The Wild Camping Bag of Essentials

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If you’re going to take an emergency kit with you, what should be the most essential items? This is a rundown of what goes into my little bag of essentials, usually on longer trips away from home. It fits into one small dry-bag.

First aid. You’ll need a few bandages and plasters, but don’t take a load of stuff unless you know what it’s for! I find that some painkillers and antacid tablets useful as well (and unlike the plasters, likely to be used). If you’ve got a group, kids or just clumsy companions then you’ll know whether or not to take extra everything or not. If you’ve been on a proper first aid course then while you may then feel that you ought to bring a triangular bandage, as you know how to use it, you should also now know how to improvise one from camping kit, so you probably don’t need it after all.

One of these things is not like the others…..

Repair kit – if you’ve got one with your tent or sleeping mat, bring it with you! Add to this some needle and strong thread, gaffer/duck tape and a few assorted cable ties and you’ll be more inventive than McGyver. Spare laces are essential, though some spare guy line would also suffice. If it came to it, then chopping off one of the guys from your tent is better than going without laces!

Depending on time of year, a midge net is light but essential. Some cream for bites is useful as is a bag of talc that you can fit your foot into. After a long walk when your feet are sore and hot, you’ll understand!

Anything with batteries will need spares. Lithium batteries are lighter than conventional ones and are the best option in the cold when other batteries will die of cold. If all your kit runs from the same sized battery, then it’s worth keeping two or three in reserve for when you absolutely need them. I cover them in masking tape so I’m not tempted to use them unless I really have to.

Emergency food. I should do, but I don’t. A bar of Kendall mint cake, or a duct taped Mars Bar are popular choices. If I’m on a serious trip then I’ll have enough extra food to cover myself for at least an extra day, with some of the less palatable foods from previous days usually going begging as well. So this doesn’t usually find it’s way into mine.

Additionally – I keep some essentials in here that are likely to be used on the trip, rather than in an emergency. I keep them together as it’s more convenient.

Antibacterial gel is useful and can save you from a dodgy stomach, not pleasant in the wilds.

Some basic toiletries – soap, sawn off toothbrush and travel toothpaste should be enough, depending how long you’re going to be in the wilds. The toothbrush is shortened only in order to fit in the bag, rather than an obsession to cut weight. A child’s toothbrush would probably be a better idea. You’re probably better off growing a beard rather than taking shaving stuff, and that goes for the men too.

Rather annoyingly, I’ve removed one item from this picture and placed it too far down to make it easy to spot….

Finally, the blister treatment kit. Blister patches are essential. They don’t belong in a first aid kit as you’re very likely to need to use them. Along with this is a large zip-loc bag with talc in the bottom. This is wonderful on sweaty feet, and is a quick way of drying your feet. It feels quite nice too!

The final bits of essential kit, which would fit here are the scissors, water purification tablets, microfibre towel and wipes. They’re in my kitchen kit, but would feel equally at home here. In fact, I usually have a spare strip of purifying tabs in here just in case.

While you may disagree with the above, that emergency kit should be separate from regular kit, I think that this is a better way of keeping on top of what’s included. It works for me, and it’s up to the individual to decide if it works for them or not.

Missed anything out? Let us know below why we should include it! Remember that there’s limited space in the dry-bag  so you’ll also need to tell us what you’ll remove to make your favourite bit of kit fit!

Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader.
Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

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