Camping is a classic recreational activity allowing people to step away from the busy life and commune with nature. However, while camping in an RV park or pitching tents at a designated camper site is fun, wild camping redefines your interaction with nature.
Wild camping, or freedom camping, takes you off the beaten path and into uncharted terrain amid sprawling wilderness for a truly gratifying experience.
However, wild hiking requires planning, and getting the right gear like a land rover discovery roof rack for travel is good. If it’s your first-time camping, where should you start? Here are the top five vital considerations when planning a freedom camping hike to have a comfortable yet wholesome and safe experience.
1. Identify Viable Wild Camping Trail
The first step toward a successful wild camping trip is mapping out your hiking trail. You need to get done with this step because rules governing wild camping vary from region to region. For instance, wild camping is illegal mainly in the UK, although some areas like Scotland allow it as long as campers follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
In contrast, wild camping is legal in the USA as long as campers adhere to regulations set by land management authorities. Most USA wildernesses and farmlands ideal for wild camping fall under the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Department of Agriculture. Breaching laws prohibiting or governing wild camping attracts harsh penalties and fines. Wild campers must follow the wilderness rules and regulations the above bodies stipulate for camping on public land and national forests.
Besides legal issues, consider the terrain and establish expected weather before setting out on a wild camping hike. A change in weather may mean overflowing rivers, thicker snow, extreme temperatures, and slippery terrains, making your trek much more treacherous. Therefore, study weather forecasts in potential wild camping sites and pack accordingly.
2. Decide Where To Pitch Your Tent
Planning for a successful free camping trip comes down to specific points where you will set up camp. The unspoken rules of camping etiquette build on respect for nature and fellow hikers. Some of the top rules are:
- Pitch tents at least 200ft from water bodies to avoid contamination by fecal matter and chemicals like hygiene products.
- Pitch your tent away from footpaths and trails so as not to obstruct fellow hikers.
- Maintain a safe distance from local wildlife to avoid disturbing their peace.
Safety is also a key consideration when deciding where to set up. So, identify areas away from the impending danger of falling rocks or branches that may inflict injury or damage your tent. Also, consider pitching your tent on high ground and away from soggy soil.
While extreme wild campers prefer to wing it and pick areas to pitch their tents as they go, picking a spot in advance eases your mind. Research or inquire from experienced wild camping enthusiasts on the best places to pitch a tent along specific trails. However, ensure you identify at least two or three spots should other campers beat you to it.
3. Make a List Of Essential Gear, Food, and Hygiene Products
Unlike campsite camping, wild camping features no amenities like showers and bathrooms, fire rings, communal kitchens, or internet access. Consequently, self-sufficiency is vital, so ensure you have all essential gear at hand, as there will be no supermarkets within proximity.
Pack warm clothing, particularly for high altitude hiking; waterproof clothing also facilitates more effortless movement. Since most wild camping regulations prohibit lighting fires, a portable stove with a gas canister and collapsible pans and bowls are handy. A portable water heater is also helpful for warm showers.
A warm meal is also essential so consider oats for making porridge and wholesome dehydrated foods that cook fast with minimal prepping. Also, protein bars, nuts, and cereal bars make healthy filling snacks.
The last thing you need is your phone going off while off-the-grid; that’s why you need a powerful fully-charged power bank. Also, ensure you pack additional batteries for your flashlight or carry solar-powered lights. However, while camping gear is essential, packing light is more conducive for hiking, so only take what you need.
4. Carry a Compass and Traditional Maps
There are dozens of reliable GPS apps ideal for navigation that work offline; phone batteries tend to go out quickly. Some off-the-grid areas also experience poor satellite coverage, so your app may not be as effective. The last thing you want is your phone going off while you have drained your power bank.
Therefore, prioritize your phone for making contact and instead use paper maps and a compass for navigation. If you are clueless about such gear, you can find tutorials on reading maps and using compasses online.
5. Informs People of Your Whereabouts
Although wild camping is relatively safe, anything can happen, and it’s prudent to inform someone of your plans to go free camping beforehand. Whenever possible, check-in with a loved one at least once a day so they can raise the alarm should you encounter emergencies or injure yourself. You can use a personal locator beacon (PLB) to reassure family and make it easy for emergency rescue crews to track you.
Wild camping is the ultimate expression of freedom, allowing you to dwell with nature. However, nature is typically unpredictable, so prepare for the worst but hope for the best.