A Women’s Guide to Primitive Camping

Sure, I’ll Go (maybe…)

I am not going to lie, primitive camping seemed ridiculous when I first learned what it entailed. I wondered why people would go into the woods alone and act as though they were homeless. It seemed to me that campgrounds, with the convinces of electricity, and the security other people, was a much more reasonable approach to camping. I concluded that those primitive campers must be just a little crazy.

Then I met my husband and (you guessed it) he invited me on a primitive camping trip. When mentally wrestling with this crazy idea, all I could think about was, “I don’t know how to pee in the woods!” I am sure there were far more valid concerns that should have popped into my head, but that was the big stressor for me. I shyly shared my fear and other concerns with my husband, which he replied with even more relentless encouragement for me to join him. The big compromise was when we went to a local home improvement store and bought a bucket to convert into a portable toilet. It was then that I made the choice to join him in this adventure.

Ok, You Carry The Heavy One

I started with organizing and packing, making sure I was prepared for every situation! I am not sure if it was my slightly anxious nature, my fear of the worst, or the desire to impress my husband with everything I was prepared for, but I sure tried to pack anything imaginable. The problem was everything packed needed to be carried on the short hike to our camping spot. The “short” hike was a wise choice on my husband’s part for my first primitive camping site, as it was not too strenuous, but it still limited what I could take to the campsite. My packing needed to fit into a backpack along with our food, tent, and other camping supplies, then carried to the site.  The backpack I used turned out to have enough space, however it was too heavy to carry it on my back. My chivalrous husband ended up carrying the pack for me, as he packed a much lighter backpack which I could carry. We walked along a sandy wash to the campsite, I was grateful I broke in my hiking shoes before the trip. The extra weight was a slight stress on my feet, but it was not a problem for the shorter trek. The scenery increasingly became greener and I could sense we were getting close to our destination.

When we got to the site, an open sandy space next to a flowing creek, and I was glad we are hiked in to this oasis. We started by setting up the makeshift toilet and our tent. Instead of sleeping pads, we blew up pool floaties and set our sleeping bags up for a comfortable bed. The feeling of having the camp set with no help from modern technology was the most rewarding feeling. I took my hiking shoes off and slipped on some flipflops to give my feet a break. It was so peaceful. Because we were so far off the road, I was not concerned about any other campers disturbing the tranquility of our primitive campsite.

How About Some Stir Fry

Before long we started to cook dinner. My husband was in charge of bring the meal, which consisted of a veggie stir-fry over the fire. I remember it being amazing, and honestly, I think all camp food has a reputation of being delicious. It is probably the combination of cooking over the fire, and the fact that you are really looking forward to eating after an active day outside.

After dinner, we chatted around the fire and soaked up the sounds of nature along with the changing of the evening sky. There was nothing to distract us, the simplicity of the campsite made it possible to full relax. I even found that the bucket toilet was not needed and seemed to be more unsanitary than just doing my business in the woods.

When we called it a night, the comfort of my sleeping bag and extra pool floaty cushion was welcoming. I had slight concerns about the night wildlife that might become curious about us. We were careful to put any food supplies in a tree, away from the tent to protect it from hungry critters. I also reminded myself that many of the noises were truly just the wind, though next time I would pack earplugs to block out the distracting noises.

Somehow, I slept well through the night and woke up to the sounds of birds chirping and the freshest air sounding me. My husband started a fire for coffee and breakfast. The chilly morning air made the fire seem that much more of a comforting experience. We used coffee pods and boiling water because I cannot stand the taste of instant coffee. Camp coffee is a lot like camping meals, somehow it become ten times better over the fire. The breakfast of eggs and toast also felt like we accomplished some culinary success because it was done without using extra utensils or appliances.

No Makeup Required

I realized I was looking forward to my coffee and breakfast so much that I forgot about my normal morning routine. I became slightly insecure, thinking I must look and smell terrible. But then I reminded myself that this trip was not about my appearance, and instead it was about being stretched beyond my comfort zone to enjoy a hobby which my husband loved. My husband was not concerned with my appearance, he was attracted to my adventurous spirit and the fact that I was out there with him. In that moment, I not only felt satisfied with myself for taking the leap and joining my husband in primitive camping, but I also felt self-confident. On this trip my beauty was more than skin deep and things like makeup, fixing my hair, putting on a coordinating outfit, or even smelling nice were less important than appreciating this unique and peaceful time with my husband.

My first primitive camping trip set the tone for many more trips following. The initial fear I faced did not become a reality, instead the trip was surprisingly easy and refreshing to say the least. There were some elements of primitive camping that caused me to come out of my comfort zone and challenge myself, but the satisfaction of my accomplishment was far more rewarding. To this day, primitive camping is a way to free myself from the pressures of daily life. I learned many lessons such as packing only truly needed clothes and toiletries, leaving the makeup at home, and of course how to use the bathroom in the woods. In the end of it all, primitive camping is nothing to be fear, but instead offers a release of pressures, and a way to grow closer to nature as well as your camping guests.


Mariah Swigart is an outdoor enthusiast who was raised to love the outdoors and is now exploring new ways of experiencing outdoor activities and sports with her husband. She shares her adventures on swigartoutdoors.com. “

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