Are you ready for adventure? Why not give wild camping a go? In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to plan, prepare and execute a successful wild camping trip, even as a complete beginner.
I’ll guide you through each step of the journey, from how to choose the perfect location, to how to make sure you pack the right gear. So what are you waiting for? Get reading, grab your backpack and head off on your next adventure! Consider this blog post the essential guide to wild camping that you can keep referring back to again and again.
What is wild camping?
Say goodbye to the comforts of a traditional campground. Wild camping is the perfect way to enjoy the wilderness on your own terms. Unlike traditional camping, wild campers must be self-sufficient and carry in all of their own gear, food, and water.
Wild camping offers a unique and immersive outdoor experience that allows you to truly connect with nature. It allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and find peace and tranquillity in the wilderness. It also allows for a greater sense of adventure and self-reliance.
Planning and Preparation
How to choose the right location
Researching and choosing a good wild camping spot can be a daunting task, but it is an essential step in planning your trip. Start by identifying a general area you want to visit and then narrow down your options by considering factors such as accessibility, scenery, and weather.
Once you have a list of potential spots, do your research to learn more about the area, including any camping regulations and if permits may be required.
Additionally, some areas have fire restrictions or rules about camping close to water sources. Make sure you understand and abide by these regulations to ensure a safe and legal trip.
Packing and Gear
When it comes to packing for a wild camping trip, less is more. You’ll want to focus on bringing essential items that you will need to survive and be comfortable in the wilderness.
Some essential items to bring include a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, camp stove, water filter, and first aid kit.
Choosing the right tent and sleeping gear is essential for a comfortable and safe wild camping experience. When choosing a tent, consider the number of people it will need to accommodate and the type of weather you will be camping in. When it comes to sleeping gear, make sure you have a warm sleeping bag and a comfortable sleeping mat. Everything you take will also have to be light enough for you to carry.
Preparing your food and water is also an important aspect of wild camping. Pack non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food and bring a camp stove and pot to cook it with.
Additionally, make sure you bring enough water for drinking and cooking, and a water filter or purification tablets to treat any water you find along the way.
Wild Camping Gear list
When preparing for a wild camping trip, it’s important to pack the right gear. A comprehensive wild camping kit list should include the following items:
A sturdy and reliable tent is essential for wild camping. Look for a tent that is easy to set up, weatherproof, and lightweight enough to carry.
Best tents for wild camping
Here are a few things to consider when choosing the best tent for wild camping:
- Size: Consider how many people will be sleeping in the tent and how much gear you’ll need to store inside. A tent that is too small will be cramped and uncomfortable, while a tent that is too large will be heavy and difficult to carry.
- Weight: Look for a tent that is lightweight and easy to carry, especially if you’ll be backpacking.
- Weather resistance: Look for a tent that is made of high-quality, waterproof and windproof materials. A tent with a good ventilation system will also help to prevent condensation inside.
- Durability: Look for a tent that is made of high-quality, durable materials that will withstand the wear and tear of wild camping.
- Ease of set-up: You’ll want a tent that is easy to set up and take down, especially if you’ll be camping in remote areas where help is not readily available.
A good quality sleeping bag is essential for staying warm and comfortable at night. Look for a bag that is rated for the temperatures you’ll be camping in. A great option would be something like the Berghaus Intrepid 1000 Sleeping Bag or the VANGO Ultralite Pro 200 Sleeping Bag.
A sleeping mat will provide insulation and cushioning to make your sleeping experience more comfortable. Say goodbye to bad backs. It will also provide an extra degree of warmth, separating you from the cold ground.
A portable camp stove is essential for cooking meals and boiling water. Make sure to bring enough fuel to last the duration of your trip.
Bring along a pot, pan, and utensils for cooking and eating.
Water bottles or hydration system
It’s important to stay hydrated, so bring enough water bottles or a hydration system to last the duration of your trip.
Water filters or purification tablets
Headlamp or flashlight
A headlamp or flashlight will provide light at night, making it easier to navigate, cook, and set up camp.
First aid kit
A basic first aid kit should include bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, and any necessary medications.
Maps and compass
Maps and a compass will help you navigate and find your way in the wilderness. Make sure to bring the appropriate maps for the area you’ll be camping in.
An emergency whistle is an important signalling device in case of an emergency.
Multitool or knife
A multitool or knife will come in handy for a variety of tasks, such as cutting rope, opening cans, and preparing food.
Personal hygiene items
Pack personal hygiene items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, and wet wipes.
Insects can be a nuisance, so pack insect repellent to keep them at bay.
Sunscreen and sunglasses
Sunscreen and sunglasses will protect your skin and eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.
Warm and waterproof clothing
Pack warm and waterproof clothing that is suitable for the conditions you’ll be camping in.
Pack rubbish bags to pack up all of your litter and help minimise your impact on the environment.
Wild camping food ideas
When wild camping, it’s important to plan your meals carefully to ensure that you have enough food to sustain you throughout your trip. Here are a few food ideas for wild camping:
- Freeze-dried meals: These meals are lightweight, easy to prepare, and require no refrigeration, making them perfect for wild camping. Just add hot water and you’re ready to eat.
- Jerky and dried fruits: Jerky is a good source of protein, and dried fruits are a great way to add some sweetness to your meals.
- Instant porridge or instant rice: Lightweight staples that always come in handy, and can be jazzed up easily to add extra flavour.
- Energy bars or trail mix: These options require no refrigeration, making them perfect for wild camping. They are a great source of energy and provide a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
- Canned goods: Canned goods are a great option for wild camping because they have a long shelf life and require no refrigeration. Canned beans, vegetables, and fruits are a good source of nutrients which you can easily heat up on a camp stove.
- Peanut butter or Nutella: These are a good source of protein and carbohydrates which you can eat on their own or with crackers or bread.
Setting Up Camp and Staying Safe
Setting up your tent and campsite
Finding a flat and safe spot to set up camp is crucial for a comfortable and safe camping experience. Choosing the right spot can make the difference between having a comfortable night’s sleep, or spending the entire time slowly slipping down your tent, and having to shuffle back up again and again. (Yes, that has happened to me – I set my tent up on a hill. Fail!)
Look for an area that is elevated and away from potential hazards such as flooding or falling trees. Also, avoid setting up camp on fragile ecosystems or areas with a high concentration of wildlife.
Once you’ve found a spot, it’s time to set up your tent and gear. Make sure to use all the available guy lines and tent pegs to secure your tent and protect it from the elements. You can also set up a tarp or rainfly to add an extra layer of protection.
Additionally, make sure to set up your camp stove and other gear in a safe and stable area, away from your tent.
Staying Safe in the Wilderness
Being aware of your surroundings and potential hazards is crucial when wild camping. Always pay attention to the weather and be prepared for sudden changes. Be aware of any element of the terrain that could become a potential hazard, such as cliffs, rivers, or poisonous plants.
Wildlife encounters are a possibility when wild camping, so it’s important to know how to handle them. Learn about the animals that are native to the area you’ll be camping in, and how to avoid any dangerous encounters. Keep a safe distance from wild animals and never feed them.
In this essential guide to wild camping, it’s important to mention navigation. Navigation is an essential skill when wild camping, especially if you plan to explore beyond your campsite. Make sure to bring a map and compass, and learn how to use them. Practice navigation skills before your trip, and make sure to carry a means of communication in case of emergency.
Making the Most of Your Trip
Outdoor Activities to Try
Firstly, hiking and exploring are some of the best ways to enjoy the wilderness and take in all that it has to offer. Take a hike to a nearby peak or explore the surrounding area.
Photography and nature observation are great ways to slow down and appreciate the beauty of the wilderness. Take the time to photograph the landscapes, wildlife, and other natural wonders you come across. Also, take the time to observe the natural world around you, and appreciate the small details that often go unnoticed. Learn about a new species of bird, or how to identify different trees.
Leave No Trace principles
Minimising your impact on the environment is crucial when wild camping. The Leave No Trace principle is a set of guidelines that help outdoor enthusiasts minimise their impact on the environment. This includes practising low-impact camping, respecting wildlife, and properly disposing of waste.
One of the most important aspects of Leave No Trace is properly disposing of waste. This includes human waste, food scraps, and trash. Always bury human waste at least 6-8 inches deep and at least 200 feet from water sources. Pack up all of your litter and food scraps. The idea is to leave your environment as you found it!
Top tips for wild camping
Wild camping is a unique and rewarding experience, but it also requires careful planning. Here are a few tips for wild camping:
- Make sure you check the weather forecast and be prepared for changing conditions. Bring warm and waterproof clothing, as well as a tent that is suitable for the conditions you’ll be camping in.
- Bring a detailed map and compass, and know how to use them. Make sure to bring the appropriate maps for the area you’ll be camping in and familiarize yourself with the terrain before you set out.
- Follow Leave No Trace principles to minimise your impact on the environment. Pack out all of your trash and be mindful of where you set up camp, making sure not to damage any vegetation or wildlife habitats.
- Know the regulations and laws of the area you’ll be camping in. Some areas may have restrictions on where you can camp or may require permits, so it’s important to check before setting out.
- Be aware of the wildlife and take appropriate precautions. Know how to properly store your food and other scented items to avoid attracting wildlife to your campsite.
- Bring a first aid kit and know how to use it. Include any necessary medications and be prepared for emergencies.
- Bring a headlamp and extra batteries. It’s important to have a reliable light source at night, both for navigation and safety.
- Pack enough food and water.
- It’s best to arrive late and leave early when wild camping.
- Make sure you only spend one night in your camping spot, before moving on.
Wild Camping Resources
Here are some great resources to help you on your wild camping adventure!
Ordnance Survey: Has great maps of the UK, either on your phone or as a physical copy.
The Ramblers: A great group for people who love walking.
Open Spaces Society: A Charity working to protect the Uk’s open spaces and common land.
Right To Roam: A group campaigning to extend the Countryside & Rights of Way (CRoW) Act in England so that millions more people can have easy access to open space.
Go Outdoors: If you’re UK Based, this is a great place to buy any kit you need!
National Trails: A perfect place to find walking route inspiration!
Wild camping books
Check out the below reads to help you plan and prepare for your wild camping adventure!
Where to go wild camping
What are the best countries in Europe for wild camping
Europe offers a wide variety of options for wild camping, with different countries offering different experiences. Some of the best countries in Europe for wild camping include:
Scotland is known for its beautiful landscapes and rugged wilderness, making it a prime destination for wild camping. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code allows for wild camping on most unenclosed land, as long as it is done responsibly and does not damage the environment. Popular wild camping spots include the Scottish Highlands, the Isle of Skye, and the Cairngorms National Park.
Norway offers some of the most spectacular wilderness in Europe, with its fjords, mountains, and forests. The Norwegian outdoor culture is also very much aligned with wild camping, so it’s quite common and accepted. However, it’s important to check with the local authorities as some areas may have restrictions.
Sweden also has a rich tradition of outdoor activities and its vast wilderness is ideal for wild camping. There are many unmarked wilderness areas and national parks where you can camp for free. Just like in Norway, it’s important to check with local authorities as some areas may have restrictions.
Finland is known for its numerous lakes, forests, and rugged landscapes, making it an ideal destination for wild camping. The country also offers an “Everyman’s right” which allows the public to camp and hike in the wilderness, as long as it is done responsibly and does not damage the environment.
Iceland is known for its unspoiled wilderness. There are certain areas where wild camping is permitted. Check out this handy guide to wild camping in Iceland.
Switzerland’s perfect alpine landscapes make it an amazing destination for wild camping. In Switzerland, wild camping is allowed above the tree line in the mountains, on alpine pastures, and in rocky terrain.
Best places to wild camp in Australia and New Zealand
- Kakadu National Park
- Blue Mountains National Park, New South Wales
- Freycinet National Park, Tasmania
To find out more information about wild camping, or freedom camping as it’s called locally in New Zealand, visit the DOC website here.
Here is a great resource to help you find the conservation areas in New Zealand where wild camping is not permitted.
I recommend staying at one of the many free campsites in New Zealand to make sure you’re following the DOC rules to help protect the environment.
Best places to wild camp in USA and Canada
The United States and Canada offer a wide variety of options for wild camping, with different regions offering different experiences. Some of the best places to wild camp in the USA and Canada include:
- Olympic National Park
- Badlands National Park
- Glacier National Park
- Zion National Park
In Canada, wild camping is also known as boondocking. Back Country Canada Travel has a great guide which is a must-read for wild campers in Canada.
Below are some great places in Canada to go wild camping:
- British Columbia
- Nova Scotia
- Banff National Park
- Jasper National Park
Best places to wild camp in Africa, South America, and Asia
Below are a few places in other areas of the world to consider for your next wild camping adventure:
- Try dessert camping in Wadi Rum in Jordan
- Camp and hike on Nepal’s Great Himalaya Trail
- Oman – A few great spots include the Gulf of Oman, Balcony Walk of Wadi Nakhr, Jebel Shams and Jebel Akhdar
- Guatemala – for a true adventure try volcano trekking and wild camping. Wake up to spectacular views of volcanic Fuego.
Beginner’s Guide To Wild Camping: Conclusion
This guide covered everything a beginner needs to know about wild camping, from planning and preparation to setting up camp and staying safe in the wilderness. Wild camping is a unique and rewarding experience that allows you to truly connect with nature. It’s an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and find peace and tranquillity in the wilderness. I hope this post has helped to encourage you to give wild camping a try for yourself and see what it has to offer. With the right planning, preparation and mindset, your wild camping experience will be an unforgettable adventure.
If you have any questions, or tips of your own you’d like to share feel free to comment below or message me on social media @begintoadventure.
In the meantime, Happy adventuring!
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