The Ultimate Guide To Backyard Camping (8 Genius Tips For Camping at Home)

Post Summary: How To Go Backyard Camping At Home

Are you craving some time outside? So are we! In the springtime, Berty and I always get antsy to break out our camping gear and breathe in that fresh, dewy, Pacific Northwest air.

We can already imagine unzipping the tent in the morning, pouring a steaming mug of coffee in our thermos, and sitting around the campfire swapping stories of our dreams from the night before. Can you imagine it, too?

If you find yourself dreaming of a campout but can’t make it happen just yet, we’re here to bring it closer to home…in your own backyard! Yes, backyard camping can be equally as fun as spending the night out in the wilderness.

In this post, we’re showing you exactly how to set up the ultimate backyard camping space, what gear we use, and fun options to make it the coziest night under the stars yet! Working together with Teva, we came up with an outdoor scene that’s easy to set up, fun to make, and a perfect place to foster these camping memories!

No yard? No problem! These tips and tricks can easily be done inside as well – all you need is to move over the living room furniture. Look for the indoor alternatives in italics throughout this post!

Let’s go camping!

Berty and Emily Mandagie going backyard camping
Berty and Emily Mandagie camping in the backyard

The Unintentional Benefits of Backyard Camping…

Often times, backyard camping is the first time Berty and I bring out our camping gear after the winter season. This is actually the perfect time to inspect your gear for any damage, breaks, or holes!

Sleeping in your yard (or in the living room!) gives you an excellent opportunity to discover that broken tent zipper, the hole in your down-filled blanket, or empty canisters in a non-risky way. You can check your gear in the comfort of your own home, and make adjustments to get your gear in tip-top shape for its next real outing.

Berty Mandagie setting up a tent

What’s The Best Place For Camping At Home? (Inside vs Outside)

There’s isn’t a right or wrong way to go camping at home – but there are definitely pros and cons to each! Here are some of the perks (and downsides) to setting up camp inside vs outside.

Backyard Camping (Outside)

Backyard Camping Pros:

  • Sleeping under the stars
  • Feels like real camping!

Backyard Camping Cons:

  • Mornings can be chilly and dewy
  • Weather can take you by surprise

Living room Camping (Inside)

Inside Camping Pros:

  • The bathroom is just steps away!
  • A fun activity to do with kids

Inside Camping Cons:

  • Limited on usable space
  • No fresh air and stars (though you can open the windows!)
Berty and Emily Mandagie setting up backyard tent

Step By Step Guide To Backyard Camping

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So how do you go about setting up the perfect backyard campout? Lucky for you, it’s all up to personal preference!

There isn’t a cookie-cutter way that you need to follow to go camping – it’s a customizable experience! Below, we’re sharing how we set up our backyard camping spot, but please use these as inspiration and ideas rather than mandates. So, here we go…

Set Up A Tent

Find a relatively flat space in your yard and set up your tent. If this is the first time using your gear, this is a great way to practice setting it up. Depending on the weather outside, you can choose to put the rainfly on, or leave it off to sleep under the stars!

Inside Camping: Clear a large space by pushing furniture away. Set up a tent with room to walk around the entire thing, and arrange the door for convenient in and out traffic. Your camping set up can be in the living room, the hallway – anywhere there is room!

No tent? Make a shelter by tying the ends of a sheet to something like a stake. Use a broom as a tent pole!

Emily Mandagie setting up backyard tent

Other places to set up a backyard oasis? Use your balcony, a porch,

Berty and Emily setting up backyard tent

Make It Extra Cozy – Bring Out The Blankets!

The great thing about backyard camping is that you can bring all the luxuries of your bedroom right into the great outdoors. Want a comforter? Two blankets? Make it five!

For this campout, along with our sleeping bags, we pulled the biggest comforter in our house out to the tent. We also brought out our Glacier Wool Pendleton blanket (similar rainbow one here) to keep us extra cozy at night. We loved the option to run back in the house and grab more blankets if we got cold at night.

You can also do the complete opposite, and use this as a practice run for your next ultralight backpacking trip. Only bring out what you would carry on your back, to see if it’s the amount of gear for the real deal.

Inside Tip: No tent? You can move your mattress into the living room, (sheets and all!) for a fun (and super cozy) night. 

Emily Mandagie grabbing blankets for a tent n the backyard
Emily Mandagie on back deck with blankets
Emily Mandagie setting up backyard camping area


Cook Dinner By The Fire

If you have space to safely cook outside, we highly recommend it! This can look different depending on the kind of tools you have available to you, but we’re sharing some cooking options below:

Cook On The Grill: Have access to a grill? Get fancy with your dinner and make something like barbecue chicken and grilled veggies.

Cook On An Open Fire Pit: If you have a fire pit to use, test out your fire-making skills and cook a meal over the flames! You can go classic by roasting hot dogs on a stick, or get a little fancier and grab a grill cover or cast iron pan to make a meal over the open fire. Hint: A great fire starter can be made from the lint in your drier!

Portable Camping Grill: Grab a small bottle of propane and set up a small stovetop on your patio. Additionally, you can opt to use a Jet Boil and boil water to use for a freeze-dried meal or some morning oatmeal. (Psst, read all about our favorite easy camping meal recipes here!)

What If You Can’t Do Any Of These Backyard Camping Cook Options? Microwave it. (Nobody has to know, and who cares anyway? It’s your campout!)

Roasting smores in the backyard fire pit
Eating dinner in the backyard
Emily Mandagie roasting s'mores by the fire

String Twinkle Lights In Your Tent (Set The Ambiance!)

Want to try and get the full camping experience? Try and consider all your senses when creating your backyard camping setup. What does camp smell like? What does camp sound like? These are all things to think about!

What does Camp Look Like?

One of the easiest ways to create a cozy ambiance is to bring out some fairy lights to decorate your tent. On a cloudy night, they can act as your own sky full of stars! We own a couple of sets of these twinkle lights, and we love how small they pack so we can take them practically anywhere!

You can also find a wildlife documentary or set up a crackling campfire on a video loop (this is one of our favorites!) to relive the sounds of nature.

Inside Tip: No twinkle lights? Grab an empty tin can you don’t use anymore, a hammer, and a nail and poke holes all over the can. When there are enough ‘stars’ for your night sky, shine a flashlight through the bottom and project the stars upon the ceiling!

Setting up twinkle lights inside the tent

What Does Camp Sound Like?

Whether you are inside or outside, find a Spotify nature playlist and recreate the sounds of the outdoors. Some examples could be of crickets chirping, a rainstorm, a flowing river, or a quiet stream.

Want an inspiring bedtime story? This book called Campfire Stories is a collection of inspiring memories from the US National Parks. It will evoke am awesome connection to nature, without even having to leave your own living room.

Backyard Camping Setup: Twinkle lights inside the tent

What Does Camp Smell Like?

Do you have an outdoor fireplace? Berty and I always seem to smell like a campfire when we go to sleep on camping trips! Spend some time around the fire roasting s’mores and chatting, and go to bed with those familiar scents.

Insiders Tip: Do you have a candle that smells like a pine forest?

Bring Out The Entertainment!

The sky is the limit when it comes to games to play when camping. You could opt for some easy camping games like Bananagrams or classic camping games like a deck of cards (with a glow in the dark deck!). You could even bring out some musical instruments and have your own jam session!

Additionally, you can tell scary stories for free! Stick a flashlight under your chin for some spooky effects and share your creepiest story to keep your group up all night long.

Set Up An Outdoor Movie

One of the great things about backyard camping is how easy it is to bring in additional entertainment – like outdoor movie night!

Get your hands on a portable projector like this one, that can stream movies and shows from devices like your phone or laptop. The best part, you can quickly hop inside for unlimited popcorn runs!

If you are looking for something a tad more accessible, bring your laptop or portable device outside and stream a TV show from it! If the internet doesn’t quite reach your camping spot, try and download the show or movie offline before you go outside. That’s what we did!

Watching TV inside a tent

Go Stargazing

Are you lucky to have a clear night during your backyard campout? Ditch the rainfly on your tent and leave it open to watch the stars all night long!

Want to know more about the night sky? Check out this Star Finder Book to discover more about the universe!

Emily and Berty Mandagie shoe shot inside tent

Get Coffee Ready In The Morning

One of the best parts about camping in your backyard? Your coffeemaker is just steps away! No need for camp coffee when you’ve got the one-push brew right inside.

However, if you want a pure outdoor camping experience, here’s how we make coffee on the road and on camping trips. Better yet, here are some of our tips on how to wake up early, so your coffee and sunrise views can go hand in hand!

Emily Mandagie drinking coffee on the back deck
Berty Mandagie waking up from camping in the yard

What is your ideal backyard camping situation? We’d love to hear your ideas – share them in the comment section below!


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1 Comment

  1. An interesting article, it’s perfect in the time of the pandemic. Thanks for your share