Sleeping Outside Without A Tent or Bivouacking

To make sure that you enjoy your outdoor stay, you have to make proper sleeping arrangements. Most people get camping tents in this regard but is that the only way you can spend the night outside?

camping without a tent

Is sleeping outside without a tent an option that you can consider? Yes, it is and in this article, I will show you several sleeping options that you can take to have a wonderful night’s sleep.

Cowboy camping

If you have forgotten to bring your tent with you to camp or you deliberately choose not to bring one, there are various options for sleeping outside.

Most of them are heavy and bulky and carrying extra weight can limit your exploration.

The cowboy camping sleeping options mentioned below require almost no effort. This means that you will have all the time to engage in the activities that took you to camp in the first place.

going camping

1. Sleeping on the bare ground

This is one option that you can consider if you don’t have a tent for the night. Find a nice spot on the ground and lay there for the night.

This option, however, is only viable if you are absolutely sure that it is not going to rain. It can get quite frustrating when the heavens open up and you are in the middle of nowhere without suitable shelter.

You are also exposed to other elements such as wind and the cold so sleeping on the bare ground will only work on a warm night.

Other things that you have to be on the lookout for include animals and bugs coming into your resting spot as well as other humans.

The advantage of this option is that you don’t have to carry a lot of sleeping materials. It will ensure that you don’t have a lot of weight on you that may slow you down or make you tired.

2. Using a sleeping mat

This is another great option for sleeping outdoors if you don’t have a tent. A simple sleeping mat is just enough for you to enjoy a comfortable night under the stars. Most of these mats self-inflate and are quite comfortable.

When laying up a roll-out mat for the night, find a level area that is free of rocks and tree stumps. Lay your mat and enjoy a good night’s sleep under the stars.

However, you need to choose your location carefully as you don’t want an area that is exposed to wild animals or insects.

Make sure that it is not going to rain on that particular night as you may only have the clothes on your back and a blanket. These are not enough to protect you from the rain.

Sleeping mats are not that heavy and carrying one in your backpack as you explore the outdoors is not difficult. You won’t use a lot of effort to lay the mat up for the night and rolling it back in the morning when dawn breaks.

3. Bivouac bags and shelters

For extra protection from the elements, bivouac bags and shelters are the way to go. The shelter includes a weatherproof bottom where you will set your sleeping bag and a tent-like structure that will shield you from the elements all night long.

Most bivouac sacks are light and compact so it makes them easy to carry around. Setting them up is easy and you won’t struggle when taking them down either.

You can zip the sack up when it starts to rain to ensure that you don’t wake up wet and soaked. Such shelters, however, offer you very little room to maneuver. You may not be that comfortable as you sleep.

It can also get quite claustrophobic in there and this is something that you have to consider if you hate tight spaces. If you are interested in this option you can also look for a bivy tent that is very similar.

4. Setting up a tarpaulin

Tarpaulins are the latest craze in lightweight backpacking at the moment. They are compact and light just like a bivouac but with the added advantage of being able to offer a lot more space for moving around.

They offer several setup options for campers. You can leave them freestanding or erecting them with hiking poles or branches. The tarp will protect you from the rain to ensure that you are dry throughout the night.

Tarpaulins, however, are not as effective as tents as you are still exposed to wind, animals, and bugs.

5. Using a hammock

You can also use a hammock when you are in the backcountry and need a place to spend the night.

outdoor camping hammock

They can be easily set up among the trees and provide a comfortable sleeping experience, not the same as sleeping on the hard grounds. They can be folded so you will be able to carry them in your backpack.

6. Survival shelter

If you don’t have anything that would make your outdoor sleep more comfortable and safe you can build yourself a survival shelter. This isn’t the easiest way to have a shelter but it is worth it when you expect rain to come.

You can build a type of frame or ridgeline and add sticks to the sides. The easiest way to build a shelter is to grab some strong sticks and put them around the tree so they form a shelter.

Then grab leaves and other dry material to make a roof. Leaves are a wonderful insulating material so make sure to add them on the ground where you will be laying.

outdoor survival shelter

If you decide to make a survival shelter consider these three rules:

  • Insulation from the cold ground
  • Enough cover from the sides to have protection from the wind
  • Enough cover on the roof to stay protected from the rain or snow

What is camping without a tent called?

It is called a bivouac. It is an improvised campsite that hikers and backpackers set up when they need to stop and set a campsite right away due to the bad weather.

A bivouac doesn’t include a tent but can have a tarp, a sleeping bag, or a bivy sack to spend the night.

Is it safe to sleep outside without a tent?

Generally speaking, it is safe to sleep outside without a tent. Bear and other animal attacks are statistically rare. They avoid campgrounds as they are afraid of people.

Set a campfire

However, if you are spending the night in the wild you can build yourself a survival shelter so you will feel more secure.

Additionally, you can set up a campfire close to the sleeping arrangement that is known to scare away wild animals like bears and wolves.

setting a campfire

Don’t eat where you sleep

What else can you do to repel dangerous animals as bears? Choose a spot where you will eat and it should be away from the place you sleep.

Wild animals have excellent smell and can smell the food from far distances so never eat where you intend to rest.

Store and seal the trash

Also, always store trash after you eat and seal the trash bag so the smells won’t get out. Leave no trace and you should be just fine.

When you will proceed with the expedition always clean the place where you have been, it is a golden rule of camping etiquette.

Avoid hypothermia

There is another thing that I should mention regarding safety. When you will sleep outdoors without a tent you will be exposed to hypothermia.

So, it is important to take care of warm clothing and insulated shelter that will protect you from this medical emergency.

Choose your favorite sleeping option

You don’t need a tent to be able to enjoy your outdoor stay as there are various options for sleeping outside without a tent.

I suggest that you think about some of the options I presented and choose a sleeping arrangement that will fit your personal needs.

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