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What to pack when youre... wild camping in the UK

TIME : 2016/2/23 16:14:33
Wild camping overlooking Late Buttermere (Shutterstock: see credit below)

What to pack when you're... wild camping in the UK

Whether you're trying out a no-frills campsite or going it alone in the wild, here's how to pick the best gear for your off-the-grid UK camping adventure

Tent or bivi bag?

Rain or shine, you need a good light-weight packable tent. And if you're wild camping, make sure it's low-profile. It’s worth checking out Vango and Terra Nova for these. The most low profile option is the hooped Bivi Bag – so discreet that it's little more than a coffin for you and your bag. It's OK to crawl into and sleep, but little more than that. If you are going minimalist like this, pack a ground sheet or poncho to make an awning so you have something to sit under before turning in for the night.

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Sleeping bag

Your sleeping bag style will be dictated by the season. To pack as light as possible, try the Nomad Variant III: it can be worn as a poncho while you're sitting around in the evening, then converted into a one-season sleeping bag which can be layered with insulated clothing.

Use a sleeping mat to protect you against ground cold. It must be good quality and packable, so inflatable options are best. Just take care of avoiding a puncture. When wild camping you are likely to encounter thorns and rough ground, so even with the best care punctures are likely over time. You can also get chair kits (also light weight and packable) that will convert your mat into a chair. Often with wild camping there is nowhere to rest your back so one of these can be invaluable.

Light that lasts

Tricky… You don’t want to be lit up like a beacon in the darkness attracting attention to yourself but, at the same time, you don’t want to sit around in the dark. Also, battery life can become a worry if you're camping for a few days.

Start with a head torch (one with a red light to stop glare and keep your night vision intact) and check out LuminAID. These are solar panel powered LED lights that are incorporated into an inflatable opaque bag. LuminAID acts as a low-powered lantern and recharges during the day, even with cloud cover. Don’t forget to pack some old fashioned tealight candles (for outside use) as a backup.


If your gadgets need power, you can't go wrong with the Powertraveller Power Monkey Adventurer. It is simple to use, the solar panel works well, and it stores power very effectively. Reliable and extremely rugged – just what you need.

Water and food

There is no guarantee with wild camping that water will be available, so you must have the ability to store enough for a day and a half. That could be up to 10 litres depending on the environment. The best storage for water is an Ortleib Water Bladder as it is extremely tough and folds away very small when not in use.

If you can collect water while you're camping, make sure you have the ability to clean it. Ideally, the water should be passed through a fine cloth to remove particles then either treated with chemicals, zapped with UV light (Steripen) or passed through a filtration bottle like the Aquapure Traveller.

If you want to cook food, MSR fuel cookers are great for this form of camping. But don’t forget: you will need to carry spare fuel, pots and other cooking paraphernalia. Or, take the old fashioned simple option with a solid fuel burner and mess tins – so you don't have to carry combustible fuel in your bag. This is good enough for hot drinks and quick meals, and a mess tin will even double up as a small sink for washing.

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This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you will need – for a more thorough break-down, check out the Nomad Travellers Check List.