Five Alternatives to Tents

Whatever the season, camping is one of the best ways to reconnect with nature. Even a one-day microadventure can often be enough to shed the stresses of everyday life, and help you tap into the healing powers of the great outdoors.

If you choose the right gear, camping can be as comfortable as a five star hotel. An appropriate sleeping bag will keep you warm even on the coldest of nights (read our guide to sleeping bags here) and there is a wide selection of sleeping mats to complete your bedding.

Although tents are still the most popular shelter option, there are many others to consider. They can allow you to travel fast and light, or the very opposite - to turn camping into glamping!

Here are five alternatives to tents and why you will love them.

You won’t believe it until you try it, but sleeping in a hammock doesn’t mean bending like a  banana and getting a bad back. In fact, it can be perfectly comfortable, and even soothing as you get to gaze at the stars and swing gently in the wind.

Modern hammocks are light and sturdy. Compared to tents, they’re much easier to transport and setup. If your adventures take you to a treeless desert, portable hammock poles will sort you right out.

Whether you choose to sleep on the ground or in a hammock, a tarp is an essential piece of equipment in case of precipitation. It’s easy to set up between the trees, or on telescopic poles. Its great advantage is that on rainy days it adds a “living room” to your “bedroom”, and you can enjoy a cup of coffee, or even cook, without getting wet.

If you’re sleeping directly on the ground, make sure that your sleeping mat provides sufficient protection against the cold.

From a minimalist waterproof cover for your sleeping bag, to a micro-tent formed by a hoop above your head, a bivvy bag is a lightweight, simple camping option. It provides a sufficient shelter for a comfortable night in any conditions - no less and no more.

Depending on the model you choose, a sleeping mat will go inside, or underneath the bivvy bag.

Sleeping in a van is rapidly becoming a lifestyle trend, and many adventurers swap their tents - and even their homes - for a piece of four-wheeled freedom. If you don’t yet have a van but would like to give #vanlife a try, removing the back seats from your car is often enough to allow a mattress for two. Yet the full benefits of travelling in a van can be enjoyed once your vehicle is fully set up with a minimalist version of every luxury found in a regular home. For those with a flair for a little DIY, converting a van is great fun in itself, even before you take it onto the open road.

Car rooftop tents are not yet very popular, mostly due to their relatively high prices. Luckily, as more and more models become available, this clever camping option is increasingly affordable.

A rooftop tent sits on any car’s roof rack like a regular roof-box, but pops up to create a spacious sleeping area in mere seconds.  

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