Saturday, July 13, 2013



"Camping" is a term that is used and abused by a lot of folks.  That's mainly because its a very general term for a lot of different outdoor activities.  Below is just my philosophy, an opinion, really.  Take it or leave it, you're the one who clicked on the link. 

There are, according to me, three distinct activities which many people erroneously lump together under the rubric "Camping."

First, there's Hiking.  To me, Hiking is a separate activity from camping, although can be included as a component of "camping" activities.  The folks who I define as "Hikers" are those who's activity on the trail is confined to walking distances with no real purpose at all (as opposed to going to the store), and that walk is planned to begin and end on the same day, usually at the starting point.  A hike is quite simply a long walk, usually in a wild or semi-wild place, but can also be done in urban or sub-urban settings.  It is usually done along a distinct trail or road, public or private.  The duration of the hike is usually long enough that it is necessary to carry along one or two meals and a quantity of water.

When we get to discussing "Camping", there are many different types. While these can be divided up into the various modes of transportation used to get to the campsite, "camping" is generally a sedentary activity.  Sometimes its a means to have a place to eat and sleep between destinations, sometimes the campsite is the destination in and of itself.  Car camping, Bike Camping (motorcycle or human powered), Kayak or Canoe Camping, RV Camping, etc. all fall into the general category of "Camping" as they generally fit that description.  Camping, when defined this way (and its my durn blog so we'll define it that way), allows the participant to bring along as much equipment, food, water, etc. as his mode of transportation will allow, and if he's on a long trip, the ability to re-stock between destinations.  Gas or charcoal grills, boom boxes, TVs, cots, multi-room tents, volleyball nets, coolers, chairs----you get the picture----that's what camping is.  Its popular with families who have children and fat old men who have given up on backpacking because they haven't discovered hammocks yet. Sometimes, Hiking is included as an activity during Camping in that the trip is a mile or two and begins and ends at the cooler on top of the picnic table.  Campsites are generally developed, easily accessed by road with parking nearby, usually with firepits and picnic tables, and there's probably running water and some kind of toilet facility nearby. The campsite can be commercial or public, or it can be on private property.

Now we come to Backpacking. Hikers use backpacks, whether or not they have just left the house that morning and plan to return there the same day, or if they're doing something to keep the kids busy while camping, but they are not backpackers.  The difference between Hikers and Backpackers is that Backpackers intentionally stay overnight after hiking.  The difference between Backpackers and Campers is that the backpacker's mode of transportation between campsites is his feet, and all of the food and equipment he needs is carried on his back.  He has no ability to restock along his route, unless he has pre-planned and pre-located sites to cache supplies.

So.  Are you a Hiker, a Camper, a Backpacker, or a combination of all three?

No comments:

Post a Comment