The great outdoors is one of the great treasures this country has to offer. There is such a range of climate, geography, and landscape. But, you don’t have to stay here, of course, to enjoy the wilds. If you’re a bit of a jet setter you might decide you want to head off to a different country to go on an outdoor backpacking adventure. Whatever you choose it’s pretty clear that something like backpacking has a broad appeal.
This is because it gives us a more stripped back experience, and allows us to be at one with nature. Anyone who has the travel bug and enjoys being outdoors will get a lot out of a backpacking trip. But, you need to know and plan for what to expect so you can take steps to have the best possible time.
Do You Have Supplies?
First things first, you need to make sure you have the right supplies for backpacking. There are plenty of things you’re going to need for your outdoor adventures. And it’s important to make sure you have everything you need. Don’t forget that most of the time you’re going to be out in the middle of nowhere. So you have to have important supplies with you. You’ll need a first aid kit in case of any minor injuries. Your own tent wouldn’t go amiss either unless you plan on paying for hostels the whole time. It’s important to have a large and sturdy backpack and to make sure you carry a map and compass safely. Bringing the right supplies is essential for having a great adventure.
Map Your Route
You need to make sure you know exactly where you’re going. And the way to do this is to make sure you map your route out. You have to get a map and figure out the route you’re going to take. It’s vital you know where you’re going so you don’t get lost. This way you’ll also be able to figure out the most efficient and safe route. Make a decision about the sort of backpacking you want to do, such as desert hiking, and then look up the best possible routes to take. You need to map everything out in detail before returning you set out on your journey.
Don’t Go Alone
It’s important to remember that these kinds of trips and adventures can sometimes be quite intense. And that’s why you need to make sure you don’t try to go it alone. Make sure you always have a buddy or friend with you. This is important for safety and security, and will help you complete tasks much more quickly. You’ll also be able to help and encourage each other if you start to struggle. The best thing to do is approach a friend who is a bit outdoorsy like you, and see if they want to join you.
Planning the ultimate backpacking adventure is important to make sure you have a great time. You need to make sure you truly enjoy the great outdoors when traveling. And the way to do this is to plan out your journey so you can enjoy it safely, and you know where to go and what to do.
There’s a lot of information on night time photography out there – but it usually talks about the camera! Let’s talk about what you’ll need to take with you if you’re shooting at night to keep yourself safe! I’ve made a short list of what I needed recently when taking a time-lapse of Pendennis Castle at night-time on the rocks.
Taking the time-lapse above from the rocks next to an old shoreside castle, I had to be careful not to slip, drop my gear, or fall into a rockpool! It was important you can see exactly what you’re doing! I used a large Asaklitt battery-powered LED camping lamp to guide my way, keeping me safe in the knowledge that I wasn’t about to step into the unknown! It also sat next to me, illuminating my camera – it’s always useful to see your settings, and to check that your tripod is indeed on firm ground (At one point it slipped and I damaged my widest lens! Be careful shooting on wet rocks!)
Of course, be careful where you’re shining it! In the first few frames of images, the castle was lit up from the light where I was looking for a place to sit as I waited! The lamp I have even comes with a remote control attached to the top – useful to leave on the rocks, and check from a safe distance if the tide was creeping dangerously closer to the camera!
This may depend on where you’re shooting, what the conditions are, and how long you plan to stay out – but you should make sure you’re comfortable and warm – whether that means wearing a hat, or packing a fully loaded tent, that’s up to you! In my case, I knew I wasn’t staying out all night, but wanted to be warm and comfortable, so I bought along my trusty sleeping bag and self-inflating roll mat.
Once I arrived on the rocks, I soon realised it was too steep and jagged to set up a roll mat. I didn’t want it to get pierced, so I left it rolled up. I also didn’t think I needed the sleeping bag. I started shooting around midnight and felt just fine, but when I was sat on the cold rocks for half an hour, the chill started getting to me and I was glad I bought it along. I unrolled it and found a place I could safely sit overlooking the camera’s shooting position but away from the ever-nearing tide! The roll mat made a good headrest too!
Not for your camera, but for you!
To get the images above, I prepared the camera and sat on the rocks monitoring it from midnight to almost 3am. I was so glad to have some hot food to keep me going, and to warm me up!
All you need is a tin of beans (or any other food you feel like!) camping stove and something to cook it in, and you’re ready to go! I’ve got a neat little 6 piece stainless steel camping cook set that folds down really small, containing a frying pan, 2 saucepans with lids and another tiny little saucepan – the smallest one was fine for this night, but it’s nice to know you can probably cook a full breakfast in the morning if you’re shooting all night!
Just make sure you either get a tin of food with the pull ring or a multi-tool to open it! And don’t forget cutlery like we did in Dartmoor!
Just because you’re out in the wild all night, you may not be able to relax and enjoy nature as much as if you were on a camping trip! Make sure you have something to keep you occupied, as you’ll likely be sat around waiting a while! If you can get far away from your camera’s subject, you can use your light to read a book, or get some paperwork done! If you’re only out for one night, you’ll likely be able to rely on electronics to keep you busy, but don’t count on getting a mobile signal or charging batteries in the middle of a field, or out by the sea! As an avid video gamer, I took my trusty DS Lite for this trip and finished off my current game of Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. Just make sure the light from any electronics doesn’t mess with your shot!
This time for your gear, not you!
One of the problems with shooting at night is condensation – everything gets covered in it. You can protect your lens with a handy dew heater, but what about everything else?
A dry bag is a must to keep all your gear in! it’ll not only protect your camera equipment but also any sleeping gear, and make sure your cook equipment doesn’t get ruined! Mine is an awesome shade of orange, meaning I can see it no matter how dark it gets! I found that with the lamp inside I even have a nice bright orange light to lead my way! It can be folded down to any size you need and clips together with a very useful handle at the top. Very useful indeed. I’m tempted to use to to cover my camera one day – it’ll keep it protected and that window in the middle will allow me to shoot through it! As you can see in the image above, this is also from the Clas Ohlson Asaklitt range.
Once you have your timelapse of images, you process it like the clip at the top of the post, or like the images below! Happy shooting!
Have we missed anything? What would you take with you? Is there anything you’ve found useful in the past? Let us know in the comments below!
They don’t call it the great outdoors for nothing! Whether you’re planning a trip or are currently enjoying one, making the most of it will be right at the top of your priority list. However, the ways that we make the most of a delicious meal, or an expensive coat, are different to how we make the most of the great outdoors. Keen to know how you can truly enjoy your experience while it lasts? Then read on…
Go for the road (less traveled)
There is something incredibly fulfilling about enjoying the great outdoors via an RV or motorhome! This is probably because it allows you the best of both worlds. You can access the places that you want, and have room to take the necessary equipment with you. However, you have a place to cook in the mornings, and shower in the evenings. These little conveniences mean that you can actually enjoy your time in nature, without feeling grubby or peckish!
Sleep under the stars
Whether you chose to travel by RV or not, be sure you sleep under the stars at least once during your time in the great outdoors. The sense of adventure will be magnificent, plus all of that fresh air will do wonders for your lungs! Just don’t forget your sleeping bag!
If there is a certain activity that is very popular where you are headed try it out. The chances are that it is popular for a reason. Even if you’ve never fished before, try fishing for the first time if it’s a big deal where you’re headed. The same goes for all other outdoor activities too, be that surfing, canoeing, bouldering or something else. Join in and find out what all the fuss is about!
Leave your technology behind
We are such a connected world these days. Leaving the devices that allow us to stay in touch with everyone and everything behind can be touch. But a far more authentic and fulfilling experience will be waiting for you if you let these things be for a while. Chat with a friend you’ve met along the route, instead of telling your friend on Facebook all about it. Turn off the music on your iPod, and listen to the music of bird song instead. It might still be wise to take your phone with you, especially if you’re out in the wild, or deep in a park. Just keep it charged up, switched off and in the bottom of your bag; instead of glued to your hand!
When out in nature, things may occur that you weren’t expecting. Imagine this; halfway through a hot and sweaty 10-mile hike, you’ll find a beautiful lake you didn’t expect to find. The water is a mesmerizing blue. Others are swimming in the lake enjoying the sunshine. If this happens, don’t let anything hold you back from getting involved. “I’m not wearing the right clothes!” and “I don’t want to get my hair wet” are excuses that just won’t cut it! Being spontaneous allows you to enjoy nature to its fullest- even it’s beautiful surprises!
It was S’s last day of work as she’s going freelance, so we decided to celebrate by taking a weekend trip to go wild camping on Dartmoor! One of the only places in England where wild camping is permitted! The sun was out, and we were excited to get going! This was going to be both a fun getaway, and a trial run for our week in Ben Nevis that’s coming up next month!
As we packed, we quickly found we’d have to be as economic as possible to save space and make sure we only take what’s absolutely necessary. We have a 30 and a 45 Litre bag, so with a weekend of clothes (and emergency rain gear!), two of our 2kg sleeping bags, two self-inflating roll mats, a kelly kettle and a tent – it was a hard squeeze to fit it all without strapping everything to the outside and toppling over from the weight!
When we were finally packed and satisfied with our efforts, we started our drive – about 2 hours including a quick stop to get fresh water and some tinned food. Not bad for a break from civilisation!
We hadn’t really planned out where to go! Although we’d planned this trip for a while, we hadn’t really planned much more than “Camp in the wild, and see pretty things!”
As soon as you get to Dartmoor, you’re met by cattle grids and vast expanses of land all around you! An area of beautiful moorland left entirely to nature! It’s not long before you see all the wildlife too! Sheep EVERYWHERE! and because it’s spring, this meant hundreds of adorable baby lambs! Both gob-smacked by the landscape so close to our home, and by the cute little fuzzy white things beside (and often lying in) the road we were driving pretty slow and had to let a few people pass us so we could appreciate our surroundings!
As we drove we saw some woods in the distance, and S said: “I want to go there!” With the Google and OS map apps, we planned a route to reach them.
And reach them we did!
As we walked with all our gear, the light grew dim and the temperature started dropping – we had a couple of great spots, but unfortunately – being woods – there were many roots and branches in the way that we either couldn’t or didn’t want to disturb! We were very concerned with not leaving a trace of our trip! eventually, we found a spot – not perfectly level, but clear of any debris and situated in a clearing!
Up goes the tent!
With little wind and no rain, the conditions were perfect for a night under the stars. The tent wasn’t huge (and can barely fit my 6ft height) but we managed to squeeze us both in, with the sleeping gear and our ‘luggage’! The priority now was food!!
Using our incredible Kelly Kettle, we gathered some dry fuel and a flat rock base (to keep the area safe) and boiled a tin of stew we had bought earlier! We’d forgotten to bring cutlery, though! So slices of bread were used to pry the food out of the tiny travel pan. Full and exhausted from our somewhat unplanned trip we packed everything up, wrapped our waste in the bread bag (to guard against any creatures sniffing us out in hunger!) and set ourselves to bed. This is where we first realised just how much of a slope we had set the tent on! it doesn’t look like much in the image above, but with our self-inflating mats and our sleeping bags, we were constantly sliding down towards the back! we positioned bags to prop our feet up, and clothes under our head, and eventually fell into a slumber. I awoke a few times uncomfortably squished up in the tent – it’s one I bought for a festival some years ago and isn’t really cut out for heavy camping. I originally used it myself, and lay diagonally quite comfortably! I now realise that with S next to me, and with both our bags, that it’s impossible! My head and feet constantly touched the sides of the tent, so I either woke up shivering or woke up squashed! S, however, seemed to sleep quite soundly with the advantage of being smaller than myself!
After a few false starts, I awoke properly – I could hear birds chirping and red-tinted light shone all around me. I was warm, I was awake and I was restless! I threw on some warm clothes (quietly, so as not to wake S) and went for a quick walk to explore the area – it’s so peaceful there. All you can hear is birds and the wind in the trees. No people, no traffic, no sirens. Just peace! It’s so relaxing being ‘in nature’ for a change, instead of being surrounded by buildings and a man-made environment. I think everyone should ‘escape’ and immerse themselves in the natural world as often as possible, and appreciate the little things.
By the time I’d explored and arrived back at the tent, S was stirring and we prepared for another day – this time on the moors!
Stay tuned for wild camping on Dartmoor: Day 2!
I’ve been looking at buying a new sleeping bag recently and found how difficult it is to find one that suits every need! I thought I’d write a quick guide to show others the best way to choose their own!
IT really comes down to what you’ll be using it for – are you just looking for something to sleep in on your mate’s sofa after a night out? Or are you defying death in the most extreme places on earth? (Let us know if you are, we’d love to hear about it!)
It’s likely that you’ll need to prioritise some qualities – and I’ve drawn up a little graphic here to illustrate it!
Now the problem is, you probably can’t get to the snowy summit of this chart and have all three, you usually have to choose just two!
Light and cheap
Now this one’s pretty easy. You can get yourself a light and cheap sleeping bag, something you would use for festivals or summer camping trips – but be aware that these won’t keep you warm during the colder months, and many don’t go below temperatures below freezing.
This means you’ll have something nice and light you can pack down small into a pack, but it’s too dangerous to use in winter, and possibly even fall or spring! Always consider safety above everything: if you can’t afford or carry a warm enough sleeping bag for your trip, don’t go camping!
Warm and cheap
Unfortunately the warmer the bag, the more it usually costs, but you can trade off some of the cost in extra weight! Modern sleeping bags are filled with a synthetic microfibre that emulates down. It’s much cheaper than a down sleeping bag, but weighs much more and often doesn’t compact as much! As I’m on a strict budget, for our Ben Nevis trip, I recently purchased the Mountain Warehouse Microlite 1400 which certainly falls into this bracket. It’s comfortable down to -4°c and only cost me £44.99! The only downside is it’s pretty heavy for hiking at 1.9kg and it packs down pretty large! It’s certainly going to go outside of my bag, as it won’t fit in.
Light and warm
This is the bracket you’re lucky to be in! If you can afford it you can go to the best sleeping bag manufacturers and have a wealth of incredible materials and technology at your disposal. For example, at the same weight as the sleeping bag I just bought, you could buy the incredible Alpkit ArticDream that would keep you comfortable at an unbelievable -48°c!! (probably not suitable for summer though!)
So where do you fit into the graphic? What’s the most important quality in a sleeping bag in your eyes? Leave a comment below!