18 January  2019

Words by: Wildlifemerch

Do you like the idea of packing all your survival necessities into a bug out bag and heading off the beaten track for a few peaceful days in nature?

There are a lot of mental and physical benefits to getting away from our busy lives and enjoying the peace and simplicity of sleeping out in the wilds. But while camping is seen as wonderfully carefree for those in the know, it can be a little daunting for first-timers. Do you know exactly what to pack and how to travel light? Do you know where you are allowed to wild camp? And have you thought about how you will cope if the weather turns out to be a little bit unexpected?


Keith Hunt, a regular camper from Michigan, smiles wryly as he recalls his first back-to-basics camping trip. He says: "I remember I was really nervous and worried about taking all the right things and making sure I was well-fed and warm overnight".

"I packed too much, and I found the bug out bag pretty heavy, so I only walked a few miles to find a camping spot. But I loved it, camping away from other people and totally surrounded by nature. It was peaceful, thrilling, beautiful and more."

These days, Keith has his camping Gear list down to a minimum. "I know what I need to take to stay safe, warm and well-fed and this means I can travel lighter and further. I would find it hard going back to a campsite because I like doing my own thing so much."


If you are keen to going camping, the chances are you are already a walker. You don't need to be an intrepid walker but someone who can use a map and compass and knows what to wear and carry for safety in the great outdoors.

It's important to consider the weather on an outdoors trip that will last a few days or more. In the US, conditions can change hour to hour and will rarely be the same for a few days in a row.

A walker's kit list will include base layers (Merino will stay whiff-free over many days of walking and camping when compared to synthetic materials), a mid-layer top or jacket (soft shell or wind stopper), a high-quality waterproof poncho and trousers, several pairs of walking socks, hat and gloves.

As well as a map and compass it's a good idea to take a mobile phone, portable phone charger and GPS gadget. Nights can be chilly even in the summer in the US so an insulated jacket stuffed into the bottom of your bug out bag, will be a bonus on a camping trip.


First time campers should look for a tent that is lightweight but robust and durable. Choose a one-man tent for one person and two-man for two people. This might sound obvious, but camping is less about lots of interior space and more about weight-saving.

If you are carrying the tent, set yourself a maximum weight limit of between 1.5kg and 2kg. If you are sharing the load with a fellow camper, you might allow the weight to creep up to 3kg.

In general, the more you pay, the lighter and better designed the tent will be. This is because lightweight fabrics that are also strong will tend to be pricier.

Backpacking tents will be one or two-man and usually of the low-profile, outer-and-inner-pitched-together design with two or three colour-coded foldable poles and a bag of lightweight pegs.

This wild camping tent is recommended:

It is very well put together and I never had problems with it on rainy days. I use the 4 person size and I love it. Check the exact model I have at (…/3-4-person-windbreak-camping-te…

  • Weighing in at an ultra-light 1.75kg (1.54kg min) (perfect for four people), the tent boasts a good weight to strength ratio.
  • Its unique pole configuration results in maximum comfort with ample head and elbow room.
  • It is classed as a three-season tent so will work well in the US summer and autumn and at lower altitudes in winter


If you want to lighten your camping bug out bag, even more, This Sleeping bag…/cotton-camping-sleeping-bag 

is a neat solution. It offers a low-hassle, quick-to-set-up alternative to pitching a tent.

Essentially, It is a sleeping bag that is windproof. It is easy to erect (you just place your sleeping bag inside your bag), without the need for pegs or poles. (Some bags have a small pole to keep the fabric away from your head, while many others do not.)

A sleeping bag that you can get used to, when your looking for an adventurous night, sleeping beneath the stars, it's an excellent choice.


A sleeping bag that suits the seasons and conditions is vital. Again you will tend to pay more for lighter-weight bags. In all but the warmest situations, a three-season sleeping bag is going to be more of a belt-and-braces option for keeping you warm while wild camping in the US.

While down bags offer the greatest warmth, a synthetic fill is usually lighter and keeps you warmer when damp. Some brands have now launched hydrophobic down sleeping bags so these could be worth a look if you have more money to spend.

A self-inflating mattress or foam roll will help to keep the cold and damp from your sleeping bag (and you) and also offer comfort on the hard ground. Choose a mattress that quickly deflates and rolls up into a small bag for ease of carrying.…/moistureproof-pad-waterproof-ou…).

A pillow can be created by stuffing the clothes you wear in the day inside a dry or stuff bag.


You could pack a host of items, but as a minimum, you'll need a light weight single burner stove, gas canister and lighter, pot, spork (all-in-one fork and spoon)…/travel-hiking-cookware-bowl ) and mug for a hot drink


To keep weight down, wild campers might choose to eat a one-pot meal from the pot or put their meal in the mug that they can then use for coffee or tea.


Taking dehydrated camping food is one option or pack lightweight foodstuffs such as couscous, pasta or flavored rice, which only require water for cooking, and perhaps a ready made tomato-based sauce.

Tuna and dried meats add extra ingredients and calories to meals. For breakfasts and lunches, choose long-lasting food products such as oatcakes, cereal bars and porridge rather than bread. Energy snacks are also a good idea.

Water is another essential, but if you know you'll be camping near running water you can carry less bottled water with you. Boil collected water for cleanliness or bring a water filter bottle, or take a water purification device with you




There are a few things to think about when choosing a rucksack for a bug out bag for camping. The bigger it is, the more you can – and most likely, will – fit into it. If you buy a lightweight pack, the chances are it will be pared down and therefore offer less comfort, such as cushioned shoulder straps and waistband

We recommend you go for something in the middle. Choose a good quality “hiking” pack…/durable-hiking-camping-backpack .rather than a “running” pack and go for a 45l or 55l pack to ensure kit is kept to a minimum, although if you are going for a longer trip take a 60+ pack.


You'll also need a head torch and if you think it will be chilly take a lightweight insulated jacket to sleep in and a small hot water bottle.

Wearing a woolly or beanie hat at night can be a life-saver on a chilly night but don't wear socks that are too tight. Loose socks are ok, but tight socks will only cut off circulation.

It is vital that you have some method of dealing with toileting and waste while  camping. Take a pocket trowel and dog poop bags, or similar.

Other useful items are dry wash gel or baby wipes, for a substitute “shower”, and a tick remover.


On the other hand, cold weather can be as much a deterrent to camping as the heat. You can keep your reluctant camper warm with a campfire and with good cold weather apparel, but once it’s time to move into the tent for the night, the fire has to stay outside, and sleeping in a parka isn’t much fun.

Strategically placed hand warmers are a good start, and a warm bottle of water tucked into a sleeping bag helps, too. But to get things seriously toasty, get a portable  heater like this XT model here from and enjoy a tent that’s as warm as any room in your home.

Other wild camping tips

  • Take care not to damage vegetation, especially at higher altitudes where it can be susceptible to human trampling.
  • Do not light fires on top of peaty soils and dry grass because of the risk of fire.
  • Do not pollute water courses with careless camping – and never go to the toilet within 30m of fresh or running water.
  • Carry all waste home or to a proper bin.
  • If it's not possible to take toilet waste away make sure it is buried at least 15cm below ground and covered. Do not bury used toilet paper.
  • Remove all food and waste that might attract scavengers and put animals at risk.



Keith says: "From the very first wild camping trip I was hooked. I love the adventure of walking all day and camping surrounded by the natural environment. I have now become an expert at what to take, and in summer I do not need a heavy pack. So long as everyone camps responsibly we will continue to be able to enjoy our incredible freedoms for a long time to come. I recommend everyone gives camping a go."

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