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Couples Camping: Tips, Gear and Advice

Couple camping
 

Most people associate going camping with a good old-fashioned family holiday or vacations. But they’re not the only ones that this amazing way to spend time outdoors is designed for. Couples camping is also a thing! In fact, camping as a couple can be – and more often than not is – a superb way to spend quality time with your partner. It’s the perfect opportunity to live simply. To appreciate the small things and to focus on the other person without getting carried away in pretence or appearance.

As such, couples camping is highly recommended for established couples to rekindle their relationship, as well as relatively new couples to really get to know each other. Camping very early on in a relationship, though not out of the question, is a bold move which should be approached with caution. If you do decide to go for it then keep it short and don’t travel too far from home. Gotta have a get out clause, after all!

Otherwise, there are a number benefits to camping as a couple which go way beyond just the opportunity to spend quality time together.

If you and your other half are considering your first camping trip together, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article you’ll find some top tips to make the trip run as smoothly as possible, as well as loads of camping activities and games, romantic camping meals and ideas, and essential couples camping gear to consider.

Couple camping in the mountains

Planning a couples camping trip

Thorough planning might seem like it takes all the spontaneity out of the trip, but there really is nothing more of a turn off than an argument over forgotten fire starter! That said, some couples thrive on mishaps and a forgotten item will only become a source of entertainment and fun, rather than a tense challenge to overcome. Knowing what does and doesn’t make you tick as a couple will determine just how much planning you need to do. But if in doubt, being prepared is a better default than the opposite.

Here are a few planning pointers that may help your trip run just that little more smoothly:

Choose a secluded location

There is NOTHING worse than expecting a quiet weekend away in a beautiful location only to be woken up at 6am by excited, screaming kids in the tent next to you. So first up, choose an appropriate campground. Avoid holiday parks that cater more for families and opt for small, privately owned sites that discourage partying and families. There are even couples only campsites around.

Secondly, once you’ve arrived at your idyllic and quiet campsite with ocean views, don’t rush into setting up your tent. Pitch selection is key, especially if you are camping for more than a night or two. Think about where the sun will set and rise. What is the view like from your tent? How close is the toilet block? Are you surrounded by other campers? Do you have a little privacy? This may sound like over-thinking, but ‘location, location, location’ applies to camping too!

Check the weather

I’m certainly not one for bailing on outdoor fun if the forecast isn’t favourable. However, knowing what to expect from the weather will certainly have an impact on what kind of couples camping trip you end up having. It’ll help you pack appropriately and plan activities that are better suited to wet weather days than others.

Pack properly

Packing the right stuff will ensure you have the best time possible with your significant other. As mentioned, what you choose to bring will depend on the weather and time of year. The location will also shape your packing list. A mountain camping trip requires very different clothing and gear to a beach camping trip. Additionally, you’ll want to consider your menu to ensure that if you want to barbeque your fish for dinner, you have the appropriate tools and equipment to do so.

If you’re not sure what to pack then print off a camping checklist to guide you.

Check the bug situation!

In some locations, bugs don’t need to be considered at all. However, if there’s even a remote chance that bugs, midges and mosquitoes are likely to be an issue, ensure you are prepared! Getting nibbled all over by bugs is an instant buzz-kill (sorry) at the best of times, let alone on a romantic camping trip. Pack your repellent, nets, if you need them, and even add some ambiance with some citronella candles.

Don’t over plan

Though this section is all about planning, it’s also important not to take it too far. Over planning can put an awful lot of pressure on the trip. Pressure that it’s a huge success, the best trip ever, epic beyond all imagination. But at the end of the day, it’s just a camping trip that happens to be with the most important person in your life. Sure, make an effort to make it great, but planning everything down to the last detail will only lead to disappointment, not to mention kill any opportunity for spontaneity. So, keep it special, but simple. Learn what does and doesn’t work and then up your game on your next trip.


Campfire-food

Romantic camping meals

A big part of camping is meal-time. Eating food outdoors always seems to taste better. But the creation of camping food is also an enjoyable way to spend time together and can be an activity in itself.

These tips will help with meal planning during your trip and will hopefully give you some ideas for romantic camping meals, without going over the top.

Choose a gut friendly meal

If you’re a fairly new couple then it’s likely that you’ve not crossed the line yet when it comes to certain (and often amusing) bodily functions. And when you’re tucked up in the confines of a cosy tent, the last thing you want to worry about is letting one go!

Established couples should already know what foods do and don’t agree with them. This makes it easy to plan your meals to suit both your preferences.

On the other hand, new couples may not have a clue about intolerances or even dislikes. So, although a bean burger topped with spicy sauce and served with fried onions might sound like heaven to you, it might be a gut disaster for your date. In this instance, it will pay off to either plan your menu together, or avoid high FODMAP foods which can be a gut irritant to many.

Make it just a little bit gourmet

Though it may be tempting to pull out all the bells and whistles to make the perfect romantic camping meal, simple is often better when it comes to camp cooking. Unless you’re used to cooking on a tiny stove or over a campfire, it’s easy for things to go awry. And a ruined meal is a sure-fire way to dampen the mood.

That said, there are lots of easy ways to make your al fresco dining experience special. Here are a couple of ideas:
Create cold canapés that don’t need cooking. Crackers or crusty bread topped with canned or jarred food work well. Things like sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and olives all make rich and delicious cracker toppings. Pair them some smashed avocado, sliced tomatoes and fresh herbs and you’ve nailed gourmet right there!

Top a simple dish with something decadent. One pot meals are an easy option for camp cooking. So to add a little je ne sais quoi to the dish, consider topping with grated parmesan, pine nuts, a balsamic glaze or rocket leaves. Little additions like this turn an average pasta dish into a meal to remember.

Get messy and make s’mores. Creating camping desserts for camp cooking newbies may just be one thing too many. Make life easy for you yourself and opt for an easy and delicious campfire favourite: s’mores! They’re fun to make, super yummy and are guaranteed to make a mess.

Replace your dessert with a chocolatey campfire cocktail. Toasted marshmallows also work rather nicely in a mug of Baileys hot chocolate. This rich cocktail will satisfy your post-dinner sweet craving (and some), and will set the mood for cosy night by the fire.

Cook with wine! Popping open a cheeky bottle of red before you start cooking is a great way to make meal prep feel as special as your romantic camping meal. Plus, it can be a good way to slow things down and take the pressure off the chef. Oh, and of course you can also add some of it to your dish if you like. Just make sure you’ve not finished the bottle by the time cooking starts!

For more camping meal ideas, check out our food section.


Couple putting up tent

Top couples camping tips

In the 10 or so years Rob and I have been together, the majority of our holidays have been camping trips. Even our very first getaway together was a camping trip! With that in mind, hopefully my couples camping tips can help to make your trip as special and memorable as possible. These tips can be applied to those in the early stages of a relationship as well as those who’ve been together for years.

01Keep your expectations in check

Don’t expect fireworks! Sleeping in a tent isn’t always a comfortable affair. Temperature fluctuations, noisy or very close neighbours, bugs, or even a deflated air bed are all highly possible annoyances which can very easily kill the mood. Be happy with just snuggling. Anything else is a bonus!

02Make the effort to be affectionate

Spending time together in nature can add a delightful element of preciousness to your camping trip. But nature alone can’t do all the legwork for you. To make the best of an already special situation, a few simple gestures can go a long way. A few suggestions include:

  • Hold hands while hiking
  • Pause to enjoy the view with a cuddle
  • Pick a flower or choose a special pebble for your partner
  • Complement them on something unexpected (but keep it genuine)
  • Make a mundane moment magical with a quick kiss on the cheek (washing the dishes is always a good one!)
  • Hold their gaze for longer than usual over the flames of a campfire

03Communication is key

Camping can pose lots of mini challenges that don’t really come up in everyday life for couples. Things like pitching a tent or lighting a fire. Dealing with prolonged wet weather or incessant bugs. At times like these, a little extra focus on kind and honest communication will go a long way. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or admit you’re struggling with something. Even a suggestion or directive, when done in a gentle way, can make piecing together out your tent pole configuration so much more manageable.

04Make it about them, not you

As mentioned, camping can be tough at times. But if you try to focus on making your partner’s time as comfortable and enjoyable as possible, everything will feel much easier. Plus, if they are truly buying into the camping trip being all about quality time together, it’s likely that they’ll do the same for you. Win, blooming win!

05Respect your partner’s space

Another key element to a successful couples camping trip is to be OK with spending some of the trip doing your own thing. Camping can be intense (sorry, again!), so if your partner wants to sit and read a book or go for a run or do some yoga on their own, then let them. With this in mind, be sure that you have something up your sleeve to keep yourself occupied.

06Ditch your device

There’s nothing more off-putting than feeling like you’re competing for the attention of your partner with someone who isn’t even present. Yes, there are times when it’s pretty darn useful and essential to have access to your phone. However, you don’t need to turn it on or use it constantly. At the very least, agree to a device ban at specific times, like during meals or between certain hours. But really, you’re better off just ditching it and having it on hand for emergencies.

07Create new traditions

Making memories is big part of camping as a couple. But what about starting something new, that you re-visit each time you go camping, to help bring those old memories back to life? Starting a new tradition should ideally involve stepping away from the norm and being quite specific. If you usually like to sleep in then try a sunrise hike on the first morning of every camping trip. Or make the point of telling campfire stories on your last night at camp. Maybe you could bust out a special camping sweater or hat?! Whatever your new tradition is, make it yours as a couple.


Couple in hammock

Couples camping gear

Unless you’re the sort of couple that thrive on suffer-fests, being comfortable will make the trip so much more enjoyable. As with any camping trip, you’ll need to make sure you have the right gear. However, there’s also some couples camping gear that will make things even more cosy and fun, and also help you to look (and smell) your best for your partner.

  • Double camping chair

    Double camping chair

    Though a little more cumbersome to carry than a single camping chair, double chairs are ideal if your idea of romance is snuggling together around the campfire. Nice features of double camping chairs include padded seats, arm rests, carry case, drink holders.

  • Camping Quilt

    Quilt or blanket

    To maximise on your fireside snuggling potential, you’ll most certainly need a blanket or quilt. Opt for a water repellent quilt, like the Rumpl, and it will double nicely as a picnic blanket for that special riverside date you’ve got planned, bubbles and all!

  • Sleeping mat coupler

    Sleeping mat coupler

    If you and your partner already own single sleeping pads, there’s no need to invest in a double mattress. Instead, join your pads together with a mat coupler kit. These simple straps keep your mats snuggly next to each other so you can cuddle up without falling down the gap.

  • Double sleeping bag

    Double sleeping bag

    Another nice way to get closer when curling up in your cosy cocoon is to opt of a double sleeping bag. Not only does this encourage camping canoodling, but it’s also a great way to stay warm in cold conditions. Any excuse!

  • Hammock

    Hammock

    There are very few better ways to hang out at camp than by relaxing in a hammock with your significant other. Ensure you opt for a double hammock which will have the capacity to hold the weight of two people and little more space to spread out in.

  • Lantern

    Lighting

    Getting your lighting right, both inside and outside of your tent, makes a huge difference to your evening at camp. Ambient lighting creates a warm atmosphere that further adds to the cosiness levels. Hanging a pretty lantern or sparkling string lights also makes the occasion feel all the more special.

  • Merino top

    Merino clothing

    Being active, in close proximity to your partner and with limited bathroom facilities isn’t an ideal combination. A sneaky way to side-step the build-up of stinkiness is to wear merino clothing. The natural antimicrobial properties of merino wool mean that you can wear the same shirt and socks for days without the need to refresh.

  • Cap

    Hat or cap

    Somehow, camping bed-head always seems way worse than regular bed-head. Don a cute cap or beautiful beanie, however, and you can cover a multitude of sins to make bad hair days at camp a thing of the past. If washing facilities are limited then I also highly recommend dry shampoo!


Canoeing

Couples camping activities

When you’re not busy creating romantic camping meals, sipping on campfire cocktails or lazing around in your double hammock, having a few ideas of couples camping activities up your sleeves will earn extra brownie points with your other half.

Here are a few suggestions that encourage team-work as well as provide the opportunity for intimacy and magical memory making:

  • Hire a tandem bike
    Teamwork is crucial when cycling in tandem, as is trust. Two excellent skills to nurture. What’s nice about tandem biking is there’s no pressure to match each other’s pace, which can very quickly add tension. Choose easy terrain with some special sights along the way.
  • Go stargazing
    Choose a clear night, pack a cheeky hip flask of something sweet and strong, and night hike out to a remote spot to enjoy the night sky under a cosy blanket. Is there really anything more romantic?
  • Rent a kayak
    Hire a double kayak or canoe and paddle to a secluded bay for a picnic. Like tandem biking, you’ll need to work together and communicate well. But the rewards of gliding along in unison are well worth any initial paddling problems.
  • Go skinny dipping at night
    It’s exciting, feels a little bit naughty and will most certainly make your night a memorable one. Alternatively, if you’re feeling brave and daring, go in the day! Just be sure to choose a secluded spot where you won’t get arrested.
  • Play games
    If you’re tent-bound due to foul weather, or just don’t fancy getting out and about, whip out the camping card games and board games and let the competition commence! It’s VERY easy to while away an afternoon engrossed in a great game.
  • Read to each other
    This may sound super corny, but it’s actually a really enjoyable and relaxing way to spend time with your partner. It’s not so different to watching a box set together, really. Not only are you physically close but it’s also nice hearing each other’s voices. You can talk about the story in between reading sessions and it gives you a joint focus during downtime. Choose and adventure book and it may just spark the fire for future fun together.

For more ideas of activities to do when camping with your other half, read our Valentine’s Adventures article.

NOTE: It’s key to remember that your idea of a great time may not be the first choice for your partner. And though it’s important to encourage them to try new things, doing so gently will yield greater results with regards to their future enjoyment of the activity. This works both ways and it may be that you are the one who needs to step out of your comfort zone and make the effort to give things a go.


Couple on tandem bike

Camping is such a wonderful way to spend time with the most important person in your life. So it is well worth putting in a little bit of effort and forethought to turn a simple weekend trip away into a romantic getaway filled with magical moments to remember forever. Ah, it makes me want to go camping with my partner right now!

Happy romancing, happy campers!

About the author

author-joey

Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard, and hiking small mountains and big hills.

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