20 Camping Terms

Camping is a fun activity for the whole family, but it can also be confusing. If you have never been camping before or don’t know what some of the more common words mean, then this blog post will be perfect for you! You will find definitions and pictures for 20 different terms that might come up when talking about camping.

  • Alpine Zone: this refers to the area of mountain habitat where trees do not grow at all because there is less rain than other areas.
  • Baffle Construction: This describes how tents are constructed with extra fabric that hangs over the door openings on each side of the tent. These baffles give campers more protection from cold air coming in through entrances while still keeping ventilation inside as needed. Baffles also help prevent water droplets blown into campsites by wind from dripping down the fly onto sleeping bags.
  • Day Pack: this refers to a small, compact backpack that is usually used for one-day hikes.
  • Wilderness: this word can refer to either an area of land where nature has been left untouched by humans or the opposite – an area subject to human development and exploitation; commonly referred to as “developed” areas.
  • Guy Lines: these are used to secure the tent or tarp in place. They also help create tension on the fabric.
  • Deadman: a stake that is driven into soft ground for anchoring guy lines, guylines, and other items like tarps.
  • Tent Pad: an area cleared of rocks, roots and branches made of wood chips or other more natural materials that is made for tents to be set up.
  • Freestanding: a tent or tarp design where the structural poles are not included. The main components of this tent are usually ropes and stakes.
  • Boxing the Needle: The process of lining up a compass with where magnetic north is.
  • Kerf: Kerf refers to the cut made by an axe or other blade.
  • Old Growth: these are trees in forests which have never been logged; they grow large and old without being cut down by humans at all.
  • Understory: plants such as bushes, ferns, and vines that grow under the taller trees of a forest.
  • R Values: this refers to the insulation material used in tents which is measured by R-values per inch, meaning how much heat it can resist or block from coming through its fabric.
  • No Trace Camping: This means “leave no trace” for campers at their site. It also covers packing out all trash with you instead of leaving it behind on your campsite after you leave. No Trace camping practices include using only deadman stakes when setting up tent pads, not cutting living plants on your campsite, cleaning up any food scraps left behind (including bones), burying human waste at least 200 feet away from water sources and trails (and ideally in a latrine), and using biodegradable soaps or treatments for dishes, clothes, and body.
  • Bear Lockers: these are containers in which items such as foodstuffs can be stored securely away from bears so they cannot reach them without people opening them up first. Bear locks also come with lids that lock on tightly when closed over so no item inside could ever escape while being carried outside near a bear’s territory. They have special pouches made from metal wire mesh meant specifically for food storage and cooking equipment like pots and pans.
  • Bear Hangs: this is a practice that campers should only do if they are well-trained in how to properly tie knots and set up their own lines for hanging bear bags. It also requires at least two trees which have enough distance from each other so the line can be thrown over them both, allowing the bag to hang about ten feet off the ground.
  • Chuck Box: these are boxes made of wood or metal on four legs with lids – often used by miners or hunters who need something that’s easy to carry but sturdy enough not break open easily when dropped while being carried around wild areas where there may be bears (or worse) looking for food near campsites. Chuck boxes usually come equipped with a padlock for added security.
  • No-See-Ems: this term refers to mosquitoes that can go undetected by the naked eye and are usually found in areas near standing water or damp land. The mosquito is one of nature’s most dangerous animals because it transmits diseases like malaria, West Nile fever, Zika virus, dengue fever, and yellow fever (among many others). These insects do not come out at night but during daytime hours when they find their hosts for blood meals – which means people camping in warmer climates should use bug spray with DEET on exposed skin as well as clothing if possible.
  • Switchback: these are roads that switch back up a steep hillside instead of going straight up them due to how difficult driving would be without the switchback design.

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