The Ultimate Wild Camping Gear Guide
- The Ultimate Wild Camping Gear Guide
- What is Wild Camping?
- Essential Wild Camping Gear
- Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping Mat
- Folding Camp Chair
- Hiking/Walking Boots
- Waterproof Socks
- Waterproof Jacket
- Walking Trousers
- Dry Bags
- Trekking Poles
- Camping Stove & Gas
- Food Supplies
- Water and Water Bottles
- Water Purifier
- Head Torch
- Map and Compass
- First Aid Kit
- Trekking Hat, Sunglasses, and Sun cream
- Mosquito Repellent
- Extra Gear
- Wrapping Up
- Is Wild Camping Illegal?
- Is Wild Camping Safe?
- It Wild Camping Allowed in the UK?
- When is the Best Time to Go Wild Camping?
- Where and How Do I Poo When Wild Camping?
Wild Camping in the UK is becoming more and more popular, being able to just back up and head into the wilderness is a dream for most people stuck in the office.
Taking a break from your busy schedule to pack all your essentials in a rucksack and head off the beaten track for a weekend of peace and solitude in the middle of nowhere can work wonders for both your physical and mental health.
The UK is full of breathtaking landscapes surrounded by scenic views that will make for the perfect camping spot.
No wonder more people are heading out into the wilderness in the UK to wild camp!
Heading out into the wild will only be possible if you have all the necessary gear to cover you for the duration of your escapade. Whether you are a first-time camper or an experienced outdoor adventurer, the following is a guide to preparing the ultimate wild camping gear list.
What is Wild Camping?
Wild camping is an umbrella term that refers to pitching a tent outside of an official campsite.
In this case, the more remote, the better. This means it’s not for the faint of heart; only those with an affinity to explore and push their fears out in the wilderness to the limit can cope with this kind of activity.
So, what should you include in your kit list?
Essential Wild Camping Gear
The outdoors is unpredictable and you can never be sure what nature will throw your way. To be on the safe side, you must prioritise your wellbeing and be sure to carry all the essential supplies, even if you’re out doing a spot of motorcycle camping.
Unfortunately, you might not be able to bring all that comes to mind since there is a limit to what you can fit inside a rucksack and the weight you can comfortably support.
So, depending on your preferences and the location of your camping site, the following is a comprehensive list for all your wild camping kit:
A rucksack or backpack is a crucial purchase when setting out on a wild camping trip. It is what will carry all the other essentials equipment and supplies you will need when you hit the trail.
As such, you should take your time to find a rucksack that will comfortably accommodate all that you need for the adventure. There is no shortage of options when you start shopping for a backpack.
Some small models are designed for casual day hikes and weekend hikes while larger ones will be better suited for week-long camping expeditions and backpacking adventures.
To choose a practical bag, you need to consider the capacity. We recommend a good quality hiking pack such as the Osprey Men’s Atmos Ag 65 Backpack with a 45L-55L capacity.
Depending on how long you’re camping for, it should be big enough to accommodate enough supplies to last you for the duration of the trip. Apart from the capacity, you also want to consider the durability of the bag.
The right wild camping rucksack should be made out of a strong and tear-resistant fabric that will safeguard its contents. It is recommended that the bag comes with various compartments for easy organisation of the items you’re carrying.
You’ll also want to protect what you’re carrying from the elements, so consider looking for waterproof bags to ensure that your belongings don’t get wet when it rains unexpectedly.
Look for something lightweight that won’t drag you down on the trail. Don’t forget comfort features like cushioned shoulder straps to reduce the impact of the weight you’re bearing on your back.
A tent is something that should be at the top of your kit list. Given that you’re going wild camping, you’ll have to sleep outside in the open and a tent will provide the shelter to protect you from our famously painfully cold British weather!
There are numerous designs of tents in the market for different situations. To find the best tent for you, consider features such as the weight, durability, ease of set up, and the number of people it can accommodate.
See our Camping Tent UK Guide for more information on the different types of tents available & their different uses.
Ideally, wild campers should select a tent that is lightweight to reduce the load to be carried but made out of durable material to survive the rugged conditions in the wild.
You don’t want anything too big, a one-man or two-person tent should do, depending on how many you are. Remember that wild camping is not about getting cozy under your tent but saving as much weight as possible since there are so many things to bring along.
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to access the camping area by car, so you’ll need to carry the tent in your backpack.
To ensure that you don’t burden yourself, set a maximum weight limit of around 1.5kg. However, if you’ll be sharing the load with a friend or fellow wild camper, you can push the limit to 3kg.
Generally, the more you pay for a tent, the lighter it will be and the better designed since lightweight and strong fabrics tend to be more expensive. Brands such as MSR often have the lightest tents.
Depending on the season you plan to go wild camping, you might also have to choose between a 3-season and 4-season tent. While there are many top brands of Camping Tent out there, we would generally recommend sticking with the following brands:
Just because you’re spending your nights miles away from home, it shouldn’t stop you from getting cozy when you rest your head after a long day on the trail.
A good night’s sleep is crucial if you want to wake up the following morning, refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to take on the itinerary ahead of you. There are loads of sleeping bags on the market, ranging from mummy shaped to rectangular shaped and unisex to gender-specific.
The secret when shopping for a sleeping bag is to check the type and amount of fill, as well as the temperature rating. This is important if you want to keep the cold night breeze at bay and wake up in the morning without a stiff back.
Some manufacturers use synthetic fill while others opt for down fill. The weight is an important aspect that you shouldn’t overlook. Remember you’re trying to reduce your load as much as possible.
Additionally, you can get a one-person sleeping bag or those that accommodate two people. The size should also fit you comfortably, especially around the hips and shoulders and the fill should be enough to keep you warm and toasty no matter how far down the temperatures drop.
A sleeping mat is another handy inclusion in your camping equipment list. It ensures that you not only get a comfortable sleep at night but helps you relax during the day on the forest floor.
These come in all kinds, sizes, and shapes; from foam to inflatable. An inflatable sleeping mat is a nice choice if you want to keep your luggage lightweight and small.
They are space-efficient, relatively lightweight, and pack down nicely.
Some models even come fitted with a heat-reflecting layer inside to keep you warm and cozy anytime you lay down for a rest.
The only thing is that you’ll have to carry a pump to blow it up, which adds to your luggage, although you can blow it yourself if you’re up to the task!
Folding Camp Chair
Another item you might find necessary to include in your kit list is a folding camping chair. This is especially useful for campers with back issues.
You could easily aggravate your condition by sitting on a camping mat with nothing to support your spine. Furthermore, camping chairs are a great way of keeping comfortable and relaxing after a long expedition during the day.
These are lightweight, collapsible, and pack down easily. You won’t have a problem adding one to your luggage and it doesn’t need much space in your rucksack.
When shopping for a folding camp chair, make sure the material is rugged enough and pick one with an easy setup process. Also, consider a small size that is just enough to accommodate you so that it’s not too much extra weight.
Hiking boots will prove crucial when you’re trudging on the tough and rock-filled trails as you search for the perfect camping spot. They help to protect your feet from injury, ensure their comfort, and shield them shielded against the elements.
All this helps to prevent premature fatigue, which may interrupt your adventure before you even get to your intended destination.
A good pair of hiking boots should prioritise your comfort on the trail. Look for a design with adequate arch and heel support to keep your steps stable and plenty of cushioning on the inner sole to reduce the impact on hard and rocky surfaces.
It’s also important that you invest in a waterproof and breathable boot to guard against the elements and keep your feet dry and warm.
The material needs to be durable but be careful that it doesn’t add too much weight to the shoe. Furthermore, check that the outsole offers enough traction on slippery ground to stay upright in all kinds of terrains.
Finally, choose a pair of walking boots that your feet can fit in snugly. You won’t don’t want anything too tight that will affect your comfort during the long walk to the camping zone.
A pair of hiking boots may shield you against thorns and sharp stones on the trail but it will have trouble stopping water from getting to your feet, especially when you step into marshy areas.
This is why you need a pair of waterproof socks to offer extra protection to your feet. Aside from keeping them wet and dry, waterproof socks cushion your feet against impact and improve your traction while walking.
Our ArcticDry Xtreme 100% Waterproof Socks come with a multipurpose functionality that will suit multiple weather conditions.
The outdoors can be very unpredictable, and you can never be sure of what Mother Nature has on her timetable. You need to always be ready for any weather changes, especially if you’re hiking during the wet seasons. This is why a waterproof jacket becomes such an important addition to your camping kit list.
These not only help to keep you warm and dry in case of precipitation but also protect the contents of your backpack from getting wet and damaged.
As usual, you want to choose the right size for you. In this case, go for something slightly oversize so that you can wear it over the backpack to stave off the raindrops.
Consider features such as Velcro on the sleeves to keep off the draught, as well as a hood to protect your face and hair from the cold and wetness respectively.
The right pair of walking trousers allows you to stay comfortable even after hours of walking on challenging trails. Aside from that, it also shields you from the elements, branches, twigs, and thorns as you squeeze through thickets and forests.
The right set of walking trousers should be lightweight not to weigh you down and breathable to allow free airflow inside and outside.
Other features to look for are water-resistance and insulation to keep your legs warm when the temperatures fall to unbearable states. Remember to select trousers that are the right size with an elasticated waist to make for a comfortable fit.
Materials such as Gore-Tex are preferred for walking trousers and the Berghaus Paclite is a good example of a reliable product in the market.
Dry bags are an invaluable piece of gear that will do what a rucksack may fail to do. They are especially crucial when you have to wade through marshy trails and cross streams to get where you intend to camp.
Unlike regular hiking rucksacks, these are 100% Waterproof (not just water repellent) and feature a watertight seal, which enables you to safe-keep any delicate items that you don’t want getting wet.
These will include anything from a phone, compass, and watch to credit cards and even cash if you decide to carry some. However, you should note that dry bags are meant to only be water-resistant, so you don’t want to submerge them in the water for too long.
Before reaching your camping spot, you must first hit the trail and walk for a bit to get there.
The outdoors is defined by all kinds of rugged and unforgiving trails, especially when you want to access the most scenic and desirable wild camping sites. Please note: These are optional, and most wild campers do not use them for overnighters.
You need something to help you walk comfortably on these tough terrains, and this is where trekking poles come in.
When buying a set of walking poles, choose those that are lightweight as possible but strong enough not to snap under your weight while walking.
Also, consider a collapsible design with ergonomic handles and moisture-wicking capabilities. The Black Diamond trekking poles are very popular among hikers and backpackers.
Camping Stove & Gas
You’re going wild camping for a few days, then a camping stove and gas is pretty much essential, unless you’re only going for one night and you take some sandwiches, snacks & drinks.
Good examples include the Jetboil, amongst others. See our latest review here: Jetboil Flash vs. Minimo.
This will come in handy when you want to prepare a quick cup of coffee or your evening meal before heading to sleep.
Tent stoves will also come in handy when you want to keep warm on those cold nights. They can be installed right inside the tent to keep you toasty cozy when you sleep. Furthermore, you can hang any wet clothes or socks to dry overnight so that they are good to wear by morning.
When buying a tent stove, you want to check the kind of fuel it uses; some use liquid gas, others are fitted with gas canisters while some use firewood as fuel.
Some integrated stove systems like the Jetboil Minimo above ^ come with a cooking pot that lets you prepare your meal directly without needing extra utensils.
However, if you’re using a regular camping stove, you will want to carry a pan or pot from where you’re going to be preparing your meals. Furthermore, a mug, plate, spoon, knife, etc. will also come in handy when you have to serve your ready meal and eat it comfortably.
Enough food will be needed to sustain you through the duration you plan to be out wild camping. However, be careful not to carry too much so that you end up overwhelming your luggage space.
Choose foods that will provide you with enough energy to keep you going on the trail. Typically, campers will carry anything from salted nuts, pasta, rice, avocados, canned beans, energy bars, powdered milk, and pitta bread to oats.
If you’re doing an overnighter in the woods, then whats popular with a lot of people is to take things like Sausages, Bacon & Eggs and make a good ole fry-up, so if you’re planning to do that then make sure you take a portable camping stove / gas to cook everything up.
You can also purchase “boil in a bag: type of camping food, which is either a hit or a miss with some people, but the general consensus is that they’re effective, just not always that tasty (depending on brand).
Either way, in an emergency this type of product works very well as they are typically extremely high in Fat and Carbohydrates, just what you need after a long hike.
Water and Water Bottles
It gets really sunny and dusty on the trails sometimes. You’ll need enough water reserves to not only quench your thirst when the conditions are hot but also cool down your body temperature.
Don’t forget to carry as much water as you can without going beyond the weight limit of your pack.
This is not always essential, but depending on where you choose to pitch up, it could come in handy.
Since you’ll be fetching water from rivers and creeks in the wild when you run of bottled water, you need to make sure that it is purified before you drink.
There are so many bacteria and other pathogens out there that can be detrimental to your wellbeing.
While you can purify water by boiling it, the alternative to carry some water purification tablets to steer clear of the risk of catching a nasty bug. Alternatively there are now water bottles with purification technology built in.
A head torch is crucial for walking in dark conditions. If you plan to continue hiking into the night or early in the morning when it’s still dark, a headlight will help you see the path ahead.
It will also help you navigate your way through dense forests and thickets where the sunlight does not reach the forest floor.
See our review on running head torches, which can also be used for hiking & wild camping purposes.
It is also water-resistant and comes with a thick band that fits snugly around your head. Unlike using a handheld torch, your hands won’t be engaged when wearing a headlamp. So, you’ll be free to continue performing other duties and this makes a headlight such an important gadget to have in your wild camping gear.
Map and Compass
However, a map of the area and compass will come in handy when you feel lost and/or something happens to your phone. With these crucial items, you can always tell where you’re heading to and where you’re coming from.
Ideally, you should get an Ordnance Survey Map – these are the best in Britain – and pair it with a compass for convenience. This is because a compass may run out of battery life, so the paper map will act as the perfect backup.
Look for features like waterproofness and GPS+GLONASS dual functionality when choosing a compass.
First Aid Kit
Accidents happen when you least expect, especially in the jungle where you are practically surrounded by all kinds of risks. You need to be prepared for any contingencies and a first aid kit is a crucial piece of camping gear that may just be the difference between life and death.
Considering that you’ll be far from civilisation and hours away from help, it is your quick acting and the availability of a first aid kit that will keep the situation from getting worse.
You want to make sure the kit is complete with all the needed supplies, including plasters, bandages, tick removers, zinc oxide tape, methylated spirit, iodine, etc.
The good thing is you can find first aid kits that are small and light enough to fit in your pack nice and snug.
Cleanliness is second to Godliness, and just because you’ll be living in the wild for a week or so; it doesn’t give you the right to resort to the ways of early man. Personal hygiene should be prioritised the same way you do while at home.
These will include everything from a shower soap and shampoo for your hair to a toothbrush and toothpaste. There’s a lot of sweating involved in hikes during the day, and you want to feel fresh before putting your head down to sleep. Having all your toiletries in place ensures that you maintain high levels of personal hygiene.
Trekking Hat, Sunglasses, and Sun cream
If you’re camping in the summer (Yes, we have a summer here in the UK), it is important to protect yourself from the scorching sun during the day. You can easily suffer severe sunburns from prolonged exposure of your naked skin.
You might want to bring along a hat and a pair of sunglasses for any expeditions during the daytime. Hiking sunglasses are designed to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and the uncomfortable glare of the sun.
Depending on your preferences, you might have to choose between polarised and non-polarized sunglasses. Furthermore, applying a layer of sun cream on your skin not only prevents sunburns but also keeps your skin hydrated and smelling good.
Some products are treated with anti-mosquito ingredients too which can help out in the woods.
Sleeping in the jungle exposes you to all kinds of bugs that want to get a taste of your blood. These will be more prevalent if you decide to pitch your wild camping tent in the tropics, where mosquitoes and other parasitic insects reign.
To keep them at bay, you need to invest in a bottle of mosquito repellent. It offers reliable protection against the insects of the jungle during the day, as well as at night.
Mosquito repellents are available in different forms. You can select those that you apply as a lotion and those come as a spray.
They have a strong smell that repels mosquitoes, as well as other biting bugs like horse flies, midges, sand flies, black flies, etc. The Jungle Formula is highly recommended for areas with a high risk of Malaria.
There are numerous items, apart from the ones above, that will be a godsend during your wild camping trip. Things such as whistle will come in handy during emergencies, in case you get separated from your group.
It is also a great way to sound an alarm when you encounter any form of danger, e.g. wild animals like bears.
You’ll also need waterproof matches as a reliable way of lighting a fire, especially when it rains and you want to keep warm. A pocket knife will be invaluable when navigating a thick jungle and during the preparation of meals while a multitool may come to your rescue in case of any damage to your tent, folding chair, and any other things that may need fixing.
As you can see, the list is endless when preparing for a wild camping trip, it may take a whole day to put a conclusive one together! Notwithstanding, the items mentioned above are the ones you should prioritise in your wild camping gear list.
Whether you are an experienced camper or a rookie adventurer, these are what you need to have a successful and incident-free camping escapade!
Happy Wild Camping!
Is Wild Camping Illegal?
In Scotland, no, but in the rest of the UK it gets a bit more complicated. Please see our guide here on whether wild camping is illegal in the uk
Is Wild Camping Safe?
According to research, wild camping is relatively safer compared to night outs, driving, and other activities. As long as you take the necessary precautions and carry all the essential supplies, you should be alright.
However, remember to tell your close friends and family where you intend to camp and the duration you’re going to be away.
Be sure to also carry a fully charged mobile phone, power bank, first aid equipment, and adequate navigation tools.
There are certain apps available that update your loved ones on your location, with realtime updates, so check those out if possible.
It Wild Camping Allowed in the UK?
Not all areas in the UK permit wild camping; it is illegal to do this in some parts! The thing is most land in the UK is privately owned, so you can’t go trespassing on private property without the landowner’s permission.
You will most likely be asked to move and if you resist, the authorities might be contacted to come and evict you.
However, there are exceptions such as Dartmoor and Scotland, where the law of the land permits wild camping. This is generally allowed in unenclosed fells but it should be done responsibly and only involve small groups.
So, if you think you’ve found the perfect spot to wild camp, we suggest you seek permission from the owner of the property before pitching a tent.
When is the Best Time to Go Wild Camping?
As long as you have a comprehensive wild camping kit, wild camping can be done at any time of the year comfortably. Just keep in mind that the key point is to be self-reliant and self-sustaining. There is a fair share of risks involved, so you need to be a confident camper to even consider wild camping. Especially if you decide to go it alone.
Make sure your camping gear is suitable for the current weather conditions; whether winter or summer. Also, remember to carry your emergency kit and bring along a mobile phone to alert your friends or call for help in case of any emergencies.
Where and How Do I Poo When Wild Camping?
This is a sensitive issue that takes so many people to task just thinking about it! If you’ve never camped away from civilisation before, it can be extremely confusing when nature calls.
Well, the best thing is to identify a spot at least 50m away from running water (streams and rivers) to relieve yourself. Start by digging a hole and just like your feline friend at home, hide the evidence after finishing your business. Don’t forget the toilet paper and wipes!