What is Wild Camping?
Wild camping means pitching your tent or sleeping in your bivvy bag outside of an official or authorised campsite.
Unlike designated campsites, wild camping gives you the chance to spend the night in undiscovered and remote locations, rewarded with stunning scenery, tranquillity, and a sense of independence in the outdoors.
Your wild camp doesn’t need to be in the most remote corner of the Scottish Highlands. It can simply be in your local woods or on countryside tops just outside of the city.
What Gear do I Need to Pack?
You want to keep wild camping as ultralight as possible, however you shouldn’t skimp on the essentials if you want a truly comfortable and enjoyable experience.
Always go for the basics when wild sleeping:
An ultralight tent such as the MSR Hubba NX, or a bivvy bag, a minimalist, waterproof and breathable shelter
Sleeping mattress inflatable ones that are lightweight are really great and very comfortable
Head torch and don’t forget to pack spare batteries just in case!
Choose a comfortable backpack with a waterproof cover and enough storage for your essential kit list.
For multi-day treks with more than one wild camp, ensure that there’s enough space for food supplies. Freeze dried food is easy to carry and tastes good personally brands like Firepot are the tastiest but also include some treats and a little luxury item.
You won’t need a whole kitchen for a few days away but the following cooking essentials always come in handy:
Compact and reliable cooking stove with pot
Fork, knife, and spoon
Bowl and mug
Matches and lighter
Water bottle or hydration bladder
Purification tablets or water filter (water collected from natural flowing sources like rivers and streams must always be purified)
Durable walking boots with sufficient ankle support are necessary for navigating through remote areas with more challenging terrain.
Prepare for walking in the changeable and unpredictable weather with technical outdoor clothing:
Fleece or mid layer for warmth
Technical base layer to wick away sweat
Technical walking socks to minimise blisters
Wooly hat for in-camp warmth
What are the Laws in the UK?
Although you should always ask for permission whenever possible while wild camping, it can be tricky if you don’t know who owns the land and there is no consistent policy for wild camps across the UK either.
So What are the Golden Rules of Wild Camping?
Although the laws differ between Scotland, England and Wales and our National Parks, there are some universal rules to follow wherever you wild camp.
CAMP WITH CONSIDERATION
Camp using small tents which blend into the landscape
Keep your group as small as possible
Camp on flat, dry land and never on top of crops or fauna
Never disturb rocks, vegetation, or wildlife to make your pitch
Camp at least 100m away from trails, roads, and residential areas
Camp high where you’re out of sight from houses and buildings
Pitch your tent late and leave early the next morning
Don’t stay for more than one night (unless the National Park says otherwise)
LEAVE WITHOUT TRACE
Never start campfires and ensure that you protect the ground when using your cooking stove
Search your site after you pack up your equipment to make sure that you haven’t left any litter
On leaving without a trace, long-distance walker and wild camper Chris Townsend recommends you “always leave an area as pristine as possible so that no-one passing by will know it’s been used. If anyone ever camps there again, they too can have the joy of a real wild site and that feeling of being in untouched nature.”