2017 Camping Essentials
Once the pack is loaded, it's time to tighten up. Get the pack on the hip bone and cinch the hip belt so that the ends are 3 to 6 inches apart from each other. Tighten the harness straps by pulling them toward your back pockets, as if you were grabbing your wallet. For the sternum strap, pinch the end with two fingers and tighten until the strap slips out of your fingers to ensure the strap isn't too tight; it should fit about 2 inches below the collarbone. For the load lifters (the small straps resting on top of your shoulders), grab the straps and pull harder than you did for the sternum strap to bring the pack forward and get the weight off of your shoulders.
I'll assume you're heading out between late spring and early autumn, and on foot - not by kayak, bike, dog sled or toboggan as that may alter the kit list advice a little. It's not a gym session (unless you are using it as one, in which case by all means load up that Bergan and get running up that hill) and you'll be happier and safer if you're carrying as light as pack as possible. Trying to survive out in the wilds for months at a time requires you to carry an awful lot of bushcraft knowledge, which might not weigh much but takes years to accumulate - I can't hope to cover it all . The list also doesn't cover clothing (apart from number 12) - don't take this to mean I'm advocating running around our National Parks with your bits hanging out but your head covered.
Being able to see is also handy when you’re making camp, cooking or going for a pee after sunset.
Yes, a knife makes you feel like a real man – a warrior – and it can help defend yourself and/or a fair maiden from wild beast and/or ruffians, but in the real world it’s quite handy too.
3. Back-up Headtorch
If you need one you’ll need two. I keep a second very small one around my neck when I’m sleeping. That way, when I wake tired and groggy in the middle of the night and I need to act fast, I can find my torch to find whatever else I need.
Know where you are!
Water is heavy, so how much you carry will depend on how often you can refill (purification will depend on where you get it from).
There are plenty of camping rations out there, from dehydrated (light but needs water) to boil in the bag (heavier, simpler and usually taste better).
Bring a small pot to boil water and cook in, along with something like a fork or spoon (or Spork).
Taking pictures can also tune you into what you’re seeing and focus you on the interesting things around.
Always take some zinc oxide tape (for covering hot spots, blisters, cuts, strapping sprains, mending clothes and shelters etc), rehydrating sachets (in case the going is harder than expected) and lip salve.
10. Wash Kit
A small amount of toothpaste, a few of wet wipes (which double as toilet paper) and a little talc in a small ziplock bag for the feet and groin are some things you can include.
11. Repair Kit
With this, you can repair guy-lines, shoelaces, ripped clothes, sleeping bags, bivis, hammocks, tents, bashas, rucksacks and generally engineer solutions to problems like you were the A-Team locked in a scrapyard with an on-site power tool shop.
For keeping your head warm. Always a winner when you stop for the night.
Having a heavy, bulky stove that can burn anything including yak pizzle up to 8,000 metres altitiude is great… but you don’t need it right now.
Put all your rubbish, used food bags and used toilet paper in this so you can take it away.
The issue of which shelter to go for is another full article, but in brief, here are your options:
- Tent Maximum shelter but heavy and relatively time consuming to put up.
- Bivi A simple waterproof outer than goes over your sleeping bag to keep off any dew, light rain or snow.
- Basha A large waterproof sheet strung between two trees (or similar) and fixed at the corner to create a basic tent. Usually combined with a bivi.
- Hammock Can be very comfortable and keeps you off the ground (in case of snake and scorpions – admittedly not a huge threat in Britain). You will need two strong anchor points.
16. Sleeping bag
You’ll also need a sleeping bag appropriate to the temperature at night…
17. Sleeping mat
… and a mat to sleep on.
18. Dry Bags
Pack them up dry!
An 80-litre sack to accommodate the bulk of the warm clothing, extra fuel to melt snow for water, tent and winter sleeping bag.
Right, you’re ready to go. Now bugger off into the wilds and enjoy yourself.