Camping, Glamping, Survivalist, Tenting. What kind of camper are you?

Negwegon State Park is a beautiful site for rustic style camping. Photo courtesy Josh Stephan


From the interior of a dense forest to fresh breezes off Lake Huron, camping provides an opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of our region and reconnect with friends, family, or even just the solitude of our own daydreams. Whether it is an overnight stay outdoors or a weeklong trip, it all depends on what you prefer. Camping provides serenity and peace of mind, away from the stresses of daily life.

There are a multitude of iterations on traditional camping. There are reenactment campers that recreate a specific time period to camp within the boundaries of that time (i.e. Civil War, Wild West, etc.). Equestrian campers that ride their horses and camp along the trails. Festival campers that create small blissful tent villages at outdoor music venues. There are also working campers, who prefer a campground over a hotel when traveling for work.

Exploring the different kinds of camping around the Alpena area, we bring you 8 of the most popular forms of camping. Which suits you best?

Where to camp in the Alpena area? Check out our campgrounds list: HERE

Tent Camping

Also called “tenting”, tent camping is the most recognizable, most common, and most iconic type of camping. Tent camping is great for weekend get-a-ways, families, and groups of friends. Tent camping combines the security of a home base for your campsite, with the opportunity to adventure out on trails or waterways for daytime activities. Morning coffee around the campfire starts the day off and roasting s’mores rounds out the evening before hunkering down into your sleeping bag. Tent campers usually drive their car to a campground, select their spot, and set up tents, haul out the food coolers, and get their firewood ready.

Tent Camping Tips:

The most popular way to camp is tent camping. Photo courtesy Travis Morasky

  • Set your tent up on a spot that is free of sticks and rocks (which can poke holes in the bottom of the tent or just make for a really uncomfortable night’s sleep). Also, set the tent up on higher ground so if it rains, the water will not collect around your tent.
  • Do not throw food scraps into the woods around your tent. Doing so creates a free buffet for skunks, squirrels, and all sorts of other kinds of wildlife you may not want to share your tent with.
  • Put all food away into your tent, vehicle, or in animal-resistant bags and hang the bags from tree limbs. If you leave food out during the night, bear, raccoon, and other types of scavengers can smell it and will believe they can help themselves to a midnight snack while you are sleeping.
  • Make sure your desired campground has a water source that is potable (clean) and if there are any concerns, bring clean drinking water with you.

Backpacking is the basic activity of hiking during the day, and camping at night. This differs from traditional tent camping in that you carry everything you need in a hiking backpack, and you usually stay in a different spot each night.  It may sound exhausting to set up and tear down camp each day but the benefit of this type of camping is that you have the opportunity to explore new areas, see new wildlife, and enjoy nature to the fullest.

Backpacking tips:

Backpacking, exploring the area sinkholes. Photo courtesy Josh Stephan


  • Pack light! Nobody is going to help you lug your non-essential items. You will probably wear the same t-shirt more than once but everyone else will be doing the same thing so it doesn’t matter.
  • SHOES, SHOES, SHOES. Not multiple pairs, but quality. Your feet will be carrying you and your pack over many miles of trails. Quality hiking boots or shoes that fit your feet are the top priority of any backpacker. Make sure they are broken in. Carry moleskin to help prevent blisters. Backpackers with blisters are sitters. As in, stuck sitting on the trail because they can’t hike without pain.
  • Most backpacking places are pack-in/pack-out, which means you pack out all the garbage you create during the trip.
  • If traveling in a group some backpackers split up the large items; such as, one person carries a lightweight tent for the group, another may carry cooking supplies, etc. so that the weight is distributed evenly, or according to strength/stamina of the group members.
Survivalist Camping

Ever want to practice for a zombie apocalypse? Then survivalist camping probably sounds appealing. But this type of camping requires knowledge and preparation and should never be attempted by novices. Survivalist camping involves heading out into the wilderness and surviving on what you find. It means building your shelter out of materials you find in the forest, and purifying water to drink from streams, rivers or lakes. It means eating only food you forage or catch (fishing, snaring rabbits, berry picking, etc.) and then cooking what you find over a fire you did not start with a lighter. This type of camping can be very interesting and fun if you are prepared. It can be deadly if you cannot identify proper food sources or manage potable water. You will need all the skills required to stay alive in the wilderness such as hunting, orienteering, trailblazing, pioneering, and emergency medical knowledge.

Tips for Survivalist Camping:

  • Know the area you will be exploring. Make sure you know where and what kinds of food sources will be available prior to going.
  • Read Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer.
  • Take a buddy. Two heads are better than one and friends can help each other out if dehydration or other major challenges arise.
  • Tell someone where you will be going, how long you plan to be gone. If you do not return by the planned day, the person will be tasked with alerting rescue personnel.
Bicycle Camping

Bicycle camping is somewhat of a combination of backpacking and road cycling. Typical bicycle camping involves a road trip with a bicycle as the preferred method of transportation. After biking all day, it’s time to set up camp. Camping gear is usually stored in special saddlebags and packs attached to the bicycle. Training should be complete prior to departure to assure that your body is conditioned to bike many miles a day, day after day. Bicycle camping is a wonderful way to cover a lot of ground while seeing a different part of the country via roads. Campers typically set up camp for the night in campgrounds and stay for one or two nights before heading out to explore other destinations.

Bicycle Camping tips:

  • Learn how to fix common bike mechanical problems. 30 miles into a 70 miles ride and your tire goes. You packed a patch kit but do you know how to use it?
  • Plan your route and have some idea of what services are available along each stretch (i.e., how close are hospitals, pharmacies, grocery stores, etc.).

Glamping is the word used to describe “glamorous camping”. A trend has gained popularity in recent years. To get an idea of true glamping, think safari tent with a real bed, luxurious linens, and electricity. It provides outdoor enthusiasts with an opportunity to upgrade on recreation and rest. You experience the positive elements of camping, without sacrificing on your comfort. You can seek out a designating glamping property, or create your own glamping experience by kicking everything up a notch. Trade out sleeping bags and sleeping cushions for a mattress and plush blankets. Exchange plain water for chai tea or craft cocktails around the campfire. Another surefire way to make regular camping feel glamorous is to decorate your tent, camper, or campsite with fun or whimsical accessories like fairy lights, bunting, or use formal serving platters for food.

Glamping tips:

  • Be mindful of the environment. Select environmentally friendly toiletries and washing soaps.
  • Be mindful of your neighbors. If a generator is required to fuel the demands of your glampsite, check the campground rules regarding equipment usage and noise policies.
  • Have fun! The sky is the limit with glamping. You can bring all the comforts of home.
Kayak/Canoe Camping

Canoe camping combines long distance travel, camping and canoeing. It is done using kayaks or canoes. Similar to backpackers, canoe campers have to carry enough supplies to last them throughout the duration of the trip. If you love spending time in water, water sports and nature, then canoe camping is just for you. Before embarking on a canoe or kayak camping trip, make sure you are staying at designated public camping areas. Pulling up on a private farm field conveniently located off the riverbank is trespassing.

Kayak or Canoe Camping Tips:

  • Dry bags will be your best friend. Even the cost-effective method of putting your items into garbage bags will make sure your items do not end up soggy.
  • Watch the weather. Be safe and get off the water at the first threat of lightening, thunderstorms or high winds. Even if you have not yet reached your designated end spot, it is easier to come up with a plan B while on dry land, rather than in the middle of the water during a sudden downpour.
  • Bring extra paddles and life jackets. The time to think about bringing one is not when you are twisting around to see that really cool looking bird while the kayak catches the current just right and sends you in for a bath.
RV and Camper Trailer Camping

Camping in a recreational vehicle (RV) or camper trailer allows you to enjoy the thrills of nature and exciting outdoor destinations while bringing the comforts of home with you. A recreational vehicle comes with almost everything that you have at home, including a comfortable bed and entertainment. The best part about RV camping is that you can carry along your favorite toys wherever you go.

Tips for RV and Camper Trailer camping:

  • Check the hookups before you go. Make sure the particular campground you will be staying at has the hook-ups you desire (water, electricity, dump station, wifi, etc.)
  • Don’t forget your RV flair! This one is optional, but who doesn’t love a well-placed pink plastic flamingo outside your RV steps when you return from a long day of swimming?
  • Organize your clothing and gear into totes so you can keep the interior of the camper/RV neat and orderly.
Winter Camping

Winter camping creates an opportunity to enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of a magical winter wonderland. You can also combine your camping with snowshoeing, skiing, or ice fishing giving you plenty of activities to keep you busy. The critical element to an enjoyable winter camping experience is of course, staying warm.

Winter Camping tips:

As long as you have the proper gear, winter camping is just as fun as summer camping! Photo courtesy Lane Olsen

  1. Check the temperature ratings on your sleeping bag to make sure it will keep you warm at night.
  2. Be safe. Tent heaters do exist but make sure you have the proper kind and know how to safely use it to avoid igniting the tent, or succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  3. Dress in insulating layers that can be added to or taken off to prevent hypothermia.
  4. Make sure your drinking water doesn’t freeze and/or have a plan to heat frozen water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
  5. Tents designed for 4-season camping will keep you warmer and more protected from the winter elements than a traditional camping tent.


Where to camp in the Alpena area? Check out our campgrounds list: HERE