Campgrounds can be an economic way to take a vacation in a beautiful area, but it isn’t really camping. When you are dealing with noisy neighbors, clogged toilets and lots of rules, then it isn’t the most relaxing way to camp.
Wild camping gets you in the heart of nature and is far more of a challenge. It is truly the way to commune with nature and get some adventure in.
In this article, we will go over all the basics to get you started with wild camping. There are some essential things such as tent, food, water, torch, best sleeping bag and much more to carry with you because in the wilderness resource are less available and self protection is important. You may have already read our guide on the essentials to camping, but wild camping is a bit more involved so make sure you read on.
Is it legal?
Some countries and areas within a country are off limits for camping. Though it seems like it should be a birthright to pitch a tent out in nature wherever you please, this may not be the case.
Make sure you check the local regulations where you plan to camp. You could risk hefty fines if you decide to go anyway.
Research the area
You need to fully understand the terrain and weather for the area you are going. Knowing the area will help you bring the right kind of tent and clothes. (Note: the best sleeping bags for wild camping will be ones that don’t take up much room.) The terrain will determine how much you can bring.
Will it be a hike with lots of inclines and ridges where hiking with a big backpack is not feasible? Is there thick forest that doesn’t provide enough space to set up a camp?
If there is not much information coming from a Google search then try asking on Facebook groups or Reddit. Surely you can get some local knowledge on the area.
Keep your food in secure containers
Wild camping obviously means being in the wild. There are lots of animals in the wild and they will be looking to score some easy food.
Make sure you pack all of your food in secure containers that a wild animal won’t be able to smell. There are bear proof containers for sale in many good camping supply stores that will prevent any nosy bears from visiting your tent looking for a snack.
Be careful where you use the “toilet”
One of the reasons that wild camping is illegal in some areas is the risk of contamination from human waste. Even if it is legal where you decide to camp, you have to make sure you are not going to the bathroom anywhere near a water source. You may need to drink this water yourself, too.
Animals may not be able to drink that water if it gets contaminated so make sure you stay at least 100 feet away from any open water like lakes or streams.
Bring a water filter
Speaking of drinking water, bringing a few days worth of water is not very practical to carry into the wilderness.
You’ll need to drink from the local watering hole available to you. The problem is that this water could have bacteria or parasites that will make you sick.
Having a water filter that can remove microparticles down to the size of bacteria is the way to go.
Know how to use a map and compass
You will likely be far away from any kind of phone signal so you won’t be using GPS on your phone. And if you do bring a traditional GPS, what happens if it breaks or the batteries die?
You’ll have to be able to navigate by use of a compass and map the old fashioned way.
Be careful with your fire
Starting a forest fire is much easier than you think. Be very responsible with your cooking fires.
Always start a fire where there is no brush on the ground and free of hanging branches overhead. When it comes time to put the fire out, pour water all over it before moving on.
Before you leave on your trip, you will need to pack and repack your backpack several times. Choose the lightest gear possible and make sure it takes up very little space.
Then try doing a test hike around for a half a day to get an idea of how it feels to carry. Then remove any of the non essentials or replace them with lighter versions.