Glamping, if you’re unfamiliar, Frankensteins the words “glamour” and “camping,” and attracts urban types who want to experience the outdoors without roughing it. Tents, tipis, yurts, and treehouses are outfitted with Ritz Carlton–like amenities. Camping traditionalists scoff, claiming there’s good reason why Mark Trail doesn’t wear cashmere sweaters. Maybe so. But ask some in the outdoor industry and they applaud glamping for getting people outside. Regardless, to provide better insight on this growing trend, we decided to face it off against our favorite outdoor pastime, camping. Let’s see how it fares.
“Roughing it” in camping means pitching a two-person tent in fading light under heavy rain, and then spending the night convinced of imminent death after discovering on your next-to-last-bite of freeze-dried beef burgundy that you forgot to remove the oxygen absorption packet. Roughing it in glamping means the yurt’s 98-inch flat-screen TV doesn’t offer the Weather Channel in HD.
Campers describe their outdoor experiences as rad and awesome. Glampers describe their outings as lovely and elegant. Describing any outdoor experience as lovely or elegant is as inconsonant as describing the Yellowstone Club as inclusive and affordable. These aren’t adjectives used by true-to-the-core outdoorsmen. These are adjectives favored by Lexus dealers and real-estate agents who name their pets Princess and, for reasons unknown even to them, cheer for the Dallas Cowboys.
Camping checklists feature headlamps, rain parkas, and sleeping bags. Glamping checklists contain must-have necessities like ceiling-fan-proof matches, Swiss Army wine keys, and Calvin Klein’s Naughty Mist bug repellent.
Equating glamping with adventure is like equating the access tunnel to Butte’s Berkeley Pit overlook with spelunking. The only challenge glampers face is deciding which wine pairs best with Clif Bars. Every aspect of camping is an adventure, even rest. It takes a venturous spirit to achieve sleep on an inflated rectangle filled with one’s own foul breath. Especially while camped on an incline. Every hour or so, one wakes at the back of the tent like crumpled clothes at the bottom of a hamper chute, checking the cheeks for sleeping-pad-slide burns.
Camping features uber-cool companies like Patagonia, Marmot, and Mountain Hardware. These businesses favor function over form, selling highly technical clothing and gear for hardcore outdoor enthusiasts. Glamping has something called Glamping Girl. This shop is to the outdoors as ISIS is to the Nobel Peace Prize. It sells such essentials as candle chandeliers (perfect, it claims, for creating an airy French Provincial ambiance), fuzzy white poufs, and a Glamofish pink camouflage fishing rod. It’s safe to presume that any camp featuring this type of gear is enough to make the Smokey the Bear consider arson.
The practice of feng shui in a yurt is constricting. Limited space creates limited options. Reposition the king bed too close to the wood-burning stove and the threat of a three-alarm yurt fire becomes a reality. Feng Shui in a tent requires nothing more than un-staking it and waiting for a breeze.
If an initiate to camping gets buzzed by the outdoor bug, it fosters a lifelong appreciation for the outdoors—creating, with any luck, a steadfast advocate for wilderness preservation. If someone falls head over heels in love with glamping, offshoots like glayaking, glimbing, and glishing can be expected.
I Am Alive
Sleeping on the ground in a tent mashes the carpe diem pedal to the floor, providing the intoxicating euphoria of feeling like a modern-day Jeremiah Johnson—minus, of course, some pelt-clad old-timer entering your reality every now and then, referring to you only as “pilgrim.” It’s enough to make you want to stand naked in the Gallatin River under a full moon gnawing on the skull of a crazed badger, shouting, “I feel so damn alive!” That is until pragmatism kicks in and you hurry back to your tent before neighboring campers notify the sheriff. Lodging in a five-star treehouse induces no such reviving thoughts. Instead of seizing the day, you feel oddly compelled to seize a spatula and bake chocolate-chip cookies.
Winner: Camping, in a rout, making this, in the annals of Outside Bozeman, the first-ever face-off shutout. Call us biased, but glamping is not adventure—it’s barely even recreation—and has no place in our pages or our forests. This fall, stuff your pack, pull on your boots, and hit the trail. Spread out under the stars and usher in the season out-of-doors, no chandelier candles required.