Wild Camping Scotland

Wild Camping Scotland

Category: Wild Camping Kit (Page 1 of 2)

Top Eight Men’s Hiking Shoes for 2016


Merrell All Out Blaze Vent Gore-tex

Merrell All Out Blaze Vent Gore-tex

Merrell All Out Blaze Vent Gore-tex

How Merrell Describes this shoe

This lightweight hiker with breathable ventilation and an integrated footbed keeps you stable and comfortable as you cruise through climbs.

Shoe Facts

  • GORE-TEX® Lining – Provides the ultimate in waterproof protection.
  • Breathable Mesh Upper – Ensures your feet stay cool and comfortable.
  • Outer Material: Other Leather
  • Inner Material: Mesh
  • Sole: Other materials
  • Closure: Lace-Up
  • Soft E-Foam Midsole – For comfort and durability.
  • Belows Tongue – Prevents dust and debris from entering the shoe.
  • Molded TPU – For greater stability.

What People have said about it

  • Bought 1/2 size bigger and fit a treat, light and really comfy
  • Gore-Tex works like magic, never thought it is possible
  • Really comfortable and ready to walk straight out of the box!
  • Based on other buyers’ comments, I ordered a half size bigger and I’m glad I did. The shoes are a perfect fit, they are lightweight and from day one they have been comfortable to wear.
  • Excellent shoe. Lightweight, comfortable. Fits well. Nice dark black upper, fairly dark grey edge around the sole.
  • Very satisfied, good support and lightweight

Hi-Tec Men’s V-Lite Flash Force Low

Hi-Tec Men's V-Lite Flash Force Low

Hi-Tec Men’s V-Lite Flash Force Low

How Hi-Tec Describes this shoe

Featuring high performance synthetic upper, providing support and breathability. The i-Shield technology creates a layer of protection, which repels water and stains.

With a removable moulded EVA footbed and Vibram RGS midsole, which promotes long lasting underfoot cushioning and comfort, as well as supporting the natural roll of your foot. The Vibram rubber outsole delivers world renowned traction, durabilty and stability.

Shoe Facts

  • i-Shield – repels water and dirt whilst remaining resistant against stains
  • Ortholite impressions footbed
  • Outer Material: Synthetic
  • Inner Material: Textile
  • Sole: Other materials
  • Closure: Lace-Up
  • Heel Type: Flat

What People have said about it

  • I found these to be very comfortable shoes, also very light, but with a sturdy feel and good grips. Used them mostly for light walking trips, but i have no rain to believe that they would not prove as comfortable and sturdy on longer walks
  • Not as advertised. Not waterproof, no claim on the shoes or box that they are waterproof but Amazon seem to think so listing it in the product title. Returned which is always hassle free on Amazon. A shame as they were very comfy and a good buy otherwise.
  • Not tried them out on a walk yet but they feel comfortable and fit nicely when I wore them a few hours around the house. I like the colours and their contrast. For the price I got them at I know they will be great
  • Not quite as wide fitting as hoped. No waterproofing at all although advertised, they actually feel like sponges sucking any available moisture from the ground. When dry, their fine.
  • Nice and lightweight. I cant see how they are waterproof though as there are breathable holes in them. Overall pleased with them at this price.
  • I had these walking shoes at a real bargain during the prime flash sales. They fit perftectly and as the descrption says are waterpoof.

Karrimor Mens Brecon Low Walking Hiking Shoes

Karrimor Mens Brecon Low Walking Hiking Shoes

Karrimor Mens Brecon Low Walking Hiking Shoes

How Karrimor Describes this shoe

These  Karrimor Brecon Low Mens Walking Shoes have been constructed using Cordura fabric which provides lightweight durable strength, resistance to tears, scuffs and abrasions coupled with a Vibram sole which is designed to provide the best performance with the maximum level of comfort and quality on any surface. The walking shoes benefit from a Ortholite innersole coupled with a Padded ankle collar and tongue and a lace up design to ensure a secure and comfortable fit.

Shoe Facts

  • Padded ankle collar and tongue
  • Smooth suede upper
  • Reinforced toe
  • Vibram outsole
  • Ortholite insole
  • Directional lugs
  • Cordura fabric
  • Leather/Textile upper, Textile inner, Synthetic sole

What People have said about it

  • Good looking comfortable sturdy shoe..great for casual wear..or trekking. .just what I wanted..don’t know how they’ll last..
  • Great shoes. These are my third or fourth pair. Hard wearing and last ages.
  • 4th Pair now, practically the only shoes I wear.


Merrell Moab Ventilator

Merrell Moab Ventilator

Merrell Moab Ventilator

How Merrell Describes this shoe

The Merrell Moab Ventilator is a great walking shoe ideal for all-terrain trekking for the outdoorsman who is looking for mix of superb comfort and protection. It’s Ventilation by name and nature as the Leather/Mesh upper provides great breathability and protection, helping keep your feet cool and comfortable throughout the day. A Bellows Tongue helps to keep out debris and add upper comfort and the shoe has also been treated with AEGIS Shield, helping your shoes stay fresher for longer.

Shoe Facts

  • Bellows Tongue Keep Debris Out
  • Synthetic Leather Toe Cap And Heel Counter
  • Outer Material: Other Leather
  • Inner Material: Mesh
  • Sole: EVA
  • Closure: Lace-Up
  • Heel Height: 1 centimetres

What People have said about it

  • I found [these shoes] to be a great all-round basic trekking shoe – for hot/cold climates, for modest terrain from hill tracks to mean streets. Decently serrated sole for rough ground; exceptionally comfortable – supportive and nicely cushioned and a good price. Go for the slightly more expensive Gore-tex version if you’re buying for wetter ground rambling in countries such as the UK.
  • I’d have paid ten times the price for shoes as comfortable as these.
  • Try these shoes for size in a shop before buying. They work out about 1.5 sizes too small for UK feet.
  • I contacted merrell and they confirmed their products are made in both China and Vietnam – the ones made in vietnam feel better

Adidas Terrex Swift R GTX

adidas Terrex Swift R GTX

adidas Terrex Swift R GTX

How Adidas Describes this shoe

Designed with an outdoor specific fit, these low-to-the-ground outdoor shoes have a mesh-and-synthetic upper for lightweight stability and a GORE-TEX® lining to keep the wet out. Shock-absorbing ADIPRENE® cushions the heel, and a TRAXIONTM outsole grips slick surfaces when you’re moving fast. Locking out the harsh conditions a GORE-TEX® lining has been integrated within the design of the shoe; keeping your feet dry and comfortable in adverse weather conditions, whilst providing perfect climate comfort, and enough breathability to allow internal moisture to evaporate. Reinforced Upper The durable Ripstop upper design is solid and supportive with reinforced toe and heel sections for greater protection from the terrain underfoot. The classic adidas 3 stripe design creates an adaptive midfoot support system, wrapping the midfoot and allowing for natural motion. Cushioned Midsole Delivering step in comfort from the first time you slip the shoe on, a moulded sockliner adapts to the foots form delivering enhanced comfort and fit. Further smoothing out of the terrain is taken care of with a lightweight EVA midsole providing long term cushioning and comfort over the miles. For added protection on heel strike the shoe is also equipped with ADIPRENE® under the heel for supreme impact shock alleviation and dispersion, creating a smooth transition from heel strike through to toe off. Sticky Outsole The outsole features TRAXION, a meticulously engineered outsole lug design that offers unflinching multi directional grip and multi surface traction, without imposing excessive pressure on the foot. Ensuring that you stay sure footed in any terrain, the Adidas Terrex Swift R Gore-Tex Walking Shoes are a solid choice for any outdoor enthusiast.

Shoe Facts

  • GORE-TEX® Lining – The most effective waterproofing technology available, creating a water tight seal whilst allowing for internal moisture to evaporate. Essential for any serious outdoor enthusiast.
  • Breathable Mesh Lining – Allows the foot to breath, for greater comfort over the miles.
  • Outer Material: Synthetic
  • Inner Material: Mesh
  • Sole: Gum Rubber
  • Closure: Speed-Laces
  • Heel Type: Flat

What People have said about it

  • Too tight at my regular size, I’ll have to return and try looking for next half-size above
  • These are probably the best shoes I have ever had for umpiring hockey matches.
  • Fairly impressed but feel it needs a break-in before becoming comfortable.

Grisport Men’s Exmoor

Grisport Men's Exmoor

Grisport Men’s Exmoor

How Grisport Describes this shoe

The Grisport Exmoor men’s walking shoes are a mutli-function walking shoe; suitable for everyday wear or more serious walking. The Exmoor walking shoe has a vibram outsole for improved comfort, grip and durability; making the Exmoor one of the most comfortable shoes in the Grisport collection. Weatherproofing is taken care of by the waterproof and breathable lining and richly waxed leather upper.

Shoe Facts

  • Waterproof Waxed Leather Upper
  • Waterproof & Breathable ‘Spotex’ Membrane Lining
  • Outer Material: Leather
  • Inner Material: Fabric
  • Sole: Gum Rubber
  • Closure: Lace-Up
  • Material Composition: Man Made
  • Vibram Sole with Dual Density mid sole for comfort

What People have said about it

  • Found these extremely comfortable straight out the box and a perfect fit with a nice thick pair of socks. I expect the Vibram sole to last well (the previous pair did). They are waterproof.
  • This is the second pair of these shoes I have owned. The previous pair, which are still going strong, though the soles are finally wearing thin, have lasted me for over 3 years, having been worn most days in all weathers.
  • These shoe’s are amazing quality and feel great on the feet straight out of the box! Really soft, dark brown leather……trendy & modern design – a great buy.

Salomon X Ultra Leather

Salomon X Ultra Leather

Salomon X Ultra Leather

How Salomon Describes this shoe

Sleek and athletic, the low cut x ultra ltr men’s has a durable leather upper for added style and added durability. The advanced chassis system provides stability, foot control and protection. It includes an eva midsole for active comfort and less fatigue, with a tpu chassis in the middle and a rubber outsole for protection and precision. Contagrip is a mix of compound, density and lug geometry to ensure grip, durability and less weight, all optimised for fantastic traction on any surface. Ortholite advanced, proprietary polyurethane formula with recycled rubber content delivers a combination of benefits unmatched by any other insole manufacturer.

Shoe Facts

  • Sensifit – Works to cradle the foot and provide a secure, precise fit.
  • Strong Outsole – The Salomon 2D chassis provides excellent stability and cushioning underfoot.
  • Outer Material: Leather
  • Inner Material: Textile
  • Sole: Gum Rubber
  • Closure: Speed-Laces
  • Quicklace System – Enables the wearer to loosen, tighten, remove and put on the shoe with considerable ease.

What People have said about it

  •  These a comfortable walking shoe but they are definitely NOT waterproof.



 

 

Big rucksack

How to Fit and Adjust your Rucksack or Bergen

It may sound like I’m overcomplicating this a bit, but it is absolutely essential to fit and adjust your rucksack properly.  It needs to be right for your particular size and the weight you’re carrying.  That’s why a rucksack has so many straps.

There’s more than one design for adjustments unfortunately, but this checklist should work for a majority of them.  It’s based on the ‘ladder lock’ system.

Checklist for Adjusting y0ur Rucksack

First do all of this with an empty rucksack.  Probably before you leave home.


  1. Open all of the straps to the fullest.Adjusting a backpack step one

2. Use the velcro adjustment to move the shoulder straps up or down.  This will make the back plane longer or shorter.  The velcro itself passed through a number of loops to make this happen.Adjusting a backpack step two


3.  Put the rucksack on and tighten the waiststrap.  It should fit over your hips (on the iliac – the pointy out bits of your hip bones.)Adjusting a backpack step three


4.  Check shoulder straps for height.  Adjust by going back to point 2 until they sit just on your shoulders, but don’t pull you down when you tighten it up a bit.  Remember that these aren’t for carrying weight, only stopping the weight moving you about and throwing you off balance.  It should be comfy.Adjusting a backpack step four


5.  Once the height is set, take it off again and adjust the shoulder stabiliser straps.  These are usually between the shoulder strap and the backpack itself.  Their job is to adjust the backpack’s centre of gravity back and forward.  Pulling down moves it forward, loosening it up moves it away.  Look to have these straps at about 45 degrees.  That’s the point where you shouldn’t have much space behind your shoulder.Adjusting a backpack step five


6..This last part weirdly really helps take the strain.  What you’re looking for is it to be tight enough to pull the shoulder straps forward and stop them slipping, but not too tight that it’s uncomfortable.  Especially for women.Adjusting a backpack step six


Now try it again with some weight in it.  Ideally you’d pack your rucksack with the stuff you’re taking, then try it on.  It also gives you a bit of any idea if you’ve overpacked.

But before you put it on, and after it’s packed…

Get Someone to Help Put Your Rucksack on!

This is mostly for the blokes.  You’re happy to fit and adjust your rucksacks  I know that what we really want to do is hoof the 25kg weight you’ve just packed in a perfectly adjusted carrying device over one shoulder because we’re hard.  I know, I get it.  Doing anything else just completely calls into doubt our masculinity, and we may end up with rival males challenging us for Alpha position right.

But here’s a thought – what looks worse, asking for help to get the rucksack on your shoulders in good form, or asking someone else to carry your bergen off a mountain as you limp along beside them, because you’ve done your back in being macho?

Just a thought…

If you’re wild camping nay-mates then you can prop it up on a rock or bit of a tree.  Don’t be tempted to prop it up low or even worse put it on while sitting on the ground.  That doesn’t work out well.

How to Put on a Rucksack on when it’s packed

So using your mate, a rock or a tree to help take the weight, perch you’re rucksack up and carry out the following routine: 

  • Slip both shoulders gently into the shoulder straps without taking any of the weight.
  • Tighten the shoulder straps to pull the rucksack in a bit, but don’t tighten all the way.
  • Position the waist belt so it sits comfortably on your pelvis.  Tighten it up all the way to where it will be when you walk.
  • Tighten the shoulder straps, making sure that you don’t over-pull and end up exerting a force down through them.
  • Check for comfort and gaps.  Adjust your clothing underneath.
  • Click on and adjust the chest strap.

And you’re done.  Simples.

Biv Bag Emergency Shelter

Emergency Shelters, Bivvys, Bivouacs and Ponchos

Emergency Shelters

You’ll notice I’ve used the words Emergency Shelter here, not tents. That’s because shelters are nothing like tents.  They’re only really there useful in an emergency, or to get out of the wind for ten minutes.  You can also slide down wet grass slopes on some of the tougher Emergency Shelters.

Read More

Wild Camping Emergency Kit

Wild Camping Emergency Kit

First aid kit

First choice in selecting a First Aid kit to be part of your wild camping emergency kit – should you buy one pre-packed, or should you pack it yourself?  I’ve always gone for doing it yourself for various reasons.

  1. If you pack your first aid kit yourself, you know what’s in it.
  2. If you’ve selected and bought the contents of your first aid kit, you’re more likely to be in a position to restock it.
  3. Oddly, that usually also means you’ll be more ready to use the thing in the first place (you don’t have to worry about ‘breaking the seal’ on an off-the-shelf pre-packed kit.)
  4. Packing a first aid kit for wild camping use is different from packing it for general use.  The items needs to be lightweight, robust and be generally useful to the sort of person who goes wild camping.  Off-the-shelf first aid kits are more multi-purpose.
  5. You can waterproof individual items.
  6. You can spend money on higher quality items where it matters.
  7. You can choose the size based on the size of your party.  This means you can make more sensible trade offs about what you’ll need and size.

First Aid kits can be a thing of beauty if you pack them yourself.  I’ll openly admit that there’s a lovely feeling to clicking shut the lid on a self-packed kit.  So if you do go down that way, how should you put it together?

First thing to consider is the box itself.  In general keep it small and watertight.  It should be capable of being sunk at the bottom of a bowl of water for a good long while if it’s going to survive at the bottom of your rucksack.  Plastic ones are fine.

For this I love pelican boxes.  This can be shut tight, come with foam interiors and include a small pressure release valve.  This is vital when the box has pressurised itself, say if a spray plaster has leaked, or if the contents has been chilled down while sealed.  Ie when it becomes hermitically sealed.

For the contents, here’s the list of stuff that I currently carry:

  • Gloves: Powder-free nitrile
  • Drugs and medication.  In the least this should include antihistamine, ibuprofen, paracetamol and aspirin – all non-dispersible.  If you have access to better then by all means take it.  However, it’s useful to keep them all together in a resealable bag with the names of the drugs on the outside.  Otherwise you’re left trying to read a mostly empty blister pack and guessing what it should be.
  • Antiseptic liquid.  I prefer that to wipes, although wipes also work.  Liquid covers far more though.
  • Minor Wound and Blister kit
    • Sterile gauze swabs
    • Steri-strips
    • Melolin wound dressing pads
    • Plasters
    • Compeed
    • Moleskin plaster
  • Crepe bandage
  • Military dressing
  • Syringe
  • Blunt needle
  • Small bandage
  • Transpore Tape
  • Betadine
  • Tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • Trauma Shears
  • Wild proof lighter

Stuff not to take:

  • Suture kit – if you know how to use this already then great, but otherwise it’s unlikely to be something you want to use in the field.  Stern-Strips can easier and can close a wound just as well while you get medical help.
  • Nasopharyngeal airways and Guedel airways – these are used to maintain an airway, and are sometimes included in advanced first aid kits or kits for sub-aqua divers.  But you need a lot of different sizes to cover everything, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll be in a position to need one while out camping.  The fact that you fancy going out in the wild tends to filter out the people who may need one of these at the rush.

Of course, it’s not enough just to have a well-equipped emergency first aid kit. It needs to come with at least basic first aid skills and life support skills.  The training offered by St John’s Ambulance or the Red Cross is perfect.  There are also first aid books by both of these that are worth getting and reading.

 

One thing always to have, though, is a spaceblanket. These are the tin foil sheets you see handed out at the end of some races. They’re amazingly good at keeping in heat, and can really save your day if one of you starts to go hypothermic. Carry one. Carry two, if you can.

tents for wild camping

Best Tents for Wild Camping – Things to consider

Tents for Wild Camping

The choice of which tent to use is similar to the choice you make when buying a car. There is no such thing as the perfect car; same goes with tents for wild camping. There may be some that are more appropriate to what you want them to do.  There may be some that look great, and that you’d love to own, but which are just way to expensive. So in the end you usually go for the middle ground, and accept compromises.

Tent choice is just like that – you need have a clear idea of the sort of use you’re going to put it to, and be ready to make compromises.

The usual trade offs that are needed when considering which tent to bring with you on your exped are:

  1. Space
  2. Comfort
  3. Weather proofing
  4. Wind Proofing
  5. Weight
Tents for Wild Camping - Big Ol' Valley Tent, with veranda

Big Ol’ Valley Tent, with veranda

Getting a tent just the right space amount of space

Tents for Wild Camping - Valley Tent

Wouldn’t walk with it, but definitely consider for family wild camping

Overall, there is a massive difference between having to carry your own kit and having it either carried by someone else, or using your car to lug it around. If it’s only ever going to be in the back of your car, or being put up, then go large. These are called valley tents, and are designed for use in calm weather, in a valley, with a sit-down chair and a pair of slippers.

OK, so this is hardly wild camping. But that’s fine.  There are times when the idea of wild camping is appealing, but not the idea of walking anywhere wild.  For those times valley tents are perfect.

Carrying a tent

If you’re having to carry the tent around with you, then it’s best to err on the ‘slightly too small’ side, especially in chilly places like Scotland. Even if you like the idea of lots of extra space to lay out your gear, come the middle of the night that’s a lot of cold air to heat up with your bodies. The smaller it is, the warmer it’ll stay. There’s also the benefit that your camping partner can’t roll too far away from you. Sounds ropey, but it’s the equivalent of a little hot air heater in the tent, so the closer the better in cold weather.

Tents for Wild Camping - Instant pitch tents

One minute pitch, one minute pack

Ultra-Small Tents

Finally, there are some tents that go ultra-small. These can be little cheeky numbers that almost deploy themselves (you can throw them out and the ‘self-erect’ because of spring-like poles. Drawback with these are that the shape needed to give this spring-like quality isn’t ideal to sleep inside. It’s essentially a tube, and so the top can squash down in wind and heavy rain, which makes them miserable to be in.

There’s also no space for anyone else. Because they fold to a circle shape, there is a maximum diameter when folded based on what’s practical to carry. This dictates how large they can be when deployed – hence they’re almost all one-person tents.

Comfortable Tents for Wild Camping

The design of a tent is primarily about keeping you warm, dry and out of the wind. Arguably, that’s all about comfort. However, as I’ve said before there’s no point in going wild camping to have a miserable time, so even if the tent is warm, dry and windproof, if it’s really uncomfortable, it’s pointless.

Tents for Wild Camping - Tent Showroom

Oooooo…. Kit….

The best way to judge how comfortable a tent is is to take a trip to a tent warehouse, where you’ll see a large number of them sent up. Now imagine what it would be like carrying out all of the necessary tasks when you’re camped up. How easy is it to cook? Is there a porch area where you can cook out of the rain? Are there two way zips at the entrance to make it easier to use, and potentially two zips so you only need to expose the lee-side when getting out.

Tent Questions on Comfort

Are there doors at both ends? This can be very convenient, and a bit of a hedge against a bad day with the stove.

Are there good ventilation flaps? These are usually held open by guy lines so that a decent amount of moisture can escape without letting in too much cold. (It’s important to let moisture out to avoid everything feeling soggy in the morning. Remember that if you’ve gotten wet, then cosy, you’ll steam slightly. This is made even worse if you brew up or eat your bag meal inside.)

Tent Questions on Utility

Now move on to utility. Is there enough storage space inside the tent for you and your hiking partner, for example, plus your rucksacks? If not something’s going to be left outside and will get sodden overnight. Are there any suspension points inside the tent to hang socks up to dry? Is there anyway to suspend a headtorch so you’re not having to wear it inside?

Of paramount important in Scotland – is there a mosquito net to stop the midges from getting in? Although remember, the midge will always get through, so this is just to help slow them down.

Finally, and importantly, get into the tent, lie down, quieten your head, and look about you. Is there anything about the tent that would annoy you if you had to spend some time in there? It may sound an odd question, but some tents are just – annoying.

Tent Weatherproofing

Tents for Wild Camping - Some times no amount of waterproofing will be enough

Some times no amount of waterproofing will be enough

Waterproofing for Wild Camping

It only seems fair to give yourself a fighting chance by always choosing a tent that’s waterproof. Although it may seem obvious, not all tents are. High Altitude tents don’t always need to be waterproof.  Windproofing (see below) is all they need when you’re never going to get above zero.

Water column waterproofing test

How Waterproofing is measured

Waterproofing comes with a number, to help decide whether a tent is waterproof enough. The number is a height – being the height of a column of static water that the material can withstand in direct contact with it before leaking. Generally look for around 5000mm.

Lightweight Waterproof Tents

Lightweight tents usually come with separate fly-sheets. Usually these are nylon or polyester, and are the bit of the tent that’s actually treated to be waterproof. When checking these over, look carefully at the seams as these are always the weak point in waterproofing. Ideally these should be taped up secure by the manufacturer. If you want a bit of DIY it is possible to keep non-taped seams waterproof by using resin sealant (like seamgrip), but best to only give yourself that job if there’s damage, rather than a planned-for necessity. It’s not fun, and blackwitch smells.

The design of the tent should allow a good clearance between the fly and the inner tent. Some can be zipped together which makes them easier to put up in bad weather, but as water can seep through two layers if they are in contact with each other, be wary of this. Others solve this issue by having ties inside the fly which attach to either the poles or the inner. These are also a weak spot for leakage, but much less of a problem.

Groundsheets

The groundsheet is part of your waterproof boundary. If it’s wet ground this needs to be the ‘bath tub’ style and incorporated into the tent. This will give you a few inches of waterproof skirting all around, which can save your night. If it doesn’t have this, or if you’re going army-style and having no built in ground sheet at all, then you can use bivouac bags (bivvy bags). But these add more weight that a groundsheet attached to a tent would, and are less effective, so unless you’re doing it for entertainment, best to avoid.

Windproofing Tents for Wild Camping

Tents for Wild Camping - windy pitch site

Hmmm.. Pitch here?

Wind can make your life a misery, and if you’re tent is not fit for the conditions can pose a serious threat to your safety. A tent which is not strong enough to withstand the wind, or which has the wrong shape, will simply fail. Usually this happens very quickly, and sometimes with you inside.

The way to avoid this and choose the right tents for wild camping in windy places is to follow the ‘seasons’ numbers that almost all tent manufacturers follow now.

Tent Seasons

The season of the tent has nothing to do with temperature, even though some manufacturers list that amongst the stats. Rather the season of a tent is the design conditions that tent should easily be able to withstand when considering the wind and rain you’re likely to encounter.

Tents for Wild Camping - 4 season tent

Hunkering down – 4 season tent

So if you’re planning on leaving the valleys and heading for the mountaintops, it’s probably sensible to go up the seasons to deal with the extra wind you’re likely to encounter. Likewise, if you’re reading a weather report that expects lashing rain in the middle of the summer (which is more often than not on the west coast of Scotland), then again you’d be wise to upgrade the season of your tent.

Specialist Tents

One thing to be aware of.  As you go up seasons you get into specialist mountain tents.  Mountain tent design uses less forgiving materials.  They don’t like rough handling. Quite often a misplaced pole is enough to rip the flysheet of a very expensive mountain tent if rammed in along the length of the stuff sack, for example.

They can also be less forgiving in how you put them up. For similar reasons, a rip could develop if you lose control of a mountain tent in high wind, perhaps more easily than it would for a cheaper, lower season tent.

Tent Shape

The other aspect of a tent which gives it a season rating is the shape. The shape of a tent makes a huge difference to surface area presented to the wind, and to the inherent strength of the tent once up. For example, the strongest design in terms of shape is the geodesic tent, which has a series of overlapping arched poles to give it strength. Likewise there are low-profile tents which are suitable for high altitude because of the low surface area to present (although personally I’ve had a poor experience with these, as in heavy rain the shape sometimes allows pools of water for form in a hollow or fold in the material, drenching you as you come out.

When considering which shape to use, be aware that not all are the same difficult in terms of deployment. Putting up a geodesic tent can be a pain. Quite often the design calls for you to put up the inner tent first, then the flysheet. If you do this slowly in a rain storm you could well end up with a drenched inner, and a wet night.

Try it out first

There are many ways to choose tents for wild camping.  As with many things to do with kit, the answer is not to wait to try things out. Go play with it! It’ll be fun.  You’ll get faster at putting it up, and it will allow you to spot any drawbacks with your choice.

Survival kits and Valuables Boxes

Survival Kits - Combat Survival KitSurvival kits and Valuables Boxes

Survival kit

I love these little survival kits (here’s a link to the one in the photo.) They’re quite often shaped like old baccy (tobacco) tins and have a list of really useful sounding quite useless stuff. Sort of thing you get in there is a flint and steel (for lighting fires, usually by trying to set fire to tampons), a snare for catching rabbits, a line and hook for fishing, a mirror for signalling rescue aircraft, that sort of thing.

Although all of these sound like they could save your life one day, in reality would you ever use them? Certainly in Scotland, things are never going to get so bad as it’s necessary to catch your own emergency survival rabbit, rather than spending that many, many hours this would take getting your sorry, hungry ass off the mountain. Likewise, lighting a fire with a flint sounds cool, but is difficult and comes down to the standard of what you’re trying to light. And if that’s dry enough, then matches or a little disposable lighter is better. Ok, so you could argue that you’d run out of these, but if you do, get your bum home where you’ll warm up, don’t mess about trying to survive out on the hill without the right kit (which usually rules out survival kits.)

Survival KitsThe one place these do come in useful, though, is pretending you’re a Para on exercise, or when you’re trying to hone some of those survival skills that Dusty, legend that he is, wrote about. If that’s what you’re after, there are few things as pleasing as well-stocked survival kits.

Valuables

This is the wee things you need to take along, but which aren’t really part of your kit. Phones, car keys, credit cards (always useful), cash. They kind of just get in the way, but can really spoil your day if you lose them up a mountain.

Best thing for these is a little hard case with o-ring seal. This will protect them from being squashed or soaked. If squashing is less of a worry, you can get little dry bags instead. These range from the resealable bags you get for frozen food (which are ideal for waterproofing your kit) to sea-going dry bags which are sealed by rolling over the top lip again and again, then clipping off with a fastex clip.

Waterproof Valuables BoxOnce secure, stick it right down at the bottom of your kit bag so it doesn’t pop out, or if you have one, sticking it in the top flap pocket of your rucksack works well. What you want to avoid is it falling out without you noticing when you get the rest of your kit out, as you might not notice…

Wild Camping Torches

Torches for Wild Camping

Torches

There’s a huge choice when it comes to torches for wild camping. These include wee LED ones, big flat LED ones, super bright halogen ones. It includes torches shaped like batons, torches for your head, torches for your shoulder, torches for one side of your head, all sorts.

The must-have things to look for in torches though, are the obvious ones. Make sure it’s waterproof above all else. If you can’t leave it to soak overnight in your bath, then it’s going to fail at some point when you’re out and about. Prefer ones that have multiple o-rings so that if one goes, the other will catch it.

Lighter ones are better for the same wattage, but as most of the weight is in the batteries the differences between similar torches won’t be that large. LED torches tend to last longer: their bulbs fail less often, sometimes fail gracefully (one element at a time), and use less battery. Halogen or incandescent bulbs can fail in one flash, and when they’ve done this to me it always seems to be when you’ve first turned them on on the first night. Some of the more expensive models have little holders at the bottom of them with spare bulbs, which definitely helps.

Beware of florescent tubes. You can still get these, but if the ampage left in the batteries falls below a certain level they simply fail on you.

It’s hard to overstate how much of a pain a failed torch in the dark is. If there are two of you you’re left constantly pestering your tired mate for a go of their torch. Everything takes twice as long. It’s disorienting and totally rubbish.

If your torch fails and you need to walk off the mountain, then you’re in real trouble. That’s when you start to get deep in it.

So go for torches you can depend on, are robust and watertight, and fail gracefully. You probably don’t need to take spare batteries as this adds a lot of weight and are rarely used, but for the small cost of them I’d definitely recommend replacing batteries often, and always if you’re going out for more than one night.

The Best Torches for Wild Camping

  1. Power Plus Shark 1W LED Wind-Up Torch
  2. Wind Up Flashlight
  3. RAC 2-in-1 LED Torch and Lantern
  4. PowerPlus Puma Dynamo Torch
  5. iGadgitz Xtra Lumin 4 in 1 Dynamo Rechargeable 3 LED Spotlight Torch & 10 LED Lantern + 1 Year Warranty
  6. Power Plus Barracuda LED Solar/Wind-Up Torch
Maps and Compasses

Maps and Compasses for Wild Camping

This section gives some advice on choosing the right maps and compasses to take with you on a Wild Camping trip.

Maps and Compasses

Maps

 

For Scotland there is only one series of maps worth considering – Ordnance Survey. They have all the detail you need to read the hills and mountains, and avoid falling off a cliff in the mist.

One drawback of these (and most maps) is that they’re one big sheet of paper. The OS maps are surprisingly waterproof, but still blow about and can be difficult to deal with. A vital piece of kit in my book then is the map case. These are about the size of two A4 sheets side-by-side, and are transparent. You fold up your map in the right place, stick it in, then read it through tyhe map case. Ideal.

Compass

Maps and Compasses - Sundial

Maybe not the best one for Wild Camping

The compass you choose needs to be fairly simple to use, and robust. I’ve tried all sorts over the years, from the ones you see in war films with the little sighting mirror, to very basic little button compasses. The best I’ve found are the short, dumpy little Silva ones. These are transparent, marked with rulers along each side and have a rotating bezzle. I had one of these for mountain use for about 10 years, then started to use it to go sub-aqua diving in Scottish Waters. It survived a further 6 years without fault until finally, one sad day, I dropped my 25lb weight belt on it and it smashed. That was a sad moment.

The most important thing to have in a compass, though, is the skill to use that pMaps and Compasses Silvaarticular one easily. The more complicated it is, the slower you’ll be. You rarely need to be ninja-accurate with your fixes because you can read then terrain around you to give you a general idea. Fixes tend to be just to check you’re climbing up the right mountain. So ditch the complex accurate ones for reasonable ones you can get truely competent using.

There’s much more to compasses, of course, but I’ll cover that another time.

Walking Poles and Sit Mats

Walking Poles and Sit Mats

Walking Poles

Some people swear by walking poles. These work by taking some of the load away from your poor feet, and transferring them to your lazy-ass hands and shoulders. If you have two of them they can reduce the load on your feet by up to 30%, which makes a huge difference over long distances. I last used them in a walk-for–24-hours non-stop bragging rights hike and they saved me from abject failure and name-calling. It did come at the cost of a stream of abuse about having lost my skis, and being an old man, but I didn’t care at that point.

But short of these very long distances, poles just tend to get in the way. Some are telescopic, so can be tucked away, but even with these they are a pain as soon as you start going downhill. You tend to tip over using sticks beyond a certain gradient, and steeper still, when you need to actually lean back or even bum it down, they’re flailing around like you’re a dying fly.

Also, many people walk with just one of these. It can make you look kind of wind-swept and interesting, but only when you stop walking. At that poinjt you can lean on them and stare at the horizon wistfully. When you’re walking though, they just make you look old and knackered. And get in the way.

Sit mats

These are neat little mats that fold out to a square of cushioning material when you want to put your bum on a rock. They’re quite comfortable, and can keep your bum dry, but I’d question whether you really need to take these. For a start you can always sit on your pack. You can also get jackets with tails long enough to keep your bum dry, or take your jacket off and sit on that.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with these, they just seem a bit pfaffy. Girls love them, though, so fair one.

Wild Camping Bergen

Best wild camping rucksacks – Things to know

Wild Camping Rucksacks

Adverts give the impression that the design of Wild Camping Rucksacks was honed over decades. That they have undergone field tests and wind tunnel tests, and are as ergonomic as an lyrca vest. The reality is, it’s all about size.

What’s important in choosing Wild Camping Rucksacks?

Here’s a list of things to think about when choosing your rucksack:

  • How long are you going to be away?  If its a day hike or a short wild camp, I would always suggest going light.  In that case you can use a daypack which has a lot of the features of a bigger rucksack, but is just smaller.  For a long hike the benefits of a hiking rucksack start to kick in.  They’re more comfortable and can hoof more stuff.  But that usually also means you’re tempted to take more stuff.  And for the adventurous, getting some altitude, you’ll need a climbing rucksack.
  • What will the conditions be?  This has impact on the waterproofing inside and outside of the rucksack, as well as how you pack it.
  • How big are you?  Some rucksacks can be adjusted, and should be adjusted.  If not you’re stuck, and for longer distances that could be a problem.

Daypacks

wild camping rucksacks: day rucksack

A good size for a day rucksack. It can still have a lot of the functions you need and let you go ‘alpinist’ (minimalist)

Functions you can look for in a Daypack include:

1. Hydration Compatible.  This is the wee whole that allows you to put a bendy straw through it.  Don’t use this myself but hear that many swear by it.

2. Integral Rain Cover

This is usually packed away in the base and needs to be deployed when raining.  It also implies that the rucksack itself isn’t waterproof.

3. Wand pockets

These are quite useful long, thin pockets into which you can stuff things without taking your pack off.

4. Walking pole attachment

These are the loops on the front or top.  You can lash anything to these, but they’re meant for walking poles.

5. Compression straps

These are straps at the side which you can tighten to reduce the overall size.  Only use it after you’ve packed it, and be wary of squashing something, as they can put on a lot of pressure.

6. Padded hip belt 

Absolutely essential, as most of the weight should be through your hips.

7. Air flow back system

This is a piece of mesh on the back that lets air in and out.  Useful if you’re planning on sweating…

Hiking Rucksacks

These are altogether more serious backpacks.  They’re also more expensive, so make sure they have the following useful bits:

wild camping rucksacks: 30L rucksack

Rucksacks at this size (30L) can get quite funky.

1. Bellows side pockets 

Side pockets that are adjustable in volume.  Useful when you’re shoving metal tins or a stove in there.

2. Padded hip belt 

Again, absolutely essential.  And it should feel comfortable for you.

3. Expansion section

An extra section of material around the opening of the rucksack allows the top of the bag to be ‘overfilled’ increasing your storage capacity.

4. Base opening & Additional fixing points 

More common on larger packs these zipped openings allow easy access to the bottom of the rucksack. Extra points of attachment allow the fixing of all kinds of equipment to the outside of your pack.

Climbing Rucksacks

wild camping rucksacks: 50L rucksack

Now we’re talking! Getting on the the larger sizes now, but its still only 50L.

 1. Removable waist belt 

For some serious hikes, the waist belt can actually be a hindrance.  With these rucksacks there’s the option to take it off.

2. Gear loops 

Unique to climbing/mountaineering rucksacks these heavy duty loops on the hip belt or shoulder straps allow climbing gear to be secured for easy access.

3. Ice axe attachment 

Loop/s at the base of the bag and fastening higher up that allow ice axes to be securely fixed.

4. Crampon pouch

Some kind of toughened flap or pouch located on the front of the rucksack that allows crampons to be secured without damaging your rucksack.

5. Rope compressor 

A simple loop with quick release clip located under the rucksack lid allows a rope to be securely fixed and yet remain easily accessible.

6. Haul loops 

Similar to the carry handle on the back of you pack a haul loop is located on the front. These two loops used in conjunction allow a rucksack to be easily pulled up a climb where it would be too heavy to carry.

7. Adjustable Lid Height

Allows the rucksack to be filled maximally but with more protection for the contents from the elements.

How to get the right size of Rucksack for you

The length is important as well, especially if the rucksack is bigger than around 50L.

To fit a rucksack properly you need to look at the distance between the waist strap and the shoulder straps. Ideally, most of the weight is carried by a good fit at the waist. If you get this, then the weight is carried as close to your own centre of gravity as possible, and won’t swing about and pull you off balance.

Once you’ve got this, then the shoulder straps can be used just to pull in the top of the rucksack close to your centre line. There really shouldn’t be that much weight going through those straps.  It’s difficult to judge because your legs are so much stronger than your shoulders, but you should be looking at carrying about 80% of the weight through them, and only 20% through the straps.

If you can get this waist to shoulder distance fitted properly, you’ll be able to heft weights you thought unimaginable, with disturbing ease. As everyone’s trunk size is personal and not really a function of height (tall people can have long or short legs), then this is a piece of kit that you really do want to try on before buying.

Some rucksacks have an adjustable waist-shoulder length. These can be pretty expensive, though, so if you can find one that fits without having to be adjusted, then great.

Head Clearance

The next measurement to look for is head-neck swing clearance. When the pack is on, you should be able to roll your head around a full loop, shrug your shoulders and otherwise have complete freedom of movement. If it touches your pack at any point, it’s took high or too close (strapped in.)

Adjusting your Rucksack to fit your gear

Another adjustment you want to look for are the webbing straps that hang from the body of the rucksack. These are the dangly bits you see when you’re walking behind someone.

Depending on their position these can shorten the height of the rucksack, or make it thinner round the middle. This is a useful thing to be able to do. If you don’t happen to have exactly the right amount of kit to fill the rucksack you’re likely to have empty space in there. Empty space lets your stuff move about, which can put your centre of gravity out and lead to back pain. So if you can tighten the whole thing up until it’s straight and packed, then great.

It’s also much easier to have a larger pack that you reduce in size with these straps than a smaller pack you try to stuff everything in to. Bear in mind that kit, when wet, usually expands in size. Even camping stoves and cameras seem to take up more space when everything’s sodden. So a pack that was nice and tight when you started can easily end up way too small when you’re out and about.

Wild Camping Rucksacks - kit unpacked

Get it right and you can carry everything you need with ease.

Non-Essential Stuff Some Rucksacks Offer

So when you get through trying out the rucksacks available and find the ones that fit you, have webbing adjustment, allow for head movement, and have a good, comfortable waistband, then you’re probably down to the last two in the shop. That’s the point where you can start to look at the other bits and pieces.

Quick Access Pockets

For example a top zipped section is useful to keep must-get-at-quickly stuff. Separate side pockets are useful for keeping nasty stuff away from nice stuff. For example, one side pocket stuffed with old smelly clothes keeps them away from your sleeping bag. They can also be used to store food away from camping stoves/parafin, and putting water bottles in.

Camelbacks

Some rucksacks have neat little pockets for camel backs. These are flexible waterbags with a long drinking tube, which you put on your back and constantly sip from. They can taste disgusting, but are great for keeping you hidrated. So if you like these, having a rucksack that has a separate wee pocket for them is great. Even having a little hole to poke the drinking tube through can be useful.

Backplate Design

Some rucksacks come with mesh back-pieces that let air whip round your back. This can be quite nice. Others also come with flexible back-plates that can be pulled out, moulded, then stuck back in. I’ve heard of instructors claiming you can use these as emergency splints, but the ones I’ve seen would be rubbish at that.

D-Rings and Hardpoints

Then finally come with little loops, hard points, lanyards and webbing straps. Many Wild Camping Rucksacks have these for hanging stuff from, stuffing stuff down, tucking stuff in. They can be quite useful, but I’d use them sparingly. Swing too much from them and you may as well walk along yodelling or singing the wild rover. And never, never consider them an appropriate place to dry your pants on.

How to Put on a Rucksack

May sound odd but once it’s packed it really matters how you put a rucksack on your back.  It’s just gone from something loose and flappy to something that may weight over 25kg.  At that point it’s not like your daypack that you take to work; you can’t just sling it over a shoulder.  You’ll hurt your back.

Ideally there will be someone there to help.  If that’s not a person, then a rock also works.  Perch it up there and carry out the following routine: 

  1. Get both shoulders into the straps loosely.
  2. Tighten the waist belt so it sits comfortably on your pelvis.  Tighten it up.
  3. Tighten the shoulder straps, making sure that you don’t over-pull and end up exerting a force down through them.
  4. Check for comfort and gaps.  Adjust your clothing underneath.
  5. Click on and adjust the chest strap.  This last part weirdly really helps take the strain.  What you’re looking for is it to be tight enough to pull the shoulder straps forward and stop them slipping, but not too tight that it’s uncomfortable.  Especially for women.

If you want a bit more on how to fit and adjust your rucksack, here’s a full checklist.

 

What I’ve Learned Choosing Wild Camping Rucksacks

I’ve gone through maybe 7 rucksacks in my time.

When I first made short overnight camps I used to keep it light – 25l daypacks which had enough D-rings on the outside to strap my tent.  That did well for some summer camping, and let me feel a bit ‘Alpinist’ (Alpinist is a terms used for camping with minimum kit.)

When the trips started to get longer, and needed bigger – around 45l.  This was mostly for extra food and clothes.  Likewise, when I started to do any trips in the winter, the kit burden went up again.  Sometimes I’d get away with a 45l, sometimes I needed a 60l.

The thing to bear in mind is that you want to be focusing on taking just the kit you need.  So generally, smaller is leaner and better.

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