Wild camping offers a freedom and remoteness that you just don’t get when staying on a regular campsite. The down side is that you have to think a little more carefully when it comes to packing as you will be carrying everything with you. Packing light to avoid a heavy rucksack, while making sure that you have adequate gear for all eventualities is an important balance. Below are a few tips to help.
Layering – Pack cloths that can be layered, this way you can get your temperature right and have spares.
Avoid cotton t-shirts jumpers and Jeans – When cotton gets wet it wicks heat away from the body. Synthetics are lighter and stay warmer when wet. Merino wool thermals are great but a little more expensive than synthetics, they are warm and breathable and if needed can be worn for weeks on end without getting smelly, unlike synthetics. For pullovers, go for fleece not cotton, it is much lighter and warmer.
An insulated Jacket – Lightweight insulated jackets filled with either Down or PrimaLoft are worth their weight in gold, they can be packed down small and for the same weight offer much more warmth than a fleece Jacket.
Water proofs – Even if the forecast is not for rain it is important to have waterproofs just in case. They also keep off the wind chill so are useful even when it is dry. There are a number of different waterproof membranes, Gore-Tex and E-vent are popular as they are breathable as well as waterproof. Cheap waterproofs are often not as breathable so you get wet from the inside from sweat when exercising.
Always bring a hat and gloves – Even in the summer a light fleece hat can be useful in the evenings and to wear when sleeping on cold nights, a lot of heat is lost through the head so being able to keep that warm is a priority.
Walking Boots – Waterproof boots are important as even if it is not raining when going through boggy ground they should keep your feet dry (wet feet are cold and can lead to blisters). Generally, waterproof boots come in two forms, leather or Gore-tex lined. Leather boots are often stiffer and take more wearing in but last longer and are more waterproof.
Sleeping bags – There is a huge range in sleeping bag quality and you can pay from ten pounds up to several hundred, so what is the difference? Well, really it comes down to the weight to warmth ratio. The more expensive sleeping bags will be filled with down which is light and warm. If you don’t have the cash to splash out on a down bag (although it should last you most of your life if treated well), good synthetic sleeping bags are available but will be a little heavier for the equivalent warmth.
I would generally recommend a three season rated sleeping bag but in the summer months a good two season bag is a lighter option if you have some good thermals and perhaps an insulated jacket to wear if the night turns cold.
A good carry mat – When camping, a lot of your heat gets lost through the ground so a sleeping mat is very important. Inflatable mats are great for keeping you warm but cheap ones will be heavy.
Tents – If bringing your own tent make sure it is light weight, for a one man tent aim for less than 1.8kg, a two man tent should be less than 2.5kg but this is heavy if you are not sharing. If you haven’t used your tent for a while or are borrowing it please check it is in good condition and has all the poles and pegs.
Cut down on the non-essentials – Part of the beauty of wild camping is returning to simplicity and letting go of the need to be prim and proper so leave the hairbrush, makeup and gadgets at home and embrace a little ruggedness.
Every little helps – Think about the quantities you will need for three days or however long and reduce down as much as possible. A large tube of tooth paste, whole bottle of shampoo (not needed anyway) and sun cream will all add up to a significant weight so find small tubes or decant. Some people go as far as cutting down the handle of their toothbrushes but think this is a little extreme!!!