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Packing list for a one-night wild camping trip (10 Essentials)

If your life is feeling too restricted like the structure is too rigid and regulated – why not consider stepping away from your typical weekend activities?

Here at the Lions Detour HQ in London, UK, we have discovered a whole host of benefits from reconnecting with nature in a more local setting to what we are used to.

Before the pandemic, we could go out to night clubs, restaurants and engage in fun activities like crazy golf and archery.

Now that this is gone, we have been finding new ways to satisfy our urge to explore and gain meaningful new experiences.

What’s our solution?

Put all of your necessary belongings in a backpack and head out on a journey into the wild.

As you probably know, our favourite mode of transport is our beloved motorcycles, but recently we experienced some issues with them not running properly.

So, to remove some layers of potential stress, we decide to take the train from London.

Our planned destination? The majestic, Epping Forest – located just 20 miles from where we live.

These one-night excursions last for around 24 hours, often from noon-to-noon.

What’s interesting however, is during that time, we realise our mind and body become fuly immersed in the adventure – just like we were travelling abroad and having to manage a variety of circumstances and obstacles.

Each and every time we go, we seem to be adapting our gear, meaning we can strip down our belongings even further, leaving what seems to become the bare necessities for that trip.

We have been receiving a lot of questions lately regarding what we actually pack for our little trips – so today, that’s what we will cover.

Our very own ‘useful knowledge guide’ adapted from what we have picked up so far, could help you get the most out of your wild camping trips – that will be coming soon!

Food

This is the most essential part of our packing list. We like to cook and we’d rather not live off of sandwiches or army rations.

Fried halloumi, charred veggies and large sources of protein like steak and fish are more likely to appear on our camping menu.

Not to forget the eggs!

Take only as much as you will eat on one dinner, some snacks for the journey too can be useful for those quick energy boosts.

Depending on the time you arrive at the potential camping location, you might also make some lunch before setting up.

It’s important that you remember about the most simple spices, cooking fats etc.

For us it means that we take salt, pepper and butter (kept in the freezer for 1 hour before we leave the house).

Water & Coffee

Another great and essential staple. Camping coffee is easy to make with a French Press/Cafetiere.

Remember to stay hydrated, and the most versatile drink will be water.

It can be used to wash your hands also.

Use safe, bottled water to rinse plates and cutlery after you finish your meal.

If you like to crack a beer open, feel free to get yourself some – but leave no trace and take all cans and bottles back with you.

I’m more of a cider person, but Mandell prefers beer 🍺

Cutlery and food prep tools

Remember about basic tools you usually cook with – a sharp, small knife goes a long way with cutting up meat and vegetables.

We take a cutting board, wooden spatula, cutlery set each (knife, spoon and fork), cast iron pan, gas can with a cooker (Campingaz) and 2 thin plates to eat out of.

So far we managed with only one metal cup to have a coffee from (but that will change soon!). To prepare a coffee, we use a standard Bodum French press – be careful if it has glass walls!

Camping cup doubles as container to boil the water in.

Wet wipes and toothbrush

The best invention since sliced bread, wet wipes can solve multiple problems. Lack of toilet roll? check. Dirty hands? Check. Shower replacement? Well, it’s just one night, right?

Toothbrush is a must, but instead of taking a whole tub of toothpaste, you may be interested in trying toothpaste tablets, which are way easier to transport and plan ahead how many you might need.

Sleeping bag and mat

These two are very important, even essential in keeping you cosy and comfy during the night. We picked sleeping pads from Amazon and they have been performing very well so far!

Our sleeping bags are Berghaus 3-season green sleeping bags in a mummy shape and we are managing 13C + nights with no problem at all.

What is also great about them, they can be attached outside of a backpack and they pack fairly small into a stuff bag provided.

Sleeping mat also packs small.

Lighter

We need lighter to get our cooker running, so it is very important part of our equipment. Even more, when we start making little campfires and will need to gather wood before we start cooking. Standard lighters are okay, but check how much gas they have before heading out in the wild.

Of course, Zippo is the best one to have.

Tent

This is very important part of your wild camping setup, as it is your home for the night. When picking a tent, consider going for natural hues like brown, green or camo pattern. When camping in the wild, remember that you need to be a bit sneaky and stealthy to avoid being discovered.

If you’re interested in going ultra-light and ultra-stealth in your camping adventures, consider getting a hammock instead of a tent. That, for us, is not of interest for now, because we we want to be able to stay close during the night like a pair of lost otters.

That is the only piece of equipment we should replace for our setup, as our tent is quite big and bulky, so it’s quite tricky to carry or attach to the motorcycle.

Metal cup

I am a fan of classic metal cups with foldable handles.

It can be attached to the outside of a backpack, and happily dangle around when you are marching on a trail.

But it’s much more than that – for us now it doubles as a water boiling pot because we don’t have one.

It can handle the cooker heat without any problems and boils enough water for 2 coffees (rather on a small side, but still!)

Rag

A piece of fabric which has so many uses – it cannot be left behind before going on a camping adventure!

I use it to handle the cast iron pan we got – handle gets hot, same with my stainless steel cup.

You can use it to rest your spatula while you cook and even wipe the pan after you’re finished with cooking.

After you come back home it’s only a matter of dumping it in the washing machine to get it nice and clean again.

Camping is all about the adventure, not the fancy gear!

Go out with what you have and consider buying used equipment like tent if you are only testing the waters in the world of wild camping.

Enjoy your time and remember – the first time is always the scariest one!

Quick summary of item categories we are taking on our wild camping trips:

  1. Clothes
  2. Food (lunch snack + dinner food)
  3. Water & Coffee
  4. Cutlery & Food prep tools
  5. Wet wipes + toothbrush
  6. Sleeping bag & sleeping mat
  7. Lighter
  8. Tent
  9. Metal cup
  10. Rag

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