Backpacking vs. Camping

Tent And Camping Gear on Ground

Backpacking and camping are often seen as the same in a lot of ways, but that is definitely not the case. While there are some similarities, and it’s also true that you can technically “camp” while you are backpacking, the two are very different in a broader sense.

The differences between backpacking and camping are vast, as each activity not only requires different equipment and gear, but completely different planning and often physical requirements as well. This article will serve as a way to highlight the differences, and who is best suited for each activity.


Camping is considered to be anytime someone creates a temporary living space in the outdoors, which is almost always away from urban areas as well. This often involves pitching a tent for the duration of the stay, although it can also mean the use of camping trailers, recreational vehicles, and the like.

Couple Camping on Lake

Another core aspect of camping is the fact that the camp itself becomes your base of sorts. You may pitch a tent out at some campgrounds and go exploring the hiking trails for the day, but the camp is where you will return. All of your gear, and any members of your camping party, are all stationed at the campsite for the length of your trip.

Camping can be done in many locations, and in different times of the year. This gives you the ability to set your camp up, and then enjoy the surrounding areas and scenery, never straying too far from where you are staying.

Advantages of Camping

Camping provides many advantages that makes it the less intense outdoor option when compared to backpacking,

Four Friends Camping


Camping involves setting up a long term dwelling area, without the need to move it or pack up later. You can set your camp up with the assurance that you’ll be spending most or all of your time in that area. This allows you to make yourself at home, while setting up certain areas of camp more elaborately.

Access to Amenities

Many campgrounds at U.S. National Parks and local park areas include a number of amenities that can make your camping stay a little more comfortable. Bathrooms, showers, outdoor grills, and shared commons areas such as gazebos and give you and your fellow campers a way to get out and spend time in the outdoors, but without fully roughing it.

Family Friendly

While backpacking and hiking require some more advanced physical abilities, camping gives you the versatility to choose any number of locations where you and your family can sit back, relax, and just enjoy the outdoors.

Family Camping Outdoor

The more laid back atmosphere of camping, and the countless options you have at your disposal when it comes to camping gear and conveniences, gives you the ability to create a living situation that is appropriate for everyone you bring along, whether it’s small children, or even your pets.


The term backpacking is essentially any outdoor activity that involves traveling with all of your gear and belongings with you in a backpack. However, the more common use of this term is in reference to undertaking a multi-day adventure on foot in a backcountry or remote area, away from standard campsites and civilization in general.

When backpacking, you bring along everything you’ll need to survive in the outdoors, including items such as a tent, extra clothing, food, water, tools, and safety gear. For the duration of your backpacking trip, the outdoors is your true home, and you are always fully immersed in it.

Fully Geared Backpack on Ground

Advantages of Backpacking

Backpacking definitely presents its own set of challenges and complications, but the payoff and overall experience makes it more than worthwhile.

True Getaway Experience

Backpacking gives you the opportunity to truly get away from the comforts of urban life, while also fully surrounding yourself with nature, foregoing many of the conveniences you are used to having on a daily basis.

For many, this can be as therapeutic as it is entertaining. Multi-day backpacking trips allow you to clear your head in many ways, fully taking in the numerous joys of nature you wouldn't experience otherwise.


Backpacking can give you a sense of accomplishment in more ways than one. After all, backpacking is certainly fun, but it’s not always easy. Completing a successful backpacking trip is a rewarding experience that can’t be found with anything else.

Woman Backpacker Sitting on Rock

More Intensive Nature Interaction

Camping does provide certain opportunities to enjoy nature, but it’s almost as if you are on the cusp. Backpacking places you in the thick of it, leading to a wide range of nature interactions you wouldn’t be able to get at a campsite.

Whether it’s encountering wildlife, or getting to see remote locations in their unhindered state, backpacking is the best way to give yourself a genuine nature experience.

Who Backpacking is Suited For

Backpacking isn’t an activity that just anyone can undertake. There is some physical skill required, as well as the ability to withstand unfavorable conditions at times.

Couple Backpacking Next to Road

Those that are in decent shape and possess a basic understanding and knowledge of survival skills are best suited for backpacking. If you’ve grown weary of camping and want to take your outdoors activity to the next level, or if you want to have a more genuine experience with natural features and nature, backpacking is the answer.

Who Camping is Suited For

Camping is appropriate for a wide range of people. Families, couples, friends, and really anyone who is wanting to get a way for a day or two can enjoy the benefits of camping.

With camping, you have the ability to bring whatever you’d like, giving you versatility when it comes to creating a camping situation that is as comfortable as you see fit. If you can fit in in your vehicle, you can bring it along camping.

Man Starting Camp Fire

The ease of access, as well as the surrounding points of interests and amenities can provide you and your party with an enjoyable outdoor experience that doesn’t require an extensive amount of planning, or an advanced knowledge of outdoor survival.

Whichever you choose, a good time outdoors always awaits.

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