Camping vs. Backpacking

Camping and backpacking are both great activities, and you often find yourself comparing the two as they have a few things in common. Camping of any kind can be a fun adventure. However, deciding between camping and backpacking can be difficult for you. If you’re thinking about which of the two is a better investment, you’ve come to the right place.

When deciding between camping and backpacking, there are several factors that you will have to look at. In the article below, we have listed these factors down to make your decision easier.

What is Camping?

When someone talks about camping, they generally mean setting up some camp. The definition itself implies a night stay or some shelter. When people think of camping, they first think of car camping, which can involve setting up camp with their car nearby.

Camping vs. Backpacking

There are now ways to you have much more glamorous camping methods. Many people call this glamping, which involves all the utilities you would have at home. Glamping is camping in style.

What is Backpacking?

Backpacking implies carrying all of your things in a backpack. When you’re backpacking, you generally have a destination in mind. Often people will describe backpacking as using public transport or any other means to get to a place with the limited amount of money possible. It involves a lot of nomadism, and all your gear is on your back.

What is the Difference Between Camping and Backpacking?

Backpacking can be a sort of camping. However, camping cannot be a type of backpacking. Camping generally refers to setting up camp somewhere on a campsite. A lot of times, camping will refer to car camping which involves driving in your car up to a campsite and then setting up camp there. However, when you’re backpacking, you’re doing much of the work on foot. It means all the things you require during your backpacking trip will be in your backpack. It includes your tent, your sleeping bag, and your camping stove, along with other necessities, all on your back.

For many people, this can be extremely exhausting. Backpacking generally occurs overnight or on a hiking trail that allows you to hike one way and then return using the next. However, when we’re talking about camping, it generally involves carrying things in your car. It is not as intense as backpacking, and the kind of gear that you need will also be different. Camping is more leisurely than backpacking is, and you generally have designated sites for camping.

Camping Versus Backpacking: What are the Significant Differences?


Backpacking requires more skill than camping simply because you are less likely to have technology on the trails you take while backpacking. In camping, you will have GPS and your car, reducing your need to navigate a trail. However, if there is special equipment in either of the activities, then you will need skills to utilize them.


The gear you need for both activities is pretty much the same. You’ll need a tent, a sleeping bag, and cooking equipment. However, in backpacking, all of this gear needs to be something that can fit into a backpack. You want to carry equipment that is light but durable. You also want to carry small equipment that won’t wear you down. You can’t bring extra items while you’re backpacking as it will increase your weight.

When you’re camping, you have much more capacity to carry things. Much of this has to do with the fact that you’ll have your car, so you can throw more things into it. You can carry a bigger tent if you want and carry more food in a cooler. The gear doesn’t change. However, the quantity and the size do change.


Backpacking has a lot more accessibility, but you are essentially on your own, and there are many times that you can get lost. However, campsites and camping are somewhat limited. You can’t take your car everywhere while camping, which is why there’s less access here.


One of the major things you will look at before you plan any trip is how much it will cost you. Since we know now that you can go camping with your backpacking gear, it’s only normal to be unsure whether camping or backpacking will cost you more. If you opt for extra light and durable gear, it could cost you a fair penny when you’re backpacking. However, car camping costs a lot of money since you have to set aside an amount for fuel costs, which can be pricey. You also have to pay for campsites and BBQ grills while camping. However, you’ll also pay for backpacking permits, so the two equalize. The only way camping is more expensive is because you can spend a lot more money on food. Backpacking is rather restrictive since you only have so much space in your backpack; thus, you can save money in this way.


A lot of preparation goes into backpacking. You must pack your backpacks according to your trip, ensuring everything works out to a tee. You also need to know how to navigate the trails. Furthermore, you must know how to purify water and be safe on mountain terrain. When camping, you don’t need a lot of preparation as you can just put things in the car and sometimes even get them from the grocery store if it’s near a campsite.


Backpacking takes a lot of effort as there’s a lot of preparation and navigation involved. You must carry things completely and ensure that you have everything with you. Car camping does not require you to have that level of preparation; thus, the effort you put in is less.

Final Thoughts

There are many differences between camping and backpacking. However, there are also many similarities. We have highlighted some of the major differences in the article above to understand what a backpacking or camping trip will truly entail. If you’re single and want to challenge yourself, backpacking is an excellent adventure. However, if you’re planning a trip with your family and want some relaxing outdoor time, then you’re better suited for car camping.

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