Glamping: The Insider’s Guide to Camping in Style
Mention camping at a party and people bump into each other turning away with the sudden need to refresh their drink. Mention glamping, and eyebrows rise. Mention that it’s do-it-yourself, as opposed to the travel companies’ semi-permanent-dwelling-safari-type-the-circus-just-came-to-town-only-the-rich-can-afford-it version and you’ve got an audience.
Glamping is upscale camping in which a tent large enough to walk through replaces the pup tent, bedding takes the place of the sleeping bag, a nice rug covers the plastic ground floor, and campers use real barware instead of Dixie cups. In short, it’s more comfortable, civilized camping. Face it, we’re all getting older. Our fuse for tolerating the heat and bugs and lack of comfy slippers and a shower, is short(er).
Glamping is upscale camping in which a tent large enough to walk through replaces the pup tent, bedding takes the place of the sleeping bag, a nice rug covers the plastic ground floor, and campers use real barware instead of Dixie cups.
I’ve been invited on 4 all guy hiking/fishing trips – three into the Wind River Mountain Range backcountry of Wyoming and once to Canada’s Quetico (just across the border from the Boundary Waters). The first invitation was acquired after I asked (both the men and their wives). The subsequent 3 invitations were extended because I carry my own weight. And I do it pleasantly, professionally, and without so much as a whimper or whine. The combination of a 50+ lb backpack and reaching the 11,000 foot summit well ahead of the men on the first trip sealed my reputation as a chick who can hack it.
Two years ago a couple invited my husband and I to camp with them for 12 days in the remote Medicine Bow area of Wyoming (trout fishing on the North Platte River). Arriving in camp two days behind them, I spotted their camping area from the top of the hill that descends to the river. “Two people need all THAT?!” Rolling my eyes, pride swelling at the sparseness of the equipment I’d packed, my husband declared “some of us like a bit of comfort for 12 days in the wilderness – don’t ask to use Judy’s shower stall.”
Crawling from the truck after a 12 hour drive, Judy greets me before I can slap a smile on my face. “How was the drive I caught several HHHuuuGGe trout today and Steve and I just poured a cocktail what do you think of our GLAMP?!” My stony face didn’t respond quickly enough and she went on, “YOU know, our GLAMOUR camp??”
Six days later, all pride swallowed (I’ve been told I must like crow – I eat a lot of it), I shower. I long for an internet connection to order a B.A.T. (big ass tent), a queen sized bed on a stand, mesh hanging bags for convenient storage, a chair by the tent door for putting on and taking off wading boots, one of those bag chairs with a drink holder, a lantern with remote control, and yes, even a small, hanging mirror.
$600, a B.A.T., and one year later, the transformation’s complete: I’m a glamper. And when I realized how people at parties gathered around when the subject was broached, I became a vocal one. The physically demanding hike into remote backcountry with the guys? It’s still on the agenda every year or two. But it’s the now-annual glamping trip I long for. Pride goeth before the fall.
Transform Your Camp into a Glamp
In addition to the basic camping gear (see my previous series, Camping 101), here’s what you’ll need to alter your camp into a glamp.
Judy’s energy, enthusiasm, kindness to those with stony faces, and refined hostess abilities, are not required, but are a really nice add-on. Sadly, she’s not available online.
- Tent large enough to walk upright all the way through. 10 ft. x 18 ft. size works nicely.
- A couple of small camp chairs for the tent – one on the inside and another outside near the main door
- Commercial rubber kitchen mats for the exterior at the door of the tent. These are also handy in the “commons” area of the camp – such as for the floor of the camp kitchen or around the picnic table. Having these eliminates or greatly reduces problems related to mud in high traffic areas. I’ve never been camping for over a week when it didn’t rain. We found kitchen supply stores carry these and the 3 ft. x 5 ft. size works great.
- Shower stall or “privy shelter”. Usually measuring about 4 ft. x 4 ft. x 7 ft. with no floor, and made of lightweight polyethylene, these are made to be staked into the ground similar to a tent. A small plastic mat to cover the ground again avoids mud and grass issues.
- To complete your shower, you’ll need water. A 5 gallon tank with a hand pump (they come with an on-off plastic shower head/hose) works great. To heat the tank you’ll need a propane heating stand. This shower system is not luxurious by any means. But it enables me to take a shower, and wash and rinse my hair. Without hair washing, one tank would be enough for two showers.
- A small table to place next to the front door of the tent. I found a narrow, folding table at Walgreens, a drugstore chain here that works perfect as a catch all for small things at the end of the day. Plus, it creates storage space underneath.
- Your bed needs to be on a stand, which creates storage space underneath. Glamping means you get in and out of bed without crawling on your hands and knees.
- Nice bedding. Bring your sheets/blankets/pillows from home. If you REALLY want your camp to be glamorous, buy a matching “bed in a bag”. These come with a matching comforter, pillow covers, and a bed skirt. Judy does this, I don’t. Yet.
- This year, I’ve added a foam mattress topper for the inflatable mattress. Can’t wait to use it in August!
- Indoor-outdoor “carpeting” to cover the plastic tent floor. We pieced ours together to match the footprint of our tent with coordinating duct tape that can now be purchased in a rainbow of colors. We use a few small all-weather rugs (on top of the indoor-outdoor cover) at the tent doors.
- Marine coolers to hold plenty of block ice
- Lanterns with remote control
- Plastic bar ware
- A camp kitchen
- 10 ft. x 10 ft. EZ-up pop ups to cover the commons area
- Mesh hanging bags for everyday essentials such as underwear, socks, toiletries, etc.
- Vinyl tablecloths for the outdoor tables/picnic table (matching if you want)
- Wedges to level everything, both in the tent and around camp. Do not leave home without these.
- A small trailer to haul it all.
Here’s a list of Web sites that will put the glam on your camp: