Camping can be an affordable way to enjoy a family vacation. It can also be an easy escape from the hustle and bustle, if only for a couple of days. If everything goes as planned, that is.
Sometimes, however, Mother Nature has a mood swing. Other times, you forget to pack something crucial. No matter what the reason, experiencing a major fail on a camping trip is no fun … unless it’s somebody else’s fail, perhaps.
Check out these amusing, entertaining and sometimes pitiful camping mishaps we found across social media. Have you ever experienced any of these fails yourself?
A Soggy Surprise
Sooo.. I went camping with my classmates and it started raining in the middle of the night🤠.. to summarize: my tent drowned and the camp was a fail pic.twitter.com/fKaSdsA4dI
— Ani♡ (@kunsbear) October 26, 2018
Camping with classmates is a terrific way to get to know one another better. Sleeping in a tent during a rainstorm only intensifies this bond. But waking up in a swamp, as Twitter user @kunsbear did in October 2018, will really show everyone’s true colors.
This Looks Like The Perfect Spot
— Kellie Rich (@RichKellieL) December 16, 2016
When you find the perfect spot at the edge of the campground. And then you read the sign on the other side of the handy pole there. And then the powers that be ask you to move your entire camp. Twitter user Kellie Rich showed off this fail that could’ve been avoided with a little more reading!
Yes, Honey, I’m Sure I Remembered Everything
— Canoeroots by Paddling Magazine (@CanoerootsMag) December 19, 2016
You packed the cooler and all the right clothing. The tent? Of course! And even a mallet to hammer the tent stakes into the ground. Everything … except the tent poles. This fail, showed off by the magazine Canoeroots on Twitter, would be far too easy to duplicate.
That’s One Impressive Kite
Well, Instagram user @misslongwinded remembered her tent spikes on a trip to Red Rock Canyon State Park — but had a whole other issue after the camping trip was over. Just after she removed her tent spikes from the ground, the wind apparently picked up and sent their tent soaring. The good news: they retrieved the tent. The terrifying news: they had to scale the rocks to get it.
Why Secure The Tent?
Water can be at least partially to blame for many camping fails. Even if it doesn’t rain, you could find yourself in a murky situation. This is especially true if you forget your tent poles. On Instagram, @the_wild_folks showed what happens when your pop-up tent unexpectedly becomes a boat. Have we mentioned that tent poles are very important?
Mud In Your Eye
— Alexander Draaijer (@adraaijer) June 15, 2013
After camping, Twitter user Alexander Draaijer said he was only trying to pull out of the campground. What he failed to realize was that his vehicle was in sport mode. Instead of driving smoothly away, he peeled out, kicking up a long trail of mud onto his friends’ tents.
Why Bother with Camping Cookware?
Camping can potentially be a budget-friendly vacation option. However, it’s still wise to invest in the proper gear. Instagram user @kylejaysmith83 learned that the hard way when he tried using his ceramic French press on an open flame during a camping trip in Oceanside, California.
At Least The Tent Survived
A tree near your tent can come in handy. You can tie your tent to it and even hang wet clothes from the branches. You might not want to park directly beneath it, though, as Instagram user @cmurch83 found when a snapped branch landed on their SUV.
Nothing Like The Smell Of Burnt Popcorn
— Missy Shana (@missyshana) July 27, 2017
Missy Shana tweeted a picture of her own camping “adventures and mis-adventures,” which included a fail when trying to whip up a snack. Some things are easier to cook over an open fire than others. Apparently, popcorn is one of the more challenging foods, as you can see from the charred remains in her skillet.
Be Kind To Your Car’s Battery
These days, mobile devices like phones and tablets make camping a little more luxurious. If the batteries run low, just plug them into your car’s USB port and charge them up. But don’t forget to turn on the vehicle when you do this, though, or you might end up like Instagrammer @gemma_fowke and her little camping buddies who were left with a dead battery when it came time to leave.
Watch Where You Drop Your Gear
For all the people who seem to forget their tent poles, there are those that remember everything and then end up dropping an entire bag of gear on their foot. Instagram user @puzzledpets showed off a foot injury that was a bit worse than a simple stubbed toe.
The Wrong Kind Of Camp Fire
— Breeze (@TravelMomBreeze) June 13, 2017
Fires are a major, planned part of most camping trips. Car fires, however? Not so much. Thankfully, Twitter user @TravelMomBreeze was able to get her kiddos to safety before the family ride went up in flames at the start of their big trip.
When A Tornado Hits Your Campground
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What started as a relaxing camping trip, turned to a disaster 😭 Last night a storm came thru bearing a tornado that almost carried us along with it! (Thank God for anchors) we fled just after the tree fell down. Arrived safely to a hotel. Home now without any scratches or bruises. Thanking the Good Lord to be alive! #godprotects #campingfail #mothernature #cantcontroltheweather #betterlucknexttime
It started out as a relaxing camping trip for @stephnicks08, who shared her own scary camping mishap on Instagram. The trip ended as a run-for-your-life experience. She and her fellow campers fled from a tornado that hit the area and spent the night in a hotel, instead.
Becoming One with Nature
When you camp, you want to get closer to nature. But how close, and what sort of nature are we talking about? Reddit user burnz_J_ woke up to find a bear’s massive pawprint outside their tent in 2018. The startling image got nearly 1,000 upvotes from other campers.
Guess We’re Using Leaves Now
— REI (@REI) May 22, 2014
You definitely don’t have all the comforts of home when camping, but bringing along some toilet paper is obviously a must. Keeping a roll easily accessible is important — but you might not want to leave it out in the open or you’ll end up with a useless roll of pulp. This funny image of a soggy roll of toilet paper was shared by camping outfitter REI on Twitter.
When Yogi Likes Your Tent
When the signs at the campground say, “Don’t feed the bears,” heed them. Otherwise, they might think they’re entitled to all of your stuff. Taken at a campsite in Canada, Instagrammer @drewmcdonaldphotography shared this pic of a black bear helping himself to someone’s gear.
Blame It On The Weatherman
— Sean Dooley (@Twitchathon) October 11, 2015
Camping pros will tell you to always check on the weather before you go camping. But what do you do when the forecast is simply wrong?
“The forecast was fine with low chance of light showers,” Sean Dooley tweeted of his own camping fail in 2015. “Nobody told the thunderstorm.” As you can see, his tent felt the full force of the surprise storm.
It’s Only A Breeze
Instagrammer @belinda._.wells probably couldn’t understand why nobody else had set up camp in this spot. It’s got the perfect lake view and even a tree. So what if it’s a bit windy?
When Protective Gear Backfires
As you have seen in this list, bears can be a legitimate concern to campers. Picking up some bear deterrent spray isn’t a bad idea. Accidentally spraying yourself with it, on the other hand, can be a problem, as @acroflello found out the hard way during a night in the woods.
Burning Nightlights Aren’t the Safest Idea
The glow of tealights on a picnic table might seem like a charming idea. But Smokey Bear would tell you not to leave any fire burning unattended, no matter how small. Camper @riledupto learned this the hard way when they almost started a campground fire after setting out some decorative lights.
Flip Flop Fail
Flip flops are comfortable, cool and even washable. They are also infamous for blowouts, like what happened with this pair during a camping trip for Instagram user @beth_goody. Hope she brought a backup pair!
Nature Can Be Itchy
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Sooooooo…. finding your own fire wood in a forest is not a good idea if you are not experienced with identifying poison oak. #nevergoingbacktolakegeorge #campingfail #poisonoak #sendingthewifeforclearcalamine #flhikes #outdoorenthusiastwannabe #isuckatprimitivecamping #dontlookatme #imamonster
Part of the allure of camping is living off the land. Forage for food. Find your own firewood. Hike through a bunch of poison oak. As @aprileshowerswv found out, that last idea isn’t so fun.
Measure Your Air Mattress
Head to any sporting goods store and you’re sure to find tons of cool camping gear. Take this ultra-comfortable air mattress, for example, that @chloeatbreakfast showed off on Instagram. It might feel like you’re sleeping on a real bed … if you can squeeze it into your tent, that is.
Critters Get Hungry, Too
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Animals (squirrel, raccoon?) gnawed into our campsite dry food box and gorged themselves on hot dog buns and pistachios. This is post clean-up, after I painstakingly picked up hundreds of bite-size plastic shards off the ground. (And yes, that's a one gallon jar of pickles. The pickles were safe.) #camping #campingfails #hungryaf #kosherdillwholes #dontbuyfivedollarboxesfromwalmart #oshkoshbigosh
Investing in a nature-proof food container might be wise. On a camping trip in Wisconsin, Instagrammer Katjusa Cisar lost almost all of her supplies!
“Animals (squirrel, raccoon?) gnawed into our campsite dry food box and gorged themselves on hot dog buns and pistachios,” Cisar posted on Instagram. “This is post clean-up, after I painstakingly picked up hundreds of bite-size plastic shards off the ground. (And yes, that’s a one gallon jar of pickles. The pickles were safe.)
Might Want To Invest In 4-Wheel Drive
— A-A-RON (@AaronJamesJenks) May 20, 2012
We’re not sure if these campers were heading to or returning from their campground. In either case, Twitter user @AaronJamesJenks found himself in a sticky situation when the car got stuck in deep mud. That’s a chance you take when you go off the beaten path.
Does It Count As Camping If You Never Reach The Campground?
This camping fail happened before they ever opened a tent. While taking a camping trip in Oregon, Instagram user @mehtolleeus had to pull out a big map to find a sweet camping spot. They ended up turning tail and heading home after they couldn’t find the right spot!