Six of the Best Wild Camping Tips
As the only way to genuinely get 'off grid' in the UK and the best way to travel though any wilderness, wild camping can be a real joy. However, it can also be an admin nightmare if you don't pack the right gear. Below we give you six tips that will help to keep your pack light, belly full and spirits high.
1. If you’re going to be self-sufficient for several nights, weight will be key. Be ruthless when it comes to disregarding non-essentials (hair-straighteners aren’t often useful in emergencies) and co-ordinate what you carry with your companions - e.g. four small, differing ‘ouch pouches’ could replace a heavy main first aid kit, take one cook-kit per two people, etc. Aim for a pack-weight limit of 15kg and definitely stay under 18kg.
2. Wear baselayers made from natural fibres; ideally wool or bamboo. Cotton’s inability to dry quickly can contribute to hypothermia and it should not be worn. Synthetic baselayers quickly fail the sniff test when worn for long periods, whereas merino wool and bamboo can be worn for multiple days without smelling like a wet labradoodle.
3. If you’re going to buy new kit for wild camping, spend money where the biggest weight savings can be made. An expensive titanium pot might shave 50g off your pack weight, whereas a lightweight tent might cut over 2kgs for the same outlay. Down sleeping bags tend to weigh half as much as synthetic bags of equal warmth and pack down to roughly half the size. Lightweight 3/4 length sleeping mats work well and can easily be supplemented with clothing if conditions require it. See our 'kit tips' page for more ideas.
4. Freeze-dried meals are the only real option as you need at least one proper meal per day and wet foods (boil-in-the-bag or otherwise) weigh too much. Supplement these with high-energy, dry-mass foods and snacks (nuts, dried fruit, oat bars, etc.). Freeze-dried breakfasts and desserts can become expensive (up to £4 each) – for breakfast, pre-mix Ready Brek (or other instant oats) with dried milk powder and sugar and use supermarket instant custard as high energy desserts (10p each in some supermarkets).
Rice or pasta might seem like cheap alternatives, but 10-15 minutes cook time per meal will require a lot of gas. Pizzas are simply not an option.
5. As you can rarely rely on weather forecasts for trips that might last more than a week, using a clothing system based on multiple layers will allow you the flexibility to cope with all conditions. Anyone turning up in jeans or carrying an umbrella should expect to form the basis of the first camp fire.
See our 'clothing' section for layering advice.
6. If possible, try to avoid brightly coloured tents. A group of four green tents would be almost invisible to the naked eye from a distance, whereas a group of orange or red tents would be obvious, lessening the wilderness experience for you and other trekkers.