This year, instead of fantasising about that big camping / hiking trip, do it and do it properly
There comes a moment in every man’s life – usually around 3pm after a cold beer on the first sunny day of May – that he begins to yearn for the great outdoors. To breath fresh air and feel moss underfoot. To quietly contemplate trees he can’t name. To cook sausages on some sort of wobbly portable grill.
In short: to go camping.
It is, of course, a dream that can turn quickly into a nightmare if you don’t follow the Scouts motto of being prepared – and that means travelling light, knowing where you’re going and having the right kit.
“I would say the starting point of any multi-day camping trip is deciding how comfortable you want to be,” says hiking expert Alistair McGregor. “‘Travel light, freeze at night’ as they say. In other words: go light and move quickly during the day, or go heavy and be snuggly when you get to your campsite. Somewhere in between is about right.”
If you’re attempting something a little more ambitious than a sleep over in the garden with the kids, it’s worth getting granular about this. Do you really need the old compass you rescued from your Granddad’s shed that doesn’t work properly but looks kinda cool? What about that second pillow?
“A 4kg pack can easily balloon into a 10kg pack,” McGregor explains. “If you can, reduce each item by a few grams by remove any bulky packaging. Some people take this to extremes swapping their sleeping mat for bubble wrap and cutting their tooth brush in half, which is a tad extreme. Taking dry food instead of wet and choosing lighter fabrics also means you’ll have far more enjoyable days.”
An even biggest consideration than food and kit size is water. But you knew that already, of course. “Two litres of water can weigh as much as some peoples entire pack, so planning a route that takes in fill up points will make putting your pack on a lot more enjoyable. ‘Refill’ is a useful app that tells you where you can refill your water bottles for free, which also cuts down on plastic bottles.
Some final, important words of wisdom from McGregor. “It’s important to have a safety plan. Ambulances don’t make good 4x4 vehicles so if you had a problem away from a road, you’ll probably be waiting for mountain rescue. Make sure you know how to call them and take enough kit to keep warm and comfortable should you be stuck for a while.
“Last thing: it’s easy to put your head down and bash through the miles. We have some of the most stunning countryside in the world. Make sure you stop and look around. I personally prefer to set off early so you can relax at the campsite and enjoy being in our fantastic wild spaces.”
Now you know how to not die on your soulful ramble, here’s some tried and tested kit we recommend for the trip.