Wild camping (not camping on an official campsite) is a great experience, and can be a fantastic family adventure. Here are some tips to make your first trip an enjoyable one. Start local: The more local you can be, the less you feel invested into wild camping, and the easier it is to deal with if it doesn’t work out first go. We chose a spot close to home in an area we knew well for our first family wild camp taking as many of the unknowns out and reducing things to stress about. You could even try your first go in the back garden for a trial run, just to see how it all goes. We still do this from every now and then if we can’t manage a whole weekend away but fancy sleeping in the tent. Have alternative plans to hand: Having

#1 Start local

The more local you can be, the less you feel invested into wild camping, and the easier it is to deal with if it doesn’t work out first go. We chose a spot close to home in an area we knew well for our first family wild camp taking as many of the unknowns out and reducing things to stress about. You could even try your first go in the back garden for a trial run, just to see how it all goes. We still do this from every now and then if we can’t manage a whole weekend away but fancy sleeping in the tent. Have alternative plans to hand: Having

#2 Have alternative plans to hand

Having plan a, b, c and so on already planned beforehand can reduce stress and help you to avoid a non-ideal situation turning into a total mare. Be flexible with your outlook. Also remember that you are not out to prove anything on wildcamping adventures and that it is ok to change plans as needed. Make sure everyone will be warm: Just like with any camping, being cold is miserable. Try to plan your first wild camp when the weather will be good and the night warm enough, but make sure you have an extra layer or so, and a hat for everyone

#3 Make sure everyone will be warm

Just like with any camping, being cold is miserable. Try to plan your first wild camp when the weather will be good and the night warm enough, but make sure you have an extra layer or so, and a hat for everyone incase you do get cold during the night. Go lightweight if walking far: We would recommend trying to find a spot only a short walk from the car (say maybe 20 mins), but if you do decide to walk further, remember you have to carry everything. Taking a look at what you are packing and asking ‘do we really need this’ is well worth it! No need for expensive gear to start: So long as you choose good weather, you can use very cheap gear to get you going. We started with a supermarket ‘festival’ tent. The equivalent sleeping bags would also work just fine in the right conditions, so don’t invest in expensive gear unless you know it is something you will enjoy for a few years as a family. Ground mats are as important as sleeping bags: You lose more heat to the ground when camping so make sure you use a good ground mat, whether that is a

#4 Go lightweight if walking far

We would recommend trying to find a spot only a short walk from the car (say maybe 20 mins), but if you do decide to walk further, remember you have to carry everything. Taking a look at what you are packing and asking ‘do we really need this’ is well worth it! No need for expensive gear to start: So long as you choose good weather, you can use very cheap gear to get you going. We started with a supermarket ‘festival’ tent. The equivalent sleeping bags would also work just fine in the right conditions, so don’t invest in expensive gear unless you know it is something you will enjoy for a few years as a family. Ground mats are as important as sleeping bags: You lose more heat to the ground when camping so make sure you use a good ground mat, whether that is a

#5 No need for expensive gear to start

So long as you choose good weather, you can use very cheap gear to get you going. We started with a supermarket ‘festival’ tent. The equivalent sleeping bags would also work just fine in the right conditions, so don’t invest in expensive gear unless you know it is something you will enjoy for a few years as a family. Ground mats are as important as sleeping bags: You lose more heat to the ground when camping so make sure you use a good ground mat, whether that is a

#6 Ground mats are as important as sleeping bags

You lose more heat to the ground when camping so make sure you use a good ground mat, whether that is a low cost roll mat, a self inflating foam mat, or a super light weight insulated airbed. Scout your spot on a previous trip: One of the great joys of wild camping is getting to choose your spot on the day, but it can be one of the scariest unknowns

#7 Scout your spot on a previous trip

One of the great joys of wild camping is getting to choose your spot on the day, but it can be one of the scariest unknowns first time. We avoided this by going to somewhere we had already been to, and knew where a good looking spot was.

#8 Think about fresh water

A great way to save weight is to not carry water, or only carry a little. Think about how much you need for the time you plan to be out, and think about where you might be able to collect water from rivers or streams. If you do collect water make sure you boil it or treat it before use to avoid any tummy bugs.

#9 Think about what food to take

For single night trips it is often as easy to not take a cooker, (cold pizza anyone?) but whatever you decide, put some thought into choosing lightweight, easy preparation food that you and your family will like. We often use dry pasta and sauce packets and noodles, not forgetting the jellybeans!

#10 Lights, camera, action!

Don’t forget to pack headtorches and a couple of glow sticks to dot about the tent so little ones don’t get too scared if they wake up in the middle of the night (they’re also great for looping around the tent zips as a way of keeping them ‘locked’.) And remember your camera to capture all the great memories you’ll be making!

#11 Share the adventure

Let your little one pick their favourite toy, or cuddly toy to share in the adventure with. Also, if you’ve space why not take along their favourite book to focus their energy for when they’re ‘not tired at all’ and will hopefully rest even for a few seconds.

#12 Have fun

This is the most important part! Planning is important, as is thinking through the ‘what ifs’, but most importantly try to let go, and enjoy the adventure of being out on a family wild camp for the first time.

Stacey Wilcox

Stacey loves spending time outdoors with her husband and 5yo son wildcamping and munrobagging as often as they can. She’s also frantically working on converting a van so that come the summer, she and her family can hit the road for 4 weeks with a fundraising adventure in mind.