The definition of ‘wild camping’ to me only means one thing, but this term now seems to be widely used and has a few interpretations. So what does it really mean?
In this short article, I’ll take a look at the three groups who use the term ‘wild camping’ and whilst my opinion is biased towards the last group, I’ll remain as impartial as possible. The three groups in question are:
- Roadside/car camping
- Campervans/motorhomes pitched off site
Roadside camping is quite self explanatory; simply camping near your car. Whether this be near a layby or down a minor road. The beauty of roadside camping is, you can take as much as you like and have a fairly luxurious camping experience as you can go back and forth to your car for food, an extra layer or to escape the dreaded midge. Some people will quite often have a camp fire too. This is considered ‘wild camping’ as you’re not paying for a campsite and have no access to shower or toilet facilities.
Campervans/motorhomes pitched off site:
Pretty much similar to above, but you’re sleeping in a van adapted for living in. Some vans are pretty basic, whilst others are more luxurious and can be a home from home experience. The basis is park somewhere quiet and discrete. This is considered to be ‘wild camping’ as you are not paying a campsite for your pitch, have no electricity hook-up and like roadside camping, there are no shower or toilet facilities.
Backpacking is when you carry your tent, sleeping bag, mat, cooking kit and every else you need on your back for a backpacking trip. Typically you walk into remote valleys, moors, mountain tops and forests. This can be for one night or over a period of days and weeks. You will have all your food with you or will visit towns for resupplies. This is also considered ‘wild camping’ as you are not paying for a campsite and you are entering remote, sparsely populated areas.
So what is the definition of wild camping?
If you internet search ‘definition of wild’ it will say something down the lines of: an area uninhabited, uncultivated, or inhospitable.
Likewise, internet search ‘definition of camping’ it will say something like: To go on holiday in a tent.
So based on the definition of wild and camping as separate words, surely the term ‘wild camping’ belongs to the backpackers? But why can’t backpackers just use the term ‘back packing’ then? We possibly could. But some, including myself use ‘wild camping’ as a means to get into remote areas to bag a remote mountain top.
Sadly there are a few irresponsible people in all three groups listed above but mainly the roadside campers and motorhomes.
The problem is the press and general public will use the term ‘Wild camping’ when labelling anti social campers who cut down and burn live trees, dump all their rubbish, leave huge fire scars, dump cheap tents and other camping equipment before driving off home. These types will also boast to their friends that they go ‘wild camping’. The fact is, these types are not wild camping but responsible backpackers don’t want to be tarred with the same brush, so may choose to avoid using the term ‘wild camping’ to distance themselves from the louts!
A minority of motorhome owners also leave rubbish behind, some even human waste and even some backpackers leave mess behind or don’t remove their litter from remote bothies, hoping someone else will clean up their mess.
Moving away from the negative points, what is the definition of wild camping? I will always say the definition is carrying your tent into remote places away from any road or civilisation and camping out, leaving no trace.
I do believe the term the motorhome owners should be using is actually ‘wildvanping’, courtesy of @bpackingbongos.
However at the end of the day, all three groups are enjoying the great outdoors and I’ve been in all three groups myself at some point. Whilst my old campervan was sold some time ago, I do still enjoy a roadside camp and backpacking. But whatever ‘wild camping’ means to you, get out and enjoy responsibly.