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Camping


written by Sam Harrison in April 2013



For the majority of our weekend trips, we end up staying on a campsite. We do this not just to keep costs down, but also because camping is great fun and a brilliant way to experience an area to its full potential. We understand, however, that camping can be a daunting prospect if you've never done it before, and so we've produced this quick guide to help you on your way to becoming a true camping connoisseur.

A summary of top tips


  • Bring lots of warm layers for standing around in the evening.
  • Get a decent warm sleeping bag - you'll regret it if you don't in winter.
  • Bring food that is easy and doesn't take long to cook, such as cous cous or tortellini and sauce.
  • Try and avoid getting gear wet as it won't dry out in the tent.
  • Avoid pitching your tent in a natural stream bed or on a pile of rocks.

Facilities


The facilities available on campsites we stay on vary dramatically, so if you're concerned it is best to check at foyer before signing up.
  • Staying on campsites: Generally speaking, all campsites we stay on will have toilets and at least running cold water. Most will have hot water as well and showers (though you may have to pay extra for them).
  • Wild camping: We occassionally go wild camping, which means heading somewhere remote away from towns and villages to camp for the evening. If we're wild camping, there won't be any facilities at all, so any water needs to be carried in or sourced from a stream, and all rubbish must be taken out. A trowel is recommended for you-know-what.

Sleeping bags


We will provide tents, roll mats and Trangias (stoves), and so the only bit of specialist kit you'll need is a sleeping bag. If you're coming camping with us during the winter, you won't regret buying a warm four-season sleeping bag as it can quite often get well below zero in the evenings. For advice on what to buy, check out this great guide from Tiso, or come along to foyer and ask one of the exec. We normally ask that you don't bring quilts or duvets along, as we are limited by space on the minibuses.

Pillows


Spare clothes and rucksacks make great pillows and so there's no need to bring along a separate one!

Roll mats and sleeping bag liners to keep warm


A roll mat (provided by us) is essential to insulate you from the ground and it makes a big difference to how warm you'll be. If your roll mat is shorter than you, keep the top half of your body on it and put your waterproof under your feet to keep them warm.

A sleeping bag liner - a thin fabric (usually silk) lining layer placed inside your bag - not only keeps you a bit warmer, but also means you don't have to wash your bag as often.

Does sleeping in layers keep you warm?


There is a lot of debate as to whether keeping your clothes on in your sleeping bag actually makes you warmer or colder. Down sleeping bags need your body's heat for them to start insulating you properly, and if you keep all your layers on then you'll never heat the sleeping bag up and it won't contribute to your warmth. The general consensus is that you'll be warmest with a thin base layer (e.g. a long-sleeved t-shirt) and thermal leggings on.

Other ways to keep warm


One of the biggest ways to make sure you're warm, which is often neglected, is making sure you've eaten plenty of food. Fatty foods produce heat due to inefficiency in digestion, and it's amazing how much difference a big evening meal can warm you up.

There is a great article by top mountaineer Andy Kirkpatrick on keeping warm in your sleeping bag here.

Tents


The club has a selection of tents for you to borrow and all we ask for is a £15 deposit that will be refunded when they are returned dry and clean. We reluctantly decided to introduce the deposit after the November Glencoe trip in 2012, when a number of tents were returned soaking wet and with mould growing on them. We don't have any special tent-drying areas and through experience, it's possible to dry out a tent in even the smallest of campus room.

Pitching club tents


Check out this fantastic informational video brough to you by the LUHC Exec for full instructions on how to pitch one of our tents!



Stoves and food


We have a selection of Trangia stoves for club members to use. These consist of a burner that you fill with meths and then light, on top of which sits the pan you are cooking it. Be sure the fuel you're putting in is definitely meths and not something else, like petrol (it's happened!).

Food-wise, it's best to bring things that are really easy to cook. I like the packets of pre-flavoured couscous that you can buy, as all you need to do is add boiling water. Here are the pros and cons of a few common camping foods:
  • Tortellini or gnocchi with a pasta sauce is actually quite tasty, but takes up quite a bit of room and weight (especially important if you're wild camping).
  • Flavoured couscous, such as the Ainsley Harriott stuff you can get from most supermarkets, is really lightweight and hardly takes up any space, and is also very easy to cook.
  • Boil-in-a-bag foods that you can buy from most outdoor shops are quick and easy, and as you can eat most of them out of the bag it saves on the washing up! They are, however, ridiculously expensive.
  • Other specialist dehydrated foods, such as those offered by Mountain House, are surprisingly tasty as well, and again offer the advantage of saving on the washing up. All you have to do is add boiling water. Whether you want to spend the extra money over something like couscous is up to you.
  • Instant porridge, or even instant noodles or couscous is a good choice for breakfast if you prefer something warm. I put instant porridge (pre-mixed with sugar) in a tupperware box so and I have to do is pour on boiling water in the morning.
  • Canned rice pudding is strangely popular as a breakfast food as well, though I've never really understood that one...
In general, you'll need a lot more food on a weekend trip than on your average weekend, due to the amount of exercise you'll be doing. Our regular members quite often bring along cheese and crackers and we get a bit of a cheeseboard going in the evenings, so feel free to join in! A touch of whisky to accompany said cheeses never goes amiss either.

Litter


Usually, campsites will have bins on them. It is very important that you use them and clear up all rubbish before leaving the site, instead of leaving the exec to do so! If we're wild camping, then make sure you carry all of your rubbish (apple cores and banana skins included - they take a long time to decompose!) out with you. Likewise, please don't leave any litter on the minibuses.

Useful links


Andy Kirkpatrick's blog - a great article on keeping warm in your sleeping bag.
BMC Wild Camping article - an article with lots of useful info on wild camping from the British Mountaineering Council.