Survivalist, reluctant, or gourmet – which type of camper are you?

couple is sitting next to campfire
A guide to the 8 different types of camper, from minimalist to high maintenance (Image credit: Andrija Nikolic)

Camping gear has come a long way since the days of canvas tents and flannel sleeping bags, and nowadays, there’s something for everyone, from minimalist, survivor-style campers that sneak around undetected in the backcountry to high maintenance glampers who come to camp carting suitcases on wheels and curling irons. Tents, sleeping bags and camping stoves exist for both of these types of camper and everyone in between, and to make sure your gear fits your needs, you need to know what kind of camper you are.

Read on for our unofficial guide to the eight types of camper to identify your style, and get some tips for the best gear for you while you’re at it.

1. The ultra minimalist camper 

Snugpak Special Forces Bivy Sack

Why sleep in a tent when you have a bivy? (Image credit: Snugpak)

You're not camping lightweight, but camping for you is all about keeping things light – you sleep on an ultralight sleeping pad like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite (which you might even have trimmed into a 3/4 length sleeping pad), use a camping quilt such as the Therm-a-Rest Vesper instead of a sleeping bag and sleep in a bivy sack in place of a tent. With such a bare-bones approach to camping, you’re well-suited to backpacking and thru-hiking and you might want to check out a trekking pole tent like the Six Moon Designs Skyscape Trekker which you can set up using your trekking pole and we loved in our field tests. 

If all this sounds good to you, make sure to read our guides on ultralight camping and multi-use camping gear for more tips on shedding some weight from your overnight adventures.

2. The organized camper 

Best camping tables

Everything in its place (Image credit: Lisa Bird / EyeEm / Getty Images)

Camping for you is an exercise in mise en place. As soon as you arrive, you start to set up like a well-oiled machine. While your friends are still battling with their tent poles and trying to find their headlamps, you’re stringing up the tarp in case it rains, getting the campfire going and covering your camping table with an oilcloth to make clean up easier. When it’s time to leave, all of your gear gets packed away neatly in labeled camping bins all ready for the next trip and you are the envy of your campmates.

You probably don’t need our help on getting organized, but definitely consider investing in an Aeropress coffee maker that can churn out three shots of espresso at a time with almost no cleanup – after all, you’ll need energy for herding your campmates. If you’re interested in backpacking rather than car camping, check out our guide on how to pack a backpack so you can deftly pack and find what you need on the trail.

3. The casual camper

Campers chilling in their chairs at a festival

Camping is cool, but you don’t live for it (Image credit: SolStock)

Camping is cool, but you don’t live for it. You maybe pitch a tent once or twice a year, usually at a festival, so it’s not like you’re looking for the priciest or most high-tech gear available. In fact, you probably own the basics – a sleeping bag and pad – and borrow the rest from friends. For you, camping is a jolly and provides different scenery for hanging out with your friends. 

There’s no need for you to fork out for your own camping stove (just bring some sandwiches) but you’ll definitely want to take a look at our guide to the best budget camping gear so you can make sure you have what you need without spending a fortune. 

4. The survivalist camper 

Woman breaking wooden log / best camping axes and hatchets

You never go camping without your camping axe (Image credit: Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images)

You never go camping without your camping axe, pocket knife and your favorite red and black checkered flannel shirt. You chop your own firewood, fix your gear in the field and you wouldn't be seen dead carrying a Bic lighter when you’ve got good old fashioned flint and steel as your firestarter. You’re well-versed in bushcraft, navigation and tying knots. When the apocalypse comes, you’re feeling pretty confident you’ll be one of the lucky ones.

Looking to become even more self-sufficient? Pick up one of the best catfish rods so you can catch your own dinner and if you don’t already know how to, you should check out our guide on building a natural shelter instead of sleeping in a synthetic, carbon pole tent which is obviously for sissies.

5. The gourmet camper 

Two men cooking at camp

To help you cook up a storm at camp, ditch the backpacking stove and look into a double-burner stove (Image credit: Mike Harrington)

For some, camping is all about communing with nature and gazing at the stars, but for you, it’s about the menu. Color-coded spreadsheets get emailed around your group weeks in advance to make sure that every meal is carefully planned and there’s no freeze-dried camping meals here, thank you very much. You arrive with a couple of well-stocked camping coolers and your camping meals are lovingly prepared in Dutch ovens and over  grills and include hot breakfasts, camping coffee and plenty of delicious feasts from burgers to chillis.

To help you cook up a storm at camp, ditch the backpacking stove and look into a double-burner stove like the Vango Combi IR Grill Compact which can handle two decent-sized pots and has an infrared grill underneath for grilled sandwiches (or bacon).

6. The reluctant camper 

girl wearing beanie hat sitting in a camping chair near campfire holding a red enamel mug

"Maybe if I gaze at my camping mug it will look like I'm enjoying myself" (Image credit: Daria Nipot)

You actually hate camping, or have a very strong dislike for it anyway, but all your friends dig it and so you keep finding yourself hammering tent pegs into the ground on the weekends, much to your chagrin. You’re always too hot, too cold, and you can never sleep when you’re camping.

Believe it or not, with a few tweaks you might actually be able to turn this ship around. Read our article on how to enjoy camping when you (think you) hate camping and learn how to set up a better sleep system, pick the perfect tent and make your campsite extra cozy.

7. The high maintenance camper 

what is glamping: interior of a glamping tent

With glamping, you can sleep in a cabin, yurt or extra big tent that someone else has already erected for you (Image credit: Getty)

Look, no judgment here, but if you simply cannot tolerate a night without your own pillow and a hot shower, you might be considered by some to be a high maintenance camper. That’s no problem, just know that you probably aren’t going to enjoy backpacking or even a lot of car camping, and your campmates probably won’t have a great time doing either of those things with you either, for that matter.

So, why not try glamping instead? With glamping, you can sleep in a cabin, yurt or extra big tent that someone else has already erected for you. You might even have a bed or camping cot instead of sleeping on the ground and there will almost certainly be running water and morning coffee. It’s basically like staying at a hotel but vaguely more rugged. Oh, and don’t forget to load up on insect repellent to save your neighbors from all the shrieking and complaining.

8. The influencer camper 

best hammocks

Bring a hammock for those "just hanging out" shots (Image credit: Getty)

This is a fairly new type of camper and a specialized breed indeed. It doesn’t matter so much whether you enjoy camping or not, what matters is that you get the photos to prove that you went. You want the prettiest, most Instagrammable camping spots and you’ll spend more time snapping selfies than you will gazing at the stars (though if your boyfriend can get a shot of your gazing at the stars, even better).

You don’t need us to tell you what type of iPhone and tripod to set up, but definitely consider camping in US National Parks, since the scenery is always Instagram-worthy. Get yourself a bright or light-colored tent such as the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 that stands out against a natural backdrop (no blending in for you), and illuminate it from within using a camping lantern for those sunset shots. Bring a hammock for those "just hanging out" shots and consider doing some yoga outside to get more likes. Oh, and read up on how to shower while camping so you always look your best, obviously.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.