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Packing for Wild Camping in Scotland

Posted on Jul 24, 2014 by Jonathan Willet

What is Wild Camping in Scotland?

Wilderness expert and guide, Jonathan Willet explains his top tips on how to pack for your wild camping in tour in Scotland.

What is wild camping? The Scottish Outdoor Access Code  defines it as lightweight, carried on your back and away from roads or habitation.

Although not strictly defined in the Code a wild campsite is one with no more than two or three tents that are in the same place for no more than a couple of days. So, small groups that move on regularly.

The Ultimate Articles on Wild Camping

  1. Wild Camping in Scotland – A Beginners Guide
  2. Wild Camping and What Not to Do
  3. FILM: Assynt – An Immersion in Wilderness

What should I pack for camping?


Choose a well padded multi-day rucksack with a 40-70 litre capacity. I toured Iceland’s Hornstandir with an overstuffed 50 litre alpiniste pack, mainly food. The padding on the shoulders and waist wasn’t great and a few days into an 11-day trek it became very painful. Opt for a big pack with space rather than an overstuffed small one.


Whether you are going solo or in a pair then do make sure you have a porch on your tent. Camping in Scotland usually means looking for somewhere to cook in the dry and store your wet gear. Bear in mind the perfect tent doesn’t exist. If it is super lightweight then it might be a little cramped on the flip side  if it’s spacious it won’t be light – therein lies the compromise. A tent you can sit up straight in is ideal as you may spend more time than you think there.

Sleeping bag

Down’s the best in my opinion but there are synthetic options that are easier to dry out. If you want to go light then try a cooler and lighter bag and wear extra clothes at night. I like to use a silk liner as it saves washing the bag come day three, see below.


Bring ‘tent wear’ as well as outdoor gear so you have dry gear when in the tent. It doubles up as extra insulation in your sleeping bag. A synthetic insulation pullover or jacket is perfect along with thin thermal long johns. For longer trips than three days I take two sets of underwear and thermal tops one to wash and one to wear.

Toilet trowel

Know where to “go”. See this leaflet.

*The exception to the pack light rule is when you can travel by canoe as you can carry more food and equipment without the backache! Check out some canoe trips here.


Yes, the most important thing, something you may obsess about. I go for freeze dried food as the main meal, with oatcakes and some kind of fat/ protein to go with it for lunch. For long trips fat is your friend as it is the most energy dense food you can get. Nuts are the best form, Macadamia nuts have 60% fat but cost the earth, Hazelnuts have 50% and are half the price. Top tip, take a tube of condensed milk for sweet milky tea or coffee and a treat or two.

What food to pack:

  • Cheese
  • Dried meat
  • Trail mix
  • Dried fruit
  • Cup-a-soups
  • Porridge (put in some dried fruit)
  • Macadamia or Hazelnuts
  • Tube of condensed milk

Send yourself supplies

If you are doing a multi day trek and don’t want to carry all your carefully selected food then you can post it to a Post Office.


For a more general guide on wild camping in Scotland, check out this article by Wilderness team member, Sarah.

Guided Wild Camping Trips in Scotland

If you’re still not sure you’re ready to brave the wilderness alone, why not try one of our canoeing or sea kayaking expedition trips that include wilderness camping, and let our expert guides show you the ropes. Our trips take wild camping to another level with freshly baked bread, great menus, cosy communal teepees and the most secluded of locations, to prove we do the best wild camping tours you can checkout reviews here.


About the author

Jonathan Willet

Jonathan has a wealth of experience in biodiversity, history and landscape. With degrees in zoology and ecology and 20+ years as a wildlife guide, his regular blogs are always packed full of informational gems.

Read more articles by Jonathan

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