four backpackers hike on a trail with their backs facing a camera. activities to do at camp while backpacking

10 Fun Activities to Do at the Campsite While Backpacking

Backpacking trips are an incredible mix of appreciating nature and pushing your body to accomplish something difficult. When planning a backpacking trip, most people focus only on the logistics of the trip (which path, which campsites, timing, packing) But backpacking does involve some sitting around at the campsite and if you’re not prepared with some activities for camp while backpacking you may feel a little lost or even bored after you’ve made it to camp. 

The activities you do at the campsite while backpacking are going to be less stimulating than the activities you may be used to back home. Things like journaling, and meditation are common. But, there are activities you can do to pick up a new hobby or skill like knot tying, whittling, or examining the flora/fauna around you, which are fantastic activities to keep you entertained while backpacking. 

Lets explore 10 fun activities that you can do at the campsite while backpacking in more detail so you can choose the ones that are best for you. 

10 Fun Activities to Do at the Campsite while Backpacking

four backpackers hike on a trail with their backs facing a camera. activities to do at camp while backpacking

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1. Meditation: Calm Your Mind

One of the biggest and best parts of backpacking is having the time, space, and environment to clear your mind without the stimulation of the world around you. Backpackers are people who appreciate the peace and quiet that nature provides and a lot of times that’s due to being able to clear their mind while they’re out in nature. 

An official meditation practice while backpacking can be a self-enhancing habit to pick up and one that enriches your life and your trip. Meditation can be hard, though, if you’ve never done it. So, I suggest starting off small if its your first time. 

There are also many different types to explore, and what better time to explore them when you have free time at camp?

2. Journaling: Explore Your Mind

If quieting and calming your mind through meditation doesn’t feel exactly right to you, another option to get in better touch with yourself is journaling. When you’re backpacking there is a lot of time to think, and its common that some of those topics pushed into the back of your mind make their way forward when you’re at camp. 

There are lightweight journals you can bring while hiking to help get your thoughts out of your brain and down on paper where you can explore them more thoroughly. You may even find that you have a personal breakthrough using this practice while out on the trail. 

But if not, that’s okay too. At the end of the day having the time to write down your thoughts is a great way to spend your time while backpacking, even if those thoughts aren’t anything life changing. 

3. Explore the Area Around the Campsite

For this activity you’re going to have to channel your inner child. Remember when you were younger and you just explored? Maybe you picked up a rock solely to see what’s under it, or splashed in a stream to see how high you can make the water go. Did you ever find some cool rocks and make a little collection? Exploring the campsite is all about encouraging that part of you to come alive again. 

How often do you have time to feel the trees, find cool rocks, or explore a nearby stream? Probably not a lot. So, using your time at the campsite while backpacking for this activity will take that inner-child and allow them to explore again. 

And trust me, and once you give yourself some space to let that inner-child explore again, you’ll be thrilled with how easy and how fun exploring like that can be. 

4. Knot Tying: Develop a New Skill

Knot tying is one of those extremely useful skills for outdoorsmen/outdoorswomen, but isn’t widely practiced anymore. There are hundreds of ways to tie knots, but there isn’t a lot of time in most peoples daily lives to sit and learn how to tie them. 

When you’re at camp while backpacking all you have is time. And, you’ll likely have some type of rope with you as part of your standard backpacking gear. So, what better time than to practice knot tying?

There are lightweight knot-tying reference cards you can bring with you on the trip and use them to practice various knots while at camp. Having this skill while adventuring outdoors is incredibly useful and you’ll be happy you spent the time you had at camp learning it. 

a small wooden spoon that has been carved in the hands of the carver. activities to do at camp while backpacking

5. Whittling: Develop a New Hobby

I know that whittling sounds like something out of a history book on backwoods country living – but hear me out. Whittling is an art form, and one that is dying in todays society. So, who better to pick it up than a backpacker who has time on their hands and loves to be in nature? 

If you haven’t ever heard of whittling before, it’s the art of carving raw wood into shapes, designs, or useful tools using a knife. It is not an easy skill to learn but it is one that can be very rewarding, especially for someone who is outdoorsy. 

You likely have a knife with you already, so pick up a stick and get to carving! 

6. Book or Podcast

Most of us have very little time to dedicate to reading or podcast listening. If you are anything like me then you have a long, long, long, long list of material you’re just waiting for some time to consume. 

So, one activity you can do at camp while backpacking is to bring a book with you and enjoy it while you’re resting. Now, I don’t mean that you should carry in a 400-page hardcover, as that’s not practical. But a thin book, or even better, one that’s on a kindle or phone can be a great way to spend a restful evening at camp while backpacking. 

If you’re more of a podcast person, then be sure to download a few episodes before your trip and pull them up at camp. You’ll be able to devote your undivided attention to it while resting up for the next day of hiking. 

7. Skipping Rocks: Be a Bit Playful

Skipping rocks is one of those activities that you’ve either done yourself as a child, or have seen someone else do it.  It’s great fun, and a cool way to pass the time if you’re near a body of water. 

If you’re backpacking with others you can make it a competition to see who can get the most skips. But, if you’re more of a solo backpacker, then do a little competition with yourself. Trying to get more skips than before will keep you entertained and busy while at camp. 

8. Birding

Birding is an expansive hobby that you, as an outdoorsy person, can enjoy in multiple ways while outdoors. Backpacking is an especially great way to get started birding because you’re deep in the woods, with very few other people around, and have time to sit quietly and observe. 

If you do plan to do this activity while at camp, you’ll want to make sure you pack some binoculars. They make compact versions perfect for backpackers as they’re smaller, lighter, and can easily be worn while hiking out or packed in a backpacking pack.  

I’d recommend also picking up a birder guide so when you do see a bird you can identify it and learn more about it. 

woman in t-shirt in forest is looking up through binoculars. activities to do while backpacking

9. Identifying Flora and Trees

When you’re exploring the campsite while backpacking, wouldn’t it be great to be able to learn more about the plants and trees around you? If you download the Seek App prior to heading out you can do just that! 

This app uses image recognition to be able to pull information about any plant you may encounter while backpacking. The best part about it is that it has an offline database, so even if you’re far from having service you can still use this app to identify the flora around you! 

Backpackers appreciate the nature around us and that appreciation only grows the more we learn. The Seek app definitely can help you learn more and that is a great activity to do at camp while backpacking. 

10. Cards

At the end of a long day you may just want to chill out and do something routine and mindless. Bringing a deck of cards on your backpacking trip for an activity can help you decompress without needing to move a lot or explore more. 

If you’re backpacking with others there are plenty of games you can play, and by involving others you may even pick up a new one you didn’t know about. If you’re by yourself, a good game of solitaire can always keep you entertained for a while as you rest at camp. 

Hopefully you’ve found this list of 10 fun activities you can  do at the campsite while backpacking useful and are planning to utilize 1-2 of them on your next trip. If you want additional tips on camping, backpacking, or hiking – check out any of the articles below! 

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