There is nothing better than packing your kit, saying goodbye to the rush of work and heading out into the countryside for a break – a reconnection with yourself, nature and your surroundings. In truth, you don’t need to take much and as the summer approaches, you can carry just a few basics for a great bit of wild camping. Just don't forget to take everything home with you and leave it unspoilt.
There’s a real sense of satisfaction when you find the perfect pitch at the end of a day’s walk. Drop the rucksack, get the stove going for a brew and pitch the tent / string up the hammock / layout the bivi before enjoying some dinner and watching the sun go down at the end of an enjoyable day. All followed by a restful night’s sleep.
Here are a few tips to help pick the perfect pitch and have a great camping experience:
Travel light. A good way to approach it is by breaking it down into sections.
Carry your kit
Take a small daysack that fits everything you need without any excess weight or wasted space.
Rucksacks and Daysacks
In reality, you don’t need to take a wardrobe of clothing. A good pair of walking trousers, base layer, mid layer, outer insulated jacket and a shell just in case it rains are ample. A change of socks and underwear are a good idea!
There are many types of stove available, all of which have their merits depending on your planned activity so finding out more about the options available and the benefits will be time well spent. Before heading off on your trip take care to ensure that you are familiar with the operation and of and fuel for your stove.
Stoves and cookers
Food and drink
Take plenty of water as you’ll be using it for cooking, washing, your 100th cup of coffee. For food, pretty much anything goes. A fry up in the morning when you’re camping tastes amazing, pastas, soups, porridge… they’re all taste great in the outdoors.
How adventurous are you and what’s the environment like you're heading to. There’s no point in taking a hammock if there’s no trees so a small tent might be best, but the hammock would be worth its weight in gold on soft, uneven ground. A basha and a bivi bag is the most basic and are lightweight, fast to erect and great fun.
Bivvy Bags • Hammocks • Tents
A good, warm sleeping bag is important. In the UK the days might be nice and warm but at night the temperatures can drop and if you’re not prepared, it might lead to an uncomfortable night.
Sleeping Bags • Olive Sleeping Bags
If your stove doesn’t have a Piezo starter then matches or a lighter are essential! Other things you‘ll find useful to take are: knife, headtorch, toilet roll, first aid kit, spare paracord, head midge net (especially in Scotland)… hat, soap, the list is endless. It all depends on how much you want to carry and what you think you might need.
Top Ten Tips for perfect wild camping
- Plan your route. Have a few ideas of where you would like to camp in advance and give yourself time to arrive there before dark. If you find the perfect spot on the way you can of course stop there instead
- Weather: Check the forecast and the sky. Look for a pitch which will give you the most shelter from heavy rain or strong winds. Consider the lee of a hill or behind a wood or wall if possible. Pitch your tent end on to the wind, it will be much less noisy and will give you a sheltered area in the porch
- Beasties. If you are out in midge country, look for a pitch which isn’t too close to standing water and does have a breeze and as this might help keep the beasties at bay a bit
- Enjoy the view. If the weather is set fair, don’t forget to look for a pitch with a view. If the sky is clear, take time to look at the stars, with less light pollution you will see much more than usual
- Flat ground. Examine the ground, look for a reasonably flat area with no rocks or holes. Try to find a pitch which is slightly raised as it will be drier and less likely to flood in heavy rain. If you can’t find a completely flat spot, pitch so your head will be uphill
- A spot near running water is best. Consider where you will take your water from and where you will dispose of dirty water
- Plan where you will toilet, ensuring that you are well away from water supplies. Dispose of waste responsibly.
- Be organised. Once the tent is pitched, lay out your gear sensibly so you can find things like headtorches, food etc in a hurry.
- Keep it clean. Try not to bring muddy boots or wet waterproofs into the inner tent as this will get your other gear wet. The porch or a dry bag are great for storing this stuff
- Take it home. In the morning, ensure that you have everything packed, check the site and tidy any leftovers, moved stones etc. You should take away nothing but memories and photographs and leave behind nothing other than a patch of flattened grass