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What Is A Camping Rug? Do You Need One?

We often find ourselves trying to create better ways to enjoy our camping experience. For many, it’s trying to keep dirt and debris out of their tent. For others, it’s having a comfortable place to spread out. One way you can accommodate all of this is through what is known as a camping rug.

Camping rugs are a fantastic amenity that can add a lot of extra comfort to your camping trip. It’s basically a rug designed for outdoor spaces that provides a multitude of uses and brings a touch of cleanliness to the outdoors. They’re popular among the RV crowd and are often called RV rugs.

If you’re considering a camping rug, it’s important to put some thought into what you intend to use the rug for. For most, it’s simply keeping the dirt out, but it can also serve many other purposes. Below, we’ll discuss the uses of camping rugs and what you should consider when buying one.

What Is A Camp Rug For?

Camp rugs have a variety of uses, but they are predominantly used to keep dirt out of your tent. Sometimes, it’s a simple outdoor shoe mat to place your muddy shoes on before entering your tent. Other times, it’s a large rug butted up to the entrance of your tent to create an outdoor lounge area. 

If you’re visiting a campsite that provides a concrete or gravel pad, it can also be used as a covering mechanism for those areas, particularly gravel. Camping rugs can also make great picnic blankets or play-mats for the kids. Or they could even be used as a place to lay out under the stars and enjoy a beautiful night sky.

Camp rugs are sometimes used by thru hiking campers to soften a rugged area. Rugs can be placed outside the tents for relaxing or near the campfire as a place to enjoy a morning cup of coffee

Some hikers will even place a camping rug on the inside of their tent as an added layer of durability. They claim it helps with sharp, protruding objects coming up through the tent floor. Still, even for others, it’s a social circle, a place where everyone puts their camping chairs to hang out and visit. Even beach campers will sometimes use a camping rug to provide a sand-free area. 

The possibilities are as numerous as your imagination. In a pinch, you could make a mediocre lean-to, or use it to cover your gear in bad weather. In an emergency, you could even use one as a stretcher, assuming it’s large enough.

Outdoor Rugs vs Indoor Rugs

Indoor rugs don’t work well outside for obvious reasons. They are big and bulky and would be too difficult to pack in tight spaces. Indoor rugs don’t do well at resisting water, so in the outdoors they would be prone to mold and mildew. In addition, it would be very difficult to keep an indoor rug free of debris.

Most outdoor rugs are made from synthetic materials like polypropylene or nylon. These materials are especially strong and have a low absorption rate. They are much more durable and fatigue resistant to the great outdoors.

Another great thing about camping rugs is that because they are largely breathable, they won’t damage the grass or vegetation beneath them, making them an excellent choice for the “leave no trace” ethos. In addition, their woven polymers allow particles to pass through the rug rather than accumulating on the surface or embedding within the rug itself.

Do You Need A Camping Rug?

There are a lot of things that we take camping with us that we don’t necessarily need, but we take them because they make our experience better. Camping rugs fall into that category. It’s not an absolute must-have item for your next expedition, but a rug sure goes a long way to make your adventure cleaner and more comfortable

It’s important to assess your personal wants and needs, and to think about what you and your family might require for a more pleasurable experience. For the faint of heart, not having a camping rug could indeed be a deal-breaker. For others, it’s more of a comfort and convenience thing. 

Hikers and trail campers might find it difficult to carry along a camping rug due to their limited amount of pack space and weight. But for some, a rug is light and compact enough that it’s worth the extra baggage when compared to the added comfort that it provides. Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine whether a camping rug falls into your “need” category.

What To Look For In A Camping Rug

There arelots of things to consider if you decide to purchase a camping rug for your outdoor experiences. Here is a list of the top priorities among campers who prefer to take their camping rugs along.

1. Size And Weight

Camping rugs should be large enough to satisfy your personal needs. As already mentioned, for some that’s a simple doormat to place your wet and muddy shoes on before entering your tent. For others, it’s a full-size RV rug large enough to lounge on and cover the ground beneath all your camping equipment and accessories.

Whatever size you decide on, it should be light enough that it’s easy to store and pack, ideally less than 10 lbs. If you’re a through-hiker or trail camper, you should look for something small enough to fit in, or attach to, a medium-sized backpack. A lot of camping rugs will come with their own carrying case, making them much easier to pack along or attach to the exterior of a backpack. 

2. Durability

You obviously want something that can hold up to outdoor wear and tear. Your camping rug should be weather resistant, and tough enough to handle outdoor traffic like muddy shoes, rocks and sticks, and maybe even a wild animal or two! If used frequently, your rug will undergo a lot of weight and friction, which can wear quickly if not built to outdoor standards. 

It should be able to withstand heavy foot traffic, spills and stains, food droppings, bugs and insects, UV light, and dog claws if your furry friend tags along. Reversible rugs can sometimes be a good option to prolong their longevity.

3. Weatherproofing

Your camping rug should be water-resistant or waterproof, and it should also be mold and mildew resistant. While most outdoor rugs are made from polypropylene, some are made from natural materials like jute. The problem with jute, though, is that it’s prone to moisture, mildew, and mold.

Make sure to check the label before you buy and know exactly what you’re getting so you’re not disappointed with the end results. If you’re a late fall or winter camper, try to find one that is built for all-season use so that it can also withstand the snow. 

 4. Ease Of Use

Your rug should be easy to use, pack, and clean. It should be made of a synthetic material that dries quickly and something that can be swept or sprayed off easily for fast and thorough cleaning. When you get home from your camping trip, you should be able to clean, dry, and pack your rug away in a reasonable amount of time. Otherwise, it becomes more of a hassle than a convenience.

If your rug is not held down by your camping gear, then it should also be something that won’t easily blow away. Many rugs come with corner loops so they can be staked down, which is ideal, so your rug doesn’t disappear from wind or wild animals when you leave your campsite. 

Safety Precautions For Camping Rugs

The one thing you should be aware of is that polypropylene is easily flammable. For this reason, make sure you don’t keep your camping rug too close to your fire.

Depending on your camping climate, you might also consider a textured rug that is designed to prevent slip and falls. Some rugs are manufactured with improved traction in mind. So, if you’re perhaps an older or retired camper, you might want to consider this option.

Final Thoughts

Camping rugs are an accessory some campers use to keep help their tent clean or to provide a comfortable area to relax. Whether you need one or not depends on the level of cleanliness and comfort you want on a camping trip. Camping rugs can be lightweight and take up minimal pack space.