Wild Camp on a Budget (under £100) – Part 1

Who said wild camping had to be expensive? To prove the point, it was decided that i was to pilfer £100 from petty cash and use this to fund a proper wild camp in the mountains. The only get out clause is that I can take anything I’d normally take for a day walk and that consumables don’t count, so to save some cash i’m going to fit the lot in my day pack. Anything you’d normally have lying about the house is fine too, so a bit like Ready, Steady, Cook! for the mountains.

£100 isn’t a lot, but this is in my blood. My mother finds the bargains wherever she goes, and my late father was a practioner of the dark arts of reduced procurement. So this should be a doddle.

You may get a half decent tent for that price, but then your budget’s gone. That wouldn’t normally buy me a sleeping bag and my last rucksack cost significantly more. I feel rather guilty that I’ve spent half this budget on a single pot and I doubt that it’s not really enough to get anything of quality. The first compromise will have to be the weight of the item. There’s no doubt that lightweight items cost more, especially if they’re light and strong. They’ll also be a bit bulkier than normal as well, so I’m rather concerned at my first decision to squeeze anything I buy into a daypack or have it dangle on the outside!

It’s pretty obvious that the tent should be half decent and as light as possible. It goes without saying that it needs to be cheap, but I’m willing to put up to half the budget on this item. A few options appear temping, but they’re essentially festival tents and weigh nearly 3Kg and are single skinned. They come with the promise that 3 kilos is lightweight and enticingly unsuitable names such as Eiger and Hyperion. The choice eventually came down to the impressive looking Coleman Bedrock and the Gelert Solo tent. The former has an RRP of £69.99 but was available for £34, while ther Gelert was £44.99 but available for £29 online. The Gelert was also a truly lightweight tent at 1.5kg, the Bedrock weighing in at a hefty 2.5kg despite its lightweight tag. Eventually the Gelert Solo was purchased for a paltry £25 on Amazon, bargain!

The sleeping bag was trickier. It had to be light, but the bulk concerned me. The last time i had a synthetic sleeping bag, it would expand to fill any space you gave it and pack size wasn’t something I had spare. I wasn’t too concerned about warmth, as I’d make sure I had a fleece and insulated layer with me (as i might have on a day walk 😉 ). I had £30 to spend, though I might splash out as I’d already saved £22 on the tent… You could get a bag for a tenner, but I’ve got a ton to spend and I’ll spend it to the penny if I can. Unlike MPs (of olde), I don’t often get to splash out on expenses so i’m going to make the most of it. If I can get a down bag in the budget, I’ll be smug for weeks, but the cheapest I find is still half the budget.

Eventually I plumped for the Gelert X-treme Lite 1000 Sleeping Bag for £33 and hoped it wasn’t too plump for the pack. There were loads of similar priced ones, but this one stood out as it appears to have a smallish pack size, it isn’t too heavy at 1kg and should be fine for camping out in the late spring and summer.

Foam mats are cheap and while i was click happy, i get a highlander 100g foil backed mat for under a fiver. I don’t expect it to be comfortable, but it might keep the cold out.

Cooking, there are 2 choices. The first is that I can take a drinks can meths stove and really come in under budget as they’re essentially free if you’ve got the knowhow. Or instead, I can pick up a Vango Ultralite stove that’s lighter than my usual Pocket Rocket and only £20. My recent experiences with meths force my decision and the gas stove it is. I also decide to shell out on a proper cook set and get a Coleman Solo Cookset for £11 – half price. This includes a mug, couple of pots and a mug. I’ll probably not take most of it with me!

With this gear, i was going to eat like a king with a full Scottish being the favourite option (if i manage to find the mini haggis in north wales).

I add on an LED light from Rolson for the tent at a couple of quid. This’ll come in handy for the big top in winter as well, so an absolute bargain camping light if it lives up to the expectations.

A Light My Fire spork is a final purchase at £2 from a local shop, leaving me with about £2.60 in change, pint money or pay to correct the typo in the article title I reckon.

The rest of the stuff is hanging around the house. I’ve got a plastic bowl that i might use, but with the coleman cookset I should be ok.

Pack it in!

Gear bought, it was all set out and the second challenge of squeezing it into a day pack was to begin. Of course, i’m going to need some extra odds asnd sods such as a water carrier of sorts and dry bags, but these would form part of my day gear anyway. The first bit of good news is that the sleeping bag is surprisingly compact for a synthetic and the tent doesn’t seem to take up much space either. If push comes to shove, the tent can fit into the side pocket.

All that remained was to pick a suitable weekend for a wild camp and get out there.

To be continued next week!

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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