Tents have been a camping staple since the dawn of the modern man – what better way to protect yourself in the wild from the nighttime critters, sudden downpours and voracious bugs than a miniature home you can carry with you on the go? Of course, for some people camping is a way to get outside, and enclosing oneself in another set of walls kind of defeats the purpose. So how can one safely camp outside without toting along a tent? It’s easy!
Use a Hammock
Perhaps the easiest method for eschewing a tent is to replace it with something a little less confining. A hammock is a great alternative to the traditional tent because it still provides much of the protection without removing the spectacular views of the night sky. All you need to make it work is a couple of sturdy trees or a hammock stand and you’ve got yourself a comfy bed designed for the wild.
Build a Perimeter
If you’re going to sleep in a hammock or simply rough it out on the ground you’ll need a warning system in place in case a large animal like a bear comes looking for food in the middle of the night. A good solution is to bring along some rope or string and use it to outline a perimeter around your campsite. Wrap it around tightly surrounding trees and then hang cans or bells around the length so, if an animal comes near, a makeshift alarm will sound to wake you up.
Use Bug Spray
Mosquitos and other creepy crawlers are a real problem if you’re camping in the summertime. Nobody wants to wake up covered in bites and potentially harboring an infectious disease. Cover yourself liberally with bug spray to help ward off the bugs while you sleep. Without the tent there to protect you, you open yourself up to hundreds of bugs looking for a midnight snack.
Clean Your Campsite
Whether you’re using a tent or not it’s always important to keep your campsite clean to deter hungry animals. Ensure there are no leftovers lying around and that you’ve cleaned any utensils thoroughly. Remove garbage from your sleeping area and hang any extra food from a tree at least 100 meters away from where you’ll be lying.
The smell of food isn’t the only odor that’ll attract animals to your sleeping area – lotions, gels and candles can have the same effect. You don’t need to smell like California citrus while you’re hiking in the woods. Leave the scented deodorants and silly candles at home and stick with basic non-scented soaps when you camp.
Block the Weather
Staying dry is essential to a good night’s rest so if you know there’s a chance for torrential downpours, or just a light sprinkle, you might consider bringing along a tarp. Unlike a tent, a tarp will provide you with more exposure to the outdoors but still give you plenty of air to breath. Tie one above your body just before you call it a night to keep the rain from wrecking your sleep.
Put Out the Fire
Light can attract bears to a campsite, along with bugs, just as easily as food. Leaving your fire going at night is also a great way to start a forest fire. Make sure to douse your flames before turning in. If you’ve gone the electric route you’ll also need to turn off any lanterns or other light sources too. You don’t want to bring any attention to yourself while you sleep.