Not only are there many different types of camping but there are also many different sub types of camping for each one. With this guide, we will walk you not only through the main styles of camping but the sub-types for each style.
So how many types of camping are there?
Here are the 8 basic types of camping.
- Traditional and Tent Camping
- Backcountry and Hiking Camping
- Canoe and Kayak Camping
- RV and Van Camping
- Luxurious and Glamping Camping
- Survival and Bushcraft Camping
- Adventure Camping
- Work Camping or Workamping
Each one of these basic camping styles have sub-categories. Be sure to check out each one for an in-depth look at all the sub-categories.
Each of these basic categories will have 3 or more sub-categories. Although sub-categories may be similar, each will have differences that make them their own type of camping, and we will give details and information for each one.
Clickable Table Of Contents
Traditional and Tent Camping
Each of these types of camping is considered part of the conventional styles of camping, and if you were to go to a standard campground, there is a good chance you would see one or more of these types of camping going on.
- Tent camping
Tent camping is one of the oldest styles of camping in existence and is still very popular to this day.
Just about every category of camping can also use some form of tent for camping but traditional tent camping involves setting up a tent shelter at a campgrounds.
There are three types of sites at campgrounds for tent camping.
- Primitive- A primitive campsite has no modern amenities. This site will usually only consist of a clearing for setting up camp but you will be responsible for providing your own water, fire area, shower or bathing arrangements (usually something like a solar shower), and bathroom arrangements (portable toilet).
- Standard- A standard campsite usually includes some amenities like a paved or graded drive, table, grill, campfire area, and sometimes access to running water and/or bathroom facilities. What exactly this type of site includes will vary with each park or campgrounds, so be sure to ask ahead of time. Also, this type of site can be used for RV’s but will may or may not include some of the hook-ups.
- Premium- A premium site will have a gravel or paved drive, table, campfire area, access to electric, access to running water and sewer hook-ups. These sites can be used for tent camping but often are premium sites are used for RV’s
There are several different size camping tents from small single person tents to tents that can hold over 20 people and even have different rooms inside.
While tents are often used in other types of camping, it doesn’t really have established sub categories of it’s own. There are however different types of tents that are ideal for different climates and weather conditions.
The different types of camping tents are –
Pop-up tents, dome tents, tunnel tents, ridge tents, geodesic tents, inflatable tents, backpacking tents, family tents and bell tents.
The different weather ratings for tents are-
- 2 season tents- These tents are good for mild camping conditions and are suitable for cold and warm weather camping. However, they handle rain and wind poorly.
- 3 season tents- These tents can handle most weather conditions including rain and wind but are not good for snow.
- 4 Season Tents- These tents are good for any weather conditions and temperatures.
- Sleeping bag camping
Like tent camping, sleeping bags are used in many types of camping but once this was one of the most popular ways to go camping. Also, this is still a very popular method for sleeping under the stars.
Like tents, there are different styles of sleeping bags.
Here are the different styles of sleeping bags-
If you are sleeping bag camping, it is important to think about the conditions outside. Sleeping bags will either have down or synthetic insulation. Down bags are ideal for cold temperatures but if camping out under the stars, synthetic will be ideal.
The reason for this is down sleeping bags have lousy performance in wet conditions as the feathers will clump once they get wet. Synthetic materials are more resistant to wet conditions, and this makes them more ideal for sleeping bag camping.
There are three basic ratings for sleeping bags for temperature-
- Summer- Best for use in warmer temperatures but not suitable for cold weather camping and really shouldn’t be used if temperatures will be below 40 degrees.
- 3 Season- Good for almost all general camping above 10 degrees. Might be too hot for some people if night time temperatures are above 70 degrees.
- Winter- Used for temperatures for 32 degrees and below. Temperatures of 50 degrees or higher will be way too hot for this type of bag.
- 4 season- These can be used for low temperatures like the winter bag but a 4 season will have different ways to allow use for over 50 degrees.
- Off The Grid Cabin camping
In many ways cabin camping is the first form of glamping. Most campsites that we go to will often have cabins nearby.
One of my families favorite camping sites in Oklahoma is Robber’s Cave park. Although, my wife and kids usually go tent or RV camping, the grand-parents will often stay in cabins that are a short walk through the woods for us to get to.
Most cabins will have all the amenities of your home and are often considered to be more luxurious camping or glamping but there are still cabins that are off grid.
Off grid cabins are more of a shelter only and usually will not have and conveniences like electricity or water.
If you are renting an off the grid cabin, you will need many of the same supplies as hiking camping like a way to purify water, sleeping bags, food and way to start a fire .
Often, you will either have to hike in or have a 4wd vehicle to get access to these cabins.
- Pioneer camping
Pioneer camping is when a group of 10 or more set up camp in a primitive campsite area. Primitive campsites will often have bathrooms (or toilet pit), a campfire pit or ring and a water spigot near by, but this is not always the case.
When pioneer camping, meals are traditionally cooked using only a campfire but this is not mandatory.
You can use tents as shelters but it is not uncommon to see people using just sleeping bags or hammocks.
These are the types of sites that groups like the boyscouts often use for their camping trips. It is also a common for workplace groups to use pioneer camping grounds as a way to improve workplace unity, creativity and productivity by working together to set up camps, gather wood and other tasks required for group camping.
Backcountry and Hiking Camping
There are three basic styles of hiking camping. While each one is similar, each has little differences that set it apart from the others.
- Hiking camping
Hiking camping has seen a huge climb in popularity in recent years. Since it combines both the exercise of hiking and the peacefulness of nature many people have started to enjoy the benefits of both.
Hiking camping is a little different from hike in camping because you are not going to a set site and from backcountry camping because it can be pretty much anywhere that camping is allowed. Unlike backcountry camping, this could mean you are still close to civilization.
Also, hiking camping usually only last a few days at most and will not require a massive amount of supplies or the ability to acquire a lot of what you will need from nature itself.
For more details on what you will need to go hiking camping, read this article- What to pack for a weekend hike ( Supplies you must have )
- Hike in camping
Hike in camping has become more popular over the last ten years. This type of camping involves hiking up to a set campsite. These sites may even include some amenities such as running water and restrooms areas.
This type of camping is ideal for people who want to get away from traditional campsites and a little more off the grid. Just keep in mind, that since this is becoming more popular, you may still have several camps set up on these sites.
For more details about hike in camping read this article- Hike In Campsite (What is it, What To Pack, Shelter Types)
- Backcountry camping
This type of camping is more extreme than the first two for several reasons. For one, backcountry camping usually will last at least a week since the distances covered are not onl much more vast but also, often more rugged. Since these trips usually last much longer and cover a lot more distance, food and water requirements are much larger.
Since what a person is capable of carrying is limited, this means you must be a little more resourceful in how you acquire essentials like water.
If you would like in depth details be sure to read this article- What should I bring to backcountry camping?
With all that said, this style of camping can be very rewarding. You will have the chance to see and experience places and nature that many others will not have the privilege of experiencing. If you are the type that truly wants to get away and think you will have the skills and equipment to safely go backcountry camping, then it should be very rewarding.
Canoe and Kayak Camping
Both canoe camping and kayak camping are becoming more popular for campers that want to get to prime camping locations that are off the beaten path. There are some crucial differences between the two that you should know before deciding on the type that is best for your needs.
- Canoe camping
Canoe camping and kayak camping for that matter, are very similar to hiking in many ways. The main difference is that instead of getting around on trails or roughing through nature, you travel on water.
There are a few things you will need to know before deciding on canoe camping.
First canoes have an open design that allows you to carry a decent amount of equipment. This can allow for extended trips because of the amount of supplies you can carry on a canoe.
Second, canoes are more ideal for slow moving water like lakes and are not ideal for fast moving water or rough weather. It is important to note the water conditions and weather prior to your trip.
The benefit of canoe camping over other forms of camping is that you can access areas from water that would be very difficult and in some cases impossible to get to by foot.
When canoe camping, what you pack will be about the same as backcountry camping but with the addition of a boat and paddle.
- Kayak camping
Kayaks are different from canoes in several different ways.
First, a kayak has enclosed cockpit and you sit inside, usually on a seat molded to the bottom of the kayak, with your legs in the forward compartment.
This means less room to store gear but this also means your gear that you can squeeze in, is better protected from water.
Second, kayaks are better suited for moving water. This makes them more ideal for rivers or streams that have stronger currents.
- Portage Camping
Portage camping can be done with either a canoe or kayak. Portaging is described simply as, moving a boat or vessel by land to different bodies of water.
This is great if you are going to be passing between lakes and rivers.
One very important thing to remember is that when you move between bodies of water is that you will not only have to move your boat but your gear and supplies as well.
RV and Van Camping
RV and van camping offers the freedom of changing campsites or just going camping without having to pack and unpack gear.
- Motorhome camping
Rv camping offers shelter with many of the comforts of home. These days motorhome camping is often referred to as a type of glamping due to having these comforts.
This is the ideal style of camping for people who want to experience nature but are not fond of the idea of “roughing it”. Motorhomes will have most of the comforts of home such as air conditioning, stoves, beds, electric and running water.
Keep in mind that with most motorhomes, you will need to have electric water hook-ups.
Also, motorized RV’s are the ideal way to take trips to different campgrounds across the country. There is no need to set up and take down your site when you can just go to a site and you are pretty much set up.
The biggest down side of motorhomes is gas mileage. With class A (the big one’s) motorhomes, you will get about 8-13 MPG and with class c (the small ones) you will average 15-22 mpg.
If you don’t want the expense of buying an RV, camping van or travel trailer, you can always try renting one. Check out this article if interested. How much to rent an RV? ( Day, week and monthly rates )
- Van camping
Van camping is a variation of motorized RV camping but your living space is more limited and often you will not have some of the same comforts.
You can go van camping in any kind of van but did you know there are vans that are completely decked out for camping. These vans can include a bed, pull out kitchen areas, restroom, and showers. The only one of these that are always included is a bed area and you will find vans that offer only a few of these options as well as vans that will provide them all.
Often you will see people use normal vans for this type of camping but they simply bring most of the same gear as if they were doing any other type of camping.
The con of a van is that they only have enough room to fit two people comfortably but the upside is you gas mileage will often be much better than a motorized RV.
- Travel trailer camping
Travel trailers will offer all the same amenities as a motorhome but you will have to move it to your campsite with your own vehicle.
Travel trailers are available in multiple sizes with the smallest being pop-up trailers (8-16ft long) and the largest being about 40ft long.
The smaller trailers may not have a shower or tolet area. Most often it will pop-up trailers that will not have these luxuries but most models produced these days will have them
There are a few things to consider before buying or renting a travel trailer. First, you will need to make sure that the vehicle that you are towing with has a high enough towing capacity for the model of trailor you will be using. Most will require a truck to haul but a few smaller options can be towed to the campsite by a car.
The second thing you will need to check is the maximum length that your campsite will allow on your trailer. Most state parks have length restrictions.
Check out this article on camperreport.com for park length restrictions. Ideal RV Length for Fitting into National Park Campsites
Luxurious and Glamping Camping
Glamping is simply camping with luxuries that you wouldn’t have in any other types of camping. This includes full electricity, running water and even things like WiFi. If you would like to learn more about glamping, be sure to read this article. What does it mean to go glamping?
Some people question if glamping is camping and the truth is, it depends. If you are glamping at a location that isn’t nature based, then it’s not really camping but if you are glamping at a campsite or in nature, then by definition it is camping. Here is the Google dictionary definition of camping – “the activity of spending a vacation living in a camp, tent, or camper.”.
- Motorhome and travel trailer camping
We discussed RV camping in the RV and camper van category, but even this can be taken to the next level with high-end fixtures, t.v., and many other luxury items.
Motorhome and travel trailer camping can be true luxury camping. There are models that have all the same accommodations of high end homes, including granite countertops, large bathrooms, fine woods etc.
Glamping motorhomes are usually class c since these are the largest motorhomes and travel trailers will usually be 30ft or longer. A pop-up trailer or class c motorhome just would have the space for a true luxury experience.
If you want to glamp across the country then this would be the method for you.
- Pod glamping camping
Glamping pods are wooden shelters that are usually semi-triangular in shape and have shingled roofs. They are like small cabins and will be similar in size and layout as a small studio apartment.
Pods are often pretty smaller but very nice. Most pods accommodations are found at resorts and are more like staying in a small luxury hotel room and are often located in a community of glamping pods. This is great for socializing but this doesn’t really feel like camping.
You can however, find some places that offer glamping pods out in nature so that you have more of a camping in luxury experience.
- Luxury tent glamping
There are several types of tents used for glamping in a tent and the most common types are tipis, yurts, bell and cabin style tents. For more in depth information on glamping tents read this article. Glamping Tents ( what are they called, pros and cons )
Tipi’s usually have the smallest footprint of the three main types of glamping tents. This means they will have less room but will be big enough to accommodate at least two people. They will be similar in shape to traditional tipi’s but will be made of modern materials.
Yurts have literally been around for thousands of years and will typically have enough room for up to a family of 6. However, the living and sleeping area is almost always one large open space with beds around the inside edge of the tent and the main living area in the middle.
You can also find yurts made for just two people. These are still large but most often the bed area will be in the middle of the tent with cooking and living areas on the edges instead of beds.
Bell tents are very similar to yurts but they are held up by a center pole rather than the roof being supported by the outer walls. This means that all the main living and sleeping areas will have to run along the sides of the tent rather than being in the middle.
A bell tent can have just as much room as a yurt but they are easier to set up and take down quickly. This makes them ideal for DIY glamping but since they are still bulky, you will need to set up in a camping spot close to your vehicle.
Cabin tents are large tents and have many different shapes and layouts. They can be permanent wood and canvas structures or more like traditional tents that can be set up and taken down at traditional campsites.
Cabin tents models can can vary from one giant room or divided into several rooms for families. These tents are usually the most spacious in glamping tents and can vary in luxuries depending on where you rent one from. Of course, if you are using one of these for DIY glamping, the luxuries are decided by you.
If you are taking on of these glamping camping, be sure the campsite has a large enough clearing to set it up prior to heading out for your camping trip.
- Tree house glamping
This type of glamping camping is one of the hottest trends over the last 10 years. It’s not often that you get to live in a tree and this offers something new and exciting.
Also, this is a great way to see nature in a way that you may have never seen it before. Kids and adults alike love the idea of living in trees.
Treehouses can range in size from small to very large and most will have all the luxuries of glamping including electricity and water. These luxuries vary, so make sure you know what you are getting before renting a treehouse.
- Cabin glamping
Cabins have long been a tried and true way to go camping but a new trend is turning camping cabins into glamping cabins. Most already have the luxury of electricity and running water but now you are seeing more cabin rentals for rent that have luxury materials like granite counters and large luxury style bathrooms.
Traditionally camping cabins vary in size and layout and the same is true for glamping cabins.
Survivalist and Bushcraft Camping
Bushcraft and survivalist camping have a lot of similarities but they have some significant differences in mindset and goals.
- Survivalist camping
Survival camping in it’s most basic form is learning basic skills to survive long enough to be rescued or saved from a situation.
Some of what you would learn for survival camping would be basic shelter building, hunting, fishing, and fire-starting skills. Other skills you may want to learn for survival camping is how to remain undetected or how to make landmarks that only you can recognize to stash emergency supplies.
A lot of what you will learn for survivalist camping is the same as special forces units so that they can survive situations in enemy territory until they can be rescued.
Most of the survival camping skills that you will learn can be used in many different environments and situations.
Even though bushcraft skills can be used for survival, it is more about going beyond basic skills and perfecting them. This is often done just for comfort and enjoyment rather than preparing to survive a major disaster or event.
While survivalist skills are for short term situation, bushcraft skills are perfected for living in nature long term.
One good way to describe the difference between bushcraft and survival skills would be with survival skills you may learn different herbs roots and animals you can quickly catch and eat but someone into bushcraft will learn how to combine those items into a delicious stew.
Another example would be a survivalist may learn to build many basic shelters but someone into bushcraft would learn how to create a permanent shelter in the woods with a sleeping and cooking area.
Abother thing about bushcraft is that often it is perfecting localized skills. What I mean is a person learning bushcraft will often take the skills of a local population and perfect them. This perfection in localized skills in some cases will have difficulty being used in environments that are different than the one the skills were perfected in.
Adventure camping is all about adding something exciting, fun or just more adventurous than traditional camping.
- Toy hauler camping
If you like dirt bikes, four wheelers or other types of motorized toys, then this is perfect for you. Toy haulers are travel trailers that have a large storage area in the back to carry all your fun toys.
This perfect for people wanting to ride sand dunes for days or go out exploring the woods on their ATV. Camping in a toy hauler not only saves you from loading up trailers but make it easier to stay on a site that isn’t close to civilization for days. Not only that, it is much easier to pick up and change locations because all you have to do is load the toys up and head out to a new site.
Just be aware that there are many parks that do not allow motorized vehicles on trails and around campsites. Be sure to check all the local rules and laws before you go on your trip.
- Summer Camp
Yes, the age old tradition of summer camp is considered adventure camping. This is because while at camp you can to not only experience things you might do while doing traditional camping, like making s’mores but things that are not commonly done like zip lining or archery.
Many kids love the experiences of summer camp and all the fun and exciting activities that they will get to try.
- Mountain Camping
Mountain climbing often takes days and requires that you camp in some of the most extreme conditions any person could face. You will need special tents and gear to tackle this adventure and it is best to never attempt this unless you are an expert or have an expert present
While this type of adventure camping isn’t as popular as it used to be, it still has a very loyal fan base. This is one of the most challenging types of camping most people will ever face.
Work Camping or Workamping
Workamping is where you live in an RV, tent, or cabin while performing a job task. Usually this will be for wildlife parks, RV resorts, campsites and some other types of jobs.
This is one of the fastest growing job markets, especially among people who are retired. Usually these people get a free campsite, free water and electric and wages. This is an ideal way to camp for free and make money while doing it. However, since camping is seasonal in most areas, so are these jobs.