We’d like to start by going on record to state that any occasion to go outdoors, breathe some fresh air and reunite with nature is time well spent. That said, when it comes to the increasingly popular “hobby” of glamping—short for glamorous camping—we were more resistant than a kid staring at a plate of Brussel sprouts. After all, we hammer our stakes firmly in the “roughing it” camp and walk the walk with plenty of outdoor gifts for the survivalist.
Few endeavors in life get the testosterone pumping more than putting up a tent. Living in nature. Flicking mosquitos. Reeling in dinner from a river. Sleeping under the stars. And using leaves as TP. In recent years, however, a ritzy form of camping has emerged. As self-proclaimed purists, we scoffed at the notion of glamping. But then we caught a glimpse of some of the mega deluxe excursions out there. Sooooo good.
Glamping won’t jibe with those looking to get off the grid for a few days or with folks on a hot-dogs-and-s’mores budget. So we put together a something-for-everyone list that covers the entire spectrum of woodsy recreational activities ending in “-amping.” Let’s start with the down and dirty and ascend to the uber upscale.
1 – The sleeping bag of solitude
Hardcore camping veterans don’t just know the weather. They know the exact cloud configuration for the next three days. They don’t need a tent. Just a clearing in the woods, a simple sleeping setup and a sky full of stars. For the advanced wilderness conqueror who doesn’t have the time or the flock to fashion a sheepskin knapsack sleeping bag, we recommend zipping up with the Mountain Hardware Hyper Lamina Spark Sleeping Bag. And don't forget the bivy, which is a lightweight outer layer that keeps your sleeping bag dry as pine needles.
2 – Sticking to basics with the lean-to
What do resourceful, light-packing, tent-less campers do when they need a little shelter? They assemble a makeshift lean-to out of branches, sticks, loose brush, leaves and sheer will. Here’s a quick five-step guide to help lean-to-ers brush up on the details. And here’s our Outdoor Survival Crate, which includes some handy hatchet heads, a knife and 50 feet of paracord to tighten things up.
3 – Under the nylon of a traditional tent
The standard, no-frills two-man or four-man tent is lightweight, easy to carry and quick to put together. Once it’s up in about five minutes, you can turn your attention to other means of survival, like befriending wild yaks and campfire cooking. Just because you’re keeping it simple with accommodations, doesn’t mean you can’t add a little flair to the fire. The Dutch Oven Kit sizzles with delicious potential every time you place it over the coals.
4 – Don’t tip the teepee
Long before Native Americans were building giant casinos with all-you-can-eat buffets, they erected teepees, also spelled “tipis” for those in a hurry. Today, the teepee remains a simple, sensible way to find shelter. If you happen upon the breathtaking Moab area, we recommend checking outMoab Under Canvas, where you’ll find rentable teepees ranging from classic to suite quality.
5 – Seeing the sights by camper van
Forget that old hippie VW bus parked down the street. Camper vans have gone the Pimp My Ride route and now offer plush comfort and an abundance of amenities. If you happen to be looking for mobile accommodations in Northern Spain, this expanding hotel on wheels sleeps five.
6 – Getting away from it all in an RV
For a bit more elbow room, hop in a recreational vehicle. Cruise America offers deals on rentals ranging from 19–30 feet. It’s the perfect way to live like rock star on your very own tour bus. Just don’t let your roadies spill beer on the seats.
7 – Set up camp in fire lookout
An emerging trend in the glamping game is the fire lookout, like this one atop Squaw Mountain in Colorado. It's a legit fire watch tower that's been converted into a very rural hospitality spot. It's comes with a bed, refrigerator, microwave and an unbeatable mile-high view. Not in the Rocky Mountain region? The Forest Fire Lookout Association has a handy directory of fire lookouts for rent.
8 – The modern Mongolian yurt
The traditional yurt was a round tent that the nomads of Central Asia could pack up and carry with them.In America, many yurts are anything but traditional. The circular shape is about the only thing modern yurts have in common with their early iterations. Book this California yurt and get ready for 360 degrees of endless extravagance.
9 – Not your childhood treehouse
You won’t see any Keebler elves popping their heads out of the trunks of these trees. Just vacationing oil magnates, tech billionaires and Real Housewives of Wherever who want to sleep among the tree tops in Big Sur. With a wood-burning fireplace, indoor spa tub and a skylight to the stars, this treehouse sure beats the plywood version your dad built you in the backyard.
10 – Over the top—and probably your budget
So many candidates for the most absurdly awesome glamping destination. There’s the Paws Up Ranch in Montana with multi-room safari tents that include electricity, heated floors, spas and butlers. Or perhaps you’d like to live like Bilbo Baggins for a few nights in the Hobbit House in Cornwall, England. At the top of our list, however, is Iglu-Dorf’s 5-star igloos in Austria and Switzerland. The avalanche of amenities includes a full bar and restaurant, amazing sculptures built into the architecture and even a hot tub. Frostbite has never been so worth it.