One of the most rewarding parts about backpacking is that moment at the end of a long day when you reach your destination, slide off your pack, slip into your camp shoes, and sit down to cook up a belly-warming meal. Any dedicated backpacker knows that backpacking isn't just about conquering the trails — it’s about the satisfying moments that you earn along the way.
Waiting for your ultra easy-to-make Backpacker’s Pantry meal to come to life gives you a few moments to keep the flow of fun going. We've curated a list of simple but fun camping games that are as essential to your backpacking kit as your Backpacker's Pantry meals, helping fill all parts of the experience — even the downtime — with camaraderie and unforgettable memories.
No gear required!
Truth or Dare is the ultimate campfire bonding game. Players take turns choosing between revealing a hilarious truth or embarking on a daring challenge. It's a game that can uncover surprising secrets or lead to unforgettable moments in the backcountry.
Two Truths and a Lie is the perfect game to test your camping companions' storytelling skills, and your ability to call a bluff. Each player takes turns sharing two truths and one fabricated tale about themselves. The challenge? Spot the lie and reveal the real adventurers in the group.
Campfire confessions take center stage with Never Have I Ever. Start by holding up five fingers. Players reveal their most daring or hilarious camping experiences by sharing something they've never done. If you've done it, put a finger down. The first player to down all their fingers ends the game. No losers here — there’s no shame in collecting life experiences that spark laughter and camaraderie.
Would You Rather is the game that presents you with two quirky — sometimes outrageous — choices. Players must decide which scenario they'd prefer, leading to spirited debates and revealing insights into your fellow campers' unusual preferences. It's a quick and fun way to get to know your buddies better.
Players sit in a circle, and one person starts by whispering a message or phrase to their neighbor. The message is passed along, and the final recipient reveals what they heard. Often, it's hilariously different from the original, making it a great icebreaker and conversation starter.
Twenty Questions is a classic guessing game that's perfect for sparking conversations and testing your deductive skills around the campfire. One player thinks of an object, person, or place, and the others take turns asking yes-or-no questions to guess what it is. The catch? They have only twenty questions to figure it out! It's a challenging and fun game of deduction that can lead to surprising revelations.
Who Am I? is a guessing game with a delightful twist. Someone secretly selects a famous person or character to impersonate and then your friends take turns asking yes-or-no questions to uncover your undercover identity. The goal is to pit your friends against each other as they attempt to guess who you are before other campers do. It's a game of wit and clever clues that's sure to get everyone thinking and laughing.
Familiarize yourself with your surroundings with a quick round of I-Spy, a classic observation game that's perfect for the great outdoors. One player, the "spy," selects an object in their surroundings but keeps it a secret. They then give a clue by saying, "I spy with my little eye, something that is ..." followed by a description of the chosen object's color, shape, or distinctive feature. The other players take turns guessing what the spy has spotted. It's a game that sharpens your observation skills and keeps everyone engaged in discovering the wonders of nature around your campsite.
Grab a stick and some dirt and draw your best wilderness-inspired masterpieces and see if your friends can guess what you're sketching in the dark.
An epitome of simplicity, this game is all about surprises. Here's how it works. To begin, all you need are small slips of paper and a pen. Each player receives a handful of slips - about 3-5. They're then tasked with writing down a word or phrase on each slip, capturing anything from movie titles and famous personalities to abstract concepts or inside jokes. These slips are then folded and tossed into the 'salad bowl.'
The game unfolds in three rounds. First round, players take turns drawing a slip and using verbal clues to describe it to their team, aiming to get them to guess the word or phrase. Think of it as a classic game of charades but in spoken form.
Round two, players again pick a slip, but this time, they can only use a single word as a clue. The catch? This word can't be any word written on the slip. It forces players to think outside the box and rely on earlier rounds for memory.
The third and final round truly tests memory and creativity. In a mime-like fashion, players describe their drawn word or phrase using only gestures, no words. Laughter is inevitable as players make exaggerated attempts to get their team to remember phrases from earlier rounds.
For those shorter backpacking trips when there’s room and weight to spare in your pack, slipping in a deck of cards or other lightweight games can make for the perfect wind-down activity.
Speed is a fast-paced card game that lives up to its name. Two players go head-to-head, trying to play their cards onto shared piles as quickly as possible, with the goal of playing all their cards first to win the round. Each player is dealt five cards, placed face-down in two piles, one in front of each player. These piles are known as “spit piles”. The remaining cards are placed in a pile the center – “the draw pile.”Both players simultaneously flip over the top card of their spit pile and place it face-up in the center between them. Then take turns playing cards from their hands in ascending or descending order, and they must match the suit of the previous card played. If both players are stuck and cannot make a move, they simultaneously yell "Speed!" and each takes three cards from their own spit pile and places them face-up in the center as new foundation piles. Play continues rapidly, with players trying to play cards as quickly as possible. You can only have up to five cards in your hand at any given time. Click here for a more detailed set of rules.
A similar game to Speed, Spit is an energetic card game for two players that tests your speed and reflexes, with a slightly different layout Each player tries to get rid of their cards in ascending and descending stacks in the center. This time, card suit does not matter, and aces can be high or low. It's a wild race to see who can run out of cards first and declare victory. Check out the full set of rules here.
A classic card game that's perfect for a quick round during your camping trip, the two-player version is commonly known as Gin Rummy, but in Rummy there’s room for more folks to join in on the fun. Players aim to form matched sets and runs of cards, consisting of groups of three of four of a kind, or sequences of three or more cards in the same suit. Players race to be the first to empty their hand in this game of strategy and skill that's easy to learn and endlessly entertaining. Learn to play here.
Crazy Eights is a simple yet addictive card game that's perfect for two or more players, similar to Uno but can be played with a classic deck of 52 playing cards. Players aim to get rid of their cards by matching the rank or suit of the top card in the discard pile. But watch out for those tricky eights, which can change the game in an instant! Click here for the complete set of rules.
Egyptian Rat Screw is a fun and fast-paced card game of lightning-quick reflexes. Players take turns playing cards, and when certain combinations appear, such as a joker, or when two consecutive cards add up to ten, everyone races to slap the pile. The fastest slapper wins the pile, and the goal is to collect all the cards. There’s plenty of combinations for a chance to slap the pile, making for a test of speed and alertness that's sure to bring laughter to your campsite. Learn more about all the ways to win a pile, and try it out with your friends.
Slap Jack is a lively and entertaining card game that's all about quick reactions. Players take turns placing cards face-up in a central pile, and when a Jack appears, everyone rushes to slap the pile. The quickest slapper wins the cards. It's fast, furious game, and easy to learn and teach to your friends.
Bananagrams is a fast-paced word game that's perfect for camping. Players race to create their own grid of interconnected words using letter tiles. Similar to Scrabble, but there’s no waiting for turns! Words must read left to right horizontally, or top to bottom vertically, and you may rearrange your grid at any time. The goal of the game is to eventually diminish the amount of available tiles, until whichever player places their last letter in their grid to win the game. It's a game of speed, strategy, and creativity that will keep your camping crew on their toes. For more detailed instructions, check out this blog.
Uno is a classic card game that's easy to learn and endlessly entertaining. Players take turns matching cards by color or number, trying to be the first to empty their hand. When players get to the point where they only have one card left in their hands, players shout “Uno!” to give others a heads up that they are on the verge of victory, as competitors try to thwart their efforts. Rules come with the card game, making it easy for everyone in on the fun.
Cards Against Humanity is a hilariously irreverent party game where players fill in the blanks of outrageous statements with even more outrageous answers. It's a game that thrives on humor and shock value, best enjoyed with a group of close friends around the campfire.
What Do You Meme combining iconic images with witty captions, players compete to create the funniest memes. It's a game of similar humor as Cards Against Humanity, promising uproarious laughter around the campfire.
If you’re looking for a game that’s less silly and more serious, We're Not Really Strangers is the way to go. A thought-provoking card game designed to deepen connections between players, it encourages open and meaningful conversations, making it an ideal game to foster bonding and create memorable moments with friends, family, and partners.
When you have more time on your hands, say, after dinner, when you’re hanging out around the campfire, or patiently waiting to watch the sunset, these games are fun group games that can help kill more time while make fun memories in the backcountry.
Mafia is a social deduction game where players take on roles as either "mafia" members or innocent townsfolk. The objective is to identify and eliminate the mafia members before they take control of the town. One person who volunteers to be the narrator of the story, will facilitate the game. While the “townspeople” have their eyes closed, the narrator assigns the role of mafia members, doctor, and detective, to individual members of the group. Once the roles have been assigned, the game play alternates between “night” and “day”. At night, everyone puts their head down and the narrator asks the mafia, doctor, and detective to take turns picking their heads up to silently play their parts. Mafia members choose someone to “kill” in the group. The doctor chooses someone to “save” in the group. And the “detective” chooses someone who they think is the mafia, which the narrator will confirm or deny. When the narrator confirms it is daytime, they tell the story of what happened in the night, announcing who was killed, who was saved, etc. The townspeople then have the chance to choose who they think is the mafia and kill them off. The game continues until civilians kill all the mafia members or mafia outnumber civilians. It's a game of strategy, deception, and keen observation that's perfect for campfire gatherings. Check out more detailed rules here.
Charades is a classic pantomime game where players act out words or phrases without speaking while their team tries to guess what they're portraying. It's a game that relies on non-verbal communication, gestures, and body language. The challenge is to convey your assigned word or phrase through creative movements, and it often leads to hilarious and memorable moments as campers put their acting skills to the test.
Poison Dart Frog is an exciting game, of similar structure to Mafia, but is quicker and easier to play. One person facilitates the game, and selects one player to be the detective. Players sit in a circle, while the detective is away, and the game facilitator walks around the circle and taps a player on the shoulder, designating them to be the poison dart frog. Once the poison dart frog is selected, players open their eyes, and the detective rejoins the group, sitting the middle of the circle. As players scan the circle, the Poison Dart Frog will attempt to stick their tongue out at other players under the watchful eye of the detective, killing them, without getting caught. Those that die must fall over, so the detective knows who is left standing. The detective has three guesses to try and figure out who may be killing off the group, before its too late. Click here for more detailed instructions.
Pterodactyl is a hilarious word game to play with larger groups of backpackers, where each players must speak without showing their teeth. Players stand in a circle, with the first player to go, turning to their left and saying “pterodactyl”, while keeping their lips over their teeth (like grandpa shark). This continues in a clockwise direction until someone in the circle decides to switch the direction, by turning back to the player whose turn it just was, and letting out a screech, like you would imagine a pterodactyl made in prehistoric times. The person receiving the screech can either continue on in this new direction by saying “pterodactyl” to the person to their right, or they can reverse the direction again by screeching back at the previous player. Move too slow, or laugh too hard and show your teeth, and you’re out. It’s a ridiculous game that will have your camping group in fits of laughter as they try to stay “tight-lipped” and contest for the win.
With all these options, there’s no end to the fun at day’s end. So grab your meal, gather around the campfire (or the stars), and let the games begin. May your backpacking journey be filled with not just breathtaking views, but also heartwarming moments shared over cards, words, and laughter.