Fully revised and updated on the 28th March 2022
I have been asked by a number of people if I can provide a list of what gear I currently use. After much thought, I have decided to provide that information here alongside some reflection on kit I have used in the beginning. As mentioned in my ‘About Me’ page, I am still relatively new to wild camping having only rekindling the hobby in 2018.
For me, it’s about getting out there. I cannot think of anything better than being part of nature and the great outdoors. It is not always about having the best gear or camping setup but more about making the time we spend outdoors enjoyable and as comfortable as can be possible. Although I am in the process of improving my gear and building on what I have available, I have learned that not all gear is what it seems to be. There are lots of kit out there on the market that all promise great things and although I am not stating otherwise, careful research needs to be done when making decisions about what kit is best.
I started out mostly with budget equipment in the early days. Some of it I still use now for reasons I have stated in this blog, however, my aim is to demonstrate that people can still enjoy the outdoors without having to spend an absolute fortune on kit. I have found that there is both a plus and negative side to everything, it’s just a case of weighing everything up and deciding what works best for you.
Below is a full list of what I currently use and have used previously within the last 2 years. It is not a wide variety and there are lots of brands and equipment that I haven’t tried yet but it is a work in progress. We all have to start somewhere… In saying that, having some budget kit has been my choice and I have my own reasons for doing so. After testing certain equipment I have learned that some things can be done on the cheap, others can’t, and so I have included a full personal review of my own equipment based on my experiences from my own personal perspective.
Purchasing walking and camping equipment is a personal and often difficult choice to make. Hopefully this might help someone else just starting out and if anyone has any useful pointers to add, please leave a comment.
Quechua MH100 Fresh & Black – 2 person
This tent was bought as a beginner shelter in the very early days of starting out wild camping. I didn’t want to spend a lot on expensive camping equipment in the beginning in case I decided that camping was not for me. None the less, I got more out of it than what I expected and this surprised me given how cheap it was. It came with me on a few overnight camps and long weekend hiking adventures.
PROs – Can withstand strong winds and is waterproof in heavy, prolonged rainfall. It is good to use as a beginner tent for someone just starting out and has a blackout feature, ideal for those blinding, sweltering sunny days. The tent does keep people cool in hot weather and is very quick and easy to assemble.
CONs – Is very small for a 2 person tent and space is very limited. There is nowhere to store belongings apart from the bedroom area and there is no porch entrance. The tent is also heavier in weight.
Vango Nevis 100 1 person backpackers tent
Purchased in January 2021 until present.
PROs – The tent is very quick and easy to assemble and is extremely lightweight to carry in a rucksack. I definitely noticed a difference to my pack weight whilst carrying it. The accompanying poles and pegs are also lightweight and everything packs away nice and compact in a spacious stuff sack which can be further compressed. There is storage space for gear inside the main compartment of the tent and has an additional space of a porch area to store walking boots and camping stove. The tent is highly waterproof and effectively keeps all kit dry.
CONs – The ground sheet of this tent, I found required extra protection and so I bought an additional ground sheet to lay under the main body. The tent also has tension straps which thread through the bedroom door to the outer fly sheet which when fastened, do prevent people from fully opening the bedroom door.
Vango Ultralite Pro 300 Sleeping Bag
Bought in April 2021 until present.
This sleeping bag is a 3 season bag and I use it on all my wild camping explorations. It keeps me warm during the chilly evenings and it is really comfortable. I have tried other bags in the past but so far this one is my favourite and is my sole sleeping bag at the current time. I am considering trying winter camping at some stage but when the time comes, I will invest in a 4 season bag. The current 3 season however caters well from say April until late September respectively.
Quechua Arpenaz Comfort 65 Sleeping Mat
Bought in January 2020 until August 2020.
So this sleeping mat is not one of the best out there in regards to comfort but it saw out the early days of my wild camping experiences and after getting used to it, I did have some comfortable nights on it. I opted for inflatable foam as opposed to closed cell as despite it adding to my pack weight, I do find foam far more comfortable than I did when I tried closed cell.
Mountain Warehouse Ultimate Lightweight Foldable self inflating Air Mat
August 2020 until September 2021.
This air mattress saw me well on quite a few wild camping trips and long distance excursions. I used it for the duration of my 6 days of hiking and wild camping the Loch Ness 360 in May 2021 and was grateful of its comfort and the fact that it was lightweight to carry around in my rucksack whilst on the trail. My only issue with it was that I have found that as I am ageing, I prefer a slightly deeper mattress for the extra comfort. My walks nowadays are considerably longer than what they were in the early days and so requires the need of a good sleep after such long treks. The mattress is also quite narrow in width and I found I tended to roll off during the night which was a little annoying.
Cocoon Air Core Travel Pillow Ultralight
I have to admit that I have never used any other pillow apart from this one and so have no real criticism to make. This is not an essential item and could be considered a luxury, however, I am an absolute stickler for good rest and comfort especially after a long walk and so this item for me was a must.
PROs – The pillow is very comfortable and I use it on all my wild camping trips. It is easy to inflate and packs up small for easy transportation.
Stove & Cookware
Idoland Camping Cookware Kit
Bought in July 2020 and although I no longer use the stove, I still use the pans from time to time.
This is an area which always sparks major debates about what is best. I purchased the Idoland Cookware kit when I was just starting out and used it many times on both single and multi day adventures. This system is a very basic one and obviously budget range. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it and have had both positive and negative outcomes. The kit includes stove, 2 pans, a cup with protective sleeve, knife, fork and spoon which are foldable and a gas canister stand. As with most set ups, the gas canister has to be purchased separately.
PROs – The set comes with all the pieces of kit included and is what is commonly known as cheap and cheerful. The stove is easily set up, easy to use and cooks the food well. A wide variety of food can be cooked on this stove as the pan system allows for simmering and water can be heated for hot drinks. Upon packing away, the kit cleans easily and is easily stored in a mesh drawstring bag. Another positive aspect of this kit is that it is lightweight and is compatible with other small pans, cooking pots and mess tins.
CONs – In stark contrast to other more advanced cooking systems, the pans of this set have to balance on top of the stove but they do not fasten on, therefore, they are not as stable as they could be. In fair weather, I found that the water heats faster and the system was easier to use overall, however in extreme cold, wind and bad weather extra care needs to be taken as the pans can easily be blown off. The system does use a lot more gas to reach sufficient temperatures in colder weather and the pan rest is extremely narrow. I found that I had to hold the pans secure to prevent spillages.
The Jetboil Flash Stove
Purchased in April 2021 to present.
This is my current and go to stove. I purchased this just before I set off on the Loch Ness 360 thru hike in an attempt to make my journey less stressful and fidgety. Out of the two I have tried, I recommend the Jetboil most, however, both stoves have good and bad aspects to them. It is just a case of weighing up all the options and deciding what will work best for you.
PROs – The Jetboil and stoves similar can heat water in just over a minute to the maximum temperature. The heating cup fastens securely to the gas canister to prevent spillages and comes with a variety of extras and cooking add ons. Even in extreme cold, the heating time is not affected as the gas flame has a protective guard allowing the flame to direct full heat in the right place. The cup comes with its own insulation cosy which works extremely well and the lid has a drinking spout, strainer and will pour hot fluids safely. On the bottom of the cup there is a plastic measuring bowl which can be disconnected. Small items such a small sponge for cleaning can be stored in the space when the Jetboil isn’t in use.
CONs – This stove is quite a price jump in comparison to the Idoland and all the add ons have to be purchased separately which is more pricier still. The Flash stove in particular is not really designed for heating anything other than water, the recommendations being that in the case of cooking food, the majority of the meal will already have been prepared and the need is solely to reheat. Water can be boiled for use of hot drinks and to rehydrate freeze dried meals. Many people use the Jetboil to stand meal pouches in to heat them as the water boils. However, a word of warning is that if heating food in this way then minimal water should be used as the cup is highly likely to bubble over.
When using the Jetboil Flash in its basic cup form, simmering food as can be done with a basic pan system, is not recommended as the ability to regulate the heat is very difficult. It is possible to purchase add ons which will make the above possible such as the Jetboil pot support and various cooking pots and pans which are compatible with the Jetboil which screw securely to the stove. These have to be purchased separately and at an additional price. I admit that I did buy the pot support but I use the pans from my Idoland Cookware Kit. They do the same job but they wouldn’t balance on the stove without the use of the pot support. Overall I love the Jetboil Flash Stove and I use it on literally every single adventure I partake in.
Coleman Performance Gas
A standard gas in a variety of sizes which is compatible with the stove I use. Jetboil does sell its own gas canisters, however these tend to cost more than Coleman and it does the exact same thing.
Sawyer SP137 Squeeze Water Filter
Purchased in March 2021 until present.
The Sawyer Squeeze is probably one of the best investments I have made to my gear and walking kit since I started out. Up until this time, I was carrying bottles of tap water in my rucksack which took up a lot space and weighed an absolute tonne. I also found that I regularly ran out of water and wasn’t always near a village or shop to purchase more.
My worry at first was how effective a water filter actually is and whether or not I could really trust it to remove all the harmful bacteria and impurities which reside in open water and streams in general. I found myself doing lots of reading around water filter capability and the different types before making my selection. The general idea of filtering water whilst out hiking is so that tap water does not need to be brought, it’s sole purpose being that water can be harvested directly from streams and other water sources on the route.
The filter is easy to use and works by collecting water in filtration bags which in turn is squeezed through the water filter into clean water bottles or reservoirs. The filter has an added bonus which isn’t always possible with other filters of this nature in which it removes most pigment from the water at the same time as removing the harmful bacteria. I state most pigment as there has been the odd occasion on my adventures when there has been a slight brown tint remaining especially when the water has been particularly dark to begin with or in a location where the ground is particularly peaty. In saying that, the water gave me no issues after consuming it and I have never suffered any health issues from using a water filter.
Sawyer also sell the Mini Water Filter which is a smaller, more compact version of the Sawyer Squeeze. When comparing the two before I made my selection, many other users of Sawyer products stated that the Mini requires more frequent cleaning and does not stay as patent for as long as the Squeeze. The size difference isn’t that great either so with that in mind, I went for the filter which I thought would be more effective for my needs. An added bonus of the Squeeze is that in the case of not having a filtration bag, the filter can be screwed directly on a standard pop bottle and drank directly from the filter.
Sawyer 32oz Squeeze Water Filtration System Bags
3 x bags in a set.
A wide variety including professional hiking dehydrated foods from various outlets and everyday items such as sandwiches and other picnic foods.
I have to admit that it did take me a long time before I made the transition from picnic foods to professional dehydrated meals. In the past, I had tried a number of them and I had been disappointed to the point that it prevented me from sampling any more. However, since trying Expedition Food meals by Basecamp Foods I was pleasantly surprised.
One of the most important factors of hiking for me is the food I take and I cannot fully enjoy a walk if I haven’t got food I enjoy. This is largely why I remained with foods such as noodles, sandwiches, soup and pasta for so long. Of course there is nothing wrong with these foods at all and if it works well then there is no reason to change it, however, I was finding that as I took on more challenging adventures in far more secluded areas and upped my walking duration, I was needing food which preserved better and lasted longer.
An advantage to dehydrated foods are that they are lightweight and more can be carried without noticing too much of a difference. They are quick to prepare and only rely on water to rehydrate the meal. This can be done with cold water too which is particularly useful to know in the case of running out of gas on a walk. I do still pack sandwiches and picnic items though if partaking on a day adventure when pack weight and distance are not an issue. Food on a hike is very much a personal issue and choices have to be made on personal preference and what works best for the individual.
Vango Sherpa 60:70 Litre
Purchased as a beginner in 2018 and currently in use.
At present due to limited experience of using large capacity rucksacks, I cannot make a comparison. Having used the Sherpa on multiple hiking journeys I can honestly say that I have not experienced any issues with it. The rucksack is adequate to store and carry all of my hiking equipment and is compatible with most hydration systems. I find this a strong rucksack that can withstand heavy loads well and is not as flimsy as I have observed in some others. The frame in the back can be adjusted to fit individual size, allowing for a more comfortable walking experience and has adequate side compartments to store goods effectively. I have no criticism to make on this rucksack and will continue to use it until it’s life runs out.
Lighting & Visability
Petzl Tikkina Head Torch
A standard head torch which I use for night walking and night visibility in the tent whilst camping.
Women’s Walking/Trekking T Shirts (base layer)
Women’s Hiking/Trekking Leggings (base layer)
Women’s Mountain Fleece Jacket (mid layer)
Women’s Mountain Fleece Trousers (mid layer)
Women’s Mountain Walking Jacket (top layer)
Mens Black Waterproof Over Trousers
Yes, I wear mens waterproof trousers as I find them more comfortable with more give and room to layer up and move around freely.
Decathlon Women’s Waterproof Overcoat
This is only used in Summer now when temperatures are relatively mild.
Rab Women’s Valiance Down Jacket
Used in winter and harsher conditions. The jacket is full waterproof and keeps out the bitter cold in all extreme temperatures.
Isocool Women’s Hiker Socks
Unisex Mountain Neck Gaiter
Unisex Mountain Beanie Hat
Forclaz Women’s Leather Walking/Trekking Boots
Not the most expensive walking boots however, I have used these boots since 2019 in all my hiking adventures including long distance multi day thru hikes and have never had a blister or issue at all.
Silva Compass Expedition 4-360
Anker PowerCore 26800
Anker PowerCore 10k wireless
Having an external charging device is a definite must when out walking in secluded locations and the necessity to maintain adequate power in our essential devices has never been so paramount. I use Anker power devices from my experience they appear to last longer and this is especially important to me when I use my phone for tracking and navigation.
Vango Dry Sacks
Dry sacks in various sizes are worth their weight in gold. I have a selection which I use on all of my walks including day hikes. They ensure that my belongings remain dry in all adverse weather conditions.
First Aid Kit
An essential piece of kit which is often underestimated.
Strava Tracking GPS
This blog post has been written as a personal review of the gear and kit I currently use and kit I have tried and tested. All opinions are based on my own observations and experiences only and are by no means an official critique of an item’s quality or standard. Gear and kit used in camping, hiking and exploring are a personal preference and everyone’s choices will be different. What works best for one might not for another. The main objective of this post is to demonstrate the importance of trying and testing kit, learning from experience and making the best choices to enhance our outdoor experience.
All images used in the creation of this post are my own and have been taken by myself Lucy Bailey using iPhone camera devices 7 and 12 respectively.