What's your approach to camping? Minimalist or not?


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I figure this is the best place to post this topic(?)
I've just been reading an article on Hema maps site (tips and tech) about minimalistic camping. Add to this we just spent 2 weeks camping in Tasmania (tenting, with a few days motel accommodation when necessary). I found it interesting (although not surprising) that friends are locked into caravanning or motorhomes and can't get their heads around why people of retiring age would want to camp, swag or tent it around Tassie (or anywhere for that matter); particularly in a minimalist way.
Personally we prefer a minimal camp set up, quick and easy to erect and pack up. And we smile at fellow campers who are into a full-on 'all bells and whistles' camp and spend hours setting up camp, only to spend hours packing it the next morning.
There must be differing views/opinions and preferences from members about this; so I'm opening up discussion, seeking some feedback on what do you do and why? Minimal or what luxuries can't you do without?
A read of the following Hema maps website article may help explain where I am coming from? :)


Les PK Ranger

4x4 Earth Contributer
I love minimalistic camping, having been a bushwalker LONG before I found 4WDing.

I could throw my 90lt Lowe Alpine pack in the back of the ranger and go away for a week, but what's the point.
Having the 4WD = I can take a few comforts, larger stove, pots etc, a small table for cooking / eating, a comfy camp chair, a stretcher and swag for less setting up.
Of course taking a vehicle means taking some extra gear in case of problems.

I like simple.
My ranger is max 2.85t loaded for desert trips, 220lt fuel, 80 - 90lt water, gear for 2 people, the 2 people :) , and ok for a good week to 10 days of supplies.
GVM is 3.019t so I'm happy with that.

I don't begrudge anyone taking all the best stuff, flash campers like my brother.
I think I sleep as comfy, warm, and am setup under my awning before he's even cracked the top open.
Sometimes I sit a few minutes with beer 1 and watch him, then I'll see if he wants a hand, lol.

For sure sometime I will get a basic hard floor camper, so the missus can have a little comfort on travels.
She's not all that keen on my current focus (deserts) so I usually take a mate.

One thing's for sure, lightweight, low volume gear for bushwalking is BIG bucks, so for vehicle camping many are happy to reach a nice compromise.


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I like simple and easy. I've got a 6x4 off road trailer with my light weight hammock style roof tent on it. The whole thing loaded is around 400kgs. All my gear lives in the trailer and my car really just has me, my fridge, (permanently in it), and my clothes. To go on a trip, I just hitch it up and drive off, camp setup is minimal. When I get home I unhitch it and carry my bag inside, done. If I stay in the one place for any lehgth of time I unhitch the trailer as a base camp. The trailer does any track my car can do and the tent is at shoulder height so really easy to unpack and pack, no climbing involved. The only issue is going down an unknown narrow track and having to turn around for some reason. I can live with that as it rarely happens these days. Fuel consumption with the light trailer is single digits unless its slow winding hills.


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I did hiking as a kid and played soldiers for a while. I took too much stuff when I was young and took hardly anything when I was wearing green because of all the other crap they loaded you up with. A sleeping bag, a hutchie, a jar of mixed herbs and a good eating spoon were about all my concessions to comfort.

I had a Suzuki Sierra, so not a lot of cargo room, but I did fit tent, the wife, 2 dogs and folding chairs. Luxury!

I did adventure touring on the motorbike for a while, so traveled reasonably light, but almost always ended up camping in close proximity to a pub...Inch thick steak with cream and garlic mushrooms and a few beers, you can sleep anywhere after that so we were hardly roughing it.

Current setup isn't exactly minimalist, with tent on the roof, fridge, LED light strips, solar, folding table and the kitchen in boxes in the back but its quick to setup and I can be on the road in 20 minutes from rolling out of bed, and thats with a coffee made.

I did learn something though; 'Any idiot can be uncomfortable.' A bit of forward planning and a few minor concessions and you can make things better than they would otherwise be.

I have mates with the camper trailers and acres of canvas. Takes them 2 days of pegging out and adjusting things before its properly sorted, then its just about time to start folding again to go home. Although when it rains for 2 days, 3 people in a RTT stops being fun in a hurry.


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1979 was a two man Kmart tent, only cut it up 4 years ago it had dingo scars from Fraser [and sentimental], no fridge, dinner was when the margarine solidified at night, 1979 was the year Alien came out, that was a real good thing to see then go sleep in a tent, things go bump in the night that don't even go bump in the night.

Few years on was a larger tent, and an Esky, and a chair, a Gas Light .... Flash

Then stupidity, bought a 4wd, gas fridge, big tarp, poles, cast iron, a HOOGE bifold camper, water tank, enough kitchen utensils to put Jamie Oliver to shame, towed it up a mountain on the bitumen in low low, had a ball, then the great stock market crash.

Bought this 4wd, pensioned off old yeller for a pittance, and enter the era of if it wont fit, or is too heavy, we work around or something goes, I was always into photography, so I thought about how. The laptop runs the camera, and is handy for downloading pictures if you take the likes of time lapse. That was priority, battery fitted, the fridge came next, gotta have beer, retro fitted the gas fridge from the tub of old yella into behind drivers seat in this version, made chimney [had one in old yella] ventilation every thing has to be at the touch of a button.

Drooled over and measured an Electric RTT, for 2 years, prior was a folding extension to the draws in the tub, that was exactly 6 foot long to the tip of the tailgate and I made a folding mattress. Then the day, BCF sale ... good price ... umm ah .. DO IT, to fit in a standard garage, it is 4mm clearance if I take the rails off, they later became the awning supports, one each side, with a kmart 25$ fly ..... and bonus it is above crockadile height too.

I can go real minimal on some things, cutlery, plates cups glass toaster all fit in a plastic case that came with a one burner gasmate type stove until I unpack them, they never go back in. I love my feather doona thats a luxury, and I won't give it up. 4 plastic lidded crate from Masters fit like a thumb in a b... ah glove on the left rear passenger, more than enough for 2 weeks, 3 at a pinch if... noooo not the beer.

Been there done that, 11 people for 10 days in one spot, donkey water heater, camper, the works, relax, go nowhere. Cook and be merry. A slow ramble around packing a bifold every day and set up, if the place was worth it stay a while. I am on holiday, no rush. Leave that to the red light jumpers at 5pm in the city.
So, Yeah, Half and half, can get out, uncover, hit the remote tent goes up tent goes down tent goes up till one motor fails. Climb in go sleep. Or sit for days on end and watch the circus unfold in front of one, with a little more spread around, but still a lot more compact than setups in the past. This set up is evolving as things that bug me are ironed out, there is only me to cater for, shellfish? Hell yes all them mudcrabs are mine.

Cheers . :cool:


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We have accumulated all sorts of setups. For touring, one night stops etc, light and fast is definitely the go. For a family of 4 in one spot for a couple of weeks we can easily look like the Beverly Hillbillies on tour with bikes, kayaks, surfboards and god knows what hung off the Ute and camper racks. There is no one perfect setup for me and every camp pack has gear selected on its merit - or if there is space left haha.


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Id say my approach is semi-minimalist
Carry everything i need but no more, setup/packup cant be more than 10minutes (roll out swag, unpack chair)
but i still have lots of stuff, it just all has its spot in my canopy and is ready to go.


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Current setup isn't exactly minimalist, with tent on the roof, fridge, LED light strips, solar, folding table and the kitchen in boxes in the back but its quick to setup and I can be on the road in 20 minutes from rolling out of bed, and thats with a coffee made...……………..
Probably still minimal compared to many I've seen. Example - a couple years ago we were doing a trip through N.T. in our ute towing a fairly light weight camper-trailer. We had setting up and packing up camp down to 10 minutes (6 minutes if pushed! We timed it when rain started on Darling River black soil plains when camped there a year prior:)) At a national park camp a couple late model diesel V8 LandCruisers pull in mid afternoon towing large off road campers loaded to the hilt. How was their top end trip going? 14,000km averaging 25litres/100km! I smiled to myself knowing we were averaging 10.8 l/100km. After some looking about and discussion the unpacking begins and slowly a village of canvas appears. We are talking 2 couples here. OK I exaggerate, it was probably only 2 largish camper tents and accessories, but when the large mozzie proof gazebo came out I was starting to think, overkill! Add tables and chairs and I'm thinking, what a nice intimate wedding reception venue. What clinched it for me was when the many square metres of foam flooring tiles came out and were laid in the gazebo (Ah! dust suppressant :)) They got it all organised at about sunset, just in time to fire up the gas lights and decide maybe they'd have a camp-oven roast for dinner. They were up the next morning at around 7.00 am deconstructing and reloading it all so they could be onto the next place. It would be just too much work/effort for me!


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We like to keep it light and simple, I can easily do extended travel with 5 adults in my dual cab without towing anything.
When it is just the wife and me we can be on the road within 15 minutes of getting out of bed.
I am amazed at what some people drag around with them but we are all different so do whatever makes you happy


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I'd say "Minimalist....with comforts" although Luke's term "semi-minimalist" is probably more accurate. Whatever, but I'm in the "ten minute brigade". Any longer and it shouldn't be there, and the kettle should be on within 3 minutes.

muffin man

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Outback travel with a family of four and no trailer means minimalist is the default setting. Now it's only two of us and we still only take what we need.


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I'd say "Minimalist....with comforts" although Luke's term "semi-minimalist" is probably more accurate. Whatever, but I'm in the "ten minute brigade". Any longer and it shouldn't be there, and the kettle should be on within 3 minutes.
'Minimalist' and 'set up times' I find to be non linear to the point of being mutually exclusive in my case.

Interestingly enough quite often I find the camper faster and easier to set up than tents and beds and kitchen: the kitchen slides straight out, as does the pantry. Hardly minimalist, but certainly fast. The bed stays made and the top flips over. I find my minimalist setups always require more faffing about. My kayak touring mini kitchen is certainly minimalist, but it definitely isn't as easy as hooking up a single gas line, that's for sure. It is a study in space minimisation and as such requires a large degree of breaking down components - all of which takes much time.

My ute back kitchen setup with roof top tent enabled us to tour deserts etc with a family of 4, but in inclement weather was no fun, and the setup time with awnings etc was still no quicker than the camper.


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Really depends on where you are going , how long your away for , whether you are spending time in one spot or constantly on the move , how many are in your party . In my opinion a camper trailer is far from minimalist and a giant pain in the arse to drag around where i travel (VHC) , I have a 2.5m x 3m awning , Oztent bunker under the awning and set up in less than 5 mins for 3 day trips . If i do a 10 day trip its still the same sleeping arrangement but i might bring along the Baby Q to cook some meals on , but thats it . I don't need to drag HWS , Solar panels , awning tents , heaters , fans etc around with me as I'm solo.


My setups are based on three rules: Total setup/packup time no more than 10mins, those 10mins are easy on your body, & the setup has
to work all the time in harsh conds.
Some of my setup is arguable the most simple, yet most expensive & thought out. For example I spent $300+ on my tarp setup along with weeks of testing in spare time to streamline the heck out of it & make sure it really works.
I can say I have more luxuries than most would dare have & are always the first to packup by a long shot. I think it's all about balance & effiency.
My setup is mostly external to the vehicle, because it's the cheapest, most reliable & many of these onboard setups half their stuff is external...so when I see a flashy 40K camper that uses a shower tent ensuite I can't help but think I can get the same overall package for a fraction of the cost.

Here is what I consider essential:

- Carry as much water, fuel & battery.
- A good shelter, an awning won't always work, you need to be protected from heavy windy rains with enough space to move about freely.
- Good night light, love the look & feel of warm powerful halogen while cooking & eating. Others notice straight away & walk over for a look...
- A 4p dome tent for 2p, so you actually have enough space to get dressed.
- Good comfy chairs, found director chairs are good for eating and not too bad for around the fire. Bugger those compact things, life is too short for that.
- A proper non make shift shower, could never enjoy myself without a shower before bed or after waking up. imo the humble double room shower tent is about the best solution & that isn't sayn much. Shower=absoluley essential for kids & women.
- A powerhouse lithium setup to power the essential basics, 12V oven, fans, lights, 2 fridges. Those can suck the power but id prefer
that to sitting in front of a 12V fan on a hot humid night...
- A set & forget solar setup.
- A RTT helps big time for constant travelling, ground tents are just too much work. But RTT just start to get awful when camped up for 2days or more, so a big ground tent just runs rings around them half the time.
- meals that keep for a long time & are easy to cook. I prefer more smaller meals to fewer large meal.
-keep the vehicle as stock as possible, I can't beleive some guys spend big money & have aftermarket stuff
break. again life is too short for that pathetic crap.
-when you get back from camping, wan't to make sure your clean up is as easy as possible, I know personally my camp trip is marred by knowing
when I get back I have a whole bunch of work to do. So what ever isn't "neccasary" gets thrown out.

The challenge is to get all this in a cheap, reliable & easy quick setup that can be transferred to any other wagon. A blend of basics & high end tech & boy thats hard. My setup with a very small box trailer of extra supplies can blow many high end campers out of the water. As far as enjoying myself while camping & setup times are concerned.

Things I avoid:

1- Camp fires, they are imo too much work for to little result, just sick of the work that goes with them. sick of the smoke chasing me!
2- Any kind of ground tarps, awning walls, mozzy rooms, so far i havent had the mozzys be so bad i needed a room. can't for the life of me see
why awning walls are needed, unless your shelter is made too short, again a tarp wins! privacy? YOUR IN THE BUSH!!!!

I guess the important part for me is happyness is more important than minimalism, & some minimal setups are more work & time than complex fancy setups, & most fancy setups are quite bloated imo.