When you hear the words “camping” or “outdoors”, what comes to mind?

Most likely, it’s a tent.

But what if you find yourself in an undesirable situation where shelters are not accessible?

If you are camping without a tent, the outdoors suddenly becomes even more hostile. So how to camp without a tent?

What do you need to have in order to have a successful ‘campout’ experience? In this case, camping actually means sleeping under the stars. You still need protection from the elements and a place to sleep, though. 

How to Camp Without a Tent by hikingrange.com

The easiest way to achieve this is by having a tarp or a camping tarp. Tarps are incredibly versatile, lightweight, and they are very efficient at keeping debris off the ground outside of your sleeping area. 

Next, you need something to lay on top of the tarp in order to be somewhat comfortable. A lot of people use their luggage, but this can be very impractical. Instead, you should use the hiking gear that you already have to make yourself a nice little bed of sorts.

Cardboard boxes work wonders for this because they are big enough to fit your body and sturdy enough to bear some weight. Finally, you need something to keep bugs away from your face while you sleep.

What Is The Best Way To Camp Without A Tent

How to Camp Without a Tent by hikingrange.com

The best way to go camping without a tent is to have the proper knowledge of how to make your own shelter. If you are knowledgeable, you can sleep anywhere in almost any condition. This makes you an extremely adaptable camper who will be comfortable no matter where he goes!

Even though it may seem overwhelming at first, learning how to camp without a tent is easy. Just follow these simple steps!

1) Identify the best environment for your shelter

2) Learn how to set it up

3) Now, practice using it in that specific environment until you are proficient at making it

4) Always bring guy lines with you on longer trips to improve your shelter’s performance

5) Use your newfound knowledge to go anywhere and sleep comfortably in any environment!

How To Camp Without A Tent

  • Knowing how to set up your own shelter is the best way to go camping without a tent.
  • Start with one type of shelter, practice making it in all types of environments, and then master it. With enough experience, you can sleep comfortably anywhere!
  • Ten essentials for camping without a tent: 1) knowledge 2) shelter 3) patience 4) adaptability 5) clothing 6) pack 7) water filtration 8) food 9) navigational tools 10) first aid kit.

List Of Tent Alternatives For Camping

How to Camp Without a Tent by hikingrange.com

Tarps/Bivy sacks

Tarps and bivy sacks are lightweight alternatives to a tent. They have all the benefits of a tent, minus the weight.


Hammocks are becoming more and more popular at campgrounds. They are easy to set up, very lightweight, and they keep you off the ground away from all the creepy crawlies. Plus, they are extremely comfortable!

Tarp Tent

A tarp tent is basically a tarp with some extra guy lines. It can be set up in many different ways depending on the environment you are camping in. They provide excellent protection from the elements, but they are not for everyone because of how much practice it takes to master setting one up.

Sleeping bag

A sleeping bag is the best way to keep yourself off the ground and away from all those creepy crawly things. They provide excellent protection for their weight and pack-ability. However, they do not provide much protection from wind, rain, or snow.

Tents are a lightweight solution to keeping yourself protected from the elements while camping. Whether you are backpacking, car camping, or just hanging out in a campsite for the weekend, you will need some sort of shelter for protection from the elements. The 5 different types of shelters listed above all have their own merits and should be tried out to find what works best for your style and environment.

I have been camping in the backcountry for over 15 years, and I have never had a tent. I have used tarps, bivy sacks, hammocks, ponchos, umbrellas, rocks, dirt, and even just a bunch of sticks to pitch a shelter. They all work; you just have to know the pros and cons of each

Tips For Camping Without A Tent

1) Know the weather forecast

2) Find an appropriate campsite

3) Leave no trace! This is important to keep your camping area pristine for other campers and for yourself next time you visit. After all, that’s what it’s all about, right?

4) Have fun!

Is It Safe To Camp Without A Tent

Yes, it is safe to camp without a tent. As long as you are prepared with the knowledge of how to properly set up your shelter and you have enough experience in doing so, there should be no problems.

Why Should You Try A Camp Without A Tent

The great outdoors is a great place to sleep, especially if you have all the amenities of home, including warm showers and WiFi. Why not take full advantage of it by trying camping without a tent.

How to Camp Without a Tent by hikingrange.com


What if it rains?

If you are camping with a tarp, bivy sack, or poncho/tarp, then all you need to do is set your shelter up in whatever configuration necessary to combat the weather. If you are backpacking and it rains, stop what you’re doing and read this guide on how to stay dry when camping in the rain.

What do I use for a pillow?

You can use your clothes if you are backpacking or your shoes to tie together/stuff with your extra clothes to make a nice pillow! Or you could always just lay down on top of some branches and rocks…it’s not that bad.

What if I want to sleep on the ground?

There are many ways to do so, so feel free to give it a try! Check out this article for more info on the different ways you can sleep on the ground (comfortably).

Why don't you just use a tent then?

 I like to be as comfortable and lightweight when backpacking, so this is how I do it. Everyone enjoys camping in their own way, and this is mine.

Why do you always sleep in a sleeping bag?

Sleeping bags offer the best warmth to weight ratio of any sleeping system (check out this guide on sleeping bags to learn more). I always sleep in my bag because it provides great protection from the elements while being lightweight and packable.

What if I am camping in cold weather?

Camping with just a sleeping bag will not be sufficient for most people, so add on some warmer clothes such as long underwear, or better yet, an expedition sleeping bag! Expedition bags are designed to keep you warm in the coldest temperatures. They have a wide temperature rating and can be zipped up all the way to keep you extra warm.