You may have heard of cowboy camping but, if you are used to the luxurious style of camping, maybe glamping or using an RV motorhome then camping cowboy style might not be for you.
But, if you are adventurous and looking for a way to connect with nature on a shoestring budget, then cowboy camping might just be for you.
Cowboy camping is just as it sounds. Camping in the wild, under the stars with no tent or other shelter. Just like a cowboy would have camped. Around a camp fire using only a sleeping bag or blanket to help to keep you warm when you sleep. This type of camping has been around for centuries but has attracted the name cowboy camping from it’s association with 18th and 19th century cowboys in America.
Cowboy camping is more common than ever
In recent years cowboy camping has seen an increase in popularity as more people seek to escape the urban rat race and get closer to nature.
It might sound a bit crazy to some people.
After all, isn’t a tent supposed to be one of the most essential pieces of camping gear? Not necessarily.
Sure, a tent can provide you with a bit of protection from the elements, but it’s not always necessary – especially if you’re just planning on spending a night or two out under the stars.
Plus, cowboy camping can actually be quite freeing.
Without a tent to worry about setting up and taking down, you’ll have more time to enjoy your surroundings and explore.
And, let’s be honest, sleeping under the stars is just plain cool.
Many choose traditional camping routes with family tent breaks or getting away in a camper van, but, for some the real deal is the only option, and camping in the outdoors with no form of shelter is the only option for them.
Although most common in the USA, cowboy camping is also enjoyed in many other countries and is becoming a desirable way to get away from it all.
Disadvantages of cowboy camping
You are out in the wild with no protection from the elements which will include rain and hail, sleet and snow ( if you really are that keen ) and, of course sunshine, excess heat and wind.
Needless to say you’ll need to be able to cope with extremes of weather and have a positive attitude to make sure that you enjoy yourself and stick it out.
Cowboy camping is certainly not recommended for anyone that suffers a major disaster if they break a fingernail, and, if you find tent camping or RV ing difficult to cope with then you should avoid trying to camp like a cowboy.
Advantages of cowboy camping
For anyone that loves the great outdoors and is looking for a way to connect more fully with nature and wildlife, then cowboy camping is difficult to beat.
Simply being outside in the fresh air can have it’s benefits but, if you do cowboy camp then you will develop new skills, greater levels of confidence and problem solving, as well as being able to relax more, sleep better and discover more about your personal abilities.
Things to consider before you go
Of course, there are a few things to keep in mind if you’re going to try cowboy camping.
First and foremost, make sure you pick a safe spot – away from any potential hazards like cliffs or riverbanks.
Second, bring along a warm sleeping bag and some extra blankets, just in case the temperature drops overnight.
And lastly, be prepared for the elements. If it starts to rain, you’ll want to have a tarp or some other form of shelter handy.
Otherwise, you might find yourself a bit wet and cold come morning.
How do you keep warm when cowboy camping?
You’ll need to have good gear to prevent you from becoming cold. Some items that you should consider are:
A long greatcoat – the long length provides extra protection and a thick coat will help to shelter you from wind and rain.
Hat – hats are underrated, a good hat will keep you warm. If you don’t believe this then try going out when it is cold with and without a hat, and see the difference.
Gloves or mitts – keeping your extremities protected will help to reduce the chances of cold hands, which can then make the rest of your body feel cold, as well as unpleasant.
Underclothes – something as simple as a vest or t shirt will provide you with an extra layer of insulation and will make a big difference.
Rain Slicker – getting wet is one of the worst things that you can do when cowboy camping and you need some form of wet weather protection. A full length rain slicker should be top of your list.
Recommended Cowboy Camping Gear
Having a groundsheet will provide you with an extra layer of protection and insulation from the cold ground beneath you.
It will also help to smooth out any lumps and bumps in the ground and protect your inflatable mattress ( if you use one).
2. Camping Mat
A good quality camping mat will keep you off the ground and will provide you with some insulation and comfort helping you to relax and enjoy a good night’s sleep.
3. Sleeping Bag
A good sleeping bag will keep you warm and will also afford some protection against weather and small animals and insects.
You should aim to get the best sleeping bag that you can afford as this will be your main weapon against the cold, particularly at night when you need it the most.
4. Camping Tarp
Having a tarp with you might seem as though it’s not truly in line with cowboy camping but you’ll appreciate it if it starts raining heavily.
Unless you really do want to go native then the weather protection that a tarp can offer will be welcome.
Most camping tarps are small and lightweight and can be setup in minutes.
Is cowboy camping right for you?
So, you’re thinking about giving cowboy camping a try. But is it right for you?
Here are a few things to consider:
Are you comfortable sleeping outside without a tent? If not, this probably isn’t the best option for you.
Do you have the right gear? As mentioned above, you’ll need a warm sleeping bag and some extra blankets.
A tarp or some other form of shelter is also a good idea, just in case.
Are you prepared for the elements? Make sure you know what the weather is going to be like before you head out.
If there’s a chance of rain, bring along a tarp or some other form of shelter.
Are you comfortable with minimal amenities? If you’re used to camping with all the bells and whistles, cowboy camping might not be for you.
There’s no electricity, no running water, and no bathroom facilities. You’ll have to rough it a bit.
Still not sure if cowboy camping is right for you? That’s OK.
There’s no shame in sticking with traditional tent camping. It’s still a great way to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with family and friends.
Cowboy camping might not be for everyone and, if you are a bit apprehensive then that’s normal, just try a couple of nights to see how you get along.
The feeling of being closer to nature and the experience of sleeping beneath a starlit sky might appeal to you more than you think.
Try it – you may just love cowboy camping.