I touched on Wild Camping Equipment in ‘Introduction to Wild Camping’ However, I wanted to delve a little deeper and provide some of the learning we have made through trial and error in the form of wild camping tips around the kit.
As you hunt around for the kit that works best for you, it’s important to constantly think travel light! My first trip across Europe was by motorbike so I’ve always had pack size in mind. I have made a few mistakes, going for the cheaper option and unfortunately in this game, you buy cheap, you buy twice. So, here’s a more detailed look at equipment considerations.
Wild Camping Kit & Accessories and some real world tips
Choosing your Wild Camping Shelter – Tent, Hammock or Bivvy Bag
I use all 3 and I keep the kit in my arsenal for different occasions / lengths of camping trip.
A one-man tent for longer trips where weather is unpredictable, and you don’t know whether you’ll find 2 or 3 trees to hang your hammock. Although technically a one-man tent, it is useful to have extra space to store your backpack and mine even has enough room for the dog to sleep. We’ll look more the pros and cons of different styles of tent in a later post.
Hammock and Tarpaulin
A hammock and tarp is now my preferred comfortable nights sleep. Being off the ground can make a huge difference to warmth and in leafy forests keeps you away from the bugs. If you find the right set up for you, you’ll really improve the overall camping experience, but bear in mind you might not get the set up right on the first night under the stars. You may also wish to carry a small ground mat to keep your kit below as dry as possible.
The most minimalist form of protection against the elements and arguably the closest to nature. The Bivvy Bag packs down to nothing and with the right ground mat is comfortable, inconspicuous and the simplest when nature calls. I recommend a Bivvy back for longer trips where pack size is essential and in larger groups where finding trees or a space to pitch is limited. Important: Do not buy a non breathable fabric Bivvy Bag! You will wake up wetter than if you’d just slept in your sleeping bag through a downpour.
Sleeping Mat or Under Blanket
A sleeping pad sits in or under all three of the above and is essential for comfort and warmth. While your sleeping bag is your primary insulator, some would say the pad or blanket is as important to warmth. Trapping a layer between you and the cold air or ground. Consider pack size when purchasing but also choice of filling. Air being the coldest, down and synthetic fibres are close contenders although the main difference between the two is inflating synthetics by mouth whereas this will put moisture into the down and ruin the mat very fast.
Staying warm takes priority over pack size, although here you will find the biggest trade off of price versus size and weight of a sleeping bag. A down bag is by far the warmest and packs down the best however you will pay big bucks for some of the top brands. Season rating on your sleeping bag is the indicator as to how warm your nights sleep is going to be, from ‘comfort’ to ‘limit’ to ‘extreme’. You can usually check the temperature before venturing out so make sure you take the right bag. Some are more tolerant to the cold than others but once you feel the cold it’s hard to get warm again on a night outdoors.
When choosing a head torch I’d recommend taking the following into account. Comfort and weight, I often sleep in my head torch for getting up in the night and keeping an eye on the dog. Size for pack space and obviously it’s not a competition, you don’t 2 million lumens when keeping on the down low. For a few extra quid it’s well worth getting one with a red light for a Wild Camp. You’ll often be setting up as it becomes dark, leaving early doors and undoubtedly.
Food & Drink
Your choice of food and drink is often led by your chosen camping experience, daytime activities and number of nights you plan to be under the stars. Some food types require more equipment and water is heavy to carry. Take food such as dehydrated or wet food that can be eaten hot or cold. Carry only the water you need and plan to source more for longer trips. A hip flask and some cheese and crackers are always a nice treat before bedtime.
It’s a good idea to have some sugary energy sweets or drink depending on your level of activity. They come in all good ration packs as well as chewing gum.
When choosing a gas burner, there is two ways to go. Small and light or a larger quick boil system. It all depends on the type of camping trip and the kind of cooking you intend to be doing. Either way it’s a must have for your camping equipment. Alternatively, you might want to try a liquid / gel fuel burner or even a biomass burner. Personally, I like the convenience and reliability of gas, as well as the cooking speed. Utensils for eating and cooking. I usually make do with aspork and a pocket knife, although between us we usually have other tools. For cooking, heating water and storing, a boiling pan or mess tin and a mug or flask. It pays to keep that heat in the water if you have some left over from making a drink. Tin foil is a useful lightweight cooking accessory I often carry in my pack and can easily be crushed down and taken away when you leave.
Spares & Accessories
Spare walking socks encase your feet get wet and for those cold nights. A few metres of paracord and some carabiners for camp improvements and adjusting for those windy nights.
I always carry a microfibre towel as well as cleaning wipes and or alcohol hand wash. A lightweight shovel or trowel for obvious reasons but on a one night camp leave the shovel at home and plan ahead. You can never be 100% sure the weather is not going to turn so it’s always worth packing that extra waterproof or thermal layer.