For many of us, primitive camping may not sound like the most desired type of vacation, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the safest choice. When camping, you can easily limit your social interaction to your own family and avoid touching anything that does not belong to you. Additionally, you are surrounded by nature, fresh air, and the goodness of the sun, which are beneficial under any circumstances. Another plus? Camping is cheap, even if you need to buy new equipment. So if you are tired of your own four walls, get out and explore nature near you. In this post, you will learn how to get ready for your primitive camping adventure. A detailed checklist is included. 

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliated links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. 

What is Primitive Camping? 

Primitive camping usually refers to remote areas that lack basic comforts like electricity, flushable toilets, and running water. It does not mean you need to carry everything out on your back. In fact, many primitive campsites are also accessible by car. 

But what if you choose to camp at a regular campground and not use its facilities simply to lower your exposure to other people? In my books, it is primitive camping too, and this is exactly what I did in 2020. 

To put some more light on my camping experience, I camped a lot during my youth, then I was doing it much less frequently. Actually, until not so long ago, due to my mature age and my cancer history, I thought my camping days were over.

That is until Covid-19 practically left me with this simple alternative, camping or staying home. For me, there was only one answer, camping! It was not always pretty, but I would do it again. 


Camping is a wonderful experience, but packing and unpacking are far from it. Let’s face it, when packing for camping, you are practically moving. You need to create a less comfortable version of your home to survive, you have to take everything with you!

That is especially true for primitive camping with the primary goal of becoming self-sufficient. Here is the primitive camping checklist.


The most important thing you need for camping is a tent. Its goal is to protect you from nature’s elements, so it has to be of high quality. I suggest a double-wall design that isolates you from cold and rain. The rainfly has to cover the whole length of the walls, not just the top of it.

For 33 years now, I am using Eureka tents. I had a few of them in various sizes. I only changed them when new technologies became available, simply to improve my comfort, not because there was something wrong with them. Those tents are slightly more expensive than their competitors, but you pay for quality.

You do not want a brand new tent with zippers that would not last your first trip or will get you flooded with the first rain. Make sure to do your research on how to choose a tent.

  • Tent 
  • tarp to put on the ground to protect your tent’s floor, pick the right size for your tent!
  • extra tent stakes, they tend to run away!
  • sleeping pad
  • Sleeping bags
  • Sheets to protect your sleeping bags just how you protect your comforter at home
  • Pillows from home
  • Doormat to keep the dirt out
  • dust/pan brush
  • Lamp/flashlight/charger 


Another essential part of your primitive camping experience is your outdoor kitchen. I strongly suggest bringing a canopy tent with net walls that you can put over your picnic table.  It will protect you from the sun, rain, and will keep bugs away!

  • popup canopy with mesh sidewalls 
  • Xtreme 5-Day Heavy-Duty Cooler to store your food 
  • camp table with storage organizer
  • camp stove 
  • fuel for the stove
  • cast iron skillet with a lid
  • matches and lighter (have extras and protect them in Ziploc bags)
  • utensils – large spoon, spatula, tongs, whisk
  • camping coffee pot
  • pots and pens
  • thermos
  • lots of water for cooking if needed, or water jag
  • tablecloth
  • clips to keep your tablecloth in place
  • forks and knives
  • cups
  • cutting board
  • plates
  • paper towels
  • kitchen sponge
  • Ziplock bags
  • foil/Tupperware
  • trash bags, lots of them in different sizes (things get wet and dirty)
  • big plastic boxes with lids to protect your things again rain, dirt, and animals
  • lantern (this item is also listed under the shelter section above)
  • can opener
  • beer opener
  • corkscrew
  • biodegradable soap
  • clothesline with clips
  • wash bin
  • baby wipes
  • oven mitts

What to do about the food 

Remember, the idea is to reduce social interaction, so depending on new ice every day is not going to work. I suggest cooking ahead of your trip and freeze your food. This way, you are not wasting any space in your cooler, and nothing gets soaked like it would if covered with ice.

Frozen food will keep your items cold. If you are camping for a long time, start with frozen food, then move on to pasta, boxed soups, baked potatoes – items that can easily be stored without refrigeration.

Campfire and around

  • shovel
  • hatchet/ax
  • camping chairs 
  • fire starters
  • wood (bring your own, majority of parks do not allow wood collecting)
  • plastic box or tarp to keep the wood dry
  • marshmallows and smores kits
  • roasting sticks
  • Bug repellents, if you do not mind them. I recommend wearing longs sleeves and hats instead. It is a healthier choice.

Electronics – stay connected


  • games
  • cards
  • books
  • camera
  • camera charger
  • extra batteries
  • extra memory card
  • bicycle
  • canoe or kayak
  • walking sticks
  • backpack for hiking
  • alcohol

Clothing and shoes

In addition to your regular clothing, a few extra items are important when packing for a primitive camping trip.

  • slip-on shoes to put them easily on and off when entering the tent
  • heavy socks to protect your feet from mosquito bites. This is the worst part of your body to get mosquito bites!
  • hiking boots or sneakers
  • water shoes
  • hats for sun protection and mosquitos
  • vinyl hooded rain jacket 
  • rain boots
  • sweatsuit than can also be used as pajamas in case of cold nights
  • swimsuit


This is the most unpleasant part of primitive camping but important if you want to avoid human contact. The idea is to create privacy at your own campsite. For that, it is better to reserve a campsite bordering the woods. I am going to use this setup even in the future when the pandemic is over.

Campground restrooms and showers are usually far from spotless and often require waiting in line to use them. I would rather use cold water to shower and have my own space.

Looking for ways to travel safely during the COVID-19 pandemic? Then consider a primitive camping style for your next trip. Here is your packing list. 

See here how my first primitive camping trip to Worlds End State Park went. I am pleased to announce that despite some rain, it was a pleasant experience.

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  1. This is a check list for normal camping. Primitive camping, you can be completely off the grid. You’re on your own. This is missing some serious essentials.

    1. Thank you for your comment. It is off grid style, as you need to bring to everything with you. You can do it deep in the forest but also in a regular campground when you are no planning to use facilities, store, etc. The list includes toilet, shower, water, everything to be on your own. What essentials am I missing?

  2. This is awesome I’m looking to go cross country to see my kids and don’t want to fly great advice