Can You Get Bed Bugs from Camping?

It’s so nice to hit the campground to experience some wide open air and space. But we all know that there are often lots of critters at campgrounds! Whether at state parks, nature preserves, the wilderness, or even summer camps, many wonder if it’s possible to pick up pests while camping. 

Can you get bed bugs from camping?

If you’re camping in a lodge, you can absolutely get bed bugs. But if you’re tent camping, you’re probably pretty safe from bed bugs.

Here’s what we know about bed bugs when it comes to being outdoors:

  • Getting bed bugs while camping is possible but quite rare
  • Bed bugs are mostly an indoor nuisance; they can only be discovered outside if brought there
  • Bed bugs can be spread by fellow campers who may have unintentionally carried the pests from their homes, particularly in lodge-style campgrounds

In this article, we’ll discuss whether you can get bed bugs while camping, camping equipment prone to infestation, and precautions to avoid getting bed bugs from camping.

Can You Get Bed Bugs from Camping?

Since they dwell mostly inside furniture and beds, bed bugs are not a common outdoor pest. If you get bed bugs while camping at a campground, you or a fellow camper likely brought them to the campground.

You have much higher chances of encountering other pests like mosquitoes, black flies, ticks, etc. while at a campground.

Lodge Camping

However, if you’re camping someplace with lodges, huts, or bunks, that’s a different story. Lodges and bunks are prime bed bug areas, as campers may only stay for a couple of days before moving onto the next lodge or hut. If a previous camper brought along some unwanted friends that set up a nest in your lodge, well get ready for an infestation!

Camping Equipment

If you store your camping equipment in a bed bug-infested location at home, a female bed bug may lay eggs in it, or extant bed bugs may occupy it. This automatically ensures that you will have pest campers in your tent.

And if you rent your camping equipment, it may be contaminated with bed bugs if it has not been properly cleaned and treated. How confident are you that the rental company did a thorough cleaning?

Thought so.

As a result, always verify with the rental business and inquire about their pest control measures. To be safe, use your own camping equipment.

Most frequently, fellow campers unsuspectingly bring bed bugs to the campground in their personal belongings or camping equipment. Therefore, the likelihood of getting bed bugs while camping increases with the number of campers within your vicinity.

How Can You Get Bed Bugs While Camping?

The most likely way of getting bed bugs while camping is if you come in contact with individuals that have accidentally carried them from their homes, either in their camping equipment or personal belongings.

Bed bugs will migrate into your possessions and go home with you if anyone sharing your tent carries them in their sleeping bag, clothing, or backpack.

However, you won’t get them by merely being outside.

Bed bugs are only seen outside when they unintentionally travel on peoples’ possessions, especially items where they hide or deposit their eggs.

Camping equipment is essential for a good and comfortable camping experience. So, we will examine how bed bugs can infest them. 

1. Inflatable Mattress

Bed bugs are notorious for infesting mattresses because they cannot live on people. They make their homes in and on mattresses, furniture, cracks in the walls and floorboards, etc. Bed bugs may live on an inflated mattress because of the folds, buttons, and dark spaces on the underside. 

Bed bugs are notorious for infesting mattresses.

However, unlike mattresses at home, the regular movement of inflated mattresses makes them less suitable for bed bugs… unless you don’t use your inflatable mattress very much.

2. Sleeping Bags

Sleeping bags have a lot of hidden folds and a dark interior, making them ideal spaces for bed bugs to hide in. Bed bugs are also attracted to it because it is close to you as you sleep and carries your scent

Although most sleeping bags are usually hard to get into for bed bugs because of their smooth cases, bed bugs can gain access depending on how tightly packed they are and how you store them.

3. Tents

While camping, your tent serves as your home because it contains all your gear and houses you as you sleep. Your tent may automatically be infested if any of your camping gear is infested.

You often get an infestation in your tent when you share it with people with bed bugs in their personal effects. 

Bed bugs might inhabit your tent, especially to lay eggs, when it is in storage because they seek dark and rarely disturbed places, which your tent is while it is dormant.

Furthermore, if you bought your tent used, it may be infested. You always need to watch out with second-hand goods.

Bed bugs might inhabit your tent, especially to lay eggs.

4. Backpacks

The numerous dark edges, pockets, and zippers on backpacks make them ideal places for bed bugs to conceal themselves. But a backpack is not an item you leave dormant for too long, so that poses a problem for bed bugs that need an undisturbed area to hide and procreate. 

You can only get bed bugs in your backpack if you leave it unused for long periods of time or carry infested items in it unknowingly.

Camping might get uncomfortable if bed bugs are present in any of these. If you detect bed bugs in any camping equipment, take the item home to be washed, or toss them and buy new stuff.

Make sure that you isolate the equipment by placing it in a plastic bag or box. Then you wash each item in hot soapy water and adhere to the laundering instructions—this is the most effective technique to eradicate bed bugs.

After washing the items, throw away the box or plastic bag you used to transport them.

Precautions to Take to Avoid Getting Bed Bugs from Camping

Getting bed bugs while camping can make an otherwise relaxing experience a nightmare. Add the risk of taking the pest home with you, and you have a recipe for infestation. In your home, they can reproduce and spread further, and that’s an experience you would want to avoid. 

You can take the following actions to ensure that you don’t go back home with bed bugs after a camping trip:

  • Launder your sleeping bag, backpack, and tent before and after camping with water and soap at a high temperature
  • Examine your camping equipment before going camping. Check and do a shakedown to ensure you don’t have any pests traveling with you
  • Make sure your equipment is always tightly packed
  • If you’re camping in a lodge, keep your objects off the floor, and examine everything. Treat it like a hotel that probably doesn’t get cleaned as thoroughly.


Even though getting bed bugs from camping is uncommon, it’s not impossible. Take precautions before camping. Check to see if your camping equipment is free of pests like bed bugs, and urge your camping companions to do the same. Pay particular attention in huts, lodges, and common areas.

But if you’re not doing lodge camping, most likely you won’t have a major concern with bed bugs while camping.