In a bid to get a last minute break into nature, camping season is officially extended. As we move into the autumn and the cold weather announces its unwelcome arrival, we’ve put together a guide to make your wild camp a little more comfortable.
For any multi-day hike or wild camp your choice of equipment is crucial. There are plenty of things to consider. For example, though lightweight kit is vital, it comes as a trade off against warmth. Do you need a dry bag? How about your sleeping bag; synthetic or down?
For advice on these issues, and more – here’s our gear suggestions to get the best from your last-chance camp-out.
If you’re planning an expedition or self-sufficient trip, the likelihood is you’ll already be packing a lightweight backpacking tent. The size of your tent matters when it comes to the ratio of weight to warmth efficiency. Don’t use a larger tent than is necessary; a smaller tent will trap more heat, and also weighs less. Although traditionally heavier, canvas or polycotton tents prove to be better insulators than standard tents.
Tent footprints offer extra protection from any abrasive materials beneath your tent. Although a year-round risk, footprints protect against harmful debris that could damage the water repellency on your tent groundsheet, which becomes more harmful later in the year when downpours are expected.
Sleeping Bag Liners
Sleeping bag liners don’t immediately spring to mind when you write your kit list, but they are wholly underrated. There’s an option for each price point and level of insulation. The warmest level of liner is Thermolite®, providing exceptional insulation with a low level of bulk. A fleece liner is a powerful insulator, however, it doesn’t compress, so take this into consideration when purchasing. Silk liners can also be effective. They can be packed exceptionally small and can also be used in summer as they absorb sweat and moisture quickly.
Unfortunately, sleeping bags are the one piece of kit that can’t avoid being somewhat bulky. Look for three, four and (yes) five season sleeping bags - the key here is finding a bag with a good warmth to weight ratio. For multi-day hiking a down sleeping bag is the best option. Down can be compressed into a much smaller pack size than synthetic bags, plus it insulates better.
The main function of a sleeping mat is to provide a layer of insulation between you and the ground, which will be noticeably colder in the autumn. A foam mat provides more warmth than an air mat. To look at, foam mats are an awkward size and shape, however, they’ll fit comfortably around the inner circumference of a rucksack, or you could wrap it in a waterproof lining and attach it to the outside of your pack.
Dry bags can be a lifesaver. The pros massively outweigh the cons. The weight is minimal so won’t make a huge difference to your overall pack weight, the bag can be secured tightly around your belongings to reduce bulk, and the bag is watertight once sealed. Conveniently, dry bags are available in a variety of sizes. So, depending on how much waterproof protection you want, there’s an option to cram your entire hiking/camping kit in them.
After a long day on the hills, a well-deserved pick-me-up can make or break the journey. Compact gas stoves, such as Jetboil or OEX products, are ultra-lightweight and compact, perfect for a hot drink or meal at the end of the day. Although there’s little scientific evidence to suggest a hot drink raises your body temperature, they do help to warm your extremities and psychologically make you feel happier.
Batteries are easy to overlook when packing in the summer. But as the sun sets earlier your torch will get a lot more use during the autumn and winter months. Don’t leave yourself in the dark, by taking an extra set of batteries for your head torch or lantern you’ll ensure you can see to pitch your tent, consult your map, or answer a call of nature. To be absolutely sure of power, opt for a solar powered device instead.