If I was to resume wild camping again I wanted to be as comfortable as I possibly could be without my poor old knees buckling under many kilos of weight in my rucksack.
The modern wild camper has very little in common with my days in the Army, the equipment available these days from your local camping shop are better than adequate. So, what kit do I use?
Firstly a tent! I want to keep warm and dry. I use a Vango Banshee Pro 200 2 man tent if I’m taking my dog or if I’m going solo I have a Vango Zenith 100. Both Vango tents come in relatively cheap and both have performed very well in foul weather and I’ve never had a problem. If you want to restrict your nights out to the summer you can pick up really cheap tents of the type festival goers use.
Over the last couple of years I have opted to use a Bivvy bag during the summer. I use the Snugpak SF Bivvy Bag as it has a zip and its easier to get in and out of but OEX and Alpkit do some really good ones (without a zip) I also have a small basher setup over my head.
A sleeping bag. So many are available its hard to choose but as I said above, for me comfort and moderately lightweight is key. Snugpak do an excellent range and exceptionally well priced compared to the top brands. The Snugpak Softie Elite 3 is brilliant and I highly recommend it. I also have a RAB Ascent 700 which I only use when its dry as its a down bag.
Sleeping Mat. Many think it’s not necessary to have one and 20 years ago I would have agreed but now my bones feel the hard, cold ground so for me it’s essential to have one. I spent more on my mat than I did on anything else and I’m glad I did. I’m very comfortable and in winter, very warm. I have an Exped Synmat Winterlite which is an inflatable mattress with insulation which is good down to -17degC. Packs up smaller than a 1ltr water bottle and weighs just 500grm.
Cooking stove. There are so many to choose from, mini wood burners that can charge up your phone, petrol ones that can boil a pan of water in 3.8 seconds but I opted for the Jet Boil Minimo. To be honest, I don’t cook gourmet meals when I am out, I drop bags in boiling water normally the 2 min microwave rice stuff. so boiling water is all I need. The cheapo Camping Gaz blue cartridge single stove that has been around for years is fine, I have two of them but they are not reliable in cold weather like the Jetboil. They are nothing fancy, they boil water for a brew, what more do you need?
Cooking Pots. I started off with the good old Army issue mess tins and discovered how really rubbish they are, how I managed as a young soldier I will never know. I traded in the mess tins for a small Sea to Summit cooking pot, the Jetboil comes with its own pot.
Last but not least is your rucksack. Comfort is key here, they come in all sizes, the larger you get the more you will fit in, the heavier it will be. I use my old Army Bergen most of the time which holds around 60ltr but it’s seen better days and it’s seriously on its way out so I’ve bought a new Berghaus Trailhead rucksack for around £80 and so far it’s been fine, very comfortable which is what I want. I also have a smaller Karrimoor which I use extensively in summer. Cost around £40.
There are hundreds of blogs and forums out there that make you believe you need loads of kit but in reality you don’t. Don’t get drawn in to the habit of collecting kit you don’t need, buying kit because others swear It’s essential is daft.