We’re about to look into a new world of camping that borrows from the disciplined, rugged, and survival-focused military approach. If the idea of sitting around a perfectly organized campsite, gently toasting marshmallows, feels a bit too tame for you, you’re in the right place.

Picture yourself immersed in the heart of nature, armed with just the essentials and your wits, putting into practice survival skills that have been honed and refined by generations of military personnel. 

It’s not just about camping anymore. Likewise, it’s about finding your inner strength, pushing your limits, and learning how to survive and thrive in the wilderness.

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However, don’t let the term “military” scare you. We’re not talking about marching through the mud in the dead of night or living on rations alone. 

It’s about applying a military mindset to your wilderness adventures. It’s about preparation, resilience, discipline, and respect for nature.

The Art of Minimalism in the Military Approach to Camping

If there’s one thing the military knows well, it’s how to pack. The key here is minimalism: taking what’s necessary and nothing more. 

Sure, you might be tempted to pack that extra bag of snacks or a cozy blanket for those chilly nights, but think again. In the military, every ounce counts. 

So, swap out that bulky sleeping bag for a compact bivvy and exchange canned goods for high-energy, lightweight food rations like those supplied by our friends at RecPak. RecPak offers a line of tasty field sustainment rations weighing in at only 6 oz per meal. And remember, multi-use items are your best friend. 

Who needs a knife, a can opener, and a screwdriver when a multi-tool can do it all? For your rations, just screw off the top of the package. It doesn’t get any easier than that. 

Navigating Nature: Map and Compass Basics

We’ve all become so accustomed to our smartphones and GPS that navigating with a map and compass might seem daunting. But don’t worry. You’ve got this. 

Learning to navigate the old-school way gives you a sense of satisfaction and keeps you connected with your surroundings in a way digital technology can’t. 

Remember, it’s all about the basics: understand how to read topographic lines, set your compass, and find landmarks. 

With a military approach to camping, you’ll soon be navigating through the wilderness like a seasoned explorer.

Shelters and Survival: Embracing the Basics

Knowing how to build a shelter is essential for survival in the wilderness. Military-style shelters are all about efficiency and practicality. 

So, forget about those extravagant Pinterest-worthy camping setups. Think lean-to shelters, tarp tents, or even a simple hammock. 

Remember, your shelter’s primary goal is to protect you from the elements, not to feature in the next issue of a glossy camping magazine.

Food and Water: Scavenging Skills

MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) are the typical staple food for military personnel in the field, but weigh a lot more than our ultralight compact options. If you’ll be moving over long distances, ounces matter. And consider supplementing those rations with what nature provides. 

Learning to identify edible plants, understanding how to set a simple trap, or fishing with minimal gear can be game-changers in the wilderness. 

Remember, respect is crucial here. Take what you need, and always leave the ecosystem undisturbed.

Respect the Rules: Leave No Trace

Lastly, the most essential aspect of a military approach to camping is to adopt the Leave No Trace principle. In military operations, leaving any sign of your presence could be detrimental, and it’s this mindset we should bring into camping as well. 

Keep your campsite clean, pack out what you’ve packed in, respect wildlife, and consider others on the trail. After all, we’re merely visitors in the wilderness. Let’s make sure we leave it as pristine as we found it.

Fire Crafting: Mastering the Flame

Moving along with the military approach to camping, we can’t overlook one of the most fundamental survival skills: starting a fire. 


It’s not just about staying warm and toasting those marshmallows; it’s also about boiling water, cooking food, and signaling for help. Remember, building a fire is not about creating a bonfire that’s easily spotted from space. A small, controlled fire will serve your purpose, and it’s much safer for you and the environment. 

Learn the basics of fire-starting, from the classic flint and steel method to modern fire-starting tools.

First Aid: Be Your Own Medic

Out in the wild, things can occasionally take a rough turn. From minor cuts or burns to a twisted ankle, being prepared to handle first aid situations is crucial. 

Familiarize yourself with basic first aid, CPR, and how to handle common outdoor injuries. Always keep a well-stocked first aid kit in your pack, and more importantly, know how to use it. 

Remember, the key here is to stabilize and manage the situation until professional medical help arrives, if necessary.

Nature Signals: Understanding Weather and Animal Behavior

Did you know that nature has its own signaling system? Understanding weather patterns or animal behavior changes can give you a heads-up about what’s coming. 

For instance, a sudden drop in temperature might indicate an approaching cold front, or birds flying low and seeking shelter could mean a storm is on its way. These signs can help you prepare and stay safe during your wilderness adventure.

Crafting Tools and Weapons: Wilderness MacGyver Style

You’ve seen it in the movies—our hero fashioning tools or weapons out of the objects they find around them. 

While we hope you won’t need to fend off a bear, knowing how to use your surroundings to create essential tools can be incredibly useful. Learn to carve a simple fishing spear or fashion a makeshift hammer. 

Remember, safety comes first. Always handle your tools carefully and responsibly.

Fitness: Physical Preparation for the Wild

Lastly, physical fitness plays a massive role in surviving and thriving in the wilderness. To say it’s essential to the military approach to camping is an understatement. 

Service members train rigorously to ensure they can handle the physical demands of their duties. Similarly, incorporating fitness into your preparation for wilderness adventures can enhance your experience.

Focus on endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance exercises—they’ll all be applicable when you’re exploring.

Embrace the Outdoor Adventure With a Military Approach to Camping

Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a fresh-faced beginner, this military approach to camping opens up a new world of possibilities, one that’s packed with challenge, discipline, and a deeper connection with nature.

Remember, at its core this style isn’t about the rigor of military life. It’s about adopting its principles of respect, efficiency, and awareness. 

We’ve packed light, navigated with a compass, built simple shelters, supplemented our rations with nature’s bounty, and pledged to leave no trace. Now, it’s time to put this knowledge into action.