Off Grid Camping, How to go Wild Camping
Updated: Apr 1
Get back to nature and keep things simple.
You may be familiar with the term wild camping or off grid camping. This type of camping has gained in popularity with the advent of shows and films about surviving in the wilderness. Off grid camping doesn't have to mean going into the mountains and surviving on what you can carry in your cargo pants pocket. For me camping off the grid simply means taking everything I need with me and disconnecting from the internet, electricity and running water. Really getting back to nature and detaching from the daily grind. I find going off grid when I can is great for my mental health, add in some good walks and it's great for physical health too.
Wild camping doesn't mean wandering into the countryside and pitching up wherever you like, in the uk it is vital to get the permission of the land owner. There are however a growing number of wild camping sites owned by private landowners which offer the same experience with some even offering wild swimming.
What you need to know for a successful wild camping trip.
Food and Drink
As you're off the grid you're not going to have easy access to a supermarket. Ensuring that you pack the right food is essential. If you're carrying the food you're going to eat on your back then give great consideration to its weight. Dehydrated foods such as pasta, rice, couscous, and noodles are lightweight and easy to prepare. I tend to take a selection of flavour sachets or a small bottle of tabasco s
auce to add a little interest if food needs a little kick. High energy snacks such as dried fruit and trail mix, flapjacks, jelly beans and boiled sweets are light and give a good amount of energy when you're on the move. Don't forget your kit! Make sure you have a spoon, cooking pan or mess tin. Stove, enough gas and a bag to take all your litter home.
What to avoid
If you're going to eat a short time after embarking on your trip then some perishable food such as fruit and vegetables is fine. It is not recommended that you take fresh meat, fish or dairy products unless you have a guaranteed way to keep them cool. Never attempt to kill and eat anything while out camping and avoid eating foods that you have foraged unless you are 100% sure you know what you are eating. Leave that to Bear Grylls!
Often the biggest challenge of wild camping is having sufficient water. Between drinking, rehydrating food, and enjoying a nice cuppa and washing water can be restrictive. There are solutions available to harvest water from lakes, rivers and streams however I would always recommend staying away from these unless you have invested in the right equipment to purify the water you collect.
Going to the toilet
I know, were British, and we don't want to talk about our bodily functions but when it comes to wild camping its really important that you plan for when you get caught short. There are many strong folding shovels which weigh very little and plenty of strong ziplock bags available. Guess what I'm getting at yet? Bury it or bag it!. It's also useful to keep biodegradable wipes around too.
Even in the middle of summer there are places in the UK where hypothermia is a genuine risk. Keeping warm off the grid is more of a challenge than at a site with an electricity hook up. There is no mini heater to fall back on, gas heaters are out of the question too due to the risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning, so what do you do?
What you sleep on is super important. You need the best insulation below you as possible to prevent your body heat being absorbed into the ground. A good sleeping bag is also essential. Sleeping bags come in varying tog’s and are generally sold in 1,2,3 or 4 season variants, check out our post on picking the right sleeping bag here
It is also worth considering that although keeping warm is important, wrapping up too much, especially in spring and autumn can come with its own set of issues. If you sweat during the night that sweat can quickly cool and lower your temperature leading to a risk of hypothermia.
I find keeping clothing layers close to my sleeping bag particularly useful if I get cold in the night.
Eating before bed
Another great way to help you stay warm at night while camping is eating just before you go to sleep. Something small like a little chocolate or a biscuit or two helps to give your body something to burn as we use a lot of energy while we sleep.
Lighting and charging devices.
This is where technology and camping meet in the middle, although I don't go online during a camping trip I am often inspired to write. For that I use a tablet with a keyboard. I like to have plenty of light and the option to listen to the radio to catch a weather forecast. In order to keep all of this tech running I use small Duracell power packs which I fully charge before I leave for my trip. I find that these are sufficient for up to a week of lighting my tent for a couple of hours a night, charging my tablet a couple of times and if in need of charging my small portable radio and camera too. I also keep a spare power bank for emergencies or for if I want to extend my trip for a day or two. If you're car camping or don't mind carrying a little extra there are some superb solar powered chargers available with the capability of keeping you out and having sufficient power.
Ration you power.
LED lighting and device charging are ideally suited to power bank use however if you are looking to stretch the power over the days and even a week or two consider which apps you're using on your phone or laptop. Keep away from high draw apps such as games, films and audio. Power on your camera only when you're going to take a shot and if you're inspired to write perhaps take some time to plan what you're going to write before you switch on, don't burn out your battery with writer's block!
The whole purpose of wild camping and being an off grid camper is to get out and enjoy stripping back all the complicated aspects of life and enjoy the simplicity of off grid camping. So what do you do with your time? For me there's nothing better than observing nature through binoculars and trying to capture it through the lens of my camera. If the place you are camping allows campfires then there's really nothing like chatting, planning the next day's adventures and toasting the odd marshmallow.
Need the ultimate Multitool for wild camping, check out the Leatherman Signal here
I hope this post has been useful for you. Happy Camping!