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Wild Camping FAQs | Beginner's Guide and Kit List

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.

Wild camping in the wilderness

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.

Wild camping above a lake

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.

Wild camping at night

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.

Wild camping on a hillside

What equipment should I take?

Sleeping bag

Your choice depends on your camping plans. In colder months you will want a 3 or 4-season bag that will keep you fully insulated. In the summer you should opt for 1 or 2-season bag.

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.

Sleeping mat

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.

Dry bag

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.

Stove

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.

Other stuff

In addition to these key items you should also make sure you have an OS map, a reliable torch, a good knife or multi-tool, a hat and gloves, some cutlery, a plate/bowl and a mug. And a first aid kit!

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.

Ian Finch instagram polaroid Fell foodie instagram polaroid

The Girl Outdoors instagram polaroid Expansive Adventure instagram polaroid

So, the world is yours for the taking. Just remember to be safe, be respectful, and LEAVE NO TRACE!

Have fun

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Neil used to be a bookworm, an "indoor" type if ever there was one. After finishing a PhD he writes short stories about spooky places and odd people. Living in Switzerland, the Canadian Rockies and the north east region of the USA convinced him that there was something to be said for this whole outdoor thing. Now he runs everywhere he can, competing in races most weekends and endlessly planning the next great adventure to some far flung part of the world. Recent trips include Costa Rica, where he tried and failed to surf; Vietnam, where he almost got stuck in an underground tunnel; and back to Canada, where he came face-to-face with a bear. Watch this space for further updates on Neil's global bumblings and the occasional athletic success.

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Comments

Charles Legge 20-07-19 11:32
Re: Wild Camping FAQs / Beginners Guide and Kit List.
Major omission - No mention of an OS Map !!!!!! Phone might not work.
Polly James 21-07-19 16:46
Kelly Kettle recycles discarded paper, cardboard, dry leaves into 1 litre of boiling water in 5 minutes.
Neil 22-07-19 08:34
Hi Charles,
Thanks for writing in. Doh! That's entirely my fault. The blog has been duly updated with a link to our range of OS maps.

Thanks again
Neil@Blacks
Neil 22-07-19 08:36
Hi Polly,
Thanks for the heads up about the kettle. We'll definitely have a look at this!
Best
Neil@Blacks
Sam 25-07-19 10:14
Nice pics and thanks for sharing so many tip about camping.
Neil 25-07-19 12:06
Hi Sam,
Thanks for your message - nice to know you like the images. Hope you enjoy your wild camp.
Best

Neil@Blacks
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