Car Camping vs Backpacking

February 09, 2017

Frank Church Wilderness
Frank Church Wilderness, Idaho

If you do one activity all the time, you will learn to hate it! That is true in my case. I’ve done car camping all my life. It was meh, alright, nothing special. After I was introduced to backpacking, my perception of car camping completely changed.

Backpacking is all about efficiency. For example, a sleeping bag should ideally be made out of Goose-Down feathers to make it extremely light and warm. An insulating sleeping pad should also be light and warm. High energy foods should to be light and dry. These basic survival necessities, known as “needs”, will fill the primary weight and space of a backpack. The backpack can be filled with “wants” if there is enough room: such as extra snacks and coffee.

In contrast, car camping allows me to completely splurge on any supplies, food, shelter, and anything else that my vehicle can fit. There are almost no limitations on comfort and luxury. After spending the last couple years doing a lot of backpacking, I realized how amazing it is to do car camping. All the goodies, snacks, and supplies that I can’t bring in my backpack can be brought in infinite supplies.

Car Camping Backpacking

Pros: Fire pit, grill, delicious food: burgers & hot dogs, comfortable bed, camping chair, restroom, & infinite amount of supplies

Pros: Better views, privacy, a lot of space, very quiet, better fishing (if available), untouched scenery, & no signs of civilization

 Cons: Campgrounds are typically busy,  require reservations, & noisy neighbors

Cons: Sacrifice comfort for weight, fire restriction for wood fires, limited supplies, & food has to be rationed

I was starting to hate car camping until I was introduced to backpacking. I never realized how amazing it was to have the luxuries that car camping offers. I enjoy doing both of these activities and my love for these activities has grown over the years.

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