Why let thin material get between you and the sunset sky, stunning sunrise, fresh breeze and sounds of nature? Here are six tips for camping under the stars—without a tent—that will help you enjoy an adventurous snooze in the great outdoors.


Find a Good Spot

Most of the criteria for a good tent spot apply for a good tent-free camping spot. Dips in the land can collect frost or water. Hilltops can be very breezy. Always avoid setting up camp under dead standing trees—a sudden, strong wind can turn the creaking wood into a hazard. Choose an open, level area that allows for optimal star viewing, plus the ability to see 360 degrees if there are any sounds that need investigating during the night. Whether it’s in your backyard or deep in the mountains, your first time camping under the stars should be an exciting experience!

photoSylvia Dekker

Bring a Tarp

Always be prepared to build an emergency shelter. A tarp large enough to fold under and over you—like a taco—is a great item to bring along. Folding up in the tarp will protect your sleeping bag and mat from sharp rocks or sticks while keeping dew off your sleeping bag or blankets. I store my boots and pack under the tarp as well. Plus, if it does end up precipitating, you can always resort to rigging up a cozy shelter with your trekking poles, tree limbs or sticks and stabilize with rocks.

photoSylvia Dekker

Choose the Best Season

Certain times of year are better than others for this type of camping. Since camping without a tent means there is no screened retreat from mosquitoes and flies, planning this adventure in the spring or fall is best. Unless you’re prepared to be snowed on, winter may not be the best choice.

photoSylvia Dekker

Keep Those Ears Toasty

We lose a lot of heat from our heads, so whenever I go camping without a tent, I always bring along a toque to keep my head and ears warm overnight. This is especially important for chilly evenings when mosquitoes are gone but the nights can get frosty. Another option is to invest in a good mummy sleeping bag with a hood.

photoSylvia Dekker

Check the Weather Beforehand

Although not always predictable (especially in mountainous terrain), checking whether it is going to rain or snow before you head out can make a huge difference in how your tentless adventure turns out! Be prepared for all weather conditions and have an emergency backup plan if you need to evacuate.

photoSylvia Dekker

Bring Friends and Food

A few camping buddies and hot drinks can make a trip transition from good to great and ensure an amazing night under the stars. As always, store food away from your sleeping area and out of reach of wildlife.


Although camping without a tent can seem intimidating, remember that a tent is only a shield from the bugs and the rain. If neither are expected, falling asleep while the sun sets, the creek bubbles and the stars multiply is your reward for not packing a tent. Prepare to be amazed every time you open your eyes!



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