To wake up to the mountain view and the sound of the flowing stream. No need to pay for your stay, which helps with your budget traveling style. What else do you need? With the correct camping and wild camping equipment and following a few simple tips, camping in the wild can be very rewarding. Check my top wild camping tips and the list of wild camping essentials to have a great first camping experience in the wild!
Let’s be honest. Wild camping and camping in general, require some effort. You need to get yourself out there with all the equipment and prepare everything yourself. You need to know what wild camping equipment is worth being taken and what is not needed, where to pitch your tent, how to keep yourself warm, what to eat and where to find water. It’s not that easy.
Or is it?
Every week many people set off to go into the wilderness and wild camp. There are travelers who love camping and can swear by it as their favorite accommodation. Do they know any special tricks? How do they like it so much?
Well, I am one of those people. And I know the secret 😉
Let me show you those tips and wild camping essentials for your next camping adventure to be the best one!
You can thank me later when you become one of those wild camping lovers, haha.
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Tip#1 – Get your wild camping equipment right
The best camping gear for beginners
That’s probably the most important of all the camping and wild camping tips. 80% of your experience will depend on the camping equipment that you have. It doesn’t have to be pricey, but it needs to be well chosen. What is the essential equipment for wild camping and camping in general?
Tent – your home for the night
A tent is your new home. That’s where you are going to sleep and spend the most of the time at night (unless you like lying outside and watching the stars – I do! But, well, not with weather in Scotland). So you want to make sure that is good enough.
What type of tent to choose?
There are few key characteristics that tent needs to have: be waterproof, strong, light, spacious and quick to pitch. Of course, it all depends on what you need to use your tent for. The size will be different when you want to sleep in a tent alone or with a group of friends. If you plan to take it hiking, you would want it to be as light as possible. If you are just going to keep it in the car and pitch on the camping spot, you can focus more on the comfort and space inside. In both cases, it needs to be waterproof and strong enough to hold in place in case of the wind or rain.
Examples of the best tents for wild camping to look for:
- What I used to have – check price
After searching for a while I got a 2 man Gelert Rocky tent. Unfortunately, it’s no longer available, however, Gelert has some other good value tents still on offer. I’ve been using this tent for 3-4 years quite often and it works great. It traveled with me all around Scotland, Iceland, Georgia, Norway, and Poland.
- What I have now – check price
Lightweight and affordable tent Naturehike Cloud 2 – it’s a tent for two people, that only weighs 1,5 kg! They also have a 1-person version, which is even lighter and 3-person tent, if you need more space. I used it a few times and so far so good. I’m very impressed with its small size and lightweight (and also, the price!) – Check the price here.
- Light tent for backpacking and hiking – check price
Good choice for lightweight tent is the one that I just purchased Naturehike Cloud 2. For another option for 1-person tent, you can look at this ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1-person tent – check price here.
- Easy and quick to pitch tent –Check price here.
If you value the easiness and how quick the tent can be pitched, you can look at the instant pop up tents. I’ve used the Quechua tent before and it literally can be set up in 2 seconds. No hassle, just ready to use. Those tents are great if you go camping close to your car, but might be a bit awkward if you need to carry it on a trail. This Coleman 2-Person Pop-Up Tent has great reviews. Check price here.
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The sleeping bag is another part of the essential camping gear. It adds so much to your comfort while wild camping and protects you from cold.
I am totally in love with my AEGISMAX ultralight goose down sleeping bag and after years of dealing with a big, heavy and not really warm old one, I can feel a significant difference. I can sleep in a tent like a baby (my boyfriend is always surprised, as I’m usually a very light sleeper), and it’s mostly because of this sleeping bag. It’s very cosy and warm, being light and compactable at the same time. It can be compressed to the size of a bottle of water! You can find different sizes and types of the goose down fill of that sleeping bag type here.
There are several types of sleeping mats. For years I had a classic type of a sleeping mat, as it’s the cheapest, durable and relatively light. Unfortunately, it’s very bulky and not very comfortable to travel with it.
I recently upgraded it to the inflatable sleeping pad from Therm-a-Rest. It’s a ProLite type, which means it’s the lightest self-inflating mattress available – it weighs only 480 grams! It’s also highly packable, which now allows me to put all my stuff in the tiny backpack and fit the hand baggage restrictions of all airlines. It also added +100 to the comfort of my camping experience, as it’s very warm and cozy to sleep on. I can highly recommend checking all the Therm-a-rest self-inflating mats. It’s so worth the investment! Check prices for Therm-a-Rest mats here.
- Camping Stove
Do you like warm tea in the evening or fresh coffee in the morning? I am a total coffee addict, so for me, a camping stove or a fire is a must in order to have my coffee ready (I can get grumpy otherwise ;)). You can also use it to cook your food and even make traditional Scottish breakfast. When you wild camp, you will be out in nature, far away from the civilization, so if you want a warm meal you need to have a way of preparing it yourself.
Good idea is to buy the camping cooking set, with pans, stove and lightweight utensils, since it includes everything you need.
Another alternative is to make a camping fire. It gives you light and warmth and it’s great to sit around with your friends in the evening. And yes, you can also brew coffee on it (see picture below – that was a challenge though! ;)) and cook food. Unfortunately, starting the fire is not always as easy as it seems (especially in Scotland, when the wood is most of the times wet). As a little help, you can use the solid fuel tablets, that will burn by themselves, and can also be used as an emergency heat source, or those eco-friendly fire starters.
Other useful camping gear items
- head torch – a must have, there is no light in the wilderness. Head torch leaves your hands free, so it’s better than the normal torch. I use Petzl headtorch, already for more than 8 years. Check the price here.
- first aid kit – always have it with you, you can buy the already prepared one or make it yourself
- insect repellent – very useful in the summer season
- pocket knife – if you plan to prepare food, better take it
- matches/lighter (better take both) – for the camping stove or fire
- face and hand wipes – in case there is no stream nearby
- hand sanitizer – always good to have, especially if there is no access to water
- waterproof jacket & socks the in the case of rain and to keep you warm
- duck tape, a piece of rope, safety pins – good to have in case something happens with the tent (saved my life many times)
- power bank – to keep your phone charged if you need to
- inflatable pillow – it weighs almost nothing and is smaller than a can of coke, but it can increase your camping comfort so much! You can also try to stuff your sleeping bag cover with some clothes (my neck doesn’t like it anymore, though)
- ear plugs – believe me, if you are unlucky and there is strong rain and the wind during the night, you won’t be able to sleep much – we had that issue recently (thanks Scotland for your great summer ;)), so earplugs can help
- bottle of wine – hell yeah 😉
Tip# 2 – Choose your wild camping location wisely
A common question is “Where can I wild camp?”. And I would also add – what type of place you should look for when wild camping? That’s the important point and it can ruin your whole stay, if not chosen wisely.
First, you need to make sure that it’s legal to wild camp in the country, where you are in. There might be specific rules to the area, as well. For example, wild camping is legal in Scotland, but not in England or Wales, although they all are part of the UK.
Then, find a perfect camping spot. The best would be a flat and dry area. If it’s windy or looks like it’s going to rain, make sure that the spot is sheltered and located on the relatively soft ground, so you can put the pegs deep in the ground. You don’t want to find yourself among hard rocks, where you can’t stick a thing or in boggy surroundings. If you are in the hot country in the summer, don’t put your tent in the sunniest spot. It will quickly get too hot for you to stay in it and the sun will wake you up way too early in the morning.
And, of course, look for the most stunning view that you can find!
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Tip#3 – Be prepared
Make a list
Before going camping, make a list of things that you need for wild camping and stick to it. Small items make a big difference and you don’t want to find yourself in the situation when you are longing for hot tea, but you realize that you forgot to take the lighter with you (been there, done that). If you bring the wine, check if it has a cork or a cap and take a corkscrew with you. Otherwise, you’d need to use your creativity to open the bottle in another way (been there, done that, too).
Test your gear
Try to pitch your tent first time at home or in the garden, check how to inflate the mattress and make sure that the sleeping bag zips correctly. You don’t want to suddenly realize in the middle of your camping trip, that you don’t know how to do it or that some of those things don’t work properly.
Check the rules
Depending on where you are going – always check the rules and abide by them. In Scotland, you can wild camp on most the of unenclosed land, however, the area around Loch Lomond has a different law. This might happen in any place, so make sure that you know what is allowed and recommended. There are also specific wild camping rules, that you need to follow. For Scotland check them here.
Let someone else know where exactly you are going and when you plan to be back. Check local emergency numbers and have them handy. Keep your phone charged and seek for an alternative in case of no phone signal in the area. Better be safe than sorry!
Tip#4 – Take enough food and water
Chances are that there won’t be any supermarkets or pubs around. Really? just kidding 😉
Make sure you have enough food and water for your camping trip. In some places, it is possible to drink water from the stream, but if you are not experienced in that, better don’t try without the proper water filter. On the longer hikes and if you don’t have access to the shop, the water filter (Sawyer Mini Water Filtration Systems are very good) or the clear water tablets would be the best choice for you.
Best camping food is easy to prepare (remember, you won’t have all of your kitchen utensils at hand), nutritious (so it gives you energy) and of course tasty! We always take some cheese and crackers, hummus with carrots, some dried meat or sausages when we have a fire or a BBQ, plus some snacks such as nuts or energy bars (I love Nakd bars with only natural ingredients and no sugar).
Tip # 5 – Check the weather and always be prepared for rain
Check the weather forecast in advance, and pack accordingly. And if you are in Scotland – be prepared for the rain regardless.
Tip# 6 – Start early
Always pitch your tent when it’s still bright. You want to make sure that the area is clear and the spot good enough. You will also not have any unpleasant surprises in the morning (like finding yourself in the middle of the sheep farm – don’t ask).
Tip# 7 – Properly manage the fire
If you decide to make a campsite fire (if it’s allowed), only do it when you know how to manage it properly. The damaged vegetation can take a decade to recover, which creates a risk of erosion in the meantime. Protect the fireplace from the surrounding area – place it on rocks and far from the ground, so the flames don’t catch the grass. When you’re done, pour water over it and make sure there is nothing left, that can be spread by the wind.
Tip#8 – Leave no trace
Take good care of the environment, take all the rubbish with you, clean the space and leave only footprints.
Tip#9 – Don’t forget
There are also numerous very nice campsites dotted all around with proper facilities and nice views. Not forgetting the stylish cottages, that are a must-try. So if you don’t feel like wild camping this time, you can always start with them and then try wild camping when the right time comes!
The only thing that I can assure you of is – you won’t regret it.
What is your experience with wild camping? Have you done it before? What is your essential camping gear? Let me know in the comments!
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