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Cornhole, Explained

Cornhole, Explained

You can find people playing cornhole while tailgating, at a sports bar, and even on ESPN. It’s a competitive sport growing in popularity, and many campers have added it to their packing lists as well.

Whether you’re a cornhole pro or a first-timer, this outdoor yard game is made for all ages.

Today we’re looking at the game of cornhole and why it is the perfect game for you, your family, and friends. 

The History of Cornhole

There seems to be quite the debate whether we have 14th century Germany, the Blackhawk Indian tribe, or an 1800s Kentucky farmer to thank for the game of Cornhole. 

Interestingly, Heyliger de Windt applied for a patent in 1883 for a wooden board with a square hole cut into it and a bag of corn thrown at it. Regardless of who gets credit, cornhole gained momentum in the Midwest in the 1960s before spreading across the country.

Depending on the area, you may hear it called Bag Toss, Bean Bag Toss, Bags, Soft Horseshoes, or Hillbilly Toss. People commonly bring a set of cornhole boards to the beach, a barbecue, or another celebration.

The sport has gained momentum largely due to its ease of play and the opportunity for all ages and skill levels to participate. Much like bowling, cornhole can serve as a great recreational activity or a chance to hone your skills and compete in competitive tournaments. 

If you get good enough, you may just land yourself in the American Cornhole League and compete on ESPN.

Cornhole is sure to add some fun to your camping trip!

How to Play Cornhole

To play, you’ll need a set of cornhole boards and bags. A standard board is 47.5” to 48” in length and 23.5” to 24” wide. The two cornholes sit 27’ apart, and players must stand next to the board but not step past its front when throwing. The cornhole bags are 6.25” by 6.25” and weigh between 14 to 16 oz.

A brief overview of the game is that it functions much like baseball, meaning it uses innings. However, instead of three outs, an inning ends after each player throws their team’s four bags. 

Bags that remain on the top of the board count as one point. Any bag thrown through the hole in the board wins three points. 

Official games utilize cancellation scoring, where the points of one player cancel out the point of their opponent. Only one team will receive points each inning when using this scoring method.

The person or team who scored in the last inning will throw first. In innings with no score, the player or team who scored first in the preceding one will continue to go first. 

Play continues until a team or player reaches 21 points to win the match. A game consists of a set amount of matches, which can be a single match or three or five.

Pro Tip: Play cornhole at one of these 20 free campsites in the USA.

Family playing cornhole
There are many versions of cornhole that you can play to keep you entertained all day!

Cornhole Variations

Cornhole is an incredibly versatile game. Players constantly create variations to keep things interesting. Here are a few variations you might want to consider playing.

HORSE

If you’ve played HORSE with a basketball, you’ll find it’s practically identical when played in cornhole. A player can stand anywhere around the board and take a shot using any throwing style. 

If the player scores a point, the next player in line must throw from the same location, using the same throwing method. If a player fails to match the shot, the player gets a letter of the word “H-O-R-S-E.”

You can be as creative as you want when it comes to your shots and how you throw them. Additionally, instead of spelling “horse,” you can spell “C-A-M-P-E-R” or a meaningful term for your camping adventures.

How Far Can You Go

If you play cornhole for a while, throwing the same weight at the same distance can get easy. This variation challenges you and your fellow players to see how far back you can score a point. Set a predetermined distance to scoot back after each round. 

Players who score at least one point at a distance stay in, and anyone failing to score gets eliminated. Keep moving back until only one player remains, or you run out of space at your campsite.

Bet on It 

Sometimes you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is. Test your skills and luck with a friendly bet. You can determine how to structure your wager whether you bet on each game or per cornhole.

 Keep the wager small and the competition friendly. Things tend to get heated when there’s money on the line.

Woman standing next to cornhole board.
Build your own customized cornhole boards for your next camping trip.

Building Your Own Cornhole Board

Professionally built cornhole boards can cost several hundred dollars. You can even find them with your favorite sports team or a custom logo of your choice. However, not everyone wants to pay that much on a set if playing for fun. 

Building your own set of boards can be a cost-effective way to get a high-quality set. HGTV provides an easy step-by-step guide for building your own Cornhole board. They provide a list of the materials and tools you’ll need to get the job done. 

If you’ve done some DIY projects previously, you may already have the tools you need. It can also make for some bonding time with your kids or family. They can help build it or paint it.

Pro Tip: We think cornhole is a camping essential, but make sure you also Don’t Forget These Essentials When Camping.

Two women drinking while playing cornhole.
Turn your cornhole game into a fun drinking game!

The Best Cornhole Sets for Your Next Camping Trip

If you would rather purchase a set of Cornhole boards than try to make your own, we’ve found some options for your next camping trip. Let’s take a look.

Outside Inside Backpack Cornhole

While standard cornhole boards can take up space and weigh 25 lbs each, this set weighs 1 lb 3.5 oz. These measure 12”x6”x1.25” and aren’t standard or regulation-size boards. 

They easily fit in a convenient carrying case. The board’s solid wood can take the beating that camping gear experiences. Toss them in your backpack for your next backcountry adventure, and you can play a game of cornhole in some exciting places.

GoSports Classic Cornhole Set

GoSports makes durable and high-quality cornhole boards for camping. They have a 3’x2’ tailgate size and a 4’x2’ regulation size. These wood and steel boards weigh 26.9 lbs, approximately half of a standard set. 

These come with a convenient carrying case to protect them in storage and eight regulation red and blue bags. Add these to your camping packing list for some outdoor competitions.

Collapsible Cornhole Game Set

This collapsible Cornhole game set makes for easy storage. These fabric boards measure 3’x2’ and have a lightweight fabric that folds into a uniquely compact design. You can have a set of cornhole boards at the flick of your wrist. 

The lightweight bags make it safe and easy to play inside without worrying about breaking something. The entire setup weighs 3.75 lbs and can easily stow away in a cabinet or an under-storage compartment for camping.

Is Cornhole the Perfect Game for Campers?

Cornhole is a fun way to bond with your loved ones and get to know your neighbors while camping. Just about anybody can play the game and still have a good time. 

These boards don’t take much setup and can store relatively easily when packing up your campsite. We think you should give cornhole a try if you haven’t yet. 

You might just discover you enjoy it more than you thought. You may wind up the campground champion or on ESPN.

Have you played cornhole while camping? Tell us your go to camping games in the comments!

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

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Doris Searles

Monday 7th of February 2022

RE: Corn Hole article Is this a way that this can be shared, like forwarded by e-mail to someone?

Cornhole, Explained - VanLifeAdvisors

Monday 7th of February 2022

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