‘Cowboy Camping’ is defined as “sleeping in the backwoods, on the ground, with no overhead shelter (be it a tarp, hammock, tent, etc)”.
Cowboy Camping seems to be the trending chatter among backpacking bloggers, backpacking friends, and the new class of folks who decided they feel the need to punish their bodies to seek release from the restraints of modern civilization. So, I might as well join the bandwagon!
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not the most comfortable being completely exposed to whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at me while I’m basically comatose. Weather (rain and down don’t do well together), wildlife (starved, rabid bears), bugs (mostly the winged angry variety), and humans (the slim chance of coming across another human will only happen when you’re cowboy camping. And that human will be a rapist looking for his first murder victim… obviously…).
You catch my sarcasm?
Yes – Good.
No – That’s unfortunate.
But really, cowboy camping takes some (a lot) of getting used to. I don’t do it much. I’m extremely cautious and very particular when it comes to deciding whether or not I’ll be cowboy’ing it for the night.
A few points to ponder if you feel the need to be John Wayne for the evening:
*Is the good weather you’re experiencing now appear to be stable? Do you see storm clouds in the distance? Mountain ranges can create their own weather systems. And we all know down and rain don’t mix well. Be prepared.
*Is the ground damp close by? Lakes, slow moving creeks, standing water, and even mud attract those winged biting spawns of Satan. Not so fun times. (Also not fun times: finding an underground bees nest. I didn’t know there was such a thing until that unfortunate evening.).
*Does the area show an increase in animal activity? Paw tracks, scat, dead animals are all indications there has been recent wildlife activity. #nobodywantstorollintopoop
Settle down kids! Before you completely eliminate the prospect of cowboy camping from your next adventure, remember there are so many perks to it!
*Setting up (and taking down) camp is basically effortless. You unroll your ground sheet, sling out your sleeping mat, and fluff your sleeping bag out and you’re done! #lazyisnotalwaysbad
*You can fit almost anywhere (as long as it’s within LNT Guidelines, or course) and you don’t need to worry about bending and breaking your remaining tent pegs on super hard ground. No more worrying about not being able to fit your tent in small campsites (or areas that are closed for restoration…seriously.. why?!) or having to search for soft ground! #forthewin
*You won’t sleep in, thus getting that super early morning start you keep planning on doing. You, literally, rise with the sun. #thebriskmorningairhelpstoo
*My personal favorite… you get to fall asleep looking up at the thickest blanket of stars you could ever imagine. With absolutely zero light pollution, you see the overwhelming depth the night’s sky has. #goosebumpsjustfromthememories
Sure, the creepy crawlers find their way into your sleeping bag. Sure, the animals (mostly mice and deer) are much more curious as you sleep fully exposed in their home. Sure, you stay much cooler (temperature, not temperament. Actually… both. Your temperature AND temperament will be significantly cooler) than if you were tucked away, nice and cozy in your flimsy fabric home. But if you can allow yourself to get comfortable with being exposed in such a way (as long as you’re smart about it *in a mothers tone of voice*), you will feel so connected with what Mother Nature is offering you.