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Camping is a general term used to describe many fundamentally different activities. Some of these activities include car-camping, backpacking, and river tripping. My page does not differentiate between backpacking/river tripping and car-camping except where extended trail or channel information is provided.
Car-camping is when you camp near your car! Most people who have been camping, have been car-camping. Car-camping is great when you plan to see assorted attractions and participate in a variety of activities. Most all camping in State Parks would be considered car-camping except for a few that offer backcountry camping like Oak Mountain in Alabama. Car-camping is the most popular form of family camping as well.
Common items needed for a comfortable weekend camping near your car include: A tent, sleeping bags, cot/sleeping pad. A few accessories most people have are a lantern, stove, pots/pans, fuel, hatchet/saw (for firewood...dead trees only!), and a cooler.
Backpacking is when you park your car and hike with all your gear in a backpack. Fewer people have been backpacking as opposed to car camping. When backpacking, you are generally narrowed down as to what activities you will participate. These activities often include sightseeing, hiking of course, exercise combined w/relaxation, and fellowship. I often take a packable fishing rod when camping near big streams, this adds fishing to my possible activities. Many people take climbing/rappelling gear as well.
When backpacking, your gear becomes more critical and your knowledge must be more comprehensive. Backpacking can include: The need for understanding and using a map combined with a compass, knowledge of first aid and rescue techniques, sufficient clothing and sleeping insulation, and adequate physical health.
Common items needed for a general backpacking trip include: A backpack, a lightweight tent (<10lb.), sleeping bag, sleeping pad, small stove/pots, freeze dried or staple foods (some people use canned food), water purification tablets or water filter, water container, and a positive attitude.
River tripping is when you use a small boat to follow a river (usually downstream) to a pre-planned destination. I use a 16' Freedom by Mad River Canoe with all of my backpacking gear except the backpack. River tripping is probably the most exciting of all camping. You generally have all the beautiful scenery as backpacking only you don't have pack the gear to see it all. When river tripping you must have water proof containers for gear that needs to stay dry. I usually leave my pots/stove, and sleeping pad out because water will not hurt them.
Common items needed for river tripping include: A suitable boat, paddles of course, personal flotation device (PFD), and all gear needed for backpacking except for the backpack.