I think we should clarify some things in our FAQ, as far as what they mean (when we can edit our FAQ that is)

  • Wild Camping
  • Primitive Camping
  • Car Camping
  • Back Country Camping (am I missing any others?)
  • 1
    Luxury camping? Or does that fall under car camping?
    – berry120
    May 14 '12 at 13:42
  • 1
    This seems unnecessary to me. Is there such an appreciable difference between "wild," "primitive," and "backcountry" that they deserve separate definitions?
    – Greg.Ley
    May 14 '12 at 15:55
  • @Greg.Ley -- I don't know, and I guess that's part of the confusion. Where I live "primitive" and "back country" are designated types of sites at state parks. I'm not sure there is sufficient difference, but I think there is definitely potential for confusion. May 14 '12 at 20:18
  • Glamping - campsites near me are starting to add permanent tepees with beds in addition to the basic empty pitches. It is probably up there with luxury camping as being fairly offtopic, in my opinion.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    May 16 '12 at 16:43
  • @RussellSteen I like the distinctions you have. Though I might be likely to call it "backpacking" instead of "back country camping". Probably not important. Jan 29 '13 at 17:56
  • There's also stealth camping, cowboy camping. :-)
    – ppl
    Apr 17 '13 at 0:29

These are just my thoughts on how I would justify them as different.

Wild Camping - Back Country Camping - Camping at a non developed campsite. Sometimes not even a cleared area, no previous signs of campfire. Usually an area without a permanent toilet or table. Could be reached by pulling of the side of the road, or could be combined with backpacking, sled, or watercraft.

Primitive Camping - Camping without the use of man-made shelter. Camping where you build your own shelter out of natural available resources. Where you cook with an open fire.

Primitive Camp Site - One lacking the amenities of other campsites. When in an established campground, usually a campsite that doesn't have a picnic table.

Car Camping - Camping near your car where weight and bulk are usually of little concern. This would also include developed campgrounds from designated areas in a campground to a KOA.

Backpacking - Camping where everything you have must be carried in and back out. Developed trails are optional. Camping where weight is king. Sites used may or may not be previously established to minimize impact.

I personally would probably roll wild into back country or at least make them synonyms.

I would like to say this was an attempt at writing definitions for common terms already in use. The best way to really define the differences would be have an A + B (+ maybe C) definition.

For example A would be how you got there (Car, backpacking, biking, raft, dogsled, whatever) B would be what the campsite was like (Fully developed, no amenities but a designated area, no designated area).

I'm not sure what C would be, but I'm sure someone can think of something else to add.

  • What is then difference between back country camping and wild camping? Jun 5 '12 at 13:58
  • @lechlukasz IMO not much which is why at the end of my post I said I would make then synonyms. But the justification I see to keep them separate would be wild camping doesn't necessarily mean going far off the road, you could be next to your car. Whereas, Back Country you need to be pretty far from your car (multiple miles), and carry your gear in. I think it is interesting though that places like Havasupai is a backpacking trip to a developed campsite and thus would qualify for neither. Jun 5 '12 at 14:39
  • Most parks/wilderness areas I've seen refer to primitive campsites as designated campsites that may or may not be at developed campgrounds and are "front country," meaning accessible by road or near civilization. Wild and back country are essentially the same thing: undeveloped campsites that are found naturally in the wilderness and are not near civilization. Back country sites are sometimes still designated sites to minimize impact. And car camping is obviously "front country" and also may or may not be at a designated campsite but generally is at a developed campground. Jan 11 '13 at 4:02
  • I would tend to think of wild and back country to be the same. I do NOT consider backcountry and back packing to be the same, as I have traveled extensively by both canoe and dogsled, but also ones in which significant muscle energy is used to get to your camp site. Apr 1 '13 at 1:49
  • @SherwoodBotsford I updated it some. Apr 1 '13 at 15:04

The different camping terms are difficult to define. For example, what is wild camping?

A lot of those terms are redundant/overlapping and by their nature lack single, precise definitions. Meaning and usage vary from one group/context to another. e.g. What is winter camping? The Boy Scouts use a temperature-based definition. This may not fit the northern conception of winter camping.

There already exist tags for some of those 'camping types':

  • camping
  • wild-camping
  • winter-camping
  • car-camping

Many other terms are also in common use: luxury camping, stealth camping, cowboy camping, guerrilla camping, etc..

  1. The FAQ should not try to define those terms
  2. The FAQ should make mention of the labels categorization that TGO uses
  3. An appropriate wiki entry should be created for each camping tag
  4. The definitions should be loose and be loosely interpreted

Ultimately leaving our definitions open will encourage people to ask questions and the community should be able to aid the filtering on a case per case basis. The power of tags is that they are additive: (greenland) (winter-camping) should be interpreted much differently than (florida) (winter-camping).

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