While there are many amenities you can go without while camping, your primitive camping checklist includes some non-negotiables. With few luxuries in primitive camping, you have to be even more prepared to make sure you cover your basic needs. And don’t forget to throw in some basic comfort items, too. Let’s take a look at how to build your primitive camping checklist.
What Is Primitive Camping?
Primitive camping, sometimes called dispersed camping, is camping without many luxuries, like running water, flushable toilets, and electricity. Primitive campsites typically have no hookups for water or electricity. Often you’ll need to backpack into your campsite, so it’s important to pack light. There aren’t hookups, and these areas are often free and first-come, first-served.
Gear You Need on Your Primitive Camping Checklist
This list will come in handy regardless of the type of primitive campsite you’re at. See how this gear fits into your camping style.
#1. A Lightweight Tent
A tent is non-negotiable when it comes to primitive camping. This primitive camping checklist includes some of the best three-season, two-person tents.
Top Primitive Camping Tents
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
With 29 square feet of floor space and 40 inches of peak height, this Copper Spur HV UL2 offers space to sprawl. It features two doors and packs down to less than 20 x 6 inches. One of its coolest features is the two large vestibule awnings that carry your living space into the outdoors, keeping you protected from sun and rain. At about three pounds, this thing won’t weigh you down while hiking.
REI Co-op Quarter Dome SL 2
The Co-op Quarter Dome SL 2 features vertical sidewalls to keep rain from coming in the entryway. With two doors plus a roof vent, you’ll have tons of airflow. And there are plenty of pockets and hang loops to keep all your gear organized.
The tent features a vestibule area spanning more than 21 square feet. This is great for extra storage. There’s also 28.7 square feet of floor area. It’s our lightest tent at 2 pounds, 14 ounces when packaged.
NEMO Dagger 2
With two large doors and two large vestibules, NEMO boasts that the Dagger 2 offers more storage space than any other tent in its price and weight category. It also features pre-bent poles to increase the headroom. The tent features a 42-inch peak height and has 31.3 square feet of floor space with nearly 23 feet. of combined vestibule area.
One other notable feature is the tent’s packaging. You can split up the tent contents so you and your hiking partner can go halfsies while carrying it. Add in a lifetime warranty and the fact that it comes in at under four pounds when packaged, and you’ve got yourself a solid contender.
#2. A 3-Season Sleeping Bag
A sleeping set-up wouldn’t be complete without a warm sleeping bag. Here are our top picks.
Top Primitive Camping Sleeping Bags
NEMO Forte 35
This women’s three-season sleeping bag is rated for 35 degrees. Side sleepers rest easy with this bag’s spoon-shaped design, giving you more room at the knees and elbows. And it features an integrated pillow pocket.
The sleeping bag comes in both long and regular right-zip sizes, which means when you buy the men’s equivalent, you can zip them together for a double sleeping bag. The regular size weighs only 2 pounds, 9 ounces, and fits people up to 5.5 feet. As with the NEMO tent, this comes with a lifetime warranty.
REI Magma 15
This men’s sleeping bag has regular and long sizes. With its goose-down fill, it’s rated for 16 degrees and is the warmest sleeping bag on our list.
The bag features extra knee and foot space and has room for a low-profile pillow. Once bagged up in the included stuff sack, it’s only 7.5 x 15 inches, and the regular size weighs only 1 pound, 12.2 ounces. Finally, this sleeping bag fits people up to 6 feet tall or go for the long size for an added half-foot of height.
Kelty Cosmic 20
This women’s sleeping bag features duck-down fill and a temperature rating of 25 degrees. It comes with an internal zippered pocket and a stuff sack at 13 x 8 inches.
It weighs just under 3.5 pounds and is long enough for people over 5.5 feet. This bag is a bit heavier than the other women’s bag on our list. However, it provides a better comfort rating and is a couple of inches longer.
#3. A Sturdy Backpack
Your primitive camping checklist can’t help you if you don’t have a way to carry all that gear. Check out these backpacks that can do the job.
Top Backpacks for Primitive Camping
Osprey Aura AG 65
This backpack specifically fits women and comes in three sizes, offering a 60- to 65-liter capacity. The smallest size weighs 4 pounds, 4 ounces.
The backpack features an adjustable anti-gravity suspension to give you the greatest comfort, fit, and ventilation during your hikes. Plus, the internal hydration sleeve allows you to carry up to three liters of water. There are 11 exterior pockets, including a sleeping bag storage space and attachments for gear like your trekking poles.
Gregory Jade 38
This women’s pack offers between 35 and 38 liters of capacity and weighs less than three pounds. Six exterior pockets hold the included fitted rain cover and your phone in the zippered hip belt pocket.
The backpack features a large U-shaped opening for easy access to the main compartment, and it includes attachments to work with their reservoir hydration system. Finally, the floating suspension system and adjustable torso help you get the best fit.
REI Flash 45
This men’s hiking backpack comes in medium size and weighs just over 2.5 pounds. It features compression straps to form the backpack to whatever you’re hauling, providing better balance. The ventilated back panel helps you stay cool.
The eight exterior pockets hold the necessities. Plus, one of them is a removable top lid pocket for easy access to the drawstring main opening.
#4. Food Protection
While primitive camping, you’ll need to protect your food from animals. Here are our recommendations.
Top Food Critter Protection for Primitive Camping
Ursack Minor Critter Bag
This 10.5-liter bag weighs only 5.3 ounces and is 8 x 13 inches. This bag keeps the contents protected from small animals like raccoons, squirrels, and mice. You can purchase an aluminum liner to reinforce the bag. If you’re looking to deter a bear, you’ll need something tougher.
Ursack Major Bag
This sack might just fit the bill if you’re looking to deter bears. The Ursack Major Bag is on the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee list of bear-resistant products. It weighs only 7.6 ounces. With 10 liters capacity, this 8 x 14-inch bag holds about five days worth of food for one person.
Rather than a bag, the BearVault BV500 is a polycarbonate, shatter-proof, bear-resistant food container. It’s both rugged and strong. Weighing just over 2.5 pounds, this 8.7 x 12.7-inch container can hold enough food for up to seven days.
#5. Water Filtration
You can’t camp without clean water. Make sure one of these is on your primitive camping checklist.
Top Water Filtration Options for Primitive Camping
This water filter weighs a mere 3 ounces and allows you to fill most water bottles in 30 seconds, thanks to its 1.7 lpm flow rate. The filter removes nearly 100 percent of all bacteria and protozoa, like salmonella, cholera, E.coli, and giardia.
This kit comes with two fill pouches, a nozzle, an inline hydration adapter, and a syringe to back-flush the filter. With a lifetime warranty, this filter can serve you for years to come.
Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter
With a flow rate of 1.75 lpm, this system uses gravity to produce four liters of safe drinking water in 2.5 minutes. The filter eliminates particles, protozoa, and bacteria larger than 0.2 microns. The filter will go through up to 1,500 liters before you need to replace it, and the whole system weighs less than 12 ounces.
LifeStraw Water FilteR
This filtering straw weighs only 2 ounces and lets you sip water wherever and whenever. At under $20, this is the least expensive filter on the list. The 0.2-micron filter removes nearly 100 percent of all bacteria and protozoa. It’ll filter 1,000 liters of water before you have to replace it.
Whoever said you couldn’t have delicious food while backpacking hasn’t seen these stoves. Check them out.
Top Stoves for Primitive Camping
MSR Pocket Rocket 2
This upgraded model of the best-selling MSR stove is the least expensive one on our list, coming in at less than $45. The MSR Pocket Rocket 2 allows you to boil a liter of water in 3.5 minutes. The fully adjustable flame lets you simmer and saute with ease.
This model truly fits in your pocket. Even with its strong, stainless steel design, it weighs only 2.6 ounces. This upgraded model works with more pot sizes and offers increased stability. You’ll get up to 60 minutes of burning at full flame with an 8-ounce fuel canister.
With a push-button ignitor and four levels of flame control, this all-in-one cooking system allows you to simmer, saute, sear, and boil. It boils 16 ounces of water in 100 seconds. And it comes with a one-liter cooking cup and drink-through lid with a built-in strainer. You’ll also find a built-in measuring cup and bowl.
Snow Peak LiteMax
This budget-conscious option comes in at just under $60 and weighs less than 2 ounces. Boil a liter of water in just under 4.5 minutes. The stove packs down to only 3 x 2.7 x 1.3 inches.
Adding This Items Will Add To Your Overall Camping Experience
For primitive camping, it’s just you and the great outdoors. But we think adding these items to your primitive camping checklist adds to the overall camping experience. Do you have any must-haves when it comes to primitive camping?