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Best Way To Camp Without A Tent: Shelters Hammocks & Insects

Is it safe to camp without a tent?

As with a lot of the topics we cover in our articles the answer is, it depends. As a whole, we would say it is safe to camp without a tent. However, there are many factors one should take into account before making the decision to go without.

The weather can be a major factor in how your camping trip plays out. Is it going to rain? If so are we looking at light showers, downpours, could there be a chance of flooding? What sort of temperatures are we dealing with? Will we need to seek shelter to stop us getting burnt from the hot sun or are we going to be worrying about keeping warm in minus temperatures.

You will be much safer if you have some knowledge of the area you plan to camp. What insects or snakes may live in the environment? Are there any local parasites you should know about? Is there a chance of bears or other similar dangers? Are there any local rules or laws that you need to consider before making camp?

The fact is that any sort of camping will have an element of danger, even with a tent. The key to remaining as safe as possible is preparation. Gather information, try your best to anticipate possible issues and build a good kit. Check out this article for backpack security and keeping safe whilst traveling.

Where is the best place to camp without a tent?

Without a doubt, the best place to set up camp is on high ground. This doesn’t mean you need to find the absolute highest point with no protection from the elements but it does mean you should aim for higher ground than, say, the bottom of a valley, for instance. There are a couple of reasons for this. Both are to do with the damp, wet and rain.

If you set up camp on low grounds and it starts to rain you could find yourself falling victim to flooding. Going high means you are above where the water will gather and can attempt to stay dry without worrying about puddles. Check out this article for everything you need to know about wet tents and camping in the rain.

Another issue is mosquitoes. Their larvae develop in water which means swamps, ditches, puddles, and pools should be avoided at all costs. When it comes to setting up camp, stick to the high ground and you’ll give yourself a much better chance of a pleasant experience.

Can I camp on the floor without a tent?

If you really want to get in touch with the great outdoors then what better way than simply sleeping outside, in nature, on the floor? Ok, it may not be the most comfortable option but it will definitely leave you feeling in touch with your surroundings.

The good thing about sleeping like this is you don’t need to carry as much gear. At the most, you may wish to carry a sleeping bag and a makeshift pillow, if you don’t utilize something you’re already carrying.

You’ll be lighter on your feet during the day and won’t have to worry about daylight for setting up camp. With nothing to set up or take down, you can be on your way much more quickly and you will enjoy the ultimate outdoor experience.

If you would like a little extra protection then you could always carry a bivvy bag. This is basically a one-man tent with no poles or structure. It goes around the outside of your sleeping bag and will keep you dry if the heavens open.

The problem with sleeping this way is that you are completely at the mercy of the elements. If there’s any chance of rain then we would advise that you find an alternative. Even a heavy dew will soak you through, without a bivvy bag, and leave you uncomfortable with heavy sodden gear.

Check out the best Bivvy Bags on Amazon

You will have zero protection from snakes, spiders, scorpions, and any other critters. Mosquitos are the biggest killer of human beings on the planet, even worse than other humans! If you plan on camping somewhere that they may be present, simply roughing it could be a big mistake. Check out some tips on avoiding bugs and insects later in this article.

Another issue with camping on the floor is privacy. Unless you plan on being in the middle of nowhere, like Alexander Supertramp and his magic bus, then you’re going to have zero privacy. Zero privacy also means zero security.

Can I use a hammock without a tent?

Hammocks are a great alternative when setting up camp without a tent. They’re comfortable and durable but still require a certain amount of setting up. Check out this article if you need tips on how to set up and get the most from your hammock.

The good thing about hammocks is they keep you off of the cold wet ground. Not only this, but they do it in a very comfortable way. Many believe hammocks are more comfortable than a regular bed as they take pressure off of the body.

They are really easy to carry. Unlike a tent, there are no poles which means hammocks are much easier to pack away. They take up less room in your backpack and are much lighter.

Hammocks will also give you much more peace of mind when it comes to critters. Although they don’t give you as much protection as a tent, they are light years ahead of simply sleeping on the ground.

You’re probably still going to want to carry a sleeping bag when using a hammock but there are many bags on the market that accommodate hammocks. They can also be a pain to get set up correctly but once you get the hang of it you should be fine.

Certain parks do not permit the use of hammocks, this is because they can cause damage to trees when used incorrectly. Some say another criticism of hammocks is that they can only be used with trees but you can also utilize rock faces with the use of climbing gear, as an alternative.

Hammocks also leave you a lot more exposed to the elements than a tent would. You can always use a tarp to create a makeshift roof to sleep under. It won’t give you the same protection as a tent but will help keep you dry in a shower and give you a little privacy.

Can I use a tarp without a tent?

Tarps have become really popular when it comes to traveling light and setting up camp without a tent. Aswell as the general tarp sheets, you can now buy purpose made tarps that are styled into different shapes for camping. It depends on your budget which one you would choose as, ultimately, they both do the same job. The more expensive designs should make it a little easier, however.

Tarps are great because they are light and offer a large coverage area. You can create a spacious shelter in not much time at all and they have plenty of room to set up a hammock or other sleeping arrangements whilst keeping the rest of your gear dry.

You can be creative with a tarp, changing the shape of your structure depending on where you are camping or what trees and branches may be available. This diversity means that they can be set up almost anywhere. Although we wouldn’t use them anywhere, such as camping in the winter for example. Check out this article to learn how to pitch a tent on ice.

The best thing about tarps is, they’re cheap. Or at least they can be. As they have risen in popularity more options have become available and you can find tarps to suit many different needs and budgets.

The option to be creative with your tarp can be a con as well as a pro. If you need to set up camp quickly then a normal tent can be easier. Another issue is that you will never get a tarp shelter to be as waterproof as a tent.

In the same respect, they will never be able to hold heat as well as a tent which you should bear in mind when selecting your sleeping bag. Another consideration is that, unless you have a hammock, you will be sleeping on the floor.

Can I make a shelter without a tent?

Making your own shelter has got to be the most fun way to camp without a tent. Just like camping on the floor with just a bag, this is a great way to get in touch with nature. You’ll need to be resourceful and creative. You should always carry a good knife and a fire steel as shelter and fire are two of the main elements of survival. Another is staying hydrated, check out this article for some great ideas on keeping hydrated whilst on a hike.

A good shelter can be the difference between being cold and wet or warm and dry. It would be preferable to carry some tools, such as a knife, to help you create a shelter but it’s not essential. Even a pile of debris could create a makeshift shelter and provide protection for the night.

Camping in this way can be quick and easy. You don’t need to carry any sort of shelter, simply keeping a keen eye on your surroundings and having the ingenuity to recognize when you’ve found an opportunity is all you need. As you are to be covered with natural materials, they can provide great cover and camouflage which could help to provide protection in certain situations.

If you’re caught in a squeeze and have the option of making a shelter or simply roughing it, then shelter is definitely the way to go. Check out this article for ideas on finding your way in the fog.

One issue with making shelter in this way is that you are at the mercy of snakes and insects. If you’re in a survival situation, however, then putting up with a few insects in exchange for warmth and keeping dry is not a bad exchange. You won’t need to worry about insects if it’s below freezing, every cloud! Although, if you do plan to camp in minus temperatures then not having any gear may be a big mistake.

How can I deal with bugs and insects when camping without a tent?

No matter how much you love hiking and camping, and the idea of sleeping rough, we dare say that you don’t enjoy being attacked by bugs and insects. Here are our top tips on avoiding them when setting up camp without a tent.

You may have heard of people using garlic tablets or other similar products when trying to avoid being bitten by bugs and insects. Whether they do or not, these types of products are said to work due to the scents the body is giving off. They are designed around the idea that different scents will repel or attract insects and bugs.

With this in mind, always consider what soaps, creams, and sprays you use on your body before a camping trip. Due to their scent, some modern-day products can be absolute magnets to insects and bugs. We advise using scentless hygiene products with zero perfumes whilst camping without a tent. Although it won’t repel the bugs and insects, it will stop you from attracting them.

This may seem like an old wives tale but sage is a great insect repellent. Throw a branch into your campfire and you will be amazed at the effects it has on keeping bugs and insects away. You can also purchase scented candles which do the same job, albeit not as well.

Obviously, you won’t be able to rely on burning sage when you’re on the move. When shopping for bug sprays always go for the waterproof options. They may cost a little extra but will work better as you perspire whilst hiking or if you are caught in a shower.

Do I need a mosquito or bug net when camping without a tent?

We would definitely advise the use of bug nets when setting up camp without a tent. They can really mean the difference between a great nights sleep in your hammock and being eaten alive. The issue really is that not all bug nets are created equal and it can be difficult to find the right one for you. With this in mind, here are some things to consider when shopping for a bug net.

You really need a bug net that is easy to set up. Some nets can be really difficult which makes setting up camp a hassle. This is exactly what we don’t need and is one of the reasons we wanted to camp without a tent in the first place.

Bug nets can be quite heavy if they are too thick. Again, traveling light is one of the reasons we are going camping without a tent so we are not looking for heavy gear. Not only this but thick nets can feel really claustrophobic. This is because they can restrict the air flow leaving you feeling short of breath.

If you would like to save the time and money of buying and testing different nets then fear not. The Guardian bug net from Eagles Nest Outfitters perfectly ticks all of these boxes. It’s lightweight, easy to assemble and gives great airflow whilst providing the protection you need.

Check out Guardian Bug Nets on Amazon

So what is the best way to camp without a tent?

Overall, we would say that the best way to camp without a tent is with a hammock, a bug net, and a tarp. This method will keep you warm and dry whilst providing a comfortable nights sleep. The fact that you have to carry the gear is a bit of a drawback but should still be much more manageable than carrying a tent.

If you’re really not keen on carrying too much gear then the bivvy bag is the way to go. It provides protection from the elements, is super light and takes up minimal space in your backpack. If you like the idea of traveling light then check out this article on hiking without a backpack.