“Can you hear that?!” Maxi jerks upright. We were bivying by the river Elbe. It had been a stunning sunset, the warm weather of the day promising an easy night of wildcamping. But just as we settled into our sleeping bags (air mattress and sleeping bag tucked into a water-repellent bivy sack), a crowd of people on the other side of the river suddenly decided this serene and silent night was their moment to throw an impromptu Bollywood party. Including the excited, off-beat honking of a car to go with the music.
Welcome to wildcamping.
This legal grey-zone activity promises exactly one thing: that won’t turn out as expected. Take our Bollywood-party-night: my brother and I eventually marched on, had a midnight encounter with an angry hornet, and were woken up at 3AM by a grazing wild pig. All with just moonlight to illuminate the drama.
So, if you can, set up camp before sunset. It helps to tell who lives where you’re camping. Find a flat surface. If you can’t, set your tent so that it’s not vertically parallel to the slope, but crosses it horizontally. I would absolutely recommend you to stay out of view of streets and trails. You never know who might come strolling by, ready to cause a scene (especially if wildcamping isn’t legal where you are).
Oh, and I know most campers like a good fire. Here’s my 🔥 take:
To the fire, and the surroundings. Don’t be stupid. High, dry grass in forest filled with leaves is NOT the place for a fire. A drought is not the time to light a fire. But if you really need to, make sure you have something to close to put out the flames with: sand, water, or a blanket to smother the flames. Do NOT leave the fire unattended.
Or take a stove, surround it with stones (to protect anything flammable) – voilà!
And when you leave, remember that this place was your home for a night.
Don’t just “Leave No Trace”.
Say thank you. 🙂
Experienced bikepackers: anything I missed? 😉 Head on over to the comments section on Instagram to see if I did!