What Is Survival Camping?

Survival camping, or minimalist camping, is camping with only the bare minimum supplies and typically entails catching your own food and making your own shelter

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If you're into outdoor activities, you have likely heard the term "survival camping" at least once. This type of camping has become increasingly popular as the luxuries and conveniences of modern life have drained a lot of the natural fun out of traditional camping. But what is survival camping?

Survival camping, or minimalist camping, is camping with only the bare minimum supplies and typically entails catching your own food and making your own shelter. As such, survival camping can be seen as a true test of one's skills as an outdoorsman. While different types of survival campers may have different opinions on what exactly constitutes survival camping, it will always be done with a good deal less supplies and equipment than traditional camping.

The point of survival camping is to get back in touch with nature, similar to the intended point of traditional camping. However, whereas traditional camping usually carries over a good deal of the creature comforts we know and rely on from home, such as plumbing, heating, and electricity, survival camping eschews these for a more intimate experience with the natural world. While it may be slightly tough to get into survival camping if you aren't experienced in survival skills and the basics of the outdoors, mastering the art of survival will always prove a more rewarding experience than simply parking your RV in the forest and throwing some lighter fluid on the fireplace.

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What Are the Benefits of Survival Camping?

The modern world is an overwhelming place and the desire to get back in touch with nature is something that fuels a lot of people in their daily lives. Getting back in touch with nature can mean a lot of different things, from simply taking a stroll down a trail or packing up everything and heading into the mountains. For survival campers, getting back in touch with nature means leaving nearly every aspect of the modern world behind and going into nature with almost nothing, deriving your survival only from what nature offers you.

Mind Over Matter

As you can see, there are many psychological benefits to survival camping, even beyond the many positive benefits that traditional camping typically allows. Not only are you achieving a much-needed escape from the hustle and bustle of the modern world, but you are also bolstering self-reliance and profundity at some very basic and human skills that will do wonders for both your self-esteem and your problem solving abilities going forward. Once you have mastered the natural world in such a way that you can survive for days on end, or even weeks, with nothing but a small bag of supplies, you will feel as if there is no problem in the universe that you cannot solve.

Becoming Your Ultimate Self

The benefits of survival camping are not only psychological, then, but physical, as well. Survival camping is the ultimate exercise, and making it out of your first survival camping expedition is going to give you the same feeling of exhilaration as running your first marathon. Survival camping tests both your body and your brain equally, providing the ultimate holistic learning experience for any human being looking to go off the beaten path. For this reason, survival camping isn't just great for outdoorsmen but also for those with a passion for all-around physical fitness.

What Kind of Supplies Can You Bring Along When Survival Camping?

As we've discussed, there is no one list that defines what materials can be brought with you when survival camping and what materials cannot. Obviously, you can't bring along your RV and your flatscreen television. However, are you allowed to bring shelter of any kind?

When you get down to it, how you define survival camping for yourself is really going to be up to you and your own personal level of comfort. If you're reading this article, you likely aren't all that experienced with the notion of survival camping in the first place. In that case, you may wish to bring along a few more provisions than someone who has been survival camping for a good deal of their lifetime.

Before getting too overwhelmed, understand that the point of survival camping is to bring along less and less than you would bring along on a traditional camping trip. That means that all you really need to do to start survival camping is to gradually minimize the amount of supplies you are bringing along on a trip. Bring one less creature comfort every camping trip and eventually you will be down to the bare essentials, a simple small backpack full of supplies.

Of course, there are some basic parameters that most people agree upon as far as what survival camping is and what survival camping isn't. There are some basic supplies and equipment that many survival campers will bring along with them on almost every trip, including:

  • Basic shelter of some kind
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pot and utensils
  • Pocket knife
  • Essentials/first-aid kit/survival kit

Shelters and Sleeping Bags

Some survival campers may feel comfortable with bringing a small tent that they can fold up into their backpack, while many will opt for a simple tarp that will provide them with shelter from the elements. As well, there are many heavy-duty sleeping bags that will hold up in even the most extreme conditions and can provide at least basic comfort and the ability to sleep. The ultimate survival campers will usually opt to just bring along a sleeping bag and either make or find shelter on their own in the wild.

Pots and Utensils

As far as bringing along a pot and utensils, many survival campers might feel this is a bit too much, but having the ability to easily cook any food you catch without the need for finding a flat stone or making a makeshift spit could make a pretty big difference. However, a pot can be pretty heavy, even if it's not that big, and it's always best to try and camp as light as possible when survival camping. For this reason, you may wish to find the smallest pot you can, or simply eschew the pot entirely.

Pocket Knives

A pocket knife is something that practically no survival camper will want to go without, unless they want the ultimate bragging rights. Multi-tool pocket knives are literally designed for the purposes of outdoor survival. If you're the type of person who has an extravagant pocket knife and has never been able to make use of all the random little fold-out bits, survival camping will finally give you the chance to put your pocket knife to the test.

Essentials and First-Aid Kits

Finally, "essentials" is another term that can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Basically, essentials will be things such as warm clothing, medical supplies, and maybe something to start a fire. Of course, how many of these things are really "essential" is going to be up to you.

A first-aid kit might come in handy, as there are many instances where you might receive a small wound when traversing the outdoors. Without proper dressing and the ability to wash your wound, it may turn into a serious issue after a few days of survival camping. You would hate to have to end your trip early just because you got an easily avoidable infection! However, many survival campers know how to make use of dirt, river water, and leaves to dress their wounds, so anything is possible...

Survival Kits

For those looking to have all their bases covered on their first survival camping trip, a basic survival kit should give you everything you need and then some. There are many different types of survival kits on the market and all of them will include a good deal of basic supplies that you will be able to make use of out in the natural world. They can include all sorts of basic tools, fishing and hunting supplies, first aid materials, and even fire-starting materials, such as flint and steel.

While survival kits are definitely the perfect option for newbies, survival camping is about whittling down everything to it's most basic level, so you may aim to leave the kits behind eventually. Everything a survival kit includes can be replicated with no more than a couple of tools used in tandem with naturally occurring elements that can be found in the wild. By practicing and taking part in survival camping, you will eventually be able to go out into the wild with nothing but warm clothes, a good sleeping bag, and a solid multi-tool pocket knife.

Learning to Think On Your Feet In the Wild

At the end of the day, survival camping isn't about preparedness but about the ability to solve problems on command. It's hard to understand how much we rely on modern conveniences until we have all those conveniences stripped away, whether by force or by volition. With survival camping, we come to understand our true selves and our true capabilities, honed and weathered by the forces of the natural world.

You can create a fire simply by making a bed lined with stones, gathering dry materials in the center, rubbing two sticks together and igniting the materials with a small spark. You can make a pan from a flat stone, or a spit out of sticks and branches. Then, you can either hunt or fish with simple machines made from the materials around you (or just use your pocket knife) in order to catch meat to cook on your makeshift stove. Once you're all done, you can take a drink from and a bath in the river, then call it a day under the cover of some shrubbery in your sleeping bag.

Survival Camping Is in Your DNA

Survival camping isn't about becoming something new, but getting back to what we once were. Human beings have arguably lived nomadically for nearly millennia, and the ingenuity they garnered through doing so is what made humanity flourish into the hustle and bustle of industry we know today. While the luxuries of the modern world have their place, survival camping will remind you who you are and where you came from, and, most importantly, what you are capable of. It's in your DNA!

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