How to Go Glamping - Moosejaw
Are all your friends trying to get you to go camping with them, but you secretly cringe at the idea of having to sleep on the ground like an animal? Do you look at your buddies and think to yourself, “look at these heathens going days at a time without a shower or Wi-Fi”? On the other hand, do you also suffer from FOMO as you see your friends going to all these beautiful places and becoming one with nature? You may be relieved to know that not every camping trip has to result in you getting a bad night's rest and smelling like a musty sock. Here is a rather non-exhaustive list of ways to really take your camping setup to the next level to the point where you may even forget you’re not at home.

Sleep System

This is a big one. Without a good night's rest, you’ll wake up cranky, and if you wake up cranky, you’re gonna have a really bad time. A few days of inadequate sleep will turn even the nicest people into a grump, and where’s the fun in that? Whether it's staying warmer, better back support, or shutting out the creepy noises outside your tent at night that may or may not be a grizzly bear (or just your buddy stumbling into their tent), there are many ways to ensure a more comfortable night.

  • camper sets up sleeping pad inside tent
Sleeping pads are a great way to separate your body from the cold ground

Pad Upgrade

Not all sleeping pads are created equal. While there are definitely circumstances where sacrificing material and comfort for weight may be beneficial, car camping and glamping is not the time to be a weight weenie. So leave your backpacking ultra-light pad at home and go for something thick. I’m talking dummy thicc, where people will see your pad and go, “wow, that’s thicker than a bowl of oatmeal; that pad is thiccc.” Sleeping pads 2.5” or thicker will have a much more mattress-like feel to them than something without as much cushion. Whether you go for something that is self-inflating with a foam interior or is purely inflatable is up to you. In general, larger self-inflating pads with foam will also have a higher R-value and be warmer. Size is another factor to consider as well. If you can get a double pad, go for it. Or if you can find a nice big, rectangular pad, that will also feel much more luxurious than something with rounded edges with less surface area.

Now you may be tempted to just go for an inflatable mattress instead of a purpose-built sleeping pad, and to that, I say save yourself the trouble and frustration and go for a pad. With an air mattress, you have to worry about inflating it which can take significantly more time and usually requires some sort of power source. Another thing to consider is that these mattresses are usually not designed to be small. If you’re in a cozy 2-person tent, odds are you aren’t going to be able to fit even the smallest of air mattresses. On top of that, most air mattresses are made with less durable materials, so the odds of getting a puncture from a random rock or twig under your tent is more likely. The insulation value of an air mattress is also abysmal compared to a proper sleeping pad, resulting in a chilly night. As it gets colder in the night, the air in the bed will contract and leak, resulting in you waking up on a half-inflated mattress. Going somewhere with big temperature swings, and you may even wake up on the ground!

Are you turned off by the idea of a pad or mattress? Another fantastic option is a cot. Cots come in all shapes and sizes but maintain a few key characteristics. No matter the size of the cot, it will provide a few things for you, such as a guaranteed flat surface regardless of what the ground underneath looks like, firmer support than most pads or mattresses, and will keep you off of the ground. You can even use a cot as a bench or seat as well.

Sleeping Bag Upgrade

Are you someone who feels restricted or uncomfortable sleeping in a typical mummy-style sleeping bag? Thankfully, there are other options such as double sleeping bags, top quilts, blankets, and many others. If you have a double mattress either for you and your partner, or because you just really like to starfish in bed, pairing it with a double sleeping bag is a no-brainer. There’s really nothing else that compares when sleeping in the outdoors. It's like sleeping in your bed at home but better since your sheets and blankets will never get untucked. If you want to take it a step further, pair your sleeping bag with a sleeping bag liner. These liners come in all shapes and sizes, from fleecy for those cold nights to cooling, which will help when you’re feeling sticky and sweaty at night. This extra layer helps with a multitude of things. It keeps your sleeping bag clean by working as a barrier; it can provide extra warmth or keep you cool; they feel like sheets that will make you feel like you’re in a real bed and pack down nice and small.

  • camper sets up sleeping pad inside tent
Sleeping pads are a great way to separate your body from the cold ground

Another option would be a top-quilt, which has a foot box but acts like a blanket everywhere else. Camping blankets with either synthetic or down insulation are another great option and can even be paired with a sleeping bag for extra warmth.

Pillow Upgrade

Last but definitely not least, the sleep trifecta has to be completed with a pillow to go with your pad and bag. Ditch your mini backpacking pillow and really go big here. Whether getting a thicker pillow, insulated pillow, or even bringing your standard pillow from home, a solid pillow is a much-needed accessory to have a good night’s sleep in the great outdoors. Heck, bring two pillows! Who’s gonna stop you?

Tent Upgrade

While it may be tempting to stick with a small 2-person tent, upgrading to a larger tent that you can stand in is a significant upgrade when glamping. Even if it’s just one or two people in a tent, having the extra space of a 4-person tent or larger will help things feel less cramped, as well as providing protected storage for all your other gear. Having high walls or a tall ceiling are also great upgrades to consider. Being able to fully stand up, do yoga, or do literally anything else you want with all that extra space, is definitely something you will appreciate. Large vestibules, bug nets, or additional covers are other excellent additions to any glamping setup.

  • campers sitting in camp chairs outside large tent
Larger tents are great to be able to stand up in as well as store your extra gear
Even though you have all this extra space in there with you, it is still strongly discouraged to keep your food in your tent with you. As tempting as it may be to keep that midnight snack close at hand, Every critter in the campground will thank you for your oversight and throw a party for you in your tent. And by party I mean more like food raid as every squirrel, chipmunk, raccoon, and possum finds a way in to steal every morsel of food in sight. Trust me, getting raided by a raccoon is the least of your worries if you’re in areas where bears, cougars, or coyotes may want a snack as well. So next time you think “I’ll just leave the cooler in the tent” don’t. Just. Don’t. Leave it in the car or in a dedicated spot away from your actual campsite. You’ll thank me later.

Camp Furniture

If your ideal camping afternoon involves a fire pit, smores, and maybe a drink or two, odds are you are going to want to sit in something comfy. While bringing your sofa chair from home may be the biggest flex at the campsite, odds are it may be a bit unwieldy to bring along. Luckily, there are a plethora of brands that specialize in making some of the comfiest camp furniture out there. Whether it is reclining camp chairs, pack-away tables, two-person camp chairs, hammocks, blankets, stools, pads, or whatever else you deem comfortable enough to park yourself in, there are always plenty of options. Another greatly overlooked piece of camp furniture is a camp table. Rustic campsites without picnic tables especially benefit from bringing either a foldable or roll-top table along to keep drinks, food, or play card games on. Having a chair with a side-table or cup holder is another pro upgrade to have. No-one likes accidentally kicking their drink over or setting their plate down in the mud.

Camp Kitchen

If the idea of eating out of a can makes you dry heave or if you just have a particular aversion to freeze-dried food, then it may be time to upgrade your camp kitchen. There is no unspoken rule stating that you HAVE to eat junk when in the outdoors. We promise you that the camp police will not come after you for not eating hot dogs and canned beans. So how can you replicate your gourmet cooking from home without access to granite countertops and an industrial size fridge? A few upgrades to consider would be a dedicated set of camp cookware. Whether you choose cast iron or something else is entirely up to you. Cast iron also works directly in a campfire which could give your meal more of a “campy vibe”. Including a dedicated cook station such as a table or truck tailgate can also help in the preparation of a hearty meal. Bringing along real silverware and dishware also helps with the actual serving and consumption of your meal. No longer will you have to worry about your paper plate folding in your lap or snapping your disposable fork when cutting into your food. Swapping out single-use plastics for real utensils and dishes also helps the environment and cut down on your camp garbage, which mother nature will thank you for.

Want to leave your fancy china at home? No problem! There are multiple brands out there that make full sets of plates, bowls, utensils, and cookware specifically made for camping. These sets are usually much more packable and easier to transport than your typical kitchen setup. Same goes for cooking gear. Packable cutting boards and chef knives with sheaths or foldable spatulas and spoons to minimize bulk will mean you can bring along all the cooking tools you need without sacrificing on space.

Other useful items would be a cooler to keep your perishable items in. Coolers are also super handy for keeping critters out of your food as well with some coolers even being LITERALLY bear proof. Another important component to any camp kitchen is your cooking appliance. Whether you choose to go with an au naturel fire pit, or utilize a gas stove, there are a few different avenues to go in this regard. If you want to really glamp it up, going for a two-burner stove or dedicated camp grill will make cooking a much more seamless process, especially when cooking for a group.

To help maximize space, it is recommended to prep as much of your cooking at home that you can. Pre-slicing those onions can save you the embarrassment of crying at camp and also make cooking a faster process. Prepping beforehand will not only cut down on cook time, but will help reduce the amount of dishes and utensils you use in your meal creation. Remember, the best way to get a satisfying meal is to focus on hitting as many of the following categories as possible when it comes to your meal; salty, fatty, acidic, hot, crunchy, and sweet. Hey! That’s a pretty good name for a cookbook!
  • campers fill a pot with water to wash dishes
Heating up your dish water and using biodegradable soap help make cleanup a smoother process

So now that you’ve brought all these utensils, and plates, and cups, and other junk, odds are you’re going to want to clean them. Bringing along a camp “kitchen sink” or packable bucket will make doing dishes a breeze. Boil a bit of water, throw in some environmentally safe soap, and bring along a scrubber or brush. You’ll be able to clean up in a jiff!. Using a camp shower or water bottle to rinse off dishes can also be super helpful. Make sure to take care as to where you dispose of your water though! Remember, leave no trace!

Using biodegradable soap free of harsh chemicals will help keep your campsite clean and prevent polluting the environment.

Additional Creature Comforts

When it comes down to it, the best glamping setup is going to be the one perfectly tailored to YOUR preferences and needs. If you’re more worried about staying warm or sleeping comfortably, investing in a sound sleep system should be prioritized over any other upgrade. If you care more about eating something not out of a can, maybe focus more on a full camp-kitchen setup. It’s really up to you to decide where your priorities are and what will give you the best bang for your buck. Here are a few suggestions that you may not think about that can really make your glamp setup go from comfy to “I could live here”.

Rugs and Mats

A routinely overlooked item that makes a huge difference is having a small camp rug, mat, or towel to keep at the entrance of your tent without being half-in half-out, welcoming all the bugs in as you tussle with your boot laces. This will keep the dirt out of your tent and keep your feet dry as you unlace those hiking boots. A towel can also be used to wipe off your dog or dry off wet gear, and is generally a useful item to bring along on any camping trip.

  • hikers relax on a picnic blanket and take in mountain view
A waterproof backer on your picnic blanket means you can relax just about anywhere


While the light on your phone may do the trick for that quick mid-night potty break, having a solid headlamp or hanging light can help keep your camp area safe. You can use string lights, lanterns, hanging lights, or any other light source. Lights are also a great way to keep the party going after the sun goes down. Never again will you step on a tent stake or trip over a root, and your toes will thank you.


Truly a glamping icon, having a pressure shower or road shower can be extremely helpful for any camping excursion. Whether it’s to clean camp dishes easily, clean the mud off your dogs' paws, rinse off dirty gear, or just take a plain old shower, these nifty gadgets are the bee's knees. Camp showers come in all shapes and sizes, from roof-rack mounted tanks to smaller compression-bag-sized showers.


Once your car is all packed with a plethora of camping gear, it is a bit hard to find specific things among the mess. Packing and unpacking your vehicle can either be a borderline-therapeutic endeavor or a nightmarish hybrid of hide-and-seek and Jenga. It really comes down to how it's all packed together. Using bins, totes, bags, compression sacks, or other organizational dividers can greatly enhance your packing and unpacking abilities. Instead of an hour of trying to stuff tumbling bags and sacks into your car, you will be able to stack everything all nice and neat, making finding things that much easier. Keeping things organized by category; sleeping gear, cooking gear, furniture, etc., can make setting up and managing each stage of your glamping pad a breeze.

  • trunk of SUV filled with duffel bags and suitcases
Packing your belongings in totes or duffel bags will help you keep track of smaller items and keep things organized


How does glamping work?

Glamping, as the name implies, is a more glamorous experience with more of the amenities you would see at home than at a typical campsite. Glamping can be anything from a well thought-out camp-site and good meals, to a more permanent structure with electricity and walls. Glamping can refer to any style of camping involving a few more frills and thrills than a typical campsite.

What is glamping versus camping?

Glamping is the more posh cousin to camping. Glamping gets its distinction from a liberal use of creature comforts and amenities. Camping is usually more bare bones and involves a certain amount of discomfort. Bugs, being cold, crawling in and out of a tent, poor food, and lack of supplies or utilities are not usually things you would encounter while glamping, but can be rather common for the typical campsite.

What to avoid when glamping?

Like Icarus, you don’t want your aspirations to get ahead of you. Bringing along extra gear and creature comforts is always nice, but it is important to keep in mind storage, site space, packability, and accessibility when creating an ideal glamp setup. Spending half a day unpacking a trailer of goodies may be acceptable for a week-long expedition, but for a weekend trip it could be overkill. Bringing along a portable bathroom, full camp kitchen, and other amenities can also encroach on your space if you are in a small site. Plan ahead and prioritize a list of “glamp essentials” and extras that you can bring along too if wanted.

Collin Tarr
Avast! I am the General Manager of East Lansing but hail from New England. Before moving to Michigan, I spent several years leading trips up and down the California coast and parts of the South-West. Whenever I have free time, I find myself backpacking, climbing, skiing, disc golfin', and teaching about the outdoors. I'll defend Chaco toe-straps till I die and will always preach the values of "Leave No Trace". Ask me your Q's 'cus I got A's!

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