A few years ago now, we posted a photo showing some campers relaxing and enjoying the benefits of camping with a Trayon. The tagline read ‘Stress is caused by not camping enough’. Little did we know just how fast that photo would spread. It turned viral! Here it is:
It was great to see how many people could relate to it. It demonstrated how many of us share the idea that camping reduces stress. But, we want to fully understand why.
This article delves into the psychology behind the benefits of camping. It also explains:
- the evidence supporting camping as an effective way to de-stress, reset and recharge from the craziness of the modern urban world.
- how to ensure your camping adventures involve as little stress as possible! Because when done wrong, camping itself can cause additional stress, not reduce it.
Where Does the Stress Come From?
In our everyday lives, everything seems to slowly wind up the stress levels:
- Our eyes are constantly glued to screens.
- Communication devices forever screaming in our pockets.
- Unrelenting pressure to complete work tasks which ultimately have little relevance to our personal satisfaction.
- Mad rushes through busy transport or stop start traffic to get anywhere.
- Mouths to feed, bills to pay, lawns to mow, things to fix, and the list goes on.
There’s no two ways about it – modern urban life is stressful!
It’s Enough to Send Anyone MIA (Missing in Action)!
Many of us live, sleep, work and play indoors, amongst a concrete man made universe which never rests. We commute from one man made environment to another, over and over, for our entire lives!
No wonder we come home from work feeling the pinch. Ever feel tired, even after a good sleep? An overdose of modern urban life probably has something to do with it. Never before in human history have we been so disconnected from nature and the environment.
To de-stress, we often try and zone out at home, using things like books, the television or social media. The problem is, these attempts to mentally escape are still occuring in a man made environment. This means we’re not really escaping at all!! It’s like fighting fire with fire!
If You Can Relate to This, it’s Time to Seek the Benefits of Camping!
Why? Because the benefits of camping are cheaper than therapy!
In the 90’s, there was an interesting theory developed by Dr Steve Kaplan, a professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, called Attention Restoration Theory.
It suggests that the reason we get so stressed in our modern urban lives, is because the modern urban environment demands so much constant concentration and attention. It’s unnatural and it’s hard to understand. Our attention capacity becomes fatigued, and it decreases. Everything begins to feel stressful, all of the time.
What Does the Research Suggest to Do About it?
Kaplan’s research, in addition to various other studies, suggests that an effective way to de-stress and reset your attention span is to spend time immersed in natural environments.
Natural environments are particularly rich in the characteristics necessary for restorative experience (Kaplan 1995)
A 1991 study by Ulrich et al., looking into the stress recovery effects of natural versus urban environments, found natural environments to have a higher “stress reducing or restorative influence”. It attributed this influence to the more “positively-atoned emotional state” invoked by natural environments.
What Does this Mean in Plain Terms?
Simply put, it means being in the Outback, as we like to call it in Australia, makes you happy. And happiness leads to less stress.
Kaplan’s Attention Restorative Theory explains that the most important ‘stress relieving’ effect of the natural environment is “soft fascination”. Soft fascination happens when surroundings capture your attention effortlessly. Think mesmerising mountain ranges, waterfalls, beaches or tropical billabongs. You can sit and observe for hours. The natural sounds, smells and sights fill your mind with calming experiences you have evolved to understand and enjoy.
Kaplan’s research further suggested that the restorative effects of soft fascination in natural environments could be increased by:
- Spending longer periods immersed in these environments (i.e multiple days)
- Having contrasting experiences to daily life (i.e. breaking habits and routine); and
- Satisfying a desire to be immersed in the natural environment (i.e you must want to be there).
Camping Ticks All the Boxes!
For many of us, camping means spending extended periods living a simple life in our favourite places, amongst mesmerising environments. So for stressed individuals, the stress reducing benefits of camping should be just what the doctor ordered!
It can be simply explained by this equation:
Long periods camping in the Outback = very happy campers! Why? Because it means longer exposure to the benefits of camping.
The Benefits of Camping
Although ‘soft fascination’ with our environment provides the strongest stress relieving qualities, the benefits of camping are wide ranging, and all help to increase it’s stress relieving effect. These benefits of camping include:
- Less screen time. In our modern world full of laptops, televisions and smartphones, a lack of screens is possibly the best side effect of camping. The absence of screens forces you to look outside your own little technological bubble for enjoyment and satisfaction. Do yourself a favour and leave your devices at home or under your car seat and out of sight!
- Better sleeps. After long days enjoying and relaxing in the great outdoors, sleep usually comes more quickly and easily. Due to the absence of screens, it makes sense to go to bed earlier and thus rise earlier as well! And there is nothing better than starting the day with a magic sunrise!
- Healthier environments. Camping and living in nature means you’re breathing fresher cleaner air, in contact with less chemicals, and bathing in sunshine which means more vitamin D (just don’t forget the ‘slip slop slap!’).
- Healthier food. There’s no Mcdonalds drive through waiting around the corner. You have to rely on the food you take or catch and collect. So make sure you take an esky full of fresh meat, grains, vegetables and fruit! You know the old saying “everything tastes better when you’re camping!” Well it’s true. And if you’re skilled with a fishing rod and in the right places, then fresh healthy fish can be on the menu whenever you want!
- More exercise. When living in nature you’re inspired to explore! Beach walks, hiking, kayaking, swimming….it’s all part and parcel of the camping package. And the best part is, it doesn’t feel like your trying to exercise, it just feels good!
- Quality family time. The best family memories are often created while camping. In fact most of us probably have fond childhood camping memories, and we wouldn’t trade them for the world! So make sure you get out there and make more memories for you and your kids!!
How do These Benefits of Camping Affect Health and Wellbeing?
The resulting health benefits of camping include:
- Reset circadian rhythms (i.e your body clock)
- Stronger immune systems
- Better moods
- Better fitness (i.e slower pulse and lower blood pressure); and
- Lower cortisol levels (a hormone your body releases when under stress, which can cause things like anxiety, mood swings and weight gain).
All of this, added to ‘soft fascination’, ultimately means MUCH LESS STRESS!
How to Unlock the Most Benefits of Camping?
According to Kaplan’s research, the environments which induce the most ‘soft fascination’ provide the most stress relieving, or ‘attention restoring’ effects.
So it makes sense the most fascinating, mesmerizing and awe inspiring environments will provide the most benefits of camping. They also correspond to healthier pristine environments and less modern distractions!
But Wait, There’s a Catch
The catch is, these kind of environments aren’t always accessible via everyday transport like city cars, buses, trains or planes. They’re usually found by driving rugged four wheel drive vehicles deep into the Outback. So the real benefits of camping are waiting at the end of those long rough tracks, like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow!
Any beautiful environments which are easily accessible to everyday transport will be teaming with other people seeking the same stress relieving benefits of camping. The problem is, the more people trying to squeeze into a natural environment, the more busy and stressful the situation becomes!
For a complete body and mind reset, you should be seeking natural environments away from the hoards and unlike anything you’re use to. This means it’s time to get ‘off the beaten track’! In Australia, this means ‘off road’ places like:
The benefits of camping at these destinations are endless.
How Do You Reach These Destinations?
To get in and out, you need the right camping rig. By camping rig we mean the vehicle plus camping facilities. Off road camping rigs capable of accessing the most awe inspiring places generally include a rugged four wheel drive vehicle, plus one of the following options:
- Standard tent
- Roof top tent
- Slide on camper (compatible with utes only)
- Off road camper trailer; or
- Off road caravan.
Your Camping Rig Affects the Benefits of Camping!
In addition to accessing the best camping environments, the second part to unlocking the benefits of camping and de-stressing, is reducing the stress involved with the camping experience itself. When it comes to stress relief; the journey is just as important as the destination.
Your off road camping rig affects every single step of the camping experience, and therefore drives how much stress is involved!
The whole camping experience Includes:
- Travelling to the camp
- Setting up camp
- Camping itself
- Packing up
- Travelling home
- Unpacking/cleaning the vehicle.
If using the wrong rig, camping can actually cause more stress, and potentially cancel out the stress relieving benefits of camping and probably discourage you from going. On the flip side, if you have the right camping rig, you will get out there more often to unlock the benefits of camping; even if it is just for a short weekend getaway taken on a moments notice.
How to Find the Most Stress Free Option
For the most stress free camping experience, your camping rig should have the following qualities:
- Accessibility and maneuverability. You’re not going to get the those stress relieving places unless you’re rig can access them. And some rigs make getting there a whole lot more stressful than others. Camper weight, size and weight distribution are the biggest factors here.
- Simplicity. Basically the less complex the rig, the less that can go wrong, especially on rough Outback tracks. Equipment, electrical and mechanical failure is one of the most stressful things that can happen on the road! Keep it simple!
- Low vehicle impact. Camper weight and profile affect how much stress is placed on the vehicle, which in turn places stress on you as you worry about what’s going to break or give way. Heavy campers can also significantly increase fuel consumption.
- Sufficient access and storage space. This affects your packing process, camp setup and pack up, and also the ease of accessing facilities while camping. All potential triggers for a sharp rise in blood pressure!
- Quick set up and pack up. This can make or break a camping trip. No one wants to be labouring to settle into a beautiful environment by erecting canvas city.
- Ability to deal with all weather conditions. The camp setup needs to be able to deal with rain, hail or shine. If you’re badly affected by the elements, stress levels are likely to sky rocket!
- Good repair options. You want confidence that help will be swift and effective. The longer it takes to find help and repair the rig, the more stressful the situation will become.
By seeking a rig with these qualities, the benefits of camping will undoubtedly increase.
What to Avoid
If your goal is to have an overall stress relieving experience to reset body and mind, we recommend staying away from rigs which involve towing. For example, camper trailers and caravans.
Towing rigs come with the following stress inducing disadvantages:
- Requires significant time and thought to pack and distribute the weight correctly (i.e. trailers should have a 60/40 distribution profile – 60% in front of the axle and 40% behind).
- Creates more complexity (i.e. more running gear to break like tyres, axles, bearings and suspension).
- Applies a significant amount of extra stress to your vehicle (up to three times the weight of the trailer draw bar can come crashing down on the vehicle’s tow bar when going over lumps and bumps).
- Can be difficult to get into remote places, or may create difficulties getting out (i.e trying to reverse out small side tracks or simply turning around).
- Creates stress when travelling to the destination (i.e. when trying to find a double car park to pull up in for a quick coffee stop).
- Requires longer and more complex set up and pack up times (i.e. hooking up and detaching heavier trailers can be very difficult in soft terrain).
- The risk of fishtailing. This is often caused by heavy side winds, the wind caused by passing road trains, or going down hill without a proper braking setup or proper load distribution.
This all adds potential stress to your trip and can ultimately reduce the benefits of camping. So we are eliminating camper trailers and caravans from the list of stress free camping candidates, due to the added stress of towing.
Check out our article on ‘slide on campers vs off road trailers’ to get a better idea of why trailers create so much extra stress in the Outback.
Tents Aren’t the Best Either
We also recommend staying away from simple tent setups, due to the reduced ability to deal with a wide variety of conditions. Heavy wind, rain, hail or sun can seriously impact your camping experience in a tent.
You can pack a heap of extra bad weather gear, but then of course it becomes a very stressful process to pack up, set up, and find important things while you’re camping!
Further, being directly on the ground adds a whole new world of conditions to contend with; creepy crawlies, crocs, low wind draft, radiating heat from the soil around, water runoff from heavy rain. All this can make camping in a tent on the ground all the more stressful, and turn the benefits of camping into tears.
Beware of Rooftop Tents
They often seem like a good idea. But when you need to drive the vehicle away from camp (for example to access a good fishing or hiking spot or even to go grab some supplies in the local town down the road), you have to pack up the tent every time, then set up again when you’re back! Imagine doing that over and over the whole time.
The stress relieving benefits of camping will slip through your fingers!
Some other negatives include:
- The access. The ladder to access and exit roof top tents is normally cumbersome and the tread plates are thin. This makes your descent to the coffee pot all the more painful on your sleep softened feet. Your feet can also slip through the rungs, which isn’t a very “shin friendly” experience at all.
- Wet weather = wet mattresses. Often the bed has to fold in half when closing time comes and if the tent is wet; you are literally sandwiching the wet canvas between the mattress, making it nice and soggy for your next night’s sleep.
- Exposure to the elements. There is also little room to escape rain. At best you have to retreat to the mattress and hope to keep yourself entertained for however long the rain sets in.
The biggest benefit of camping will be the relief once you get home!
The Best Option?
We recommend slide on campers as the most stress free option to unlock all the benefits of camping. But not just any slide on camper, as not all slide on campers are the same. Slide on campers differ in the way they attach to your vehicle. This affects profile, weight, and the ability to cope with rough terrain. All factors which can affect stress levels! The difference is:
- A slide in camper is a camping unit which slides in the tub of a style-side ute through the tailgate.
- A slide on camper is a camping unit placed on top of a tray-back or flat-bed ute.
In general, slide on campers have the following advantages over slide ins’, which make them the most stress free option:
- Lighter and smaller travelling profile.
- Greater gear capacity and easier to distribute weight properly.
- Better travelling stability due to a lower height and lower centre of gravity.
- More durable in rough conditions due to a better vehicle attachment system.
- Larger internal area
- More functions and features due to larger and more practical layout
For more information on these differences between the two check out our recent article ‘slide on campers vs slide in campers’.
Why is a Trayon the Best Slide on Camper Option?
Trayon campers provide one of the most stress free setups in the slide on camper market, and here’s why:
They’re built With 25 years of Experience
Trayon has been in the slide on camper game long enough to know exactly what customers need to access the best places, reduce stress levels, and unlock the benefits of camping. Every camper is built to do the job and last a lifetime.
Trayon have not changed the design, layout or the build methodology of their Trayon camper range since 1994! It is still the lightest, strongest and most practical use of space while making for a great weight distribution and combating the normal nasties of touring the outback (like dust inundation and vibrations).
Why do you think you get a 10 year structural warranty that also covers you for off road terrains?
They are basically purpose built to unlock the benefits of camping. It all equates to less stress, and that’s why so many people seek the stress free qualities of a Trayon.
In fact we recently notched up our 1000th camper (you can check out the milestone in our article ‘Trayon’s 1000th Ute Camper’).
They’re One of the Lightest Slide on Campers Going Around
With a dry weight of 390 kg (or 370kg for the Dual-cab model), you’ll be very hard pressed finding another slide on camper to match the weight of a Trayon spec for spec.
A Trayon’s lightweight build minimises the stress placed on your vehicle, meaning fewer upgrades are needed. In our recent article, ‘4WD Suspension Upgrade’ we discuss what the best suspension option is when carrying a light slide on camper to make sure your rig is off road ready.
The benefits of camping are increased when you don’t have to worry about your vehicle!
A Low Travelling Profile
When packed up, the camper is barely larger than the profile of the vehicle, meaning wind resistance and fuel consumption is reduced. It also means you have more chance to get through very tight overgrown tracks.
The low profile also makes it simple and stress free to store at home or in the backyard, waiting patiently for your next trip.
Extremely Fast Setup
It takes one person approximately three minutes to set up, with a beer well underway by the five minute mark! While your kicking back and de-stressing, other campers will still be hammering in their pegs!
Easy to Detach and Leave Freestanding
One person can extend the legs and drive the vehicle out from underneath the free standing camper in approximately 6 minutes. This means the vehicle is free to use whenever you need and you can leave base camp all set up and fully functional!
Australian Made, Australian Family Owned and Australian Warranty
Every camper is made in Australia and comes with a 10 year structural warranty. This is a huge advantage over imported campers, where a foreign warranty and poor access to warranty and repair support can cause a significant amount of stress in the Outback.
Bear in mind that some components of a Trayon, such as the fridge and hot water system (in Deluxe and Diesel Deluxe models) are built elsewhere and installed by Trayon.
We source and use the best items we can find to do the job properly and reliably. But we can’t prevent this gear from malfunctioning on the very rare occasion. In these cases we will do everything we can to help amend any issues within the bounds of warranty, using our Australian wide contact base.
The last thing we want is for something like this to impact your benefits of camping.
Easy to Pack, Access Gear and Use Facilities
A Trayon is built to ensure packing and correctly distributing weight (i.e. in front of the vehicle’s rear axle) is an easy task, and all facilities are easily accessible. Poor storage and access is a huge source of stress and does not help to absorb the real benefits of camping.
With a Trayon you won’t need to be digging around in the back for hours or unpacking a tower of gear to get to the bottom item in a Trayon.
Bad Weather Options
A Trayon keeps you dry and comfortable in any conditions. We also provide options for more bad weather protection such as the camper fly extension.
You can function just as well inside a Trayon as you can outside. So when the elements set in (wind, rain, midges, flies, mossies and so on) you can retreat to the inside of the camper, behind your aluminium framed security lockable door and carry on relaxing and sucking in those benefits of camping! Lay on the bed, or sit at the lounge and perfect your poker game while enjoying a cuppa from the cooktop, or a cold beer from the fridge.
You can also cook inside or outside a Trayon camper, depending on the elements. The Trayon camper allows you to choose. That’s exactly what a proper ‘all weather shelter system’ should should do!
Time to Recharge with a Trayon!
The point is, a Trayon will provide the most stress free camping setup available.
They’re purpose built for you to achieve the main goal of camping – relaxing through the stress relieving qualities of beautiful, pristine and remote natural environments.
Other options could actually increase your stress levels, not decrease them. They aren’t built to unlock the real benefits of camping.
So if your looking to escape the concrete Jungle and come home fully refreshed, do it in a Trayon!