When it comes to sleeping in the great outdoors, each of us has their own personal preference. Some campers set up large, multi-roomed shelters, some are fine with a smaller, one-person tent, and still others can find contentment with a hammock and a bug net and/or rain fly.

There are even those of us who leave the shelters at home in favor of laying our sleeping bags on the earth for a night beneath the stars. Here are a few reasons why outdoorsmen enjoy camping without a tent, as well as a few things to take into consideration if you decide to do so yourself.

One of the obvious appealing benefits of leaving your tent behind is that it saves the hassle of carrying the extra weight and setting it up at the end of the day. Although tents are becoming lighter and smaller over the years, having one is still a considerable load to carry with you.

Having no roof above your head in the outdoors also provides you with a unique sense of freedom, and makes you part of nature. There are some things that you simply can’t experience within a tent, such as the first warmth of a sunrise, or the dazzling display of stars that never cease to amaze even the most seasoned campers. Get far enough away from the city, where noise and light pollution obscure such views, and you’ll find such views, and more.

Aside from sunrises and stars, staying outside all night can bring you closer into contact with the nocturnal wildlife in your region. Now, whether these interactions will be pleasant or not, no one can predict, so be sure to take precautions against attracting larger animals, like bears.

Of course, there are still potential drawbacks to not using a tent. For instance, the lack of shelter removes any protection from the elements, so make sure to check the weather forecast and the night temperatures before considering a night in the open air. Summer—and maybe spring, in warmer regions—are the best times to consider camping tentless.

Check with the local experts for the presence of possibly threatening wildlife or swarms of mosquitoes. If there is any doubt or worry on your mind at all, then just take a tent. In the long run, it’s better to be prepared, and if conditions seem to be great, you can still just sleep outside the tent. Having one around will at least give you the option of going inside should the weather change.

I firmly believe every outdoorsman should spend at least a night or two sleeping under the stars during their lifetime. Still, while sleeping under the stars has its appeal, there are still factors to consider before you do so. Check the weather and the potential risk of wildlife interaction before you leave the house without a tent, just to be safe. 

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