – under shoulders, hips, feet. On extra chilly nights, I lay my rain jacket under my ground pad for additional insulation. Even foot high inflatable air mattresses can be very drafty, so insulate with blankets underneath your body, not just on top.
Lastly, add heat! Invest in a rechargeable hand warmer. Or, bring a hot water bottle, or Nalgene. Boil water before bed, then place in your bag, or snug it under your jacket. (To avoid water leaks with a Nalgene bottle – unscrew cap to release pressure once or twice before using).
2. Feeling Dirty
I cannot sleep at night if my skin is covered in dirt and sweat, but I’ll also hike, bike or kayak all day. Being uncomfortably dirty is not a requirement of camping. Here’s how to do it.
Hate going to bed with dirty feet? Use wilderness wipes right before you slide into your bag. Worried about your undercarriage? Use bathroom wipes twice daily, especially before putting on clean underwear.
Rivers and lakes are also your friends! If it’s safe, dip your feet, or your whole body, and dry off with your quick dry towel. Need soap to feel clean? Bring a solar shower and biodegradable soap, and rinse 200 feet from water sources. Lacking privacy to get nude? Wear your bathing suit.
If your face breaks out or feels oily, utilize your camp stove! Boil extra water at breakfast and dinner, and let it cool to desired temperature. Or use face wipes. Have a 5-step face wash routine you don’t want to skip? Purchase refillable toiletry containers for the products of your choice.
Hate camping because you don’t like squatting over a hole you dug and pooping in it? Easy! Only camp at places with toilets, or, buy a portable toilet. All camping apps and park guides will distinguish if there are toilets at the campground.
To make any pooping experience while camping more enjoyable, always have these supplies.
- Trowel/Hand Shovel – Only needed when squatting on the ground. Alternatively, use rocks.
- Toilet Paper & Wet Wipes – Wet wipes help with hygiene, and decrease the amount of TP needed, decreasing trash. Don’t put wet wipes in a long drop toilet, or bury your TP, even if it claims to be biodegradable. When in doubt, pack it out!
- Bags for Toilet Trash – Reuse empty trail mix or dried fruit ziplock bags! They’re thick and sturdy, mostly opaque, and already have a lovely scent. Or, pack a roll of black doggie waste bags.
- Antibacterial Gel – Use immediately before and after you squat.
- Biodegradable Soap and Water – Wash your hands 200 feet away from water sources, with biodegradable soap, unless at a sink. If you don’t have a spigot, ask a friend to slowly drip water while you scrub. Work together to stay clean, comfortable and safe!
4. Setting Up
When I set up my tent, I take my time and feel the coolness and bend of the poles, moving my hands along with my tiny mobile home as if we are dancing a ballet together. Try changing your perspective! For example, setting up camp is a team sport. Once you've built your tent, help your friend. If you’re sharing a tent, split up tasks. Or, have one person set up your home while the other sets up the kitchen.
For cleaning, bring a broom, a welcome mat, and remove shoes before entering. With a smaller tent, after emptying out belongings and before dissembling poles, flip upside down, with one door open, and shake out the dirt. I intentionally use a backpacking tent on all camping trips because it’s easier to set-up, take-down and clean. What is more important to you – ease or space? You and your family get to make these choices together.
Lastly, all your camping gear should live in dedicated storage bins when not in use. Then when you have a camping trip, grab the bins, pack a duffel with clothes, put food in the cooler, and you're off!
5. Doing Dishes
Doing dishes while camping can be even easier than at home. First, prioritize “just add hot water” camping meals so you have less dishes to clean. Second, buy super non-stick camping pans that can be cleaned with a swipe of a towel. Lastly, mimic what works at home! Make hot water with your stove, bring a sponge and dish basin (collapsible option), and multi-purpose biodegradable soap.
A sudden tickle, or surprise swoosh by your face, is never fun. It’s “a bug’s life” out in nature – we are entering their homes. Also, there are ways to reduce the amount of unwanted interactions.
First, keep screens zipped closed on your tent and shelter. Ask your campmate(s), nicely, to do the same. Don’t pitch your tent directly under a tree or next to a bush. If by a lake or stream, choose a spot high above the water and with a strong, continuous, breeze. Invest in a screen house, so you can socialize, eat and still spend time outside.
To keep your skin protected, opt for thick long sleeves, pants, and socks, or netted clothing. Or, use bug spray that smells good and is gentle on your skin, like Avon’s Skin So Soft Bug Guard. Insects are attracted to lights, so place a lantern away from you, and use a headlamp with red light mode (also handy for middle of the night forays to the toilet).
7. Sleeping on the Ground
Just because you are sleeping outside doesn’t mean you have to suffer! That isn’t the point of camping. Just like the perfect mattress for your bed at home is important, so is your camping sleeping pad.
With different widths, lengths, thicknesses, and levels of insulation, find what works best. Many outdoor stores rent gear. Otherwise, borrowed from friends to test out, or purchase from a company with a good return policy. For the reluctant camper, enjoy a foot high (or more) air mattress, cot, or both! These keep you off the ground, still in the security of your tent, feeling more similar to at home.
8. Worrying About Bears
If you hate camping because anxiety shoots through the roof imagining a bear clawing at your tent, don’t camp in bear country! Otherwise, remember, bears are only interested in scented items. Follow all stowage regulations for your campsite. Also, make noise. While not sleeping, talk or sing with your crew. If solo, play music or an audiobook on a portable speaker.
Following all precautions doesn’t guarantee fear will leave our minds. I love camping solo, and my anxiety often overshadows my enjoyment.. The largest reduction of worry for me came from finally encountering a bear while camping, and witnessing he wanted nothing to do with us. Our greatest fears come from the unknown. Although we can’t force seeing a bear in the wild, the more you camp following regulations, the more chances for positive experiences, like this.
No one chooses to go camping to lay in their tent all day. Yet, weather, like rain and snow, are a key part of what makes our wild places beautiful. So, let’s learn to embrace it, with comfort.
Make sure your shelter is leak proof. Have a good book and card/board games to pass the time. A rapid shelter or tarp will keep you dry with plenty of room.
Lastly, have a towel to wipe up any water that does get in your tent.
10. Loud People
Many people go camping for peace and quiet. However, we’re not in control of the behaviors of campers around us. I find the most reliable filter is reading reviews (search “quiet”) and getting recommendations from friends. Otherwise, National Parks are typically more family friendly. Campgrounds further from a town or city, or that don’t allow RVs or car camping, tend to be quieter. Or, try backpacking. Even one mile down a trail to an approved foot access only campsite brings more quiet. Last resort, ear plugs and a neck gaiter around the eyes can take you away from a noisy campground in an instant.
Remember – Camping is for Everyone!
Like all areas of life, don’t let someone else’s requirements define how you experience the great outdoors. Do your version of camping, whatever that looks like, as long as you follow campground, park, and Leave No Trace regulations.
We hope you’re now encouraged to try some of these camping solutions and they make a positive impact on your experience outdoors and your overall well being. Have fun and we’d love to hear how it goes!
Guest Author: Natasha Buffo
Natasha Buffo is a former business analyst for Google Inc. turned freelance outdoor/travel writer and storyteller, author of an unpublished memoir, and certified Adult Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Her stories have been published by Tahoe Quarterly, SISU Magazine, GearJunkie, The Dust Magazine, USA Today’s Storyteller’s Project, Out There, Sex Outside, and more. Her favorite outdoor activities are backpacking, hiking, still water kayaking, tour cycling, running, resort and backcountry snowboarding and skiing, and snowshoeing. When she’s not exploring the trails of U.S. public lands, or cultures abroad, she resides in South Lake Tahoe, California, with the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range as her backyard. To read more of her work, or connect, visit www.dirtandtears.com.