You’ve read, possibly, out previous jaunts into the hills, and being staunch day walkers you’ve thought it not for you. The luxury of the b&b and the pub, a comfortable bed and a good night’s sleep are all you crave between your days of walking or biking. Well, we’re a soft bunch here really, and while we don’t always push the boat out, we do take a good dose of hedonism along on walks and wild camps. This time, we’ve decided to pull out all the stops and suggest how you can go on a proper, luxury, wild camp with a lightweight pack, our target being around the 9kilo mark. This is the ideal way to get someone out on their first wild camp as well, so make sure the weather’s half decent.
Defining luxuy is a difficult thing. If you’re a normally spartan camper who relishes bedrock matresses, then a simple cell foam mat will serve. We’ve gone for a high level of comfort, trying to get as close a night’s sleep as you would in a bed. Food, likewise, has to be decent and verging towards a pub grub (if not gourmet) standard. Breakfast, there’s no doubt, will have to be a cooked breakfast of some description!
There are plenty of tents out there that provide comfort for one or two campers, but most are pretty heavy. The Laser Space for example, is a superbly spacious tent for 2, that you can stand up in so long as you’re not over average male height. Yet at 3kilos, this is a bit on the heavy side. For under 2 kilos, we decided to make use of the Shangri La 3 as it’s spacious and already in our kit box. If you were to take this to a natural conclusion, the shangri la 5 offers just acres of space for under 2.5kilos and over 1.8m headroom in the middle. Winter is a much heavier Trango 4, and far too heavy for the 9 kilo mark but so spacious and sturdy that it has to be the only option once the Autumn kicks in.
The next most important item is the sleeping mat. You could argue that you want one of those huge inflated mattresses that car campers use, but that isn’t going to happen. Airbeds are also next to useless to insulate your body from the ground and are to be avoided. You need to look for an insulated mat that’s full size and at least 5cm thick. My winter pad’s an Exped Downmat 7, full length and 7cm of comfortable depth. It’s a bit hefty at around 1kilo, but the newer models weigh in at around 800g. Thermarest and Alpkit do a basecamp mat, but the former weighs in at nearly twice the weight of the new Exped mat. The Alpkit Wideboy however, comes in at just ove a kilo in weight and acheives this by providing less thickness at your feet and more at your hips. All that for £40, has to be the best budget option, and the one we’d have plumped for were the Exped not already packed. Arguably more important for ensuring a good night’s sleep is choosing a flat pitch.
We won’t mess about with packs and the like, but you’ll need a 45l+ pack that’s reasonably light. We use the OMM Villain/Golite Pinnacle…. Same goes for sleeping bags. You could argue that for luxury you need to be able to strech out, and so a duvet of some kind would be the best option. We agree here, but as we’ve already spent this month’s budget on a packet of Chocolate Hob Nobs, this isn’t an option. Something like the PHD Down Duvet would be ideal, with some sort of sheet over the mat. So a decent lightweight sleeping bag is as luxurious as you’ll get!
You do, however, need a pillow. Normally we take an Anjulikak, Ankjulikak, Ajungilak orange pillow on wild camps, but that’s not going to cut it for luxury. Anyway, pillows don’t weigh an awful lot and squish down quite well, so the best one should be stolen from the spare room and squished into the bottom of the pack!
Shelter and sleep sorted, the next thing needs to be the sustinance. This means food, caffeine and alcohol in no particular order of preference. Starting with the caffeine, there is just one option.A 3 cup stove top espresso maker from the kitchen will have to come. At over 400g, it’s hefty, but less than twice the weight of the tiny GSI espresso maker that produces barely enough to wake a rat. Some decent coffee should be brought along, preferably freshly ground.
For cooking, you have plenty of options. Taking a portable barbecue such as the Grilliput (review once it stops raining) is a feasable option for short trips, especially if you’ll come across plenty of combustibles. It’s quite straightfroward to grill your cut or curd of choice and accompany it with some cous cous, rice and a dollop of spicy Reggae Reggae Sauce. If you’re feeling adventurous, then you’ve the option of taking a backpacker’s oven and cooking pizza, calzone or even a lasagne on the mountain. Pudding has to be some sort of luxury chocolate torte/cheesecake with cream. Wash this down with a decent port, or single malt and you’ll have a wonderful evening.
Breakfast can only be a proper fry, with eggs sunny side up and a huge mug of decent coffee. The eggs are the problem however, and you’ll need to have some sort of tiny teflon pan in order to succeed. You can get beans in microwaveable pots as well, which you obviously don’t microwave, but cut down on the weight of the can. Waitrose sell small haggis rounds that you can fry as well. Breakfast fit for a president.
The only other thing left is the evening’s entertainment. I’m usually happy sat outside, drinking and talking, but you can always set up a cinema in the tent. Pico projectors are by now, pretty cheap and a reasonable proposition. The only restriction I’ve found is that battery life just isn’t good enough enough. You need a good margin of error for pauses and faffing about with a film, so you need at least 2 -3 hours battery life while most suitable projectors only offer 2hrs. So instead, a tablet such as the iPad, Galaxy Tab or Asus Tranformer is go.
If that isn’t good enough for you, then may we suggest joining the Caravan Club?