How-To

Camp in Your Backyard

By Jenny Gumbert

When the first fall chill hits the air, it’s hard not to feel the urge to get outside and enjoy the best time of the year. Fall also happens to be one of the busiest seasons in our overloaded lives, so it can be hard to find a weekend to escape to your favorite campsite.

Well, we have a suggestion: Set up camp in your backyard! It may not quite be the real thing, but you may be surprised by how much you enjoy an evening sleeping on your “exclusive” grounds. And if you’re a camping novice who is nervous about attempting a camping outing, this experiment could serve as a low-pressure trial run before you take your first trip.

Follow our suggestions and enjoy your backyard campsite.

Photo submitted by @waffletodd

Set the scene.

You may not be venturing into the mountains or the woods, but if you want the full camping experience, it needs to look and feel like the real thing. Set up tents and sleeping bags, have headlights and lanterns, bring out the camping chairs and table, and be ready to prepare and eat your meals outside.

Pretend the house doesn’t exist.

Make sure to bring everything that you and your family will need outside so that you aren’t tempted to go back into the house. (That includes water and food.) Heading back indoors may take you out of the experience. There’s one notable exception to the don’t-go-in-the-house rule: The bathroom. Enough said.

Unplug.

Try to leave your electronics (phones, games, etc.) indoors. This is a time you’ve set aside to reconnect with nature, friends and/or family, and your phone may serve as a distraction.

Gather around a fire.

When imagining a campsite, just try to picture it without a fire—you can’t. Fire serves as a space to cook, warm up, connect, and relax. If you have a Solo Stove Fire Pit, it can serve as your campfire. Added bonus: It’s easy to set up, safe, and doesn’t fill your yard with smoke. Set up seating around your pit and invite everyone to gather around.

Cook outside.

One of the quintessential camping experiences is cooking outdoors. Sure, it poses challenges, but it’s rewarding in the end. You may decide to bring pre-cooked items and keep them in your cooler, which is totally okay. If you take the premade route, try to get a little outdoor cooking time by roasting marshmallows over your fire—it’s a classic for a reason.

If you’d like to try your hand at outdoor cookery, bring a camping stove, a pot or two, a cast iron skillet, and other cooking tools. Be sure also to have plates and/or bowls, utensils, and napkins. Looking for some camp-friendly recipe ideas? We’ve got you covered.

Plan activities.

There are many camping activities that translate to the backyard. Classics include sharing stories around the fire (spooky or otherwise); asking your musically talented friends and family to lead a campfire sing-along; and creating a wildlife hunt that encourages exploring the flora and fauna of your yard—even if it’s just some flowers, fungus, and bugs.

Create the right mood.

Try to set the tone for the evening by setting up camp and then heading out for another outdoor activity like hiking, swimming or fishing. And if your backyard is on the smaller side or is just a little too close to home (literally), see if you can find friends or family who want to share the experience and use their yard (especially if it’s a little larger).

Planning to bring the backcountry to your backyard? Share your camping photos and stories with us on social media or via our submission form.

Get your backyard campsite-ready during fire pit season sale (15% off sitewide–while supplies last!).