Whether you are bikepacking or bicycle touring, having a place to lay your head when the night comes is always a big deal.
Well, there are several options as you can rent a hotel room in a hotel, pitch your tent in a designated campground for a fee, or you could simply wild camp.
Personally, I prefer wild camping as it’s convenient and more exciting. Not to mention that you won’t spend a penny for the camp spot.
Free camping is a great way to tour the world even if you don’t have lots of money to pay for luxury hotels. And when you combine it with cycling, you become unstoppable.
When my friend and I were cycling across Europe for several months, stealth camping came in useful since we didn’t have much money to rent accommodation.
We only paid for accommodation for less than ten nights, yet we slept in the most natural spots that only a few adventurers get to enjoy.
Now, you may be stressed about being caught as wild camping is not legal in some places. But don’t worry, as we’ve got you covered in this complete guide to wild camping.
Here, you’ll learn everything you need to know about wild camping without being busted, from packing the right gear to finding a good camping spot.
Wild Camping Tips and Tactics
When stealth camping, the main aim is to avoid being seen. You want to have a great experience while still ensuring that you don’t raise suspicion with anyone.
If you are looking forward to running away into the wild and camping freely or want to explore your dream destinations, these stealth camping tips will help you live in the woods without getting caught.
Make a Plan
The first thing you need to do is create a good plan of the type of adventure you want to undertake and how to go about it.
You need to decide where you want to go and how to get there. If you are a cycling fanatic like me, I think you’d prefer pedaling to your destination.
You can travel anywhere on your bike, provided you have the type that can handle rough terrains and haul your gear.
I have cycled across more than ten countries, and all I can say is the experience has always been amazing.
And during all these bicycle touring trips, I have spent most of the nights in the most epic natural places many people can only dream of.
In fact, the most memorable nights of my adventures were when I stealth camped and slept under the stars.
Overall, you can stealth camp in different types of adventures, from hiking and backpacking to bikepacking and bicycle touring.
No matter the destination you choose, you can be sure to find an excellent place to wild camp. I have slept in some of the most wonderful locations in various parts of the world undetected.
Prepare Your Gear
Living in the woods means having all your utilities in your dry bags, from tent to cooking gear.
Before you set off for your adventure, you need to ensure that you have everything you need for the trip, including your wild camping gear.
In this case, adequate preparation comes in handy. You want to get ready in advance to ensure that all the essentials are in your pack.
The pain of setting up a tent only to find out that you didn’t bring a sleeping bag can result in terrible frustration. Plan out your essentials and pack them before leaving home to avoid surprises while out there.
If you don’t have much of the things needed for wild camping, you may rent them, especially if you want to go for a short tour that will last for only a few days.
Set Up the Camp at Dusk
When setting up your campsite, try to pitch your tent as it gets dark to ensure that no one sees you from far.
Pitching the tent before darkness strikes will allow you to see well and finish the setup with ease.
It shouldn’t be too dark when you start setting up the camp, as you also want to ensure that your things are a bit visible.
In the morning, consider packing up your gear early and get back on the road to prevent being detected.
Sure, sometimes you just want to set up the camp early and rest after a long pedaling day. This can still be possible in stealth camping, but you’ll need to find a remote place where no one will likely spot you.
Leaving early in the morning will ensure that even the people who get out too early for the day will not detect your existence.
Don’t Use Lights
When wild camping, try to get everything ready before it gets totally dark to minimize the need for a head torch.
Keep in mind that using a head torch with bright light will give away your location. It’s like shouting to the world and telling everybody exactly where you are.
This goes back to our third tip, setting up the camp at dusk when you can still see well. You don’t want to set up the camp too early as people who are still out for the day might notice your presence.
However, sometimes using light becomes inevitable. For example, when you want to prepare a quick meal and it’s already dark.
In such cases, I prefer using red light as it’s less visible from far. It makes me invisible and reduces the presence of bugs significantly.
If you find that your head torch is too bright for wild camping, you can opt for a battery-powered wild camping lantern.
You also need to cover anything reflective on your tent, bicycle, or bag with dull tape as they can easily be seen with car lights reflection.
Change Location Frequently
When stealth camping, moving from location to location is a must if you don’t want to get caught. You should not camp in the same location for more than two nights.
This applies especially when your campsite is close to people’s homes. Remember, people usually keep a close eye on their surroundings and might get concerned when they see a camp pitched nearby for a week.
Changing location will also help preserve the camp spot as you are likely to leave the place as you found it when you spend a short time there.
But when you stick to the same location for more than a few nights, the chances are that you will make a significant impact on the environment, and it may not be possible to reverse.
Wild Camp Where You Feel Safe
To be honest, the idea of stealth camping can be quite intimidating for beginners. When I started wild camping during my bike tours, I feared for my safety for the first few nights.
Sometimes I would even dream of being caught and arrested by the authorities. Other nights I wouldn’t stop wondering what would happen if I got busted by the locals.
Today, I have gained a lot of experience in stealth camping, and I really don’t stress myself thinking of what would happen if I am caught.
Also, I never set up a camp in a place where I feel it’s not safe. I always trust my instinct and listen to my gut for maximum safety.
If you pitch your tent in a place where you feel unsafe for whatever reasons, you’ll be uncomfortable throughout the night and get very poor to no sleep.
If you think that stealth camping in a city will have you thinking all night about your gear being stolen, I recommend that you find a remote place.
And if you fear being in the woods alone, you may want to camp on someone’s property, with their permission.
Don’t Start a Campfire
While a campfire comes in handy when staying warm on a chilly evening in the woods, it may not be ideal for stealth camping.
Starting a campfire will not only draw attention to you but will also present a high risk of causing wildfire if it escalates.
Instead of a campfire, you can bring a camping cooking stove to prepare your meals.
In cases of heavy rain when wild camping, I prefer wearing warm clothes and sheltering in a tent to starting a campfire.
Leave No Trace
The only reason you are able to enjoy wild camping is that the people who came before you were responsible campers.
Wild camping started as an eco-friendly trend, and the principle of ‘leave no trace’ has surged in popularity these days. This has helped in preserving vital camping sites and conserving the environment.
Ideally, camp on durable flat grounds to avoid disrupting the land. And when leaving in the morning, be sure to pack all your litter and bury your human waste properly.
Leave whatever you find in the campsite as it was, including plants and rocks. This way, you’ll be preserving the campsite for the next wild camper and ensure that they have a great experience as you had.
Don’t Camp Where People Might Congregate in the Morning
When finding a camping site, avoid settling for areas where people are likely to congregate in the morning.
For example, people might come to the church on a Sunday morning, so it wouldn’t be wise to camp on the church ground on Saturday. There are higher chances of getting caught.
You should also steer clear of recreational fields early on game days or areas where people will come hunting anytime.
Keep the Noise Minimal
When wild camping with friends, you can be tempted to have some interesting stories. However, making noise while stealth camping will attract people’s attention to you, and they might get concerned.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that you now have to communicate using sign language. All you have to do is talk quietly and keep the noise as minimal as possible to avoid getting caught.
Being quiet will also show some respect to other campers who may be spending the night nearby. It’s also a good way to be respectful to the landowner when camping on private land.
Don’t Trespass on Private Land
When you find a good camping spot, but it’s in someone’s land, do not set up your camp without their permission.
Don’t camp on land with the ‘No Trespassing Sign’ as you may find yourself on the other side of the law. The owners need their privacy to be respected.
Preferably, talk to the property owner first, even if you are very convinced that one will see you. You may be fearful at first, but you’ll be surprised at how willing they are to help you.
Some landowners can even invite you for dinner and help you refill your hydration pack to keep you going for the next few days.
Once you are allowed to camp on private land, it’s important to ensure that you leave the place as you found it. This is a great way to show respect and express your gratitude to the property owner.
Keep Some Distance from Water Sources
There have been a lot of conflicting messages about camping near water sources in the wild as different people have varied views.
So, you might wonder how far you should set up your camp from a water body.
A good rule of thumb that usually applies in my adventures is camping 200 feet or 70 adult steps from water bodies.
Keeping some distance from water sources preserves the environment and allows access routes for wildlife.
If you find a good campsite on a beach, keeping your distance from the water will enhance your safety and allow the tide to come in.
Invest in a Suitable Tent for Wild Camping
Whether you want to explore a coastal region or cycle to the most remote locale in your country, you can always find a good tent that will match the terrain.
If you plan to wild camp in the forest, national parks, or in the wilderness, a natural green or brown tent will keep you invisible.
Sometimes I pack a bivvy bag instead of a tent for my wild camping trips, especially during summer. However, a bivvy bag may not be the best shelter during wet and windy conditions.
When wild camping during summer or fall, I usually carry my low-profile green tent that doesn’t make crazy noise even when pitched in the windiest conditions.
What to Consider Before Going Wild Camping
When getting started in wild camping, many people often stress about getting lost in the woods, being attacked, or being told to move on.
Most beginners also wonder what’s the right gear to bring for wild camping. I think having the right gear calls for some careful research and well-thought packing.
Fearful thoughts can be deceiving and confusing, especially when you want to wild camp for more than a few days.
But there is no need to worry about them as your mind is just playing tricks on you. However, there are a few things you need to know when going wild camping.
Adequate planning is vital regardless of whether you are going wild camping for the first time or you’ve done it several times.
Here is what you should consider before going wild camping:
When going out for wild camping, it’s important to check the weather forecasts. Weather can change unexpectedly, and this may pose a lot of problems if you are not prepared.
Beware of heavy rain or snow, as it can mean the difference between an enjoyable trip and unbearably terrible nights.
If the weather prediction says wet, be sure to bring warm clothes and sturdy sleeping gear that will keep you warm at night. Thermal leggings and socks are also useful when wild camping during cold months.
Bad weather can also hinder you from reaching your preferred wild camping spot. This means that you’ll start looking for another spot, which can be pretty challenging when it rains or snows.
So, check the weather prediction for the next few days before leaving home, especially if you don’t know how to interpret the skies. You don’t want things to get pretty ugly while you are out there searching for a favorable camping spot.
Remember that even the easiest to ride trails or hiking paths can become dangerous with rain and snow.
Checking the weather forecast will also help stream your wild camping gear as you’ll be able to decide what to pack and what to leave easily.
If possible, make it a habit to check the weather before setting up your campsite as you don’t want to be caught out in a thunderstorm. Sleeping under the stars is very enjoyable, but you shouldn’t do it when the weather seems to get ugly at night.
Whether you want to explore a new place in your country or want to cycle all over the world, you need to understand the local laws.
I always read the local laws about wild camping when traveling to new places, no matter how sucking it feels.
While I know that I can wild camp pretty much anywhere in the US, from national forests to the beaches, I read the local laws when I plan to explore a state where I have never wild camped.
This keeps me out of trouble, though sometimes it can be inevitable to wild camp in illegal places. If you decide to wild camp where wild camping is illegal, be sure to respect the environment.
Practicing some stealth camping tips like the ones explained above can also minimize the possibility of being busted.
But if you want to explore countries like Scotland where wild camping is legal. You can legally camp anywhere on public land, and no one will force you to move on.
When exploring a bear country like Norway and Canada, you’ll need to understand the bear rules.
Water supply is essential when it comes to living in the woods, so you want to consider camping in areas where you’ll find it.
The convenience of a nearby water source is unmatched. Not only are you free to use as much water as you like, but it also makes it easy to wash yourself and the dishes.
You can use Google Maps of your route guide to identify any available water sources like rivers, streams, dams, and lakes.
It’s also important to bring a water treatment system to ensure that you can treat water whenever you are unsure of the quality. There are many water purification kits that won’t take much space in your bags.
Tents are the most common shelter for wild camping as they offer four-season protection.
If there is a likelihood of snow, rain, and cold winds on the cycling rail you have chosen, a tent will provide the best shelter.
However, depending on the location, season, and expertise level, you may not need a tent to survive in the wild.
There are several alternative shelters to tents for stealth camping, including bivvy bags, tarps, or even sleeping under the stars with just a sleeping pad and sleeping bag.
Bivvy bags are common among minimalist bikepackers and touring cyclists as they are easy to pack and can keep bugs and rain off while you enjoy a perfect night’s sleep. I usually pack a bivvy bag for my summer bike trips.
Tarps are even lighter, watertight, durable, and breathable. They come in different configurations, but the most common one is the pyramid structure.
Despite their simplicity, tarps can last for many years when treated with maximum care. Most seasoned survivalists and cyclists living in the woods use tarps to cut down every unnecessary ounce from their bags.
Hammock camping is also popular among cycling enthusiasts as they are lightweight and more pack-able since they don’t need poles.
If you plan to use a hammock shelter, it’s important to research your locale and know the type of terrain you will be cycling through.
You don’t want to be stranded in lowlands or deserts with no trees where you can string up your hammock.
You will not need to bring a tent if the temperature is a bit high with low winds, little to no chance of rain, and moderate night temperatures.
Some of the best places to sleep under the stars when exploring the US include Arizona and Utah.
I spent most nights sleeping under a sky full of stars when exploring the Moab desert in Utah and packrafting along the Colorado River.
While wild camping is about staying out of sight, I never underestimate the importance of a headlamp.
Even if you cook early and pitch your tent at nightfall, you may need a headlamp when nature calls at night, and you want to go to the toilet.
Sometimes you’ll have a busy adventure day and end up finding a camping spot when it’s already dark out there.
Pitching a tent can be quite frustrating as you can’t see well if you don’t have a headlamp. A hand torch can also be a great source of light, but you’ll need two hands to set up the camp and cook your meals.
When I started living in the woods, I made lots of mistakes when it came to knowing what to pack and gear organization.
Obviously, I was afraid and wanted to compensate for the fear by bringing everything I thought I would need during the adventure.
For this reason, I ended up packing things that I would have survived well without. For example, I brought a bright flash torch that would even blind someone.
The flash torch and its spare batteries were not necessary as I also had a headlamp that would fulfill all my lighting needs.
It was also quite hard to master my gear organization, especially when I wanted to combine wild camping with bikepacking.
Later, I invested in some bags specifically designed for bikepacking to carry all my essentials and ensure a smooth-riding and wild camping experience.
I also made the mistake of bringing a polar knapsack, a sleeping bag that transforms into a coat, when exploring the Appalachian trails.
This combination makes the Knapsack quite heavy, and for this reason, I had terrible trouble trekking with the sack on. I had to pack it in the bags during the day, and it took a lot of space.
It’s better to bring a waterproof camping jacket and a lightweight sleeping bag.
My friend had packed a Jakpak when we went wild camping at the Olympic National Park. I could tell right from the face how she looked disappointed with her choices throughout the trip.
As a beginner, you may think that a Jakpak will simplify your gear, but it has more drawbacks than benefits.
You have to wear the heavy, uncomfortable jacket throughout the day as it won’t even fit well in your backpack. The tiny tent will also not serve your shelter needs adequately.
If you don’t want to learn the hard way, pack as light as possible by carrying only what you need and overcoming the temptation of overloading.
Mastering your gear organization will also help you set up and break your camp quickly to minimize the chances of being seen.
Practice Pitching Your Tent Before You Go
Along with gear organization, practicing how to pitch your tent quickly before you leave will save your life while out there.
This is a must, especially if you’ve just upgraded your camping tent or are switching from tarp and bivvy bags to a robust shelter.
My friend and I went wild camping on Dartmoor National Park when exploring the UK, and everything went as we dreamed of as we found a stunning camping spot.
However, I assumed that it would, of course, be easy to set up my new Vango Banshee Pro 200.
It was drizzling and already getting dark when I struggled to set the tent. If not for my friend’s help, these conditions and the struggle would have left me frustrated.
And even with four hands, we spent a couple of minutes trying to figure out how to pitch the tent.
Sure, it’s easy to make a camp set up, and we had experience using camping tents for many years. But every tent comes with varied features, and the Vango Banshee Pro 200 had a unique design.
To avoid onset frustration and inconveniences when wild camping, be sure to practice how to pitch your tent quickly before setting off. I could have avoided the terrible trouble by setting up the tent in the backyard beforehand.
Another important thing to consider before going wild camping is fire restrictions. Research ahead of time about the local fire regulations and laws, especially if you plan to start a fire when camping.
In countries like Australia, you cannot start a campfire only in bushland during summer. You might find yourself on the bad side of the law, even if you were just using an already established fire pit.
If you plan to wild camp in such areas, it’s better to use alternatives like enclosed fuel stoves for all your cooking tasks and warming needs.
Finally, Be Ready for an Emergency
Before you leave for your adventure, ensure that your first aid kit has all the things you need in case of injuries. This includes bandages, painkillers, antiseptics, sterile pads, and rehydration powders.
You may also want to let a friend or family member know your plans and when they should expect you back. This way, you’ll be safe as they can raise the alarm in case something goes wrong.
Now that you know what to consider when going out to live in the woods, it’s time to learn how to choose your best site to wild camp!
How to Choose a Wild Camping Spot
When it comes to finding stealth camping spots, the options are endless.
However, if it’s the first time you are setting out for wild camping, it may take a couple hours to find wild camping spots that will satisfy your needs.
But guess what? You can always find a perfect spot to wild camp pretty easily by knowing what to look for.
Here are the essential things to consider when choosing a place to stealth camp:
Nearby Water Source
As you explore the woods, you want to ensure you are carrying the lightest load. However, this will not be possible if you want to carry all the water you need for the entire trip. A nearby water source will take all the stress from your shoulders.
This does not mean you should pitch very close to water sources either. A distance of 200M will be okay to stay away from disturbance since rivers are high-traffic areas.
Areas very close to water sources are likely to be wet and moist. You should avoid them if you want a comfortable sleep on a warm and nicely dry pitch.
I recommend that you identify a spot near water sources but far enough for your safety. Rivers can flood if it rains at night leave alone the risk of mosquito bites and herds of wild animals that may come to drink at morning hours.
Moreover, camping around lakes, sea sides, and beaches is prohibited in some countries. It’s important to check with the local authorities to have a great night and be a responsible wild camping adventurer.
As you spend your night in the woods, avoid contaminating the water sources. Maintain a good distance to reduce the chances of litter finding its way into water supplies.
A flat ground will be comfortable to sleep on compared to a bumpy one. Unfortunately, nature isn’t always accommodating, especially in the wild.
Where you can’t find durable leveled ground, you have to pitch your tent in a position that will help you avoid puddles just in case it rains.
You should also ensure that the ground is free of rocks, roots, rubble, and branches. Even with a flat ground, these objects can never allow you a comfortable sleep.
Take your time to find a clear and flat to save yourself the hassle of moving stones and cutting the branch.
Look for a Sheltered Spot
Strong winds can cause you and your tent a lot of problems. It will be helpful if you find a spot with natural windbreakers to shield you from wind and other weather elements.
A good example of such windbreakers includes larger boulders, rocks, outcroppings, and fences. This will not only make your life easier but will also be easy on your tent.
The only thing you can do is ensure the windbreaker is not putting your life in danger. Overhanging rocks and potential rockslides should be avoided at all costs.
You need to take caution if you want to use large trees as windbreaks. It’s easy for a branch to break from the tree and land on your tent when it’s windy. This will not only destroy your tent but can seriously hurt you.
Before you start searching for the wild camping site, ask yourself whether you enjoy a good hilltop view or you just love sleeping in the woods.
If you fancy a great hilltop view, then you will be looking for viewpoints or hills on the map. You can simply look for places written ‘hill’ or where the contour lines are very close together.
Camping on high points like hills will give you a better view and fresh air. You will also be able to catch the morning sun rays to warm you in the morning after you have wild camped and packed your things.
If you are cycling across the UK, you may want to wild camp in Dartmoor National Park as it offers plenty of places with beautiful views for you to enjoy as you wild camp.
It doesn’t matter if you have the best sleeping mat and there are no obstacles on the ground. If you don’t pitch in the right direction, you will roll out of the tent and sleeping mat several times on a sloped ground.
If you have identified a spot that is not very flat, the best you can do is set up your tent so that you sleep with your head uphill.
Beware of Environmental Hazards
As you identify your camping spot, you should always ask yourself whether the surrounding poses a danger to your life.
Surroundings prone to flash floods, tides, falling rocks, and rock slides are not good for camping.
Also, some areas may have dangerous wild animals like bears and mountain lions.
Stagnant water in the surroundings is likely to be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. These little insects are capable of making your night miserable.
If you don’t like flying insects and bees, stay away from areas surrounded with flowers.
You need to ensure you will be safe throughout your camping time. You don’t want to get hurt in the wild where you’re not likely to find help for miles.
Pay Attention to Trees
Trees offer good protection in the woods, but you have to choose wisely to enjoy maximum benefits.
Tall and isolated trees, especially on the hilltop, are prone to thunder strikes. Instead, look for a dense stand of almost the same height trees on fairly flat ground for good protection.
Additionally, if you are camping in winter, you should avoid pitching under trees with snow on their branches. Falling snow at night is an ingredient for an uncomfortable sleep.
Unless you want a disturbed sleep, a broken tent, and an unforeseen trip to a nearby hospital, a ground under coconut trees with falling coconuts should be a no-go zone.
Among the biggest challenges that campers face is heading into a toilet while it’s still dark.
Avoid pitching your tent near loos as they can be very busy at night, and chances are people will relieve themselves near your camp. Trust me you don’t want a disgusting smell to choke you in your sleep.
Camp Away from Civilization
Look for a wild camping spot that is located away from built-up areas and abandoned buildings. I usually find camping spots in forest areas to be more reliable for stealth camping.
Moreover, a forest is likely to have better shelters and a calm place to pitch a tent while still remaining out of sight.
It is also quite easy to locate forested areas with the best campsites on Google Maps, GPS tracking devices, or even a physical map.
How to Pack a Rucksack for Wild Camping
Knowing how to pack your rucksack will make your wild camping trip run smoothly. However, it involves pretty much care and consideration to ensure that all your essentials fit as they should.
Packing a rucksack begins by organizing your gear and laying everything on the floor, so you can decide which items go where. This will ensure that you don’t have to pack, remove, and re-pack your things a couple of times over.
And if you are unsure of what to bring for wild camping, I’ve listed the essential items for wild campers in the FAQ section below.
Once you lay everything on the ground, fill the bottom of your bag with lightweight stuff, such as a sleeping bag and bulky clothing.
Next in is any heavy items, including a tent, cooking gear, large water bottles, and heavier foodstuffs. Pack the weighty items such that they move with your body and not against it.
After the heaviest stuff, pack the medium-weight items in the middle sections. This includes lighter foodstuffs, remaining clothing, and toiletries.
Lastly, fill the remaining space, including the external pockets, with the items you’ll want to access easily during the wild camping trip. Your first aid kit, map, and snacks suits the top space best.
But don’t think that it’s now time to sleep and wait for the next day to set off. You haven’t tested the rucksack yet!
So, get the rucksack on your back and give it a test run. Wander around for a few minutes and see how the bag feels.
If the weight distribution is perfect and there are no empty spaces left inside, the bag should feel balanced on both sides.
There are some rucksacks that allow wild campers to attach their sleeping bags on the outside to save some valuable space. If you can find such a bag, you’ll be able to pack more foodstuffs.
Of course, you won’t need a rucksack if you want to wild camp during your bike touring trip. You can pack your things in some specific bikepacking bags or panniers.
But if you need extra space, you can use a small backpack to carry water and other essentials that require easy access when cycling.
The Best Foods to Take Wild Camping
When it comes to wild camping meals, I like to consider the ease of preparation and convenience of taste and flavors.
While cooking is one of the most enjoyable things about wild camping, you may be too exhausted after a long adventure day.
Sure, a nice steak is tasty and satisfying, but you’ll need to travel with a freezer to preserve it. You’ll also need a proper grill and patience to get the meat ready.
To avoid all the hassle, most wild campers often go for canned foods, which are not always healthy and may hinder efficient metabolism.
Fortunately, there are several better options that are not only convenient but will also keep you healthy and energized during your tour.
Here is a list of the types of camping meals I rely on:
With dehydrated foods, the notion that campers have to opt for easy food over good food is no longer valid.
Dehydrated foods like beef jerky and dried fruits will satisfy your hunger when living in the woods, and they can go for weeks without going bad.
You can easily make a perfect lunch from rich beef stews to tasty vegetables by simply adding a little water to the dried foods.
Mountain house dried foods offer a variety of dried foods that wild campers can comfortably survive on, and they are lightweight and fresh-tasting.
If you love the garlic taste in your meals, you cannot go wrong with Mary Jane’s dehydrated foods.
Alpine Aire foods also taste home-cooked to me, and they give a sense of emotional comfort when wild camping.
For high-quality and reliable sources of proteins, I usually pack fish or poultry in foil packets and hard cheeses. They are light, easy to carry, and can last for a long time without refrigeration.
Trail Mix, Nuts, and Energy Bars
A trail mix will give you the energy to power through your day and let you sleep satisfied. It contains much of the nutrients you need to keep moving.
There are many trail mix varieties, but I prefer packing the nuts and dried fruits trail mix. Dried fruits are easy to digest as the sugars are already broken down.
They are always my go-to option when I need a quick energy boost when bikepacking or cycle touring.
On the other hand, nuts take quite a while to break down, which is still a good thing as your stomach won’t start rumbling soon as you finish eating.
When mixing your trail snacks, you can also add some energy bars like Probar meal bar, Clif bloks, Luna bar, chocolate bars, and protein bars to ensure that you have all the required nutrients.
If you have space for peanut butter, you can bring it and use it for bananas or bread for breakfasts or lunches.
Cold or Pre-Made Meals
If you plan to wild camp during the weekend or just for a few days, you may want to pack some pre-cooked meals.
When I intend to live in the woods for about three to five days, I love packing pre-made meals like rustic tomato galette, granola bars, chicken tikka wraps, and skillet spinach with toasted bread.
Instant oatmeals are also a great way to start the day as they pack a lot of nutrients. You can eat them with nuts, seeds, or nut butter for a perfect dose of protein and healthy fats to keep you energized.
Freeze-dried meals are great camping foods that can last for a very long time. So you won’t have to worry about eating them soon as you start your journey.
The best thing about dried foods is that they preserve about 97% of their nutrients. They are also easy to prepare. You just need to add some hot water, stir, and wait for your meal to rehydrate.
Instant Coffee and Tea Bags
If you love being caffeinated when exploring the world, then you know that instant coffee and tea bags are a must-have for any adventure.
Enjoying a cup of warm coffee or tea early in the morning is a great way to boost your mood and get you ready for the day.
In general, coffee and tea are perfect beverages for wild campers as they are lightweight and easy to prepare.
You can also improve them by adding powdered milk for more nutrients and extra calories, especially when cycling in rugged conditions.
Instant Mac & Cheese and Noodles
Instant noodles are a perfect way to embrace simplicity when wild camping. You only need to warm some water and voila! Your food is ready within a few minutes.
You can eat the noodles with instant Mac & Cheese and bring some spices if you love seasoned noodles.
What I love most about instant noodles and Mac & Cheese is that they are excellent for both lunch and dinner when living in the woods.
Find Food in the Wild
There is actually lots of food you can rely on when living in the woods, provided you know how to look for it.
Wild plants and animals come in handy when you don’t have a lot of supplies to bring but still want your trip to last for many days.
For survival situations, your primary options are hunting wild animals, gathering wild plants, and catching insects and bugs.
I’m not going to lie, catching a wild animal can be quite a harder task than you think unless you have some MacGyver animal trapping skills. Not having the required hunting gear even makes it worse.
Eating bugs may sound a bit gross, but yes, they are edible and actually deliver a lot of nutrients to the body.
As for wild plants and roots, I recommend that you eat them only when you are 100% sure that they are edible. Otherwise, you might end up eating poisonous fruits that will kill you faster than the hunger you had.
If you plan to go out for a long adventure in the woods, you may want to learn how to tell if a wild plant is safe to eat.
I usually gather some wild fruits like Goose palms, Serviceberries, and Aronia berries when I’m in the woods for several weeks.
You Can Still Cook Your Food
After a long cycling or trekking day, enjoying a hot meal can be a perfect way to refresh and get a great night’s sleep.
There are also other times when you feel that dried foods and frozen meals are really not your thing. In such cases, cooking is the best option if you have your cooking gear.
When I want to eat cooked food for dinner while touring, I prefer preparing the meal before settling on a campsite.
This saves me from having to use lights when cooking in darkness, which would only make me more visible to other people.
However, cooking your food when wild camping can be a bit troublesome in heavy rain as you cannot bring the stove into the tent to prepare your meals inside.
Q: Is Free Camping Safe?
A: Yes, Free camping is totally safe, provided you adhere to the rules and tips provided in this article. It’s possible to wild camp without being caught or forced to move on.
If you can stick to the wild camping principles, you can be sure of living in the woods peacefully with unmatched sanity and a relaxed mind.
At the same time, some circumstances can make wild camping quite a dangerous undertaking. For example, when you pitch your tent on someone’s land without permission or trespass on a company’s land, things can’t get pretty ugly when they detect your presence.
While some property owners may ask you politely to move on, others will hand you over to the authorities. In such instances, my advice is to act dumb and do what the authorities want you to do. Then be ready to find a new camping spot.
As a beginner, you might also wonder whether it’s safe to live in the wilderness for a long time.
The truth is, living in the wild comes with its own share of risks and problems, but you’ll be fine if you have some good tips and know how to do it right.
Keep in mind that living in the woods means that you won’t have access to regular cooked foods, police protection, guaranteed warmth and shelter, or even an ambulance in times of emergencies.
A mere injury that can easily be treated when you are in the middle of a town can become deadly while out there, especially if you don’t have the right first aid kit.
Without adequate food for wild camping, you may find yourself in desperate situations that may force you to eat some poisonous wild plants unknowingly.
And if you didn’t bring enough and appropriate gear for wild camping, you may freeze and spend sleepless nights when the weather gets really bad than you anticipated. This happens so often.
To avoid encountering some stranger dangers when living in the woods, you need to plan your trip well and bring all the essentials you need to survive.
Q: How Do You Camp without Getting Caught?
A: Camping without getting caught requires you to apply some stealth camping tactics and find a suitable camp spot.
This includes leaving no trace, avoiding campfires, using an appropriate tent, and changing your location regularly.
You also need to set up the camp later in the day when it gets dark to prevent being seen and minimize the use of light that would otherwise draw attention to you.
Keep the noise low if you are camping with friends, and be sure to break the camp and hit the road early in the morning.
If you want to wild camp for the first time, I think finding somewhere where it is legal to camp is a better option for comfortable sleep.
Some of the best places to stealth camp and sleep comfortably for the first time include:
- Community centers
- Fire stations
- National parks
- National forests
- Bureau of Land Management Lands
- Public playgrounds
- Recreational fields
- Private property (with permission)
Whichever location you choose when finding your camping spot, be sure to clean any mess and avoid disturbing too much of the environment.
If you follow these tips and use common sense, you should be able to wild camp without getting caught and experience no major problems.
Q: Wild Camping Rules: How Do You Camp Undetected?
A: Whether you want to spend your night at the beach or enjoy a peaceful sleep in the mountains, these rules and tips should help you camp undetected.
- Set your camp at dusk to ensure that you can still see well and pitch the tent without attracting people’s attention to you.
- Avoid using lights.
- Leave the campsite as you found it.
- Use dark green or brown tents.
- Avoid camping at the same place for more than one night.
- Use a camping fuel stove instead of a campfire.
- Camp in areas where vehicles can’t reach you.
- Camp uphill off roads as people tend to look down.
- Ask for permission before camping on someone’s property to avoid being moved on.
- If you drop from one camping location to another, don’t assume camping laws are the same.
- If you are wild camping with a friend, keep the noise minimal.
- Know the hunting season in the local area to avoid being mistaken for a deer.
- Know your location for safety reasons.
- Respect your inner feelings and follow your gut when choosing the campsite.
Q: How Do You Poop in the Woods When Wild Camping?
A: Pooping is a major concern for beginners when it comes to wild camping.
The idea of relieving yourself into a hole when you are already used to flushing toilets can be awkward and disconcerting.
Fortunately, pooping in the wild isn’t as bad as many people think. In fact, you have several options, including digging a cathole or using a wap bag.
I prefer digging a cathole as it’s more convenient and leaves me with fewer worries about my human waste.
If you want to bury your poop in a hole, make sure you dig about 15 to 20 cm and don’t bury the toilet paper. To dig the hole, you’ll need a compact trowel or a sharp stick.
You should also ensure that you are away from a water source about 200 feet to avoid polluting water.
Q: What Do I Need for a Wild Camping Trip?
A: When going out for wild camping, I’d suggest taking the following gear:
- A sleeping bag to keep you warm at night
- A Sleeping pad or sleeping mat for insulation and comfy night’s sleep
- A waterproof jacket in case of a downpour
- A backpack or dry bags to pack your stuff
- A lightweight shelter such as an ultralight camping tent, hammock, or tarp
- A camping stove, lighter, and fuel for cooking
- A mug and a spork
- A multi-purpose foldable knife
- Water filtration system
- Dispersed camping toiletries
- GPS tracking device or Map
Wild camping is fun, and you should not be intimidated to try it as you would be missing an incredibly exciting experience.
It’s possible to live in the woods throughout your multi-week tour and not get noticed as long as you follow the tips provided in this article.
Whether you are traveling the world on your bike or are just looking to get out of the rat race and spend one night out, you cannot go wrong with wild camping.
While out there, remember to leave no trace and listen to your inner feelings, and all will be fine. And don’t forget to pack and leave early in the morning before dog walkers discover your stealth campsites.