Wild Camping

A throwaway comment on Facebook this week got me thinking. The thread was about irresponsible motorhome owners who leave a mess (tipping ELSAN waste over walls, leaving rubbish, destroying bothies). I linked the advice we give to our members. In response, another commentator criticised the mention of loo roll in the post and as a “proper” wild camper, she would bag paper, even biodegradable. It got me thinking about the definition of “proper” wild camping – it’s such a vague, umbrella term encompassing a range of different activities, but why the hostility towards another person who is, essentially, pursuing the same activity that you are?


The OED define “WILD” as (of a place or region) uninhabited, uncultivated, or inhospitable. The definition of “CAMPING” is the activity of spending a holiday living in a tent.

So, you are in a tent, and you are in an uninhabited place. You are wild camping. But there is so much more to the genre than that.

Club members wild camping at Red Wharf bay – spiritual home of the Defender.

As far as I can see, there are three subgroups who use the term “wild camping”; tenters, backpackers and explorers (in vehicles).

Tenters are the kind who pitch their tent in a wild location, close to the car.

Backpackers (walkers, hikers, kayakers etc) who walk, row or cycle carrying all they need on their back. Usually somewhere remote, they pitch up away from civilisation and amenities.  (I would also include bivouac-ers in this category.)

Explorers – those in motorhomes, campervans, rooftents, poptops, carawagons, Dormamobiles and so on. They tend to pitch up somewhere discreetly and move on to somewhere new the next day. I include in this category motorhomes, who will never stray from a tarmaced road, and 4×4 who get off the beaten track and explore on 4 wheels.


Of course, there are irresponsible members of all three groups, as these articles show



and so you can understand the desire for groups to distance themselves from the anti-social, litter-louts who tear down trees, disturb the wildlife and leave shoddy plastic tents behind. That said, don’t you think that responsible wild campers should support each other to enjoy the countryside, see the magnificent sights and travel the globe without catcalling about who is a “proper” wild camper and who isn’t?


Actually, I like the Australian term “boondocking”  – free, non-destructive camping, out in the “boondocks” (the sticks).



One Comment Add yours

  1. Tobias Mann says:

    I like the term boondocking as well. There is little open land where this can be done legally where I live. But, if you look carefully enough you can find plenty of places to camp for next to nothing or free.

    Liked by 1 person

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