Primitive Camping for the First Time

Hi! I’m almost 14 and I’ve been camping and hiking a few times and loved it! But now I want to try easy backpacking with my friend and mom.
However I’ve never been primitive camping and to tell the truth I’m kind of afraid to. But at the end of 8th grade we are required to go primitive camping for a week and practice would be nice.

Where do you recommend?
What are some good tips?
What’s the hardest part?


Thank you,

Austin, Texas

P.S. It doesn’t have to be close to Austin, but preferably not 5 hours away.


Pedernales Falls State Park
Pedernales Falls State Park, photo courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.

Hi Ellie!

I am so excited for you! You’re going to have a great time primitive camping with your mom and friend. I know many people who are afraid of primitive camping and backpacking, but there is no need to! It is fun, and as long as you are well prepared, you’ll have a great time and it will be a wonderful experience.

Some suggestions for your first primitive camping trip:

  • Choose a location close to home. That way, you’ll have the comfort of already knowing the area well, and if you end up hating it you’ll know that home is close by.

    • How about a 1 or 2 night trip at Pedernales Falls State Park? It is so close to Austin, Texas, and there is a primitive camping area overlooking the Pedernales River.
  • Plan a relatively easy hike into your intended camping spot. That way you won’t be exhausted when you set up camp, and you’ll definitely enjoy it more.
  • Stay organized, and plot out a route in advance. If you can, talk to people who have camped in the same area, so you can get a sense of what to expect.

Also, I just published a new article that I hope helps you and everyone else out there has some fears of primitive camping and backpacking! No Excuses: Why Everyone Should Go Backpacking!

Happy trails!
Hiking Lady

Do you have a question for the Hiking Lady?


  1. Hiking Lady says:

    Great question. Have you tried buying high quality boy’s boots? There are a couple of brands that make them, including HiTec. You might want to check out Keen – they make a good Kids shoe, the Keen Kids Pagosa Mid top. Are you able to order a new pair of the women’s 8.5 boots you’ve been wearing? Zappos and Amazon have pretty broad selections that aren’t always available in stores. Hope that helps.

  2. Tiny says:

    I am a male with small feet, size 5.5 – 6. This is basically a big boys shoe size. It is very difficult to find quality hiking boots or shoes that fit well. What do you recommend? I have been using my wife’s HiTec size 8.5 hiking boot and it has been good for me, but wearing out.

  3. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Campin Girl! It must be a Texas thing 🙂 I’m from California too and am familiar with the 5th grade outdoor school, which is exactly as you described. I think “primitive camping” is a good experience for kids, as long as they are already comfortable with the summer-camp style setting and ready to be even more adventurous!

  4. campin_girl27 says:

    Don’t know when this question was asked but Enchanted Rock State Park would also be a great starting place. It’s busy enough that you wouldn’t feel totally alone, while getting the experience you need. A step up from that might be Lost Maples State Park.

    P.S. Required(?!) to go primitive camping? Who “requires” that? Is that an Austin schools thing? I lived in CA in grade school and in 5th grade we did outdoors school for a week, but it was a summer camp-like setting (cabins/mess hall). That was my favorite week in school!

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