Wild camping is an extreme form of camping. As the name suggests, it involves camping out in the ‘wild’ as opposed to staying on a campsite.
While wild camping can be a lot of fun, it certainly isn’t for everyone. This post details everything you need to know about wild camping so that you can decide whether wild camping is right for you.
Wild camping vs regular camping: what’s the difference?
There are many differences between staying on a campsite and wild camping. Some of the main ways in which wild camping is different include:
No campsite amenities
When you go wild camping, you don’t have any of the amenities of a campsite. This means no toilets, no showers, no drinking water taps and no wi-fi. You need to be willing to deal without these amenities for the duration of your stay (this guide explains how to do your business when wild camping). You’ll also need to take all your rubbish with you when you leave as you may not have access to bins.
No campsite fees
The biggest perk to not staying on a campsite is not having to pay campsite fees. It can be a great way to save some money while exploring the great outdoors. Just be sure not to pitch up your tent on someone else’s land without permission as you could face a hefty fine!
No designated pitch
When you stay at a campsite, you often get designated a pitch. This can have its pros and cons. While you don’t have to spend time looking for a suitable location, you may not have much flexibility as to where you put your tent. Wild camping gives you huge freedom as to where you want to camp. You can pick the best views to wake up to – views that you wouldn’t ever get on a campsite.
When you stay on a campsite, you’re likely to have lots of people camping around you. When you go wild camping, it’s a chance to get away from other people. This could be a good thing or a bad thing – it depends on whether you’re looking to make friends or whether you’re looking for some peace and quiet. As a matter of safety, it’s usually better to go wild camping with somebody else in case someone gets injured.
Can I go wild camping anywhere?
While wild camping gives you more freedom than having to rely on campsites, you can’t pitch up a tent anywhere. There are laws, safety concerns and ground conditions to take into account. Below are some of the questions you should ask yourself before camping somewhere.
Is it legal to camp here?
Different countries have different laws when it comes to wild camping. In some countries like the USA and Canada, you can pitch up a tent in all national forests and grasslands unless otherwise marked. In countries like the UK and Australia, wild camping is pretty much illegal everywhere (but tolerated in some areas providing you clean up after without leaving a trace). Before camping somewhere, always look into local laws.
Is it safe to camp here?
For the most part, wild camping is pretty safe. However, there are some places that are definitely not safe. When camping near a river or the sea, you need to take great caution – if a river floods or the tide comes in, you could be in trouble. It’s often best to keep your distance from bodies of water for this reason. Similarly, avoid wild camping in places that are known to attract very dangerous wildlife.
What are the ground conditions like?
It’s important that the ground conditions are right. Hard stony ground won’t be comfortable and you may find it hard to get your tent pegs in. Soft boggy ground is not good either – tent pegs won’t want to stay in and there could be a risk of flooding. You should also try to avoid ground that is sloped. A slight incline is ok – just make sure that you lie with your head facing uphill to avoid giving yourself a headache.
What do I need to bring when wild camping?
When going wild camping, you should bring all the items you’d pack when going regular camping, plus a few more items for comfort and safety. Below are some of the essentials to bring.
Tent and bedding
A strong sturdy tent is necessary when wild camping. If you’re going to be hiking and camping, try to keep it fairly lightweight – there are tents you can buy under 2kg that are great for this purpose. You’ll also need a roll-mat and a climate-suitable sleeping bag (there are sleeping bags built for the heat and others built for the cold – choose the right option in order to get the best night’s sleep).
Pack clothing for all weathers – even if you’re camping somewhere in summer, it’s worth still bringing a jacket, hat and gloves just in case. Try to choose lightweight clothing that won’t take up too much space and will be easy to carry. Bring spares of everything in case any clothes get wet or dirty.
Food and drink
You’ll need to bring your own food and water. Make sure food won’t perish and wrap it up well. Packet soups and dehydrated foods are a great lightweight option. Make sure to also bring enough bottles of water. You can source your own freshwater, but make sure that you know how to find water in the wild first.
There’s all kinds of other equipment worth bringing including flashlights, cooking gear and firelighters. You can shop for gear at sites like EcoGear FX. A few important items you’ll need for wild camping that you may not need on a campsite include toilet paper, maps and bags for all your rubbish. Make sure to also bring a first aid kit in case you or someone you’re camping with gets hurt.
Is wild camping right for me?
Wild camping is a chance to camp more freely – it costs less and you have more freedom of location. It is a lot more rugged however and you need to be able to cope without the amenities of a campsite. By knowing where to camp and by bringing all the right items, you can make sure that your wild camping experience is a good one.