We hear a lot of talk about wild camping. It's a buzzword that people who love the outdoors throw around casually. However, don't worry if you don't know your bivvy-bag from your backpacking-tent, or if you've never slept more than 6 feet from a mains plug. We're here to answer all your wild camping questions.
If it's not covered below, just ask.
What is wild camping?
Wild camping means getting beyond the campsite and pitching up on your own in the wilderness. It can be as adventurous as you want to make it, but it will mean ditching the showers and the electrical hook-up.
Why would I go wild camping?
The question should be why would you not? Wild camping gives you both peace and the thrill of isolation. Away from artificial campsite light you'll see a million stars and waken in the silence of an undisturbed morning. Wild camping will teach you self-reliance; it'll give you some real headspace for yourself, and it makes for a great story.
Where can I wild camp?
This is where it gets complicated. There are different rules for those in Scotland and the rest of the UK. In Scotland the right-to-roam laws give you the scope to wild camp pretty much anywhere that isn't private land.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland wild camping is more of a legal grey area. There is no formal 'wild camping law' and, as all land is owned, unsanctioned camping is trespassing. Theoretically, permission must be gained from a landlord before camping. In reality, many people choose to take the chance, accepting a middle-of-the-night eviction as one of the risk (thrills?) of wild camping.
The exception is Dartmoor, where wild camping is wholly legal in a lot of places. Even better, the Dartmoor National Park Authority have developed a map that shows you the areas open for a wild night's stay.
If you do take the chance on wild camping elsewhere, remember that any refusal to immediately remove yourself from owned land constitutes a criminal offence. Generally, though, wild camping takes place in the middle of nowhere and there is a widely assumed tolerance as long as you act respectfully.
Is there a general Wild Camping Code?
- The no.1 rule is Leave No Trace other than footprints and some flattened grass.
- Arrive late and leave early in the morning - this is the no.2 rule of wild camping.
- Use a camp stove if possible. If essential, keep fires small and contained.
- Answer any calls of nature away, well away from paths or waterways.
- Don't be a visual disturbance - pitch out of sight, avoid huge, bright tents and equipment.
- Don't disturb any wildlife or livestock – in fact, don't camp anywhere near them.
When should I go wild camping?
With the right equipment and experience wild camping can be a year-round activity. Remember though, the very point of this is to be self-sustaining and independent, which brings risk. If you are not a confident camper, and if you don't have gear that's sufficient for extreme temperatures, then confine your wild camps to the clement spring/summer nights.
Also, regardless of your proficiency, always ensure that you have a fully charged mobile phone with you. And TELL SOMEONE WHERE YOU ARE GOING!
What kind of tent will I need?
There are a lot of excellent, robust and lightweight tents out there. We would recommend that you take something you can easily carry, concentrating on weight and pack size. It is also essential that the tent can withstand bad weather.
The Berghaus Peak Pro is an excellent choice of 1-person tent that balances performance and price. The flat pole sleeve increases wind resistance and the fabrics's 5000mm Hydrostatic Head (with taped seams) means it will keep heavy rain at bay. If you want to partner up for your wild camp then it also comes in 2-person version.
What equipment should I take?
Alternatively, you even swap out the bag entirely for a sleeping bag liner. This will save on weight and will offer enough comfort for warmer nights. We recommend the Eurohike Silk Liner for that extra luxe feel against your skin.
The Berghaus Peak Compact Self-Inflating Mat ticks all the boxes. Affordable, easy to carry, easy-to-inflate, and comfortable enough for a great night's sleep.
When you're out in the middle of nowhere it's essential to keep your kit dry. Dry bags are super light and come in a range of sizes. We recommend an Osprey Ultralight sack as it ranks amongst the lightest you can buy.
Quick tip – a dry bag can also be stuffed full and used as a pillow for that extra bit of comfort.
Deliveroo isn't an option when you're wild camping, so a small, light camping stove becomes an absolute must. At less then a kilo, the Vango Blaze is ideal for carrying out into the wilds. Just don’t forget your gas and a pan.
I'd also pack a book, but maybe that's just me.
Where can I look for inspiration?
If you really want to get the wilderness bug the then check out some of the best social media accounts for wild camping.
So, the world is yours for the taking. Just remember to be safe, be respectful, and LEAVE NO TRACE!