Friday, October 7, 2011

Cycling and Wild Camping or Stealth Camping

Many people are put off by the thought of wild camping and not having serviced facilities readily available. But the truth is wild camping opens up a world of possibilities and represents true freedom when travelling, particularly by bike but also when on foot.

Campsite in the Swiss Alps
There are a few things to consider before you go wild camping. Some countries have laws that specifically prohibit wild camping where as other countries such as Scotland have the free to roam act.

The essence of wild camping and in particular stealth camping is to leave no trace that you were ever there and to be hidden from passers by. The aim is to be completely out of sight from civilization and completely self sufficient.

What to look for in a wild / stealth camp site
  • Close to a water source such as a stream or river
  • Away from a road and track
  • Wooded or high over growth area
  • Hillside
Close to a water source

In the woods, close to a stream - what a sunset!
Water is the most important thing you will need while doing any kind of wild travelling. If you can make sure that you take several bottles of water with you. You will need water for drinking. cooking and cleaning. You don't want to have to walk too far to go and fill up a water bottle of wash out your pots and pans.

If you have to use a stream or river for drinking water it is advisable to boil this first to make sure that it is sterilized. You can let the water cool down and then drink it later. When you stop and set up camp it is a good idea to make sure that your drinking water sources are replenished.

Away from a road and track

When locating a wild camp site you need to scan the area for suitable locations. These will usually be away from any road and track. Very often, when cycling you will need to leave your bike and go and explore an area before deciding to take your bike to your chosen spot.

You ultimately develop a good eye for what works but the main aim is to find somewhere where you won't be seen or disturbed.

Wooded or high over growth area

Shelter in a very wet Sctoland
A wooded area is a really good place to find a wild camp site because it is sheltered, usually away from any roads and also obscures vision. A wooded area can also provide aids in setting up a camp or shelter, providing a washing line to dry out clothes etc. 

Also, if you are far enough from any civilization you can collect wood that you use to make a fire with. Usually though when wild camping and making a fire it is best to use a gas burner as they don't make any smoke and give away your whereabouts.

Areas with a lot of over growth mean that not a lot of people go there and also provide a lot of cushioning to lie on. I don't take a ground mat, pillow or any other form of sleeping aid other than a sleeping bag. I just find the softest patch of ground that I can.


A hillside with a lot of overgrowth
Hill sides are a good place to find a wild campsite because they provide shelter from wind and keep you hidden from view. Most roads usually go round hillsides too. If you scout out a good place on a ledge up on a hill side you might find that you can't die your bike to it. This probably means it is a good spot but you will have to carry your bike up or down a ledge and you may need to use rope or bungee cords to lower it or fix it in a suitable place.

I always lock my bike to something just in case but if you have done it right nobody will find you anyway. I usually consider the best way to make a fast get-away not that I have ever needed to (apart from one incident where I left a construction site 15 minutes before work started there). It makes sense to walk around your camp site and know where your exits are, just in case.

Other things to consider

Being away from civilization does not mean it will be quiet, nature comes alive at night! On that note, when you are off the beaten track and in over growth there can be a lot of bugs and insects!

Also, if you can, make sure someone knows the rough area you are going to and the route you plan on taking. This does somewhat take the fun out of it but it is sensible to let people know these things.

Always take any trash with you, I always designate a plastic bag for garbage and then dispose of it in the appropriate place when I come across it later on.

Wild camping can be fun and is way more free than going to an organized camp site whether pre booked or not.

1 comment:

  1. I recently did a loaded trip from florida to maine I did one night in a hotel and out of 37 days that was it. I had such a blast i want to go across northern usa