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The fine art of Wild Camping - the basics!

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Some woods are magic, mystic and ancestral

So, in Chapter 1 we have seen what "wild camping" means and why I like it so much, therefore is now time to see how to organize the camping, starting from listing the main points of it:

1. pick the spot
2. decide how long and when you'll be there
3. think on what you need and decide what to bring
4. plan forward for possible troubles

1. Picking the spot: this is certainly the most important thing to decide, because it will influence all the other choices. First, you need to decide where are you going to camp in advance: I've a huge experience with mountain and forest camping (which are anyways the most common spots), and two things you have to ask yourself before than anything else: if it's gonna rain heavily, where all that water will go? and, are there many dead treas or fallen branches in that wood?
As for the first question, it's pretty self explanatory: if you set your camp on the natural way of water (moat, dried out brook) you are likely going to be flooded, so always pick a higher ground if possible; best spots are those on the edges of moats, because then you are almost certain of where water will be going and can safely plan on how to assemble your camp. Also pick a ground with grass if possible, otherwise you'll be sticking in mud after every rain.
As for the second question: a lot of people think that a wood or a forest are a good shelter in general... well it's not really so, usually, this because trees die and branches fall down, so you need to be careful especially in summer and in windy areas. Most of the woods (depending on the kind of trees you have) are subject to this issue, and in general camping inside a tick wood is always a bad idea unless you have no other option (and not just for the risk of falling trees/branches, but for the higher risk of blazes and because predators are more likely to approach you under the protection of tick wood). So best choice is a spot just on the borders of a wood or anyway in a wide clearing of the same.
Note: I'm gonna add more about choosing the right spot, but since it depends on other stuff (fireplace, tent, etc) I'll expand on this in future chapters.

2. the season is of course an important element: most of the people pick summer or late spring due to warmer temperature and supposedly less rain, but if you organize well in advance you can manage to be relatively comfortable even in winter or autumn. Also, how long you will stay will influence how much stuff you have to bring with you as well as what kind of stuff you need to bring (such as extra tools). A nice trick: dress like a onion! I mean, even in summer temperature can vary much from night to day, therefore better to bring various light clothes and put them on as the temperature goes down, rather than having only two sets of clothes (one light, one heavy); also, in case you get terribly wet, drying light clothes is much easier. Also bring two sets of shoes, one comfortable and one for heavy duties.

3. once you have an idea of the spot and of when you will be there it won't be hard to decide what to bring with you. There are some things which are a must in any case, as listed below:
- some basic tools like: a hatchet, a saw, a shovel and a good knife; all of them will be useful tools regardless of the place and of the season. Some meters of solid rope are a good addition to the basic kit. If you still have room, bring one or two rain slickers (for extra cover on the tent and/or covering the firewood). You don't want to destroy your hands, do you? So bring some working gloves as well... and unless you are skilled in primitive means of starting fire, bring at least some matches.
- some medicines: antibiotics, disinfectants (hydrogen peroxide is the best IMO, cheap, effective and easy to use), some plasters and/or bandages, cortisone cream (for insects stings, mostly), some pain killers; if you camp in an area with many snakes having a kit for sucking out venom would be an important plus. I personally assemble my own medicine box, but it's possible to find prepared kits in the market.
- packed food and bottled water: regardless of what you plan to do about cooking and whether or not you have a source of water close to you, always bring with you some packed food and bottled water. You might never know what will happen, and regular food can rot quite fast if not well stored, so always better to have some extra stocks of conserved food and potable water.
- it's dark at night, you know that, right? Bring one or more portable sources of light, no matter how you'll set up the camp and how many torches or other lights you'll have, you might have to move out of the camp at night or your other sources of light might fail, so having one or two torches with batteries is a must.

4. it's impossible to forecast all the possible emergencies, but in general if you have chosen the right spot and have the basics tools you should be able to solve most of the situations. However, few things need extra attention:
- blazes: having a fire extinguisher would be ideal, but if you can't, be ready to stop the fire as it start to become wild by using dirt; remember to prepare a mound of thin soil/dirt close to the fire, because you won't have time to do that once the blaze has caught. Use water only as a secondary mean of putting of fire, because most of the times you'll need so much of it that it won't be effective at all.
- be mindful of your mean of transport: in case you have to leave the place in urgency, your car/jeep/motorbike/whatever has to be ready to go immediately, so check at least once per day: that the engine starts and that there is fuel, that the tires are ok, that it's parked in a place where it cannot get stuck (ie. mud or flood) or close to the fireplace.
- if possible, have a satellite phone, because it can save your life under certain conditions (or have a regular mobile phone if you are lucky enough to have signal).

And here we are, I think that that's enough for just one chapter. There are other "basics", but we will talk about them in other chapters, as mentioned above.


  1. Flinn's Avatar
    Dudes, there's so much to write about...!

    As usual, if you have any question, just ask!
  2. Akar's Avatar
    That's a super cool looking tree!

    How can I, as an American who lives in the city, camp out in the Italian woods without having to fly to Italy?

    any advice is appreciated
  3. Flinn's Avatar
    mmm I guess you have woods in the US as well, no ?

    actually the tree you see on that pic is a famous one, which is said to be there since more than 800 years .. it's a beech tree which is connected to Saint Francis (San Francesco) life.. so if you are catholic now you have an excuse to come and see it
  4. Akar's Avatar
    Ay we have woods but nothing over here feels as old as the European stuff. We burned all the native american history when we got here so all our "historical woods" are from like, the 1800's. Which is.... sort of cool I guess? All the cool spots in America are either were we killed a bunch of Indians, a bunch of Brits, or a bunch of Southerners.

    I'm not a catholic but if they pay for my Hajj to Rome I think I'd sign up for a few auditing sessions.
  5. Flinn's Avatar