By: Blonde Two
One could argue, I suppose, that women don’t need to know anything more about wild camping than men. We could change the pronoun to a neutral and write something like this,
‘One needs a tent or a bivvy bag, one should find a suitable wild camping spot and one should wild camp even if one is in the throes of one’s monthly inconvenience.’
However, the truth is that women experience the outdoors in slightly different ways to men. I am not saying that men have either a lesser or a greater experience, or indeed that men bring more or less to the outdoor experience, merely that they have different experiences. Most of the advice that I am going to give below applies to both men and women but it comes from a woman, who has done a fair amount of wild camping and, hopefully, will be useful to other women who want to do the same. Here are the most important (to my mind) things a women (and a bloke) who is thinking about wild camping needs to know:
What to Take
If I was any good at lightweight packing I would advise you to take as little as possible to your wild camp, but we women know how much we enjoy those little home comforts, the shiny lights, the blow-up pillow, the hip flask. If you can carry the extras to your chosen wild camp site then please do so and enjoy them, if you can’t, well then the obvious answer is to choose a different, and much nearer, wild camping site.
I am joking of course, take what you want but don’t forget:
- A tent or bivvy bag
- A sleeping bag suitable for the season
- A sleeping mat (to keep you warm more than comfortable)
- A warm hat and gloves
- A whole set of dry clothes (in case it rains on your super-long walk out)
- A torch (plus a spare torch and batteries)
- The means to make a hot drink and/or a hot meal
- Snacks (we are all happier with snacks and they are a good distraction when darkness arrives)
Where to Camp
You have to use your common sense about where you are going to wild camp. My best piece of advice for wild camping women here is DO tell someone you trust where you are going to be but DON”T tell the world by posting it on social media. Otherwise here are a few considerations.
- You are probably safer in a more lonely spot
- Check the rules about legal wild camping (and tolerated wild camping) in your area
- Know the difference between access land and private land on your map (but don’t assume you can wild camp on access land)
- Take a map so that YOU know where you are (and can tell someone else if necessary)
- Remember that rivers rise
- Remember that rocks fall
- Remember that puddles are always wetter in the morning
- Remember that you might want a bit of cover to go to the loo (so avoid popular early morning walking routes)
How to Pitch a Tent
This is a simple one really, don’t take a brand new tent that you don’t know how to pitch out into the middle of nowhere. Most tents can be pitched inside and a little practice will enable you to cope if it is dark before you reach your destination and check that you do have the right poles and pegs. A bivvy bag, by the way, requires no poles or pegs and generally no instructions.
What to Eat
I have mentioned warm food and drink already but I like food and I think it is important in a wild camping situation. We can all manage on cold snacks but, if you are feeling a bit nervous about your wild camp, a bit chilly or even a bit bored because you have pitched well before bedtime a hot meal gives you something to do, the flame you need to cook it is psychologically comforting and it will warm you up and help you to sleep. Avoid spicy curries for obvious morning reasons but otherwise, the world of culinary camping is your oyster (although its probably best to avoid oysters too).
How to Stay Safe
No activity is without risk so spend some time thinking about possible risks before you go (not too long or else you might not go). It is impossible to mitigate against all unexpected risk but below are some things you might consider.
- How good is your first aid knowledge? (Do you, for example, understand the signs of hypothermia and what to do about them?)
- How good is your navigation? (Could you walk yourself to safety in the dark if you needed to?)
- Have you started small with friends and then worked up to ‘the big solo expedition’?
- Do you know where the nearest mobile phone signal is? (And have you buried your phone in your bag to conserve the battery?)
- Do you know how to do dynamic planning, assessing each risk as you come to it? (If you don’t now, wild camping will help with this.) As an example, check out Julia Lewis’ most excellent (and amusing) solutions to unpredictable beach bivvy problems.
Definitely Girl Advice
- If you are in a group remember to turn your torch off just before you squat down to go to the loo at night.
- If you have your period remember to bring the means to take everything home with you.
- If you don’t have your period remember how useful tampons can be.
- If you are feeling like you can’t go wild camping because you are a woman, read a few good outdoor blogs, there are plenty of women doing it, surviving and enjoying it.