6 mins

Extreme Sleeps: Finding adventure close to home

Phoebe Smith shares the 5 biggest mistakes people make when doing their first wild camp…

Finding adventure close to home (iStock_000018541205Small)

Can you really have an adventure to rival great travel experiences in your own backyard? Wanderlust editor and author of Extreme Sleeps: Adventures of a Wild Camper Phoebe Smith thinks so. She will be explaining how you can find adventure close to home at the Destinations Show in London on Sunday, February 9, 2014, at 2.45pm in the Stanfords Meet the Experts theatre.

Extreme sleeping involves heading out into the wilds to camp free, away from sites, with no showers or toilets. But that also means no neighbours to keep you up snoring, excellent stargazing and an amazing feeling of waking up in a landscape of your own choosing. Tempted to give it a go?

Before you do, here are the 5 biggest mistakes people make when doing their first wild camp…

1. Carrying too much

With all the gadgets out there it’s easy to get carried away and find yourself thinking – “ah yes I will need one of those solar powered coffee stirrers and while I’m at it pop a deluxe wind powered hair dryer in my rucksack too”. Though you should be comfortable, be sensible – don’t over pack. You need a tent, good sleeping bag and mat, a camping stove, a water bottle and a headtorch, map and compass. Then it’s simply a matter of dressing right, which leads me nicely to…

2. Wearing the wrong clothes

Know someone who’s managed to have an epic adventure in the outdoors just wearing jeans and a jumper? Of course you do, there’s always someone who’s managed to do it and survive with tale of their heroics. But if you want to be comfortable wear the proper gear. That means a breathable base layer t-shirt (not cotton) to sit next to your skin and long-johns too if it’s cold. Walking trousers that have articulated knees so you can move about easily. A fleece to keep you warm, waterproofs (jacket and trousers), a hat, gloves, some good socks and walking shoes or boots.

3. Don’t take enough food

I knew a couple who went wild camping and took a salad for dinner. A salad. Needless to say they had a miserable evening. This is not the place to diet. A walk in to your camp spot, a heavier backpack, putting up a tent, nerves – all these factors in a first wild camp will use energy that you need to replenish. Plus as it goes dark and the temperature outside cools, the thought of eating a salad is about as appealing as…well a piece of wet lettuce. Take a camping meal you can heat, cup-a-soups and some hot drink sachets – all good for warmth and energy. And don’t forget to take some chocolate treats for dessert, that way you can watch the stars while you tuck into your feast.

4. Failing to have a Plan B

So you picked the perfect pitch using your OS map (great views, near to a water source, sheltered from the wind, far away from any houses) and arrive to find it either water logged, too rocky or already occupied – then what? Well that’s why it’s so important to have a backup to your perfect spot. Scope out a few potentials on the map and if you can, make sure you check them out by day first before returning to set up camp at night.

5. Forgetting to enjoy it!

By far the most common mistake made by many people who foray into the outdoors. The bottom line is you’re doing this to have fun, not as an entry exam to join the army, so make sure you time it right and plan properly to have a good trip. Worried you’ll miss having a pillow? Take an inflatable one. Like a glass of wine before bed, or a cup of hot chocolate? Pack some as a reward for when you’ve pitched your tent. Weather not looking great? Don’t go that day. It’s your adventure, do it your way and always remember, when it comes to extreme sleeps – enjoy not endure…

Extreme Sleeps: Adventures of a Wild Camper (Summerdale, £8.99) is available from all good bookstores and on Amazon.

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