‘Glamping’ could change your mind about camping

04/24/2014 5:59 PM

04/24/2014 6:01 PM

Camping often means burrowing into a thin sleeping bag in a cramped tent, skipping showers and cooking meals over an open flame.

But for special occasions, that sort of setup just won’t do.

Turning a rustic place in the outdoors into a memorable setting with lots of style and decoration is the trend known as “glamping.”

“People started getting creative and looking for ways to make camping more comfortable,” explains Cara Schulz, author of “Martinis & Marshmallows: A Field Guide to Luxury Tent Camping.” “Glamping is pampered camping.”

A dressed-up campsite might be the right magic for a romantic vacation. A few glam accessories can help create a theme for a girls’ getaway, and the kids will settle in more easily with a few comforts from home.

Outfitters like Abercrombie & Kent specialize in providing upscale camping experiences, complete with lavish tents, spa-like bathrooms, five-star cuisine served on crystal dinnerware and “tent butlers” who cater to campers.

Innovations in gear coupled with a demand for making what could be a rugged sleepover in the woods into an inspiring experience in nature has led retailers to put more focus on creature comforts for campers.

Now you can find bigger tents, luxe blankets, comfortable outdoor furniture, stocked camping kitchens, solar showers as well as pretty accessories to dress up the campsite.

“Glamping is all about bringing items that (are functional and) are also well-designed and look attractive,” Schulz says. “Can it be over-the-top? Absolutely. But that’s part of the fun.”

While it might not be practical to put a king-sized bed or flat-screen TV on the packing list for a weekend in the woods, Schulz believes more campers are choosing gear that goes beyond the basics. And when it comes to finding great glamping gear, there is no shortage of options.

A cozy camper can be outfitted with the comforts of home, and tents with multiple rooms give the kids their own spaces – in case a game of bocce ball gets too heated.

Outdoor furniture is a popular option to make sitting around the campfire more appealing. After all, who wants to perch on a log when it’s possible to roast marshmallows from the comfort of an Adirondack chair? There are even all-weather rugs for glampers who want to turn their campsites into outdoor living rooms.

A flashlight might provide enough light for ghost stories, but special lighting can make a campsite sparkle. Lighting also can be used to define the path to the bathroom or other common areas, and that can make moving about in the dark less off-putting.

For added ambience, especially during a romantic weekend camping trip, set up a fire pit and solar lanterns. Some retailers even stock solar chandeliers that let you aspire to re-create a five-star experience in the woods.

“Choose what is most luxurious to you and try to re-create those little luxuries in your tent,” suggests Jean Fawcett, media relations manager for Abercrombie & Kent.

While it might seem extravagant to pack furniture and decorative accessories for a camping trip, Schulz insists that it doesn’t take more time or effort to plan a glamping trip, just more thought to figure out what will work well in a campsite to make the stay more comfortable and glamorous.

Look for gear that travels well; items that fold up for easy transport are the best bets.

When you’re shopping for equipment, remember, “a lot of the products you use glamping are of a quality that you can use them in your outdoor living space at home,” Schulz says.

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