A beginners guide to wild camping gear

Shortly after our last wild camping trip to Dartmoor, we were lucky enough to go to Belgium for the 2018 Spa-Francorchamps Grand Prix. As we spent roughly 85% of our time when we were out on the moors hiking through rain, I made the fatal assumption that my 5-year-old North Face jacket would be up for a little bit of car camping on the continent. Unfortunately for me, one monumental thunderstorm through qualifying proved me very wrong. Whilst this made for an exciting starting grid, it also made me realise that if I wanted to go anywhere near the outdoors this winter, I needed to invest in a new hard shell. Now that I am at the point of upgrading a lot of my gear, it feels like the right time to impart my newbie knowledge and share my successes and failures with my kit.

Sleep System 

This one’s important. It’s hard enough getting up on a bad nights sleep to sit behind a desk for 8 hours, let alone to hike through all sorts of terrain and weather, pushing your body to its limits. 

2.5 Helium Mat – Mountain Equipment | RRP: £70
Mountain equipment Helium 2.5 roll mat in blue

This mat is a great lightweight, packable and affordable piece of kit to start getting you outside. It’s quiet and self-inflating, with a non-slip coating that’s soft to the touch. As it’s comparatively pretty thin and the main bulk of the material is foam, it doesn’t offer much warmth in colder climates or comfort on tougher ground. Pair this with a decent sleeping bag and you’ll be golden for most trips though. 

Aerolite 1000 Mummy Sleeping Bag – BLACKS | RRP: £70
two tone green synthetic mummy bag from blacks - 1000 aerolite.
BLACKS don’t appear to make any sleeping bags anymore. No great shame – buy a Rab one instead

Quite honestly, this was a terrible decision. This synthetic filled bag will suit you down to the ground for summertime festivals, but with the comfort limit at 5C, I struggle with this in Spring/Autumn meaning winter is a massive no-go. I have since stolen Bens old Rab Alpine 600 down bag, which is rated down to -14. Muuuuch better thank you, please!


Peak Attack 42l – Lowe Alpine | RRP: £75
Black 42 litre backpack with orange accents from Lowe Alpine.
Lowe Alpine no longer make this pack, follow the link to the updated ‘Peak Ascent’ bag.

I actually love this pack and have no intention of changing it anytime soon. I find it super comfy, easy to adjust, hard wearing and has all the room I need for 3-5 days in the wild. Admittedly, Ben and I share a tent and cooking gear, so you’d likely want a slightly bigger pack if you’re heading out on your own. Being a mountaineering bag, it’s very streamlined and my only minor grumble is no hip belt pockets to store my trail snacks in. However, Ben being the clever little muffin that he is, found an awesome independent seller on eBay crafting hip pockets out of Cuban fibre. I’m yet to order any, but you can check them out here.

Ultralight Raincover M (30-50l) – Osprey | RRP: £26
dark forest green waterproof rain cover from osprey for 30-50l backpacks.

Not a hugely exciting purchase, but definitely a crucial one. My pack didn’t come with its own rain cover and hiking without one in the U.K. is insanity, unless of course, you enjoy everything being soaked. Comes with everything you need, adjustable elastic ripcord, a small clip to secure it whilst you’re walking and hip belt attachments.


Terra GORE-TEX Boot – Scarpa | RRP: £145
deep brown leather hiking boots from scarpa for women.

Anyone that has spent more than 15 minutes walking with wet socks knows the importance of warm, dry feet! My first trip in these boots was to Dartmoor over New Year 2016/2017 and to this day I am still super impressed with them! Being both GORE-TEX and leather they’re ace at keeping the water out and the padded lining means no blisters. My only gripe with these is the rock-solid soles. There really isn’t much flex in them, so after a long day of hiking, it does hurt. That said, I still think they’re great and they get a thumbs up from me.

Trekker Pants – North Face | RRP: £59.99
brown trekker pants from the north face

I really lucked out with these pants! I spent zero time researching them and bought them on sale the day before we went on our first trip. They’re light, inoffensive in colour, hard wearing, quick drying, easy to move about in, plenty of pockets and have a pointless roll-up hem. What more do you want from hiking trousers? Plus they’re pretty damn cheap. I’m sure at some point I’ll upgrade these, but right now – they’re dreamy.

Phase AR Base Layer – Arc’Teryx | RRP: £65
black high neck, zip top, arcteryx base layer

My new favourite outdoor brand! I am personally a big fan of Arc’Teryx and whilst the products are expensive, they’re great quality, look good and will last. This base layer dries quickly, it’s got a comfortable next-to-skin fit and wicks sweat – so you don’t stink when you’re out for a number of days in a row. 

Ultra Light Down Seamless Parka – Uniqlo | RRP: £69.90
black zip up down parka from uniqlo
Uniqlo no longer sells my exact down mid-layer, but this appears to be very similar just in matte colours!

This mid-layer is one of the few non-technical bits of kit I bought specifically to go wild camping with. I needed a cheap insulating layer and it was on offer in Uniqlo. My ONLY concern with this piece is the ethical sourcing of down feathers. Uniqlo’s parent company, Fast Retailing, doesn’t have the same high-level auditing systems as companies like North Face or Patagonia. They do, however, have a small supply chain and have ensured all their partners sign an agreement to treat animals humanely. If nothing else, it’s a good start, but it is a piece of kit I’ll consider upgrading in the near future.

TriClimate 3in1 Waterproof Jacket – The North Face | RRP: £200-210
black waterproof jacket from north face with zip in fleece.

I’ve had this jacket for over 6 years and whilst it’s now time for it to retire, it has served me very well. Used as a daily in the city, dragged through summer festivals, winter downpours, wild camps, hikes and everything in between, it’s had some decent mileage. The zip in and out fleece makes it a versatile year-round jacket and the pit zips offer quick heat relief on the move. With a bit of care the North Face own-brand, HyVent waterproofing system works pretty well too. RIP ol‘ faithful. 

In summary

When you’re just getting started, buying all the gear outright can be really expensive. All of the above RRPs add up to just shy of £800 and that doesn’t include other important pieces of kit, such as a tent or stove. Saying that, by buying in sales or second hand, you can save a lot of money. It’s also important to prioritise what’s important to you. Figure out what you need as a baseline, invest in those pieces and the rest can be upgraded over time. At the end of the day, just get out there. Not everything has to be perfect, you’ll wait an entire lifetime for that, it’s just important that you’re getting out and doing it. 

2 Replies to “A beginners guide to wild camping gear”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *