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Brian Irwin

Brian Irwin is a family physician and freelance journalist from Madison, New Hampshire.

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Posted: May 22, 2017

No tent? No problem, you can still be a happy camper

Written by: Brian Irwin
A stay at one of Maine Huts & Trails' lodges, like Stratton Brook Hut, pictured above, is $90 per night. Photo courtesy of Maine Huts & Trails

A stay at one of Maine Huts & Trails’ lodges, like Stratton Brook Hut, pictured above, is $90 per night. Photo courtesy of Maine Huts & Trails

Considering you’re sleeping in the woods on rocky ground, camping is a pretty expensive pursuit per REM sleep cycle. Although it can be a cheap or even free option in terms of nightly rates, the initial investment is daunting. But for those who’d rather not spend $600 on a sleeping bag and all the equipment that goes with it, there are options.

One is the do-it-yourself version, camping in state parks in a homemade tent with inexpensive sleeping bags and a trusty gas stove and lantern. But there’s another way for those who want even less fuss.

Several Maine camping destinations offer lodging options that spare you having to bring a tent, a stove or any know-how.

At a higher cost than a campsite but without the commitment to equipment, glamping – or glamour camping – allows less skilled outdoorsmen to still enjoy sleeping beneath the stars.

A glamping tent at Sandy Pines Campground, opening this summer in Kennebunkport. Photo by Heidi Kirn

A glamping tent at Sandy Pines Campground, opening this summer in Kennebunkport. Photo by Heidi Kirn

Sandy Pines Campground in Kennebunkport is a seaside camping destination that will open this summer. Twelve interior designers are creating 12 unique glamping tents, which will be available for rent at $149 per night and will also be available for purchase, akin to a vacation investment. Each tent has a fire pit for cooking, but if you don’t even want to deal with that, there’s a general store replete with provisions, and you can get lobster delivered pre-cooked or still alive and kicking.

Mongolians have been sleeping in yurts for thousands of years, but only relatively recently have the round tents migrated to this side of the pond – including Brownfield. Frost Mountain Yurts has four yurts available for rent. For $115 a weekend night ($125 after June 20) plus $15 per additional person, you get soft beds, an equipped kitchen and wandering trails. Though propane stoves, dishes and outhouses are provided, you have to bring your own food and a sleeping bag or sheets and a blanket, but with a fiery woodstove you won’t have to worry about staying warm. Gear wagons are provided for the tenth-mile walk to the tents.

The interior and exterior of a Frost Mountain Yurt, shown above and at left. Traditional camping calls for gear you might not have and don't necessarily want to get (will you use it? Really?). But there are other options that still get you outdoors.

The interior a Frost Mountain Yurt Photo courtesy of Frost Mountain Yurts

To take the adventure level up a notch, visit Maine Huts and Trails. The fully-appointed lodges require multi-mile trail hikes to get there, but they aren’t difficult treks. And don’t fret about lugging in gear; you won’t need much more than a sleeping bag. You’ll rest easy in a bunk with a mattress, and three meals are provided daily. The $90 nightly price tag may seem steep at first, but considering you’re way out in the wilderness, eating gourmet food with radiant floor heating, it’s actually pretty reasonable.

Whatever you choose, the goal is the same: to get outside in nature, and do so without investing a mortgage payment in gear that you may use once a year – if that. Whether roughing it or glamping in luxury, you get to enjoy the same sound of the birds in the morning and, if you’re lucky, a flash of the northern lights as you lay down your head for a slumber in the wilderness.

Maine Huts & Trails has four lodges, including Poplar Hut, pictured here. Photo courtesy of Maine Huts & Trails

Maine Huts & Trails has four lodges, including Poplar Hut, pictured here. Photo courtesy of Maine Huts & Trails

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