What are the wild camping essentials?

Lets keep this clear and simple.  What do you need and why do you need it when  you are looking at the wild camping essentials.

Wild camping essential gear boils down to 4 key areas, which I am going to cover off in some detail. You can look at our Wild camping and how to do it which will help you to understand some of the legalities in the UK around wild camping.. 

For our wild camping essentials thought – the big 4 are:

  • Solar Panels
  • Leisure Battery or Batteries.
  • Toilet facilities & Waste & Rubbish
  • Apps 

There is nothing to worry about with wild camping – we do it most of the time and some of these things are likely covered off on your standard build in a motorhome – the solar panels and the battery side of things. You might want to experiment on site somewhere but not use the EHU to understand the capabilities of your own motorhomes facilities in a safe environment. 

Wild camping for one or two nights . . . (or departure checks for longer trips)

If you are going to go wild camping for one or two nights, then you only really need to do a few things. Your wild camping essentials are going to be based around preparation.

  • You will need to look at charging absolutely everything up. Make sure all your electrical items are fully charged, along with any powerbanks that you may use. We use Anker 25600 powerbanks to supplement our electricity needs. After much research – they are amongst the few that will charge up power hungry laptops.
  • Ensure your have an empty toilet cartridge – or plenty of poop bags and a good shovel.  We have a Thetford cassette and a spare which will last us 6 days on average.  As a spare – just in case – we have biodegradable doggy poop bags with a military camping shovel just in case we are desperate and have run out of cassettes. 
  • Fill up your water so that you have plenty of fresh water to get you through the next night or two. We use 10L plastic camping carry bags for our water carrying. We probably use these more than our hosepipe when wild camping because people don’t mind giving you 10L of water if you get caught short – but filling up a 140L tank is taking the p*** a little! 
  • Make sure that you have charged up your leisure batteries by hooking up to your house electric for a day or two before leaving.
  • Fill up your gas to totally full to allow you to cook/heat/run the fridge etc with no fear that it is about to run out.
  • Take everything that you are going to eat and get rid of any unnecessary packing so that you don’t end up carrying loads of waste recycling around with you. 
  • Ensure you have ample ‘bottled’ water for drinking if that is what you do. We just drink from the water tank for our drinking water. 

Wild camping essentials for longer periods of time . . .

If you are thinking about wild camping for longer periods of time, you will want to be more prepared for long periods of time off grid. In the summer time, we can go off-grid for weeks at a time – just stopping at random places to empty waste and fill with water i.e. small CL campsites etc. 

So the following are what we would consider our wild camping essentials. 

Leisure Batteries

If you want to get an overview on the type of batteries that you can get in your motorhome or campervan, then what type of motorhome leisure battery do I need? should help you out.

Your leisure battery should be considered ‘the storage of electric’ when thinking about wild camping in your motorhome. If you have a battery that reads 85AH then it means that it has enough storage for 85 amp hours of electricity. If your battery has 110AH, then it means that the battery holds 110 amps of electricity. 

Don’t forget though that batteries do have recommended maximum discharge % before the battery has permanent damage done to it. So if you have a 100AH acid lead battery – you can only use 50 amps of it before you start damaging the battery. 

So for long periods of wild camping you may need to work out your electricity requirements. Say you had a laptop which was 45 amps and you use your laptop for 4 hours a day. So how does this relate to your battery? 

If you want to get really technical the formula to understand this is:

Watts/ 12Volts (a motorhome circuit system)  = Amps. 

Amps x number of hours used = Amp hours.

The above formula applied to your laptop scenario would be:

45 Watts (the laptop) divided by 12 Volts equals 3.75 Amps.

3.75 Amps times the number of hours the laptop will be used. So 3.75 x 4 = 15 AH (Amp hours)  

An even better place to work out all of your electricity needs is by doing it online. We used Bimble Solar Calculator. Write a long list of all your appliances and rough estimates of usage and it will churn out the calculations for you and help you build a set up. 

Don’t forget – after all that complicated calculating – the batteries only STORE the electricity – they don’t generate it. To Generate the electricity – lets move on to Solar Power. . . 

Solar Panels

Solar panels are going to be pretty much essential if you are going to go wild camping and spend longer periods of time off grid. 

There are basically three types of solar panel ranges:

  • Rigid frame solar panel
  • Flexible solar panel
  • Freestanding solar panels.

And of the above they  come in two main crystal types that make up the panels (for motorhome and campervan life) which are:

  • monocrystalline (10-20% more efficient – they have a black sheen to them and are more expensive) 
  • polycrystalline (less efficient – they have a blue sheen to them but are cheaper)

You can mix your panels if you want – but our advice would be go for the best that you can when you install them. If you are doing plenty of wild camping for long periods of time your solar panels are certainly going to be up there in the wild camping essentials. Pack as many wattage on as you can – you will need them in winter when the sun is low in the sky in the northern hemisphere.  

The decision on whether you have rigid frame, flexible or freestanding is entirely up to you of course. 

The flexi panels are the easiest to install. You stick them on and wire them in and off you go.

The rigid ones will need to have the frame bonded to the roof.  The great thing about rigid ones is that you can buy frames to enable you to tilt your panel, which means that you can maximise the energy your panels can consume by facing them to the sun in winter.

Free standing solar panels could be used to boost your solar panels or just be used to charge certain things – like your laptops, or power banks etc. 

Of course, you would be able to do without them if you had a powerbank of LiFEPO4 lithium ion phosphate batteries on board. They charge much quicker from driving – so providing you were driving for 1 or 2 hours a day, this would be enough to charge them all up. You do need to have the room to store them though – and of course it is expensive in comparison. 

Toilet Facilities & Waste

So what are the wild camping essentials when it comes to the toilet? 

Pretty much the best thing to do (it is standard in most motorhomes) is to carry spare cassettes with you. The more you carry, the longer it is possible to stay totally away from civilisation.  However, the reality is that most people will only carry one spare toilet cassette. 

NEVER empty your cassette in the countryside or open spaces. It is that kind of behaviour that gives motorhomers and campervan owners a bad name.

The easiest thing to do when your cassette is full is to find a nearby CL site (Camping and caravanning club) and turn up and ask if you can use their facilities for £10. So you can empty your cassettes and fill up with water – even get rid of any of your rubbish. 

Again – for your water – if you need some adhoc water  – you can easily pick up a 5 or 10 litre bottle in a supermarket for around £1.50. You can invest in Lifesaver Jerry Cans which are totally brilliant for being able to fill up and filter in the wild from natural water sources. Or buy a plastic container with a tap which you can fill up easily or 10L plastic camping carry bags . Many cafe’s will fill this up for you if you have a coffee and cake. We have 4 0f these 10L carry bags and they have been used over and over again and definitely appear on our wild camping essentials list.

The final thing to say about waste water – or grey water (the stuff from your shower or your washing up) is that you can empty it over a drain. However – don’t just empty it anywhere. People that don’t own motorhomes don’t know the distinction between the waste that you are getting rid of.  You really do have to be responsible and aware of those around you. Don’t just empty it on a road or tarmac anywhere, it really does look bad on our community. 

The smartphone apps that should be part of your wild camping essentials . . .

I have a few core apps that I always use and have downloaded onto my telephone. I have a gazillion apps on my phone – but in the motorhoming section I would say that these are essentials.

  • Park4Night – a free or paid for app, which has indicators of where people have parked up before around your area – or the routes that you want to travel. Be warned though, that in high season, you may get somewhere and find loads of other vans already parked. That’s not my idea of fun!
  • myLPG.eu – tells you all the places nearby or on your route that you can buy LPG gas to fill up. LPG at garages is getting few and far between in some areas – so always fill up if you have the opportunity to. 
  • SearchForSites – an app which gives listings of sites nearby as well as LPG stops or pub stops. Really simple to use with honest reviews.
  • Camping & Caravanning Club app. Its useful to be able to see where the nearest sites are if you need to drop in to empty waste and pick up fresh water.
  • Google Maps –with the terrains layer on. This can be used to find your own park ups at night time – simply by zooming in on areas around and spotting places that look like they could be good park ups.  This is how we find most of ours. 

And that wraps up our wild camping essentials . . .

You should have loads to be getting on with – knowing that you are able to safely wild camp and not get caught out. If you haven’t been wild camping before – probably start off small and build up your confidence in what you are doing.

Happy Motorhoming!

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