Wild camping equipment list and useful tips

A guide to the equipment you'll need on a wild camp to make it enjoyable

Wild camping - a simple guide to what you need

Wild Camping is a great way to experience the outdoors in a new light when most others have went home. It let's you see amazing sunsets and sunrises and if your lucky the best star filled skies you'll ever see. I often get people asking me what equipment they need to get started and below are some essential equipment and some useful tips! (I’m not sponsored by anyone and please support your local independent outdoor shops where possible!). 

Wild camping is an experience I'd recommend to anyone who loves walking and the outdoors!

Wild camping equipment list:

• Tent - it's got to be up to the job of the weather conditions and light enough to carry in your rucksack. Around 2kg is the magic weight to aim for and personally I prefer to use a 2 man tent so there is plenty of room for you and your rucksack (or your partner :-) and there are tents to suit all budgets. If money is no object and you wish to camp in all seasons in extreme conditions, then those from Hilleberg, such as the Hilleberg Soulo tend to be the connoisseur's choice but it's pricey at £800ish and I can't justify spending that. Another popular choice amongst wild campers is the MSR range of tents and the MSR Hubba NX Solo comes in at around £330. For a good value, free-standing, spacious, light-weight tent then the Wild Country 'Helm 2 Compact' gets good reviews across the wild camping community and is priced around £200. At the budget end you might want to take a look at the Vango Nevis 100 or 200 which comes in around the £100 mark. There are even cheaper options out there, which might seem a good idea to save some cash, but to be honest if you do more than one wild camp you'll soon see their short-comings and want to upgrade your tent pretty quickly to some of those mentioned.   

• Sleeping bag - again it depends on where you are camping and the temperatures. It's a key bit of kit so spend your money wisely - a sleeping bag that doesn't keep you warm enough makes for a poor nights sleep and can be dangerous in sub-zero temperatures. Always try and get a down-filled bag for maximum insulation to weight ratio. A great value one from Alpkit is the ultra-light 3 season Pipe Dream 400 which you can pick up for about £190 and will keep you warm down to the extreme of -4c. Also of note to the budget conscious is the new Vango range of Cobra Sleeping bags, such as the Cobra 400 or Cobra 600 which you can pick up from £180

• Sleeping matt - these are also key to giving a comfortable nights sleep, and more so to keep you insulated from the cold ground. A good budget option is the Trekology UL inflatable matt which is 10cm thick and gets good reviews. Thermarest are the market leaders in this field and unless you are camping in winter try something like the Thermarest Trail Lite Trooper Regular Sleeping Mat. If you are camping in the winter then the Thermarest XTherm Neo Air is the ultimate choice.


• Travel pillow - another essential - a nice little pillow makes all the difference for me. I like to take the inflatable ones as they pack down small.

• Rucksack - you need something to cary all this stuff in and a strong, robust and weather proof rucksack of an adequate size is essential. The bigger the better I think so you have more space to fit all your stuff in - so a 70L size is what I'd recommend. Im currently using the Vango Nango 60 + 10 Rucksack which gives me 70 Litres storage and plenty of compartments.

What a stunning location on this wild camping trip in the Lake District

Electrical equipment:

• Torch - another essential really - it gets pretty dark out on the fells at night - and you also need to think of the worst case option in that you need to travel quite a way in the dark on tricky terrain - so don't skimp and save on a poor option here. I take a headlamp and also a torch, currently I'm using the  Nebo iProtec Pro 280 Flash Light which is 280 lumens so has a pretty powerful brightness and is quite small to pack too. 

• Tent lantern - I also take a mini-camping lantern too to hang in the tent that can give me light in the full tent and it also light sup your tent nicely for those night time tent photos :) I'm currently using the small Black Diamond Zip Lantern

• Phone - your unlikely to get signal (and that can be a good thing if you truly want to get away from it all and digitally unplug!) but on many occasions I've actually got a signal on various peaks because they are high up - and you never know - you might need to try and get a signal in an emergency so don't forget it. A power pack may well come in useful too if you are wild camping for more than 1 night.

Getting your cooking equipment right is a key part of an enjoyable wild camp.

Cooking equipment:

• Travel stove - again the lighter the better to help you cook with. I use the Msr PocketRocket 2 Mini Stove Kit 2020 Camping Stove - great value and the lightest around. There are other options that are up to harsher conditions.

• Cookware - at a basic level you'll want a large cooking mug to heat your water or food. Definitely go for a titanium version for lightness & durability and it will be a good investment and last you a much longer time than cheaper options. Something like the Alpkit MytiMug650 lets you cook enough water for a couple of cups of coffee.  You may even want to push the boat out and take a frying pan :-)

• Mug - don't forget to also take something to drink out of - I find those insulated mugs with lids are a good shout to keep drinks warmer for longer

• Knife/fork/spoon - don't forget something to eat with! 

Food & drink

• Water - Its vital to take enough drinking water with you on your trip - I always carry with me 1 - 2 litres of water. If you know you are going to be camping where there is fresh water such as a stream from the fell tops - then you might want to use that to cook with after boiling it to be safe. Alternatively there are quite a few good instant water filtration options out there such as the Swayer filters, the Grawl Ultralight and the LifeStraw options. My personal favourite is the Katadyn BeFree as there's no pumping required like other water filters, you can drink straight from the bottle and for just my needs it's my favourite 'easy-to-use' water filter and a great little product investment which costs about £35 and saves me lumping a load of bottled water about on my camps - you can find out more and buy the Katadyn BeFree here

• Snacks - it's not good to be hungry out on your trip - so take plenty of snacks that won't perish easily such as cereal bars, nuts, dried fruit, crips and even bananas 

• Meals - For evening meals I like to keep things simple - so foods that just need water really - whether thats noodles/rice that you can add water too or boil in the bag stuff like pasta/rice or even meals you can get from specialist outdoor stores (although they can be pricier than supermarket options). But any meal that you can just add boiling water too makes things easy & simple and there's little washing up after! 

• For breakfast - Again I'll keep it simple - I'll take a porridge pot which just requires hot water and add a banana and cereal bar into the mix. For a treat sometimes if I have space in my rucksack I'll maybe take some bacon or eggs and bread buns :-) 

• Drinks - For drinks other than water, I'll take some tea bags/coffee sachets, and a little bit of milk/sugar. The coffee sachets are great as again it's just adding water! It's a nice treat to also have a can of beer or three, or a even little bottle of wine too :-) 

Wild camping is an experience everyone should try once - just make sure you take everything you need to make it enjoyable!


• Insect repellant - it's an absolute essential this - often you'll get midges hanging around your tent - even more so if you are pitched up next to some water - so you'll want a good repellant. The strongest has Deet in it such as Pyramid Trek 50 Insect/Mosquito Repellent Deet Spray  - another more skin friendly option which comes with great reviews in the walking community (and is cheap) is Avon Skin so soft which you can pick up online for about £5

• Ear plugs - always a camping necessity for me - especially if the birds are up really early :-)

• Toilet roll - you never know when you need to go!

• Baby wipes - good for a little clean in the morning

• Sun cream - if it's sunny then you'll need this or you could end up burnt to a crisp

• Tooth brush & paste(travel size)  - another little home comfort that makes me feel a little fresher

Plastic bags - it's always handy to have a spare carrier bag and even a couple of small zip seal bags to but any rubbish or bog roll in :-)


You'll need to wear and take the right clothes to suit the conditions you'll be camping in, and remember it's better to be safe and take a few extra layers if your unsure, rather than be sorry and wish you had more layers! Here are a few of the essentials: 

  • Warm Coat / Down Jacket - it does tend to get chilly at night when wild camping, evening summer, and it's no fun being cold when all you want to do is sit around the tent and even star gaze. For colder conditions I like to take a lightweight Down jacket, which gives you excellent warm to weight ratio, such as the Rab Microlight Alpine 
  • Insulating mid-layers - again depending on the temperatures- you may want to wear, or pack in your rucksack, extra layers such as fleeces or soft shell jackets.


  • Waterproof Jacket - this is a must, especially in the UK when you never know when it will rain! I always take with me my fully waterproof Berghaus Men's Maitland Gore-TEX Hiking Jacket - it's good value for such a technical jacket and being made of Gore-TEX means it is completely waterproof. If looked after it will be a good investment. It comes in both men's and women sizes.
  • Waterproof Over trousers - I also keep in my rucksack my waterproof over-trousers and the Berghaus Paclite GORE-tex trousers that I use are fully waterproof to keep you completely dry and pack away in a handy little stuff sack no bigger than a can of pop!


• Thermals - Depending on the weather - I take thermals too to sleep in - long-johns and a top, again better to be too warm and take them off than too cold 

• Spare socks - it's nice to put fresh ones on in the morning

• Flip flops - it's nice to give the feet an airing around the tent, especially after having boots on all day and these don't take up much room!

So that's my list of essential equipment for a wild camp and I hope it help's you in planning yours! And remember the one golden rule of Wild Camping - leave no trace! So please respect the land and keep it as you found it for others who will follow you - so don't leave any litter or scorched earth.  

Wild camping tips lake district gear checklist best where
Everything you need to know to plan the perfect wild camp

Wild camping top tips

Get the Wild Camping location right

It's vital to get the spot for your wild camp right - and I would recommend your first wild camp being somewhere you are familiar with and have perhaps visited before. Whenever I'm out on day walks on the fells - I'll make a mental note of somewhere that I think would be a good spot for a wild camp. I also search online for wild camping blog posts/videos/photos to get ideas. I personally prefer somewhere high-up with great views and ideally a stream near by for water. If it's overlooking a tarn or lake even better, and my favourite places are where you will get great views of sunsets & sunrises. You should note though that you can't just pitch up anywhere - legally you should have the permission of the land owner in England. However, in the English Lake District, which is my wild camping area of choice - wild camping is tolerated as long as you pitch up above the highest fell wall, stay for only one night and leave no trace that you where ever there. It’s good etiquette to pitch up late close to sundown after the day walkers have left the fells and depart just after daybreak, and I can’t emphasise enough about leaving no trace you where there - so no litter and no scorched earth from fires, leave it in a pristine condition for the rest of us to find it - otherwise these remote places will get spoilt. This site gives a good overview of the legalities of wild camping in the U.K. https://originaloutdoors.co.uk/articles/uk-wild-camping-laws-explained/

Tent pitch spot

Like most tips on pitching a tent - whether on a campsite or out on the fells - pick a bit of dry, flat ground so you don't end up moving around in your tent. If your a beginner you may want to avoid ridges and summits as the conditions can change quickly in these exposed positions, so build your skills in more sheltered spots. Also take into consideration the weather conditions and importantly the forecast - is it likely to get windier in the night into the next day (even though it's calm when pitching your tent)? Is the wind direction forecast to change direction over the night? Also if it's forecast to rain (or snow) - then is your spot going to turn into a bog or snowdrift? A bit of raised ground that is flat and sheltered on all sides, or certainly from the wind is ideal.

Wild camping Lake District best spot Angle Tarn
A bit of flat, dry ground next to a tarn - an ideal wild camping spot for the night

The weather 

It's essential to plan any trip according to the weather forecast, especially so for wild camps, and especially more so in places like the Lake District fells where multiple seasons can be experienced in 1 day! I've read stories of people going on wild camps in nice weather - and waking up the next day surrounded by snow. So don't let things like that catch you out. There are some excellent resources online now that can give very accurate forecasts for particular locations - such as the Met Office and BBC weather and a key one for the outdoors is the Mountain Weather Information Service. Be sure to know as best as possible what the forecast is before any wild camping trips and plan accordingly. For your first wild camps it would be best to go in mild dry weather and take it from there.

Further reading:

This article from The Great Outdoors Magazine is a useful one for beginners and answers the most common questions such as, Is it legal? Is it safe? And what if I ned teh toilet for a number two? :-) View the article: Beginner Wild Camping questions answered 

Wild Camping spots ideas: 

If all of this has made you want to try out a spot of wild camping - then here are some blog posts to help you plan a trip:

Post by Stuart Hodgson 
'The Hiking Photographer'

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