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UK WILD CAMPING: YOUR ESSENTIAL KIT LIST AND CAMPING RULEBOOK

Sometimes there’s nothing more freeing than pitching your tent away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and exploring the untouched, remote corners of the UK. As wild camping grows in popularity, here is the essential kit list and rulebook including the laws and golden rules you need for camping on undesignated wild land in Britain. 


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.

 

As Alastair Humphreys highlights, 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.

 

Camping in the wild is widely welcome in Scotland but discouraged and technically illegal in most areas of England and Wales, but wild campers are largely tolerated as long as you respect the hills and locals.

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.

SLEEPING

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 bag
  • Sleeping mattress
  • Head torch and don’t forget to pack spare batteries just in case! 

PACK

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.

COOKING

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)

FOOTWEAR

Durable walking boots with sufficient ankle support are necessary for navigating through remote areas with more challenging terrain. 

CLOTHING

Prepare for walking in the changeable and unpredictable weather with technical outdoor clothing: 

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • 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.  

SCOTLAND WELCOMES WILD CAMPERS

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code means that you can camp almost anywhere you please in Scotland. 

An exception to the rule is the East Loch Lomond Restriction Zone, which doesn’t permit wild camping from 1 March-31 October to help ease human impact on the area. 

ENGLAND + WALES CAN BE TRICKIER

Dartmoor is the only National Park in England which provides designated spots for legal wild camping while the Brecon Beacons National Park also has two of its own official wild camping areas, Melte and Llech Llia. 

The Lake District, Snowdonia, and Exmoor National Park all welcome remote, one-night stops, however the Peak District, North York Moors, and Yorkshire Dales discourage unpermitted camping or bivvying. 

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.” 

 

Build your wild sleeping kit list with our essential camping collection.


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