Alternatives to Tent Camping Worth Thinking About
Tent camping is arguably the most popular option, but it's not the only one to consider when you want to spend some time outdoors. While tents can provide ample shelter offer a good degree of privacy, they are also heavy, can be cumbersome, and you need time to scout the right spot and get things set up. Let's take a look at a few alternatives that may be just as beneficial while involving less hassle at the same time.
A bivy sack is basically a cocoon that you slide inside of, zip up and go to sleep. They are ideal in situations where you want a fast and easy way to set up a basic shelter for sleeping. Most have some type of frame around the head that provides you with some room to maneuver without having the material collapse on your upper body. Other than that, bivy sacks are not designed with space in mind, so if you need more room for anything but sleeping, this is probably not the best option to consider.
A floorless shelter is kind of a hybrid between a tepee and a tent. It has the roof, walls and opening of a traditional tent, but it doesn't have a floor. These shelters are popular in arid climates where chances of rain, dew or moisture pooling on the ground are minimal. They are also ideal for daytime shelter, as well as for lounging or cooking, but may not be the best choice for sleeping. Consequently, you should consider whether or not sleeping on the bare ground is a viable option.
A tarp shelter is about as rudimentary as you can get, but they can be quite effective under the right conditions. You don't need a lot of material to set one up, and you can orient the tarp in a few different ways in order to provide you with varying degrees of protection against the elements. Most people use tarps to provide shade or as a temporary shelter from rain, but they can be used for sleeping as long as you can keep the ground below dry and free from pests.
Hammocks are becoming increasingly popular among hikers and campers alike. While they don't give you the enclosed space you get from a tent, sleeping in a hammock is arguably much more comfortable than sleeping on the ground. They are also very easy to set up, you don't have to spend time looking for the ideal campsite and clear ground, and you can enjoy fresher air. However, there is a little bit of a learning curve involved with hammock camping, and it may take some trial and error before you get the hang of things and feel totally comfortable with sleeping above the ground.
No matter what shelter you decide to use, make sure that you choose the most appropriate one for the conditions and length of time that you plan on being on-site. Remember that your safety and comfort should be top priorities, and experimenting with these and other forms of shelter will give you more options to fall back on out in the field.