Backcountry camping - but no tents allowed

I’ve been looking at the use of tourism=camp_site + backcountry=yes in Denmark. Generally the options for sleeping primitive in nature here is: Staying in a lean-to or pitching your tent (or hammock, tarp etc.) in a designated place for this. In some places you are allowed to pitch a tent next to the lean-to but often not.

So my question: Is it correct to use tourism=camp_site + backcountry=yes to mark an area with one or more lean-tos if tents=no (also no caravans)?

I ask because I am seeing several examples of this (node or area). I am guessing this is done to easily add name and other keys to a place with a shelter_type=lean_to.

Personally, I’ve only been using tourism=camp_site + backcountry=yes for sites where you’re allowed to pitch a tent but seeing it used differently have made me wonder if perhaps I have misunderstood how to use this key?

According to the OSM-wiki backcountry=* is a qualifying key for tourism=camp_site which is defined by having pitches for placing tents and/or caravans/RVs. So if none of those are allowed it seems to me that it isn’t a camp site.

Also in the wiki: "Note that while camp sites might (or might not) include occasional building=cabin or other housing accommodation [lean-tos?], those are neither required nor indicative of tourism=camp_site.

Maybe I’m nit-picking the use of tourism=camp_site + backcountry=yes but a potential problem (as I see it) is that map users in their app seeing an icon for an area tagged tourism=camp_site + backcountry=yes will assume that pitching a tent (or parking a caravan) is allowed, I would.

Ok, again I will just mention that according to Key:backcountry - OpenStreetMap Wiki " … access is usually restricted to foot, bicycle, canoe or ski. Often access with motorized vehicles is not allowed."

If using a lean-to is considered camping I suppose it does make sense to use tourism=camp_site. Personally I’ve so far viewed a lean-to as “other housing accommodation” which according to the wiki isn’t indicative of tourism=camp_site.

@Map_HeRo Perhaps it is not obligatory to have designated places / pitches for tents. However, the wiki does say that tourism=camp_site “is defined by having pitches for placing tents and/or caravans/RVs” and that building=cabin or other housing accommodation does not indicate a campsite.

Considering this I still think it is understandable that some of us question whether or not a lean-to in itself qualifies as a campsite. But at least, as you say, there is no obligation to tag it as such. I will probably still only use tourism=camp_site if I also know if tents=yes or no.

Just to offer another perspective, I thought backcountry was an American/Canadian term for undeveloped wilderness. You might park your car in a car park and hike or canoe all day through an area that has not been economically developed. It was my impression that if you’re, for example, an hour’s walk from a human settlement or if your walk takes you mostly past grazing sheep or along logging tracks through a managed forest, then that wouldn’t be considered backcountry.

As a result the tag backcountry=yes has barely been used in the UK (< 100 uses), because people generally wouldn’t use the word backcountry to describe the countryside, and because backcountry in the US sense doesn’t really exist. (It’s hard to find true wilderness that hasn’t been touched in one way or another by human activity.)

So I am surprised to see it’s been used in Denmark and I wonder what for. Do you use it for any campsite that you can’t drive your car to?

I would have said that “backcountry” would mean that you can usually only walk in to the site, with no vehicle access?

@Fizzie41 According to the wik for backcountry: “The access is usually restricted to foot, bicycle, canoe or ski. Often access with motorized vehicles is not allowed.”

However, my question is mainly if tourism=camp_site + backcountry=yes can/should be used when no tents or any of the other modes of camping mentioned in the definition of tourism=camp_site are allowed. But you are suggesting that backcountry is simply used to indicate access? That my question should rather be if tourism=camp_site can be used for a site with no tents, caravans etc. allowed?

To my understanding a backcountry camp site in real life means you cannot go there by motorized vehicle (backcountry) and you can stay there over night (camp site). The latter does not stipulate where you stay over night - it could be in a tent but it could also be in a lean_to shelter.

This does also reflect in the wiki:

Backcountry camping without facilities. The access is by non-motorized means.

A lean-to is a shed with typically three walls located in the countryside primarily intended for camping.

Additionally the camp_site page includes the option of tagging tents=yes/no which means tents=no is a valid option for any camp site.

So a backcountry place with a lean-to but no tent pitches surely qualifies for tourism=camp_site imho.

Tag:shelter_type=lean_to - OpenStreetMap Wiki does say “a shed with typically three walls located in the countryside intended for camping”, so I can’t see a problem with it?

No problem. I must conclude that the answer to my question

is yes.

Hi, I’ve just been researching lots of lean-tos in Sweden. None of these (more than 30) is marked as tourism:camp_site, even though one is officially allowed to pitch a tent next to them (Swedisch allmansrätten). I presume, this is similar for the majority of the hundreds of such shelters in Sweden and Norway. Should all of these be tagged as “camp_site”?

Why not? I understand tourism=camp_site as the basic information that any backcountry trekker may camp in that place. tent=yes/no and/or amenity=shelter + shelter:type=lean_to add additional details.

Of course tagging just a lean_to without camp_site will work but there is no reason why this should not go together and someone searching for “camp sites” would not find the lean_to shelters if not additionally bearing this tag.

Well, then you might as well designate most of Sweden as a camp site since of it is allowed to camp in vast areas because of allmansrätten. That would neither make sense nor be useful, I believe. Too me, a camp site is a place designated for tents, in contrast to elsewhere, but not just any place where it is allowed to pitch a tent. One would not define everything a path because one may walk across a meadow somewhere either.

ref. related discussions elsewhere:

Last year in Denmark I had exactly the same problem at the beginning that I couldn’t find the overnight spots with Osmand because they weren’t marked with camp_side. Most shelters only have shelter:type=lean_to. Of course Osmand also supports searching for lean_to (which we also used). If I remember correctly, it was also allowed to set up a tent at most shelter spots.

@osmuser63783 I have wondered the same thing since many of the so called backcountry campsites here in Denmark are within a few meters of a road or even in the middle of a town. But according to Key:backcountry - OpenStreetMap Wiki " … access is usually restricted to foot, bicycle, canoe or ski. Often access with motorized vehicles is not allowed." So I guess technically it is not wrong but I wonder why camp_site=basic is not used instead.