We know about car camping and backpacking, but what other branches of camping are there? You saw our Types of Camping infographic. Now you’re ready to go in depth.

Generally, backpacking is the act of traveling and hiking with one’s belongings in their pack. Backpackers must be prepared for anything thrown at them, from snake bites to rain to frostbite to dehydration. Check out the hard lessons I learned from my first backpacking trip.

This field of camping has a few different branches with some serious followers. Just take ultralight backpacking.


Ultralight backpacking has three different branches lightweight (generally up to 20 lbs.), ultralight (up to 10 lbs.), and minimalist (up to 5 lbs.). Ultralight backpackers have the challenge of minimizing their pack weight, balancing what they need with how little they can carry. Halfway Anywhere gives the great example of a toothbrush. The lightweight might bring a standard toothbrush and a travel tube of toothpaste. The ultralight backpacker might make their own gear, cutting the handle off of the toothbrush and packing toothpaste into sealed straws. The minimalist opts for a stick instead.

Click through to read our write-up on this golden retriever, Aspen!

In the same vein, hammock camping is a solution to the ultralight challenge. Even in the rain or cold, campers can ditch the tent for a hammock, shedding plenty of pounds off of their packs. To stay warm and dry, hammock campers will hitch tarps above their hammocks and add an underquilt for warmth. Read more about alternatives to tents.


Winter camping comes with its own challenges. Of course, it’s cold; how are you staying warm and dry? But then it snowballs: the wood is wet, how will you make a fire? You have to hike through the snow. Do you have the right shoes? In the winter, you have less light. Do you know how to determine how much light is left in the day?


If you ask a random person on the street to describe what camping is like, chances are they will describe car camping. This is the most romanticized and depicted form of camping on the list. Car campers drive up to their campsites with a loaded car of everything they need or want. Most car camping involves tents.

Foldavan Bike Caravan Trailer
Courtesy of Wooden Widget

Some campers swap car camping for bicycle camping, motorcycle camping, or canoe camping.

Bicycle camping combines aspects of car camping with backpacking. Some bicycle campers attach small trailers to their bikes to hold gear and even act as their shelter. Many bike campers use rear racks and milk crates instead of trailers. Cycle Wild believes the differentiation between bike camping and touring is subtle and potentially arbitrary, saying that bike camping is “self-contained touring over a weekend… where the focus is as much on the destination as on the ride.”

Motorcycle camping follows the same premise as car camping, just with the added challenge of packing light. Canoe camping combines canoeing, long-distance traveling, backpacking, and camping. Like motorcycle and bicycle camping, canoe camping involves packing the bare necessities.


RVing and cabin camping combines the luxuries of home with the Great Outdoors. Campers with RVs can travel for long periods of time without losing many of the comforts of home, with many models equipped with stoves, sinks, toilets, and beds. RVers also enjoy the sense of community by camping in campgrounds with other RVers.

Cabin camping has its own perks. You can keep the isolation of the woods while enjoying the comforts of a hotel or bed and breakfast.

glamping tent yurt

Glamping (“glamor camping”) originated in the 1900s with American and European safaris in Africa but has gained popularity in recent years. Imagine a comfortable bed inside of a yurt or tent-side food service for each meal. Glamping is a relatively new industry so there’s not a lot of consensus over what glamping truly means. Participants seem attracted to the combination of escapism and adventure recreation – just minus the dirt or labor.

What types of camping did we miss? Are you more of a survival camper? Wish we talked about social camping? Sound off!


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