Wild Camping – Top Spots and How to Make the Most of Them

Thought glamping was the coolest way to camp? Well, you’d be wrong. Wild camping is the new way to see the great outdoors, and it’s the polar opposite of its more bourgeois cousin.

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The World’s Top Wild Camping Spots
Photo credit: BLM

Wild camping is roughing it par excellence and is incredibly popular with the ultralight set – intrepid explorers committed to carrying a kit with minimum weight and maximum performance. The concept is self-explanatory: find a spot, pitch your tent, and settle in for the night. No fences, no facilities, no noisy neighbors. Wild camping is as peaceful as it gets and allows you to achieve that real ‘wilderness’ feeling, as well as giving you the chance to experience some pretty special morning views.

However, some places are more set up for wild camping than others: Scandinavian countries such as Sweden and Finland have the ‘right to roam’ thoroughly embedded in their culture, meaning that you can to ski, camp and otherwise enjoy yourself on all land other than private gardens without fear of reprisals. In other countries, however, the situation is more difficult. For example, in Ireland and Greece, it is illegal to camp outside of a designated campsite. With that in mind, here are some of the world’s best destinations to wild camp:

Scotland

Wild camp above Loch Avon
Wild camping above Loch Avon. Photo credit: Nick Bramhall

Scotland is home to arguably the most dramatic scenery in the UK, and also some of the most relaxed rules regarding wild camping. Try the Outer Hebrides for real remoteness, or Galloway Forest Park for stargazing: the areas is a designated area of natural darkness, and the lack of light pollution will give you an uninterrupted view of the heavens.

Iceland

wild-camping-iceland
Wild camping Iceland, photo credit: Jurriaan Persyn

Iceland has one of the world’s lowest crime rates, and its friendly people make traveling there a pleasure. The country is also notoriously expensive, and wild camping is an attractive option for exploring on a budget. Forget chic hotels with hot tubs and head to the plethora of natural springs that bedeck the countryside or camp near the cliffs and whale watch from your sleeping bag. Wild camping in national parks is, however, forbidden, and technically you must ask the permission of any farmer on whose land you wish to camp.

Lapland

Wild Camping Lapland
Wild camping in Lapland. Photo credit: Mikael Leppä

Lapland is one of the world’s most perfect untouched wildernesses. Home to the Northern Lights in winter and the midnight sun in summer, Lapland is a place of primordial, otherworldly beauty and absolute solitude. Camping inside the arctic circle will also earn you serious bragging rights! Visit in Autumn for mild temperatures, ruska (Autumn colors) and the chance to kayak through clear waters.

Yosemite

Yosemite Wild Camping
Wild camping in Yosemite. Photo credit: ih

Camping under the star-studded skies of Yosemite National Park is a must for any American road trip. Think charging waterfalls, soaring mountains and a near infinity of breath-taking hiking trails. The vast majority of the park is completely untamed, making it a wild camping goldmine. You will, however, need a wilderness permit and a bear canister – black bears do roam this area and are notoriously aggressive.

Patagonia

Wild Camping Patagonia
Wild camping in Patagonia. Photo credit: Alex Schwab

If you’re an experienced camper and want to take your trips to the next level, why not head out to the tip of the world and camp under the vast night skies of Patagonia. This is the place to meet traditional gaucho cowboys, spot whales, hike glaciers and take in some of the world’s most beautiful views.

Tips for wild campers:

Ensure your gear is up to the test

This is especially pertinent if heading out after the mercury has dropped. Make sure that you thoroughly research the maximum and minimum temperatures that you should expect. Check the comfort rating of your sleeping bag to ensure you won’t get too cold at night. This is not an area to skimp on. Make sure that you have a repair kit for anything that may rip or break such as your sleeping mat or tent. In a pinch, simple duct tape can work wonders.

Go light

While you may balk at the prices of ultralight gear, it is worth investing in quality pieces in order to save on weight, without sacrificing performance. There are numerous forums devoted to ultralight camping, and the talk gets pretty in depth. Don’t feel embarrassed about introducing yourself and asking questions: people are usually only too happy to share their expert advice. Alternatively, visit a good outdoor gear store and have a chat with your sales consultant.

Navigate

Even if you are sure that you know where you are going, don’t underestimate how disorientating the wilds can be. Mountain rescue organizations can attest to the number of people that get lost each year on the world’s peaks. Additionally, if you do end up in trouble, being able to pinpoint your exact location will help you tremendously when radioing for help. High-end GPS devices such as Garmin will make planning and navigating easier than you can imagine.

How about you? Have you been wild camping or do you prefer glamping?

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Wild Camping – Top Spots and How to Make the Most of ThemWild Camping – Top Spots and How to Make the Most of ThemWild Camping – Top Spots and How to Make the Most of ThemWild Camping – Top Spots and How to Make the Most of ThemWild Camping – Top Spots and How to Make the Most of Them

9 Comments

  1. Colleen Brynn
    October 6, 2013

    These are truly amazing spots. Kind of makes me wish I even remotely liked camping…

    Reply
  2. jen
    October 7, 2013

    I could camp in Scotland, but I tell you what, camping in general just freaks me out. Too many slasher movies as a little kid, I guess. Totally ruined it for me. haha! I miss you, Andi!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 8, 2013

      @Jen, we did have an awful lot of slasher films in our teens and lots of the with camping!

      Reply
  3. Carlene Lowe
    October 12, 2013

    Camping is really an exciting and fun recreation to do sometimes. Just letting the nature sync in and appreciate the beauty. Those places in the list are perfect for camping.

    Reply
  4. A.S
    October 13, 2013

    Great list. Wonderful photos. I love that you included Yosemite, however the bears in Yosemite are Black Bears, much less scary then Grizzlies. Their aggressiveness is ONLY for your food. It is also dangerous to come between a mother and her cub. Other then that they are seldom aggressive towards humans, and much safer to be around then Grizzlies.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 13, 2013

      @A.S. duh! Of course you are right, I have updated to black bears!

      Reply
  5. Nena Sinclair
    November 25, 2013

    I enjoy camping, but these spots just look a little to wild for me!

    Reply
  6. Carly
    November 25, 2013

    Lapland intrigues me! It looks so peaceful… exactly what camping should be. I go camping in northern Pennsylvania, but I would love to explore outside of the country.

    Reply
  7. George Ashley
    April 24, 2017

    Wonderful article, I agree with what you are saying especially the part about making sure that your gear is well checked. You should make sure that you don’t forget something and that your gear is not worn out because it has to be reliable out there in the wilderness 🙂

    Reply

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