Welcome to our first attempt at a Blog!
We've had so many people in the shop recently picking up bits and bobs for a wild camp and thought seen as the Bank Holiday weekend is coming up, we would share our essentials for a night under the stars.
The first bit of kit I would take is a hammock. For those of you who haven't tried hammocking I can highly recommend it. There is nothing like the feeling of weightlessness and being surrounded by air. Most of the best night's sleep I have had have been in a hammock. Although if I can offer any advice, try not to drink too much mead before you sleep or else you might end up face down on the mosquito net hanging on for dear life...or maybe that just happens to me!
We have stocked many hammocks over the years, but found DD hammocks a quality and reliable product. When I am asked about which hammock in the shop it all depends on what you want. My first hammock was the Travel Hammock Bivi and I didn't regret buying it. Its great to zip yourself in the hammock surrounded by mosquito net to keep them killer flies away but also I used this as a bivi on the many scout cave camps we used to run. With the waterproof base I just made a tripod out of some rough sticks to lift the mosquito net off my face whilst sleeping.
But lately I have found myself using the camping hammock more and more. I seem to find its a little comfier and stable being wrapped in the parachute type fabric. So if the lack of mosquito net doesn't bother you you can get a great hammock in the camping hammock for less than £30. Ideal again especially if you are just starting out and don't want to spend a lot more money.
So if you've not hammocked before, YouTube will show you many different ways of hanging your hammock and tarp. You could buy all kinds of accessories to hang your hammock, but having used many of the different products on the market, I'm back to using just the hammock webbing straps that come with the DD hammocks. I wrap around the tree, bring it back on itself and tie a simple shoelace knot. I then sit on the hammock, stretch the webbing straps and then undo the shoe lace knot and pull as tight as i can before tying another knot and sitting on the hammock again. I do this two or three times, just to get the hammock ready for sleeping in.
The most popular tarp would have to be a square tarp and I can recommend the 3x3 (big is not always best). Again there are many ways on YouTube to hang your tarp. I set a line across between two trees (the underline) then throw my tarp over the underline and then thread another line through the loops above that on the centre of the DD Tarp, then tying it off tight to the tree. I then connect two prusick type knots to the overline at each end with the a 6mm carabiner through the loop of the knot which I connect to each end loop of the DD hammock Tarp. Then pull the prussic tight at each end and peg out the guy lines .
Now I have rambled on about the hammock for so long, I had best move on to other items I think are essential for a wild camp. I always take a ditty bag or a small dry bag with me. Something to keep my valuables in and to keep them dry should the weather turn. Something like this is handy to clip onto the underline so that it is easily accessible when you wake up in the morning. We have Swedish army ditty bags in the shop and online which are only £3.
I would also take with me a little ground sheet, not something you may immediately think of if hammocking as its something probably more associated with being in a tent. However when you wake up in the morning its just something dry to stand on when you first step out of the hammock. One of our best sellers are the German Ribbed Groundsheet. They are about 7ft by 4ft and are ribbed inlayed with some kind of cord to prevent ripping and are a rubberised material so are !00% waterproof. They're only a fiver too so you can't really go wrong.
The weather up north has been pretty dismal all week, thankfully its looking up a bit for the weekend, but I'd always take with me a waterproof of some sort. We have loads of Gortex in stock but my favourite jacket we do is the Dutch BiLaminate. Its really generous in size, something which I look for in a jacket!! Its waterproof and breathable with a cotton outer layer to prevent rips and tears; its also semi-lined so can be worn with a t-shirt in moderate weather. Its always my go to. But also, consider taking a poncho with you because it will substitute a waterproof jacket, but you can also use it as a groundsheet or a tarp. The German Poncho is great as its made from a rubberised fabric with eyelets and a hood so these can easily be used as a tarp, especially if you're travelling light.
Now if your planning on doing some cooking whilst your out and about there are plenty of things I could recommend, however my gourmet expertise is limited to refried chips and noodles on toast so I'm probably not the best to advise. However one of the things we sell a few of is a foldable fire grill. Its a really decent size and you can easily fit a couple of pans on at once; its stainless steal; so easy to put up with foldable legs and is easy to clean too.
What you choose to cook with is personal preference, we have some really decent steel frying pans, in both 21cm and 26cm, perfect for a fry up! But personally as I'm a veggie and a fry up is pretty lost on me, I prefer the Czech mess tins. They're good because you get two pans in one, and the lid doubles up as a plate, perfect for boiling my noodles! When cooking on open fire I'd recommend taking a little bit of washing up liquid with you, and rubbing this on the bottom of the pans before cooking on it, this makes it easier to clean the soot from the fire off the bottom of the pan.
Wherever you go out and about taking a water bottle is definitely a necessity, the Dutch Army Water Bottle is perfect as you can get the 44 pattern stainless steel mug as well, they slot together and sit in the waterproof pouch. The mug can also be used on the fire grill to boil those noodles, if you really don't want to get cooking! The bottle and pouch has clips on the back so can easily attach to your belt.
I always pack a little first aid kit with me. Thinks like plasters, bandages and blister plasters always come in handy. We have a variety of first aid kids, all with different items, but I like this fire first aid kit. Its orange so easy to see amongst all the kit in your bag and I like it as its a pouch so can again attach to your belt or webbing and has essentials for things like burns. I will always chuck in a forsta forband too, its a first field dressing so ideal to keep on you for any axe or knife wounds. Hopefully you'll never have to use it, but if you do at least you've got it. Like I said before, my cooking skills leave much to be desired so I'm better off safe than sorry! Oh and don't forget some midge spray or repellent, nothing worse than getting bitten all night.
Finally, you're going to need a rucksack or some kind of pack to carry everything in. The obvious choice for me to talk about would be the Swedish LK35, we love it just as much as you all do, but I'm not going to talk about that on this post. It probably deserves a post all on its own. So I'll happily just chuck all my gear into the Dutch Grab Bag. Its a 35L rucksack, is super lightweight and made by Truespec. I like it because its well made, with molle attachments and has a hydration bladder exit point too. They expand pretty big so you could easily fit enough kit in for night away and they are only £30.
Now I know there are other essentials I've not mentioned, such as sleeping bags and blankets, but I've got plans for a further post answering some FAQ's we get about them in the not too distant future. What I would love though is for you to comment on the post and let me know your wild camp essentials. Let us know what other things you want to hear about and I'll get cracking on some more posts.
Hope you all have a great Bank Holiday Weekend, wherever you end up! Don't forget to tag us in all your socials too!