Try Comfy Camping (Yep, It's a Thing)
Not everyone out there is a sleep-on-the-hard-ground, don’t-bathe-for-days, eat-dehydrated-soup type of camper. Maybe you yourself want to give camping a go, but you’re worried you’re not outdoorsy enough. Or maybe you have a friend or family member who you think would loooove to spend more time out in nature, but they’re intimidated by porta-potties, tent instructions, or how to convince their kids to sleep on a foam mat.
Two words: comfy camping. One way to make camping a bit easier for those new-to-nature people (or those nature experts who just don’t want to rough it anymore!) is to make it super comfortable. Check out our favorite tips on how to make camping comfy so that everyone from your 80-year-old auntie to your big-city bestie can join in on the fun.
Dial in your sleeping setup
For lots of camping-curious folks, the topic of sleep can bring up varying degrees of panic. But don’t worry! If the traditional sleeping-mat-on-the-ground setup isn’t right for you, check out these other cozy options:
Camping cots: Getting up and down off the ground can be a challenge. A packable cot can make things easier. A couples cot is a good choice if you’re heading into the woods with a partner. (Or if you just want a roomy bed alllll to yourself.)
Big ‘ol air mattress: If you need some extra cushion for a restful night’s sleep, consider bringing an air mattress. Throw in your plushest pillows, comfiest sheets, and your comforter from home, and you’ll be sleeping in the woods like royalty.
Pro tip: If your air mattress has an automatic air pump that needs to be plugged in, pick up an AC power inverter for your car so you can plug it in anywhere.
Create a sleeping nest: For many parents out there, one of the biggest challenges of camping with kids is bedtime. Make things ultra-cozy for kids by creating a sleeping nest full of soft blankets, their favorite stuffy, and their pillow from home. The final step? Prepare to cuddle.
Make bathrooming easy
Another aspect of camping that can be a real turn-off for a lot of people is . . . bathrooming. After all, nature isn’t really known for its sparkling clean toilets. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great options out there to make the whole call of nature thing relatively painless. Here are some of our go-to strategies:
Find the right campground: There are lots of campgrounds out there with tidy bathrooms and hot showers. Websites like Recreation.gov even let you filter by “Flush Toilet” so you’re able to find a campsite with the right amenities for you.
Pro tip: Read the ratings and reviews to make sure that there is a history of good campground hosts. A good camp host = clean bathrooms (and friendly waves!).
Bring along your own private restroom: Sure, this may sound like overkill at first, but honestly, it can make things a whole lot easier. Get yourself a collapsible changing tent, a five-gallon bucket (like the ones from the hardware store), a toilet seat attachment (you can usually find these at outdoor or hunting/fishing supply stores), a couple of heavy-duty trash bags, and a tub of kitty litter, your preferred TP, and voila! You’ve got yourself a comfy and private camping toilet.
Don’t hesitate to pack your comfy stuff
We’ve heard from lots of new campers that packing can be a little anxiety-inducing. To help ensure you’ve got everything you need to pack up and go, we created a car camping checklist. But once you have the essentials, (and assuming there’s room in the car) don’t hesitate to throw in those extra things that will turn your camping trip into a glamping trip! Some of our favorite packing add-ons are:
Cozy camp chairs: Yes, simple folding chairs work just fine for relaxing around the campfire, but for next-level camping comfort, consider investing in the full-meal-deal camp chair — one with armrests, cupholders, and a little headrest so you can comfortably tilt your head back to scope out that clear, starlit night sky.
Camp shoes: A good pair of camp shoes should do two things — provide campsite comfort and be super easy to get on and off (for that constant in and out of the tent action). Check out some of our all-time favorites here.
Earplugs: Some people just love the sound of early morning songbirds, a nearby stream, or the classic rock blaring from your camp neighbor’s truck stereo. But there are others… who do not. Bring a pair of earplugs to guarantee comfortable sleep.
Your everyday comforts: Just because you’re heading into the woods doesn’t mean you have to leave your silk pillowcase or six-step nightly beauty routine at home. One of the best ways to make camping comfy is to pack the things that bring you comfort. Simple but true!
Pro tip: Even though you’re out in nature and technically unplugged, it doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally use your go-to gadgets. Pack a portable power bank or solar charger so that you can charge up your phone and still use it to take pics or listen to music on your headphones.
Camping doesn’t have to be all about hot dogs and canned drinks (although, that is totally encouraged if that’s how you roll). Here are some of our favorite ways to get fancy and bring some at-home-comfort into the woods:
Morning beverage: Bring along some special coffee or loose-leaf tea and spend a relaxing morning just sipping your steaming beverage and reading or socializing.
Charcuterie boards: Little pickles, tasty cheeses, nuts, and dried fruit — a snack platter makes any campsite feel like a fancy event. Bring a tablecloth, cutlery, and cloth napkins to amp up the ambiance.
Pro tip: Let kids splurge on some of their own snack board ingredients so they get to feel the fancy too. Cheddar crackers or fruit leather anyone?
Bring the flavor: Take a tip from David Gabel, KEEN Kanteen Head Chef, and don’t hesitate to bring along your favorite spices to give camp cooking that special touch. Check out some of his other camp kitchen tips here.
Craft cocktails/mocktails: When evening rolls around, whip up a few seasonal cocktails or mocktails to enjoy around the campfire. Don’t be afraid to go all out. After all, that’s what comfy camping is all about.
No tent? No problem!
If tent camping just really isn’t your thing, there are other ways for you and your family to get out into nature. Some of our tried and true favorites are:
Rent a camper van or RV: Bring some of the amenities of home with you into the outdoors, and consider renting an adventure mobile to add more comfort to your camping experience.
Book a stay at a yurt or cabin: You don’t need a tent to get down with nature! This pro move is from Yanira Castro, KEEN fan and Outdoor Afro communications director. Read her and her family’s experience (and some great tips).
Invest in a pop-up camper or teardrop trailer: Sometimes having a trusty trailer of your own is the best way to stay comfy while camping. Plus, kids can have their own space, which makes naptime and bedtime that much easier.
There are a ton of great ways to bring a bit more comfort into your time outdoors. What are some of your favorite comfy-camping tips? Tag @KEEN and share with us!