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wild camping guide

Wild Camping Scotland: A Beginners Guide

At Tiso, we think Scotland is the most beautiful country in the world. Our dramatic mountain ranges, imposing sea stacks, and meandering burns, make Scotland's remote and rural landscapes truly awe-inspiring.

Ever increasingly, more of us use wild camping as an adventurous way to reconnect with these landscapes, and, thanks to Scotland's progressive Land Reform Act of 2003, members of the public can enjoy the great Scottish outdoors relatively freely, as long as they do so responsibly, respectfully, and in accordance to The Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Tiso colleagues are always being asked about wild camping, so, here we will share an introduction to our knowledge with comprehensive guidance, equipment advice and suggested further reading. So, if leaving home comforts behind in search of an outdoor adventure could be your cup of tea, grab a cuppa and read through our Wild Camping Scotland: A Beginners Guide.

What Is Wild Camping?

Wild camping is the practice of setting up camp outside of designated campgrounds or campsites, it is done in remote and rural areas. Wild camping is lightweight, done in very small groups and campers may only stay for a maximum of two or three nights. Wild campers carry all their own kit and abide by The Scottish Outdoor Access Code, this code doesn’t allow for car or vehicular access to the camping spot, so wild campers access their camping sport by walking, cycling, canoeing and by many other fun and adventurous transport means!

hill top camping

In Scotland, yes! However, wild camping comes with its own set of challenges and responsibilities, we have been trusted to take care of the environment and should act responsibly. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code outlines a set of guidelines for responsible wild camping, including choosing a suitable location, leaving no trace or human waste, moving on to another location if a spot is already busy with campers and respecting local communities and wildlife. Further, in-depth guidance can be found through Mountaineering Scotland.

Wild Camping Code Summary:

1) Pitch - Do not pitch up in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals and keep well away from buildings, roads or historic structures. Avoid overcrowding by moving on to another location if a spot is already too busy with campers.

2) Fire - Wherever possible, use a stove rather than a campfire. Never light a fire during dry periods or in sensitive places like forests or on peaty ground, outwith these cases you are allowed to have a small campfire when wild camping in Scotland, but only use dead wood for fuel, never cut live plant material, and, make sure the fire can be fully extinguished without leaving any scarring or burnt ground. Tiso offers a range of Camping stoves and cookware, so you can prepare meals without the need for a fire.

3) Toilet - Take care of toilet hygiene and use public toilets where possible. Ensure you carry out all wipes and toilet paper and dispose of them in appropriate bins. Always bring a Trowel and/or bag to burry or carry out your human waste.

4) Litter - Ensure all rubbish is taken away and disposed of appropriately after your trip. If you spot other people's litter, you should lift this too.

5) Leave No Trace - Leave no evidence to suggest you had stayed there. This means carrying home all equipment, human waste, and rubbish (including food waste and toilet roll).

What To Pack When Wild Camping

Now for the fun part, your kit list!

There is lots of equipment you can use when wild camping, here, we will cover just the basics that are required to get started. For camping in Scotland, it is essential that you are well prepared for our variable weather conditions.

Rucksacks

Perhaps our most asked question is – What size of rucksack do I need when wild camping?

This depends on your equipment and trips needs; however, around 50L-75L should provide sufficient storage for most trips. You want to make sure your pack won’t be too cumbersome, so you need to consider how you are travelling to your camp stop, is your pack comfortable and light enough to reach your destination? A rucksack is ideal for a walk-in, however, you may want to consider alternatives if you are travelling by bike or canoe. At Tiso, we often list the pack size of our products, many of our products are ultralightweight and compact, which can be helpful in reducing the size and weight of your load.

We recommend rucksacks with large, padded hip belts and cushioned shoulder straps to help efficiently disperse the load. You want the hip belt to carry most of the weight, so that you avoid getting red shoulders and an aching back.

A large internal section will hold most of your supplies. It’s also nice to have a lid, side pockets and smaller external pockets to stash items you may need often like a map or water bottle. Most multi-day rucksacks have a variety of straps and buckles to help attach items to the outside of your pack too. Straps can also be used to compress and stabilise the pack, ensuring you have the comfiest set-up possible. It is important you find a correctly fitting rucksack to help provide comfort and prevent injury.

Why not pop into one of our stores and have our expert staff help you try on a few rucksacks from our range?

The Osprey Men's Rook 65L Backpack or the Osprey Women's Renn 65L Backpack are both comfortable, well-ventilated rucksacks that are ergonomically designed to comfortably house all the gear you might need for a wild camping adventure.


Tents

Let's start with your shelter for the night.

Whether you are camping solo or as a duo, you want a tent that is lightweight yet, tough enough to withstand varying weather conditions and continuous use. When carrying all your kit, you want a tent that is compact with a small packed size. You should also look out for the hydrostatic head of your tent, as this will determine how waterproof the tent will be - the higher the number, the more waterproof it is.

There are other options for shelter when wild camping such as bivys or tarps, however, we recommend starting out with a tent.

The MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Tent is a hugely popular two-person tent as it balances an excellent weight to space ratio. Although this tent is super lightweight it doesn't compromise on weather protection. Ripstop nylon is used for the flysheet and a 1200mm hydrostatic head ensures you get a water-tight tent with good ventilation.

For further reading, read our Review of the MSR Hubba Hubba NX2!






For further reading on our wild camping tents, check out our Tent Buying Guide.

Or watch our Video on long-time Tiso staff favourites Hillreberg's Nallo 2 and Nallo 2 GT:




Sleeping Bags

Sleeping bags are an important piece of kit. They are essential to maintaining your core body temperature as night falls. Like tents, it is important to consider what specifications meet your needs in terms of the weight and pack size of a sleeping bag. Down filled sleeping bags offer excellent pack size and weight to warmth ratio, however, synthetic filled sleeping bags are more affordable and can be easier to care for.

Rab's Solar Eco 3 Sleeping Bag is made from 100% recycled materials and is equipped with a durable water repellent coating made without harmful fluorocarbons. A resilient and durable sleep system, the Solar Eco 3 features a concertina construction to trap air and increase warmth, it is best suited to camping, backpacking and mountain trekking in colder, changeable weather conditions. Weighing in at just 1.249kg and with a pack size of just 40 x 22 cm, the Solar Eco 3 comes with a handy compression bag, great for travelling light.


Sleeping Mats

Now, the key to the perfect night’s sleep, is a comfy sleeping mat!

Sleeping mats come in all different shapes and sizes but their main purpose remains the same: to provide a comfortable sleeping platform and offer some insulation from the ground underneath.

Therm-a-Rest's NeoAir Venture combines comfort and packability at an exceptional value. Cells of air retain warmth and shield from the cold.


Stoves

When you have been out all day, the last thing you want for dinner is a flattened sandwich. Using a small personal stove is a great way to have a hot, cooked meal.

The ultralight MSR Pocket Rocket 2 stove can boil 1 litre of water in 3.5 minutes. This stove is perfect for wild camping adventures when space and size are crucial.


... or Stove Kits

Often overlooked, pots are just as important as the stove for a successful outdoor dinner. Pots and pans come in all shapes and sizes, so you want to choose something with a decent water capacity that won’t be awkward to stash in your backpack.

The MSR PocketRocket 2 Mini Stove Kit is an exemplar of functionality.

Weighing less than 300g, it is an ultra-compact kit that saves on weight and space. Everything you need fits effortlessly together, including the stove and gas meaning no space is wasted. Use it to make coffee, boil-in-the-bag meals, or homemade pasta dishes – the options are endless!


Lighters

Light your stove with a fire starter and you needn't worry about soggy matches!

This Dual Action Fire Starter by Lifesystems will be your best friend for igniting fires in all conditions. You no longer need to worry about snapped matches filling up your pockets.

Food

It’s all very well having the kit to rustle up a tasty campsite meal but how do you take all the ingredients? Some people like to stick to traditional instant noodles and pasta. This is great and can easily hit the spot after a long day outside. However, if you want to spice up your dinner or intake maximum calories, why not try some of our freeze-dried meals? Lightweight, nutritionally balanced and delicious, these meals only require boiling water to prepare.

How does a Real Turmat Chicken Tikka Masala sound?

Real Turmat is a Norwegian company that makes high-quality freeze-dried expedition and wild camping food. They make it easier to enjoy tasty food outdoors. Easy to carry, easy to prepare. Just add hot water.

Don't forget you'll need something to eat it with too! Like this Sea To Summit Frontier UL Spork!

Toilet

As previously discussed, without access to public toilets you'll need to dig a hole for your human waste, for this, a trowel will come in handy!

Sea to Summit's Pocket Trowel is durable, lightweight and compact. Constructed from strong reinforced nylon this trowel is equipped with a clever handle that retracts back into the blade to save space in your backpack, it is ideal for practising 'Leave No Trace' principles whilst wild camping. Furthermore, there is a handy storage compartment within the handle that can be used to store toilet paper.

Emergency Supplies

We often get comfortable visiting the hills, but no matter your experience, it is always important to be prepared for an emergency.

Here is a list of the extra bits’n’bobs we think are important to include on your mandatory kit list.

Emergency Shelter

You don't want to ever have to use it, but you'll be glad to have it with you when you do. Lightweight, windproof and sometimes waterproof they are a must for staying safe in the outdoors.

First Aid Kit

The best way to carry all essential items that enable you to deal with common injuries effectively. This Camping Specific First Aid Kit is recommended by the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Treatments for burns, cuts, grazes, blisters and other minor injuries is important in preventing infection and this pack provides the basic first aid items.

Map & Compass

A sure way to know where you are and where you are going. A map and compass are essential for avoiding dangers without relying on modern technology.

Using a plastic, clear case stops your map from becoming illegible in the worst of weathers and comes with a handy cord to hand the whole thing around your neck.

Headtorches

Ideal for early rises before the sun or setting up camp in the dark. A headtorch is an absolute essential for any outdoor activity - save your phone battery for what you really need a phone for.

The rechargeable Petzl ACTIK CORE headlamp offers 600 lumens of power, which, along with its multi-beam design, makes it ideal for dynamic outdoor activities like mountaineering, running, hiking and backpacking. It comes with a rechargeable battery that fits most Petzl headtorches.

Water Purification

Instead of boiling water to keep it clean, pop some water purification tablets in your bottle to keep your water clean and refreshing.

If you find the taste particularly offputting, there are larger water filters available to filter your water before you put it into your drinks bottle.

Wild Camping offers the mind a place to switch off and enjoy life. It strips life back to basics and encourages you to connect with nature. Whether you have summit camped all your life or you now want to explore outside the comforts of a traditional campsite - there is a wild camping adventure awaiting you. As you can see, there are some crucial pieces of kit to consider when it comes to wild camping safely. If done properly and responsibly, the kit will look after you and you will end up with some great stories to tell!

Check out our latest Wild Camping Video

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