Top 10 Tips for Wild Camping
If you're feeling adventurous and you're ready and raring to step out into the great outdoors, we might just have the perfect adventure for you. Forget the campsite, power supply and camp facilities, wild camping is a chance for you to enjoy the scenery exactly as it is. But, if you have never been wild camping before, it may seem a bit daunting to ditch everything you are familiar with. There are also some rules you should follow so that you stay safe and don't upset any locals.
So, follow our wild camping guide and enjoy the adventure of a lifetime.
What is wild camping?
Wild camping is quite simply camping in the wild without any of the usual campsite facilities. This could be on a mountain, by the sea or in a forest. Rather than pitching up in one spot for a few days, wild camping gives you the freedom to wander further into the wilderness and find a new spot to camp each night. This gives you more chances to explore and experience different settings and sceneries.
Check the laws of the land
Wild camping isn't legal in every country so before you pitch your tent anywhere, check that it's legal first. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, wild camping is illegal however you may be allowed to camp if you receive the landowner's permission. It is possible to wild camp in Scotland, although some areas do not allow it, as long as you are safe and respect the countryside. Wild camping laws differ all over the world so check the rules for the country you are planning to wild camp in first.
Choose your pitch carefully
Ideally, you want a flat surface so you are not sleeping on an uncomfortable sloping surface. You also want to be close to a water source, but not too close so if it rains the river or lake could flood and impact your tent. While it is often better to camp on higher ground, you should be careful that the ascent is not too steep that it poses a danger to you climbing up and once you are at the top of the hill as well. If you camp at the bottom of a hill, you are at more risk of your tent getting flooded if it rains. You should also choose a secluded wild camping spot so that any locals don't feel like you are imposing on their space by camping too close to their home.
Camp near fresh running water
Even if you run out of food, water is essential. Whether you are washing in the morning, cleaning clothes and utensils or drinking, you cannot be without water when you are camping. If you are planning to drink fresh water, always try and find a supply of running water so you can be sure it is not stagnant. It is also advised that you should carry a water bottle with a filter so you can be sure it is safe to drink.
Leave the land how you found it
This is the golden rule of wild camping. In some places, wild camping has been banned completely because of the litter and land destruction left behind by campers. The only trace you should leave on the land should be the patch of grass where your tent was pitched, which will quickly return to normal. You should dispose of all of your litter, there should not be any damage from fires and you certainly shouldn't leave any trace of your toilet habits.
Take enough food and drink
If you are camping in the middle of nowhere, you do not want to run out of supplies. While you don't want to over-pack more than you can comfortably carry, you do want to pack things that will give you plenty of energy throughout the day. Things like oats, pasta, nuts and seeds are great as they will give you plenty of energy throughout the day and won't get damaged or go off in your bag. It is also a good idea to pack a water bottle with a filter and some flavour drops if you prefer to flavour your water.
Don't forget a map and compass
Be sure to research and plan your route before setting off. Seasoned wild campers would probably tell you that you absolutely cannot go wrong with a map and compass. If you're off the beaten track in a national park, you absolutely cannot rely on a GPS tracker on your phone. Not only does GPS drain the battery life, but you would also have to have a pretty big portable charger to keep it fully charged for the duration of your trip. Sure, you should keep your phone handy for emergencies, but try to rely on a map and compass to find your way.
Don't pack too much
If you are camping for a few days and carrying all of your gear, try to travel as light as possible. Carrying too much can put a strain on your back and also make you tire easier so try to take as little as possible. If you are camping by yourself, take a small one or two-man tent, a sleeping mat, sleeping bag, dry bag, head torch, first aid kit, cooking equipment, bivvy bag, navigation equipment and a few changes of clothes. If it's not necessary, don't pack it.
Pack food and clothes in containers and bags
As you are packing, empty your food into stackable containers so you don't have any rubbish to dispose of on your trip. By getting rid of packaging, you won't have to look for a bin and you can stack the containers inside each other once you have used the food inside them. Equally, try to pack your clothes in smaller, marked bags too. For example, group your underwear together, have t-shirts in a separate bag and separate trousers and nightwear too. By doing this, you'll help to keep your bag organised when you are looking for clothes.
Get a good camping stove
This is one of the best camping tips we could probably give. Sure, the dreamy image of cooking over an open campfire is one that we all aspire to, but it's probably not realistic. Not only could you risk the fire spreading if it got out of control, but you could also mark the land or you may even struggle to light a fire in the wind or rain. With a small gas camping stove, you can ensure a reliable flame every time and you won't leave a mark. You can find small, cheap gas camping stoves which are great for cooking your evening meal or enjoying a cup of tea with breakfast.
Try to get a decent night sleep
If you're exhausted, it's hard to enjoy a good wild camping trip. While this may seem easier said than done, there are a few things you can do to make your sleep as comfortable as possible. Make sure your sleeping bag is thick, or thin, enough for the season and pack a blow-up pillow to rest your head. Wear extra layers if it gets cold at night and don't forget a roll mat or self-inflating mattress. Finally, try and pitch your tent somewhere as flat as possible so you are not sleeping on a slope and go to bed early as the sun will probably wake you up early in the morning too.
So, there you have it; our top 10 wild camping tips. Wild camping can be scary if you've never done it before, but if you are well prepared it can be an exhilarating experience. So, prepare in advance and have a few practice runs in your garden. If you plan ahead, you'll have an amazing time.