A Beginner’s Guide to Remote Camping in the Wild
Camping can mean very different things to different people. For some, camping involves luxury safari tents that may even include an en suite bathroom, something known as glamping. For others, camping is pitching a tent in a popular beachside campsite or busy national park.
Then there are those looking for more of an adventurous and secluded camping experience. Whether you refer to it as off-grid, primitive, backcountry, or remote camping, the idea is getting back to the basics and really connecting with nature.
If you’re considering planning a remote camping experience in the wild, be sure to check out our helpful tips which will make your first truly wild camping experience a successful one.
Research Your Camping Area
First things first, before you set off on any backcountry camping trip, it’s vital to do plenty of research. You will want to make sure to obtain any backcountry permits if required, consider child safety if camping with your kids, and checking if there are restrictions on dogs if you plan on taking your four-legged friend along since many national parks prohibit them.
Backcountry camping allows you to escape the crowds and enjoy some truly pristine and rugged pockets of nature, but it does require you to be much more self-reliant. Many remote campsites require you to carry on foot all that you’ll need to camp, and often across long distances.
You may have to arrange food drops if you are planning a long multi-day trek and will want to know where all the natural water sources are which you will need to filter or purify. Research what dangers may be present such as venomous animals or poisonous plants.
Brush up on your survival skills, knowing how to start a fire, read a compass, and have first-aid training with a packed kit to be able to respond to any minor injuries or ailments. You’ll also want to learn the “Leave No Trace” principles which include things like how to properly dispose of waste, minimize your campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and not take things from nature.
Packing for a remote camping trip is similar to standard camping, however, it’s important to be more of a minimalist due to the fact you’ll likely be carrying your gear over long distances. Try to stick to just the essentials unless you’ve trained to carry a big load.
The basics you’ll need include a shelter and food which we’ll cover in more detail in just a minute, as well as certain toiletries to keep you fresh and healthy, a light source, and a survival tool kit. As we touched on earlier, you will also want to pack a first-aid kit, as well as biodegradable toilet paper, sunscreen, insect spray, good pair of hiking boots, and rain gear.
While it may be important to minimize weight as much as possible, you also don’t want to realize later that you’re missing an essential item. Because remote camping means you’ll be far from supplies at stores, you’ll want to thoroughly check to make sure you have packed all that you’ll need for your specific backcountry camping experience, realizing that each may be a bit different in terms of gear required.
Check the Weather Forecast
Being prepared for the weather is also vital when planning remote camping. Knowing what weather you may face means you’ll be more knowledgeable about what clothing and type of shelter to pack. When it comes to clothing, you can never go wrong dressing in layers so you can quickly adapt to changing conditions.
Keep in mind that no weather forecast is 100% accurate, so do your own research regarding the likelihood of specific weather events occurring during the chosen period of your camping outing based on averages collected over many years.
You’ll want to avoid or postpone your camping trip if severe weather is predicted or if a recent natural disaster may have made conditions unsafe. Check up on park websites for track or campsite closures due to forest fires, floods, or downed trees.
Make Use of Technology
While backcountry camping may be all about getting back to the basics to experience a more primitive existence, you don’t necessarily have to strip back to all the basics. Embracing a bit of new technology can make remote camping far more comfortable and has contributed to many more campers choosing remote campsites than would otherwise.
Taking things like your smartphone can help you with navigation, staying up to date with weather reports and radar, and of course calling for help in emergencies. There are some really handy GPS phone apps or separate GPS units that can show you things like waypoints and topography.
Portable power stations that are compact and lightweight, such as Ecoflow Delta can be another great tool if you’re looking to keep small electronics and appliances powered up. Many units include various ports including AC and USB-C that will power your phone, drone, portable fridge, or whatever other appliance you bring, and you have the option of using solar panels to run your portable power station.
While it may not be practical for all remote campers to bring along a portable powered cooler, they can help you keep perishables like fresh meats and dairy from spoiling. You’ll want to look for models that can be powered with solar panels unless you’ll be camping with your vehicle and can then of course charge using your vehicle.
There are now even compact camp stoves which use generated heat to operate fan-powered generators that can provide a small charge to small electronic devices as well as hand-crank generator devices that can be useful for small amounts of power.
Another fun gadget worth considering for remote camping includes a battery-operated mosquito repeller which is portable, lightweight, scent and spray free, and creates a generous zone of protection.
Lastly a camp pressure shower will keep you fresh, since remote camping means being without showering facilities. Simply use the foot pump to create upwards of a ten-minute shower in the wild.
Know How to Cook
Cooking in the wilderness requires a bit of education and practice to master. It’s not as easy as popping a meal in the oven or microwave. Unless you’re packing some kind of portable cooler or fridge unit, you will be restricted to non-perishable foods.
The amount of food you pack will ultimately depend on how long you plan to camp for. Camping for just a few days will likely allow you to pack and carry everything you’ll need, while longer outings like those undertaking long treks may need to utilize strategic food drops or do a bit of fishing/hunting for meals.
A camping stove with portable gas cylinders will allow you to cook things like rice, noodles, tea, etc. You should also pack foods that are high in nutrients and energy without being too heavy so as to add extra weight to your pack. Good food items to pack include nuts, fruits, beef jerky, protein bars, and possibly freeze-dried meals.
Of course, more important than food is water. For most remote camping trips that will last several days or more, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to carry enough of the bottled water you’ll require. It’s therefore vital you know where natural water sources will be and have a way to purify that water whether it’s by using purification tablets, a specialized purifying device, or simply boiling water.
Picking the Right Shelter
There are more options than just a standard tent when it comes to camping. Because remote camping often requires you to pack lighter, you may want to consider an alternative shelter.
A simple tarp may be adequate and they can fold down easily, taking up little space or weight in your pack. Tarps can be setup nearly anywhere and will keep you rather dry in rain, although they will fail when it comes to stopping wind or insects and other wildlife like a tent would.
The next step up would be a bivvy. A basic shelter fit for a single camper, a bivvy consists of a waterproof or at least water-resistant material shell that can either resemble a glorified sleeping bag or a small coffin-like tent.
While a bivvy will allow you to travel much lighter than carrying a tent, a tent will of course give you far more space to move around at night. There are single and double-walled tents available, the latter of which are the most common tents you see campers using at standard campsites.
There are then lightweight tents that utilize inflatable beams as opposed to rigid poles to save on weight. Or you could simply rely on using a vehicle roof tent or sleeping in the bed of a truck if you will be camping with your vehicle.
Whichever shelter option you choose, be sure it is able to withstand the weather you will be facing. Have a sleeping bag that is rated for the temperatures you will experience. And last but not least, always practice setting up a new tent before you actually go camping so you know the procedure ahead of time. It also pays to check old tents to make sure they are clean and don’t require any repairs or parts replacements to be made before your trip.