How to Prepare Your Kids for Their First Camping Adventure

Photo of pitched dome tents overlooking mountain ranges.

Some of us have been going on camping trips ever since we were little kids. We only had a few responsibilities while others took care of us. The first time you take your young children camping, you quickly learn how much work is involved in getting ready. This guide will help you prepare your kids for their first camping trip, including where to stay, what to eat, and what to bring along.

Camping is a different dimension than the one you remember when you were a kid

Most families use camping as a way to create fond memories for generations. Children’s camping trips are the kind of memories that can be passed down through generations.

But camping with kids is an entirely different experience than your childhood camping trip. As we age, we appreciate the effort that goes into our youth’s seemingly uncomplicated family camping trips.

Some parents are so overwhelmed with the responsibilities of camping with kids that they give up before even setting up a tent. Parents often ask themselves many “What if” questions, such as:

  • Kids can’t sleep
  • They come across a wild animal
  • Hate camping food
  • They are not having fun

Following these guidelines will ensure that your trip goes smoothly. When everything is planned and prepared, you can give all your attention to your children without worrying about whether or not you forgot something. If you want to take camping with your family to a higher level, include the children in the preparations. This way, you inspire children to appreciate the outdoors and look forward to their next trip.

A family roasting marshmallows by the campfire.
Nothing is better than family stories before bedtime by a warm campfire

How to choose the best possible campground?

Before leaving, you should choose a campground and a spot for your family camping trip. Remember to prepare your kids for their first camping by picking a campground oriented for families and a suitable campsite.

After settling on a campground, it’s time to choose a specific spot. Throughout your visit, you’ll be resting there. If you want to have a great time camping with your family, you should be as selective about your campground as you would be when choosing a new place to live. For simplicity’s sake, you should ensure that the campsite is close to the bathroom; in case of night departures. Additionally, try not to camp too close to the water for the safety of your children.

Your first night at camp

A million possible scenarios run through parents’ minds when planning a family camping trip. But for every problem, there is a solution. And, as we mentioned earlier, things will be challenging. But that’s what makes it an adventure. It’s essential to pack the camping gear and bring your gear with you, and the rest of that you can compensate in another way. The necessary equipment includes sleeping bags, as well as pads, blankets, and sheets.

Men talking by a campfire about how to prepare your kids for their first camping.
Camping does not represent constant care for children; everyone should enjoy it.

Choose a tent that fits the size of your family

Tents are generally made according to how many people they receive. If you bring a tent for two people, it will be difficult for you. As an investment, you can buy a tent for three or even four people so that they can enjoy even greater comfort. Of course, remember things like sleeping pads, mattresses, or portable cribs.

Choose a camping bag according to the weather conditions in which you are camping

It is essential to choose the right camping bag. This means you choose a bag that suits the weather conditions you are camping in. For example, you will not take a bag for winter in sub-zero temperatures if you are camping in the middle of summer. Children can be nervous because of the heat, and if their sleep is disturbed, the nightmare begins for you.

When it comes to sleep, don’t be strict with your children. Let them stay up later than usual. Nothing is better than family stories before bedtime in front of a warm campfire.

Tent with an opened side looking at waterfalls.
If you want to prepare your kids for their first camping, pick a good camping tent and a suitable bag.

Tips for preparing and enjoying meals while camping

Camp meals are often simple and back to basics. Children usually love the simplest options. Don’t worry about what the child will want to eat on the camping trip. After an exhausting day where they run and have activities in nature, they will not be very picky when tired. If you want to play it safe, you can create meals ahead of time at home, so all you do at the camp is reheat pre-prepared meals.

Some of the most common meals you can take are sandwiches, meals you have already prepared, and snacks. When camping, children are always hungry. Pack healthy, high-energy snacks. Remember to bring water. Plenty of water. Due to numerous activities throughout the day, children will always be thirsty.

You can have a barbecue to give them an authentic experience during camping. This means you can arrange pieces of meat on sticks and place them on the fire. These meals are prepared quickly, and children love to lick their fingers after them.

It’s not a nightmare if you have to prepare your kids for their first camping

If you and the kids need a break, go camping and have fun. Since you made a plan, packed all your things, and showed up on time, you can enjoy it. Take in the crisp air, breathtaking views, and smokey smell of a bonfire as it drifts through the woods. It’s time for youngsters to use nature as their playground, school, and soccer field.

Join them in discovering the wonders of nature and spending time together outdoors. Simply said, camping is for everyone, not just the young. Everyone in the family can enjoy camping. No, it won’t be as carefree as when you were a child. Overall, if you follow up on how to prepare your kids for their first camping and put in the necessary preparations, you shouldn’t have any major concerns. To put it simply, the greatest is yet to come.

What to Pack when Camping with Pets

If you want to have fun on your camping trip with your pet, then you can’t just worry about packing your own things! You also need to know what to bring along to make the experience enjoyable for your pet. So, let’s get into what to pack when camping with pets.

Covering dietary needs

When discussing what to pack when camping with pets, you must start with food and treats. Your pet, just like you, will get hungry and thirsty. Or even want special treats at times! And while camping can improve your mental well-being and bring you closer to your pet, that won’t happen if they are starving and cranky. Of course, ensure that the food and treats you bring don’t spoil quickly. Prioritize long-lasting and hardy pet foods; make sure they are still tasty! This is still an excellent rule to follow even if you are only planning to spend a single day camping since you never know how the weather will affect food stuff which spoils more easily.

Pet food
Dried food is one of the best choices.

Bring along simple medical supplies

Pets get in trouble when camping even more often than humans do. There will be tons of new stuff they want to see and explore, and not all of it will be safe. Plants, of course, are just one of the things that can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. A much more severe concern is bugs. And we’re not talking about ticks and fleas here! Pets love to chase after little insects, and cats and dogs tend to chew on bugs whether they should or not. This means you need a pet first-aid kit and to look into how to pack camping equipment to ensure it stays safe! If they get their paws on a particularly nasty hornet and eat it, they’d suffer from both stings and having the poison in their system.

A place for your pet to sleep

Regarding sleeping arrangements, you have two choices when discussing what to pack when camping with pets. First, you can bring a tent roomy enough for you and your pet. This is preferable since you will have your eyes on them the entire time and minimize the risk of losing them in the wilderness. And pets can help campers deal with some of the common camping fears too! The second option is getting your pet a sleeping bag or mat and letting them sleep outside. However, we repeat that this means they could wander off or even get stolen.

Keep track of your pet

It would help if you had a way to track your pet when they’re outside and playing consistently. Some people prefer long leads, which still let their pets enjoy themselves while keeping them close. Another option would be a collar equipped with a light. Of course, the light is not too bright, but it will still let you watch your pet, even in the middle of the night. This might be the superior option since you likely do not want to spend your entire camping trip holding onto your dog.

Never forget poop bags

If you are camping out in the middle of nowhere, then poop bags might not be required. However, most camping trips are organized to well-established and commonly used camping spots. This means you are almost guaranteed to have neighbours. Neighbours won’t appreciate dealing with your pet’s poop all over the campsite. Just as you would show consideration for other people in an urban environment, do the same when on a camping trip.

Keep things fun

Of course, when discussing what to pack when camping with pets, it is impossible, not to mention toys! Just because you are in nature and there is a lot to explore doesn’t mean your pet won’t be interested in playing with you. If anything, they’d be even more up for some play. If you own a dog, you absolutely can’t miss out on bringing a frisbee or a fetch ball. And even cats appreciate various types of toys they can chase after or play maul. Just as you would when moving abroad with pets, like moving from the US to Ireland to make Ireland your home, you want to bring something along that your pets can enjoy, especially if they have a favourite toy that they insist on always having with them!

Pets need entertainment, too!

Protective equipment

Some pets, particularly some breeds of dogs, are well out of their preferred environments. This means that taking them on a camping trip could result in paw injuries or even hypothermia if it is particularly cold outside and their breed is not equipped to deal with it. So, just as you need to look for camping equipment that will make the experience truly safe and enjoyable, your pets need some protection, too. At the very least, invest in some pet shoes and warm clothing.

Cleanup supplies

Your pets will get dirty when camping. Very, very dirty. So, when listing out what to pack when camping with pets, cleaning supplies have got to be on the list. Even if you don’t want to bring along an entire grooming kit, there are two things that are essential. Towels and wet wipes! Just these two things will do wonders for keeping your pet clean. They will also come in handy when your enthusiastic pet barges into your tent with evidence of their trip outside all over their coat and paws.

Final comment

Now that you are more familiar with what to pack when camping with pets, you’ll be able to prepare well. Just remember: if you don’t think you can properly cover your pet’s needs during a camping trip, then it’s best to find a friend to look after them or leave them at daycare. There’s no need to endanger them just to bring them with you.

Check out our guide on what to pack when camping with pets so you can ensure that both you and your pet can fully enjoy your outdoor trip!

8 Tips for Camping at Festivals

Camping can be a lot of fun, especially if done at a festival, to take full advantage of all that there’s to do and see. However, if you do not prepare well enough, the experience will just be a miserable and awkward one! Here are 8 tips for camping at festivals so you can avoid this!

Remember to pack all the essentials

There’s a lot to cover here since the list of ‘essentials’ is pretty long when you plan to spend a few days living out of a tent. Here are the essential items you need to acquire for your next festival:

  • Enough clothing to last through the festival
  • Some basic medicine. Such as cold medicine and allergy meds, and a first aid kit.
  • A reusable and durable water bottle.
  • Sun cream, insect repellents, and other such items to deal with the environment.
  • Plastic plates, cutlery, and cups.
  • Light rainwear (for the unpredictable Irish weather!)
 Packing clothes
Do not overpack, but make sure you have enough clothes even if something happens

Mark out your camping spot

One of the most valuable tips for camping at festivals is always to have a way to mark your camping spot or tent. You may not be able to picture it without prior experience. However, when it comes time to camp during a festival, the entire area will be flooded with tents. And a surprising number of tents are utterly identical at such gatherings. This makes it exceedingly difficult to properly navigate through the area and find your tent if you hadn’t left one of your friends there to wait for you and wave. So, get creative! You can buy small coloured flags, put up some kind of a sign, or anything else that comes to mind. So long as it allows you to find your way back and people don’t feel tempted to steal it, it’s fine.

Tents at a festival
Be prepared for a sea of tents!

Plan out your meals

Of course, festivals typically mean lots of food stalls with fast food and similar. However, ask yourself this: do you want to eat nothing but unhealthy, probably greasy food for the entire duration of your festival camping trip? Oh, sure, it will be novel and exciting at first. But we guarantee that you will get sick of it surprisingly quickly. Now, there are not really a lot of options for the food you can bring along and prepare yourself under these conditions. But you can bring a mini cooler and a gas stove if the local rules allow it. Just be extra, extra careful when handling them!

Double-check the camping rules

Speaking of camping rules, you must update yourself on them. Some camping sites, especially during festivals and the like, have very strict policies on what can and can’t be done. Following our previous suggestion would be fine for some. In others, you could get flagged for violating safety rules and may even be asked to leave the festival grounds altogether. To avoid senselessly getting into trouble, you should know what you can do and when you can do it! This way, you can ensure that you and everyone around you can have fun positively and safely.

Bring along things to help you sleep

Among the common camping fears, not much applies to camping at a festival. After all, everyone’s together, and the setting is typically quite urban. Concerns over being able to sleep, however, are only aggravated. Even if everyone is on their absolute best behaviour, having so many people crammed together with nothing but thin fabric walls to separate them makes for a loud occasion. You may be stuck near a loud snorer if you are unlucky. Or your neighbours might be less than kind and blasting music the entire night. So, bring earplugs, a sleep mask, and everything else you may use to make your nights more bearable. That way, you’ll be well rested and ready to enjoy the festival entirely.

Look into security locker availability

Typically, when a camping festival is organized, access to security lockers are also secured. Not many people would feel comfortable leaving their valuables in an unguarded tent. And just lugging all your belongings with you is not conducive to having a fun time at a festival. However, compared to the number of people interested in festival camping, the number of lockers is minimal. Therefore, one of our tips for camping at festivals is that you need to call well ahead of the festival itself and have a locker reserved for your use. Or simply try and leave anything valuable at home!

Think about personal hygiene

No one likes to think about the less pleasant sides of camping. The lack of easy access to facilities that let you take care of personal hygiene does need to be addressed, though. So, on top of our previous list and having to pack your camping gear in a way you can safely bring it with you, you also need to bring along many hygiene products. Wet wipes are an excellent inclusion. Also, you will need to play an exciting balancing game when picking your camping spot. Obviously, you will want to be somewhere relatively close to a portable toilet typically used during such events. However, the smells will quickly get overwhelmingly bad if you are too close to it. The same goes for bins you can use for your rubbish.

Be respectful

Finally, the most crucial tip for camping at festivals is always to be respectful of fellow campers. All it takes is a single bad ‘neighbour’ to make everyone in a several-meter radius regret showing up for the event. And while camping can definitely improve your mental wellbeing, running into such rudeness can only ruin it instead. Just follow the simple, age-old rule: do not do to others something you wouldn’t want to be done to yourself. So, imagine how you’d feel seeing your camping neighbour do something before you make people uncomfortable!

Having fun at a festival thanks to tips for camping at festivals
Everybody can have fun if everybody remains respectful.

Final word

With our 8 tips for camping at festivals under your belt, you can avoid the most uncomfortable situations. Just remember: if there’s a problem with your camping neighbour, you can always try to move! There is no need to clash.

7 Ways Camping Can Improve Your Mental Wellbeing

 view that demonstrates camping can improve your mental health.

Imagine if, instead of your boss yelling, you were listening to birds chirping; instead of printer noise – the murmur of water. It sounds a bit too good to be true, doesn’t it? Nowadays, we all seem to have forgotten that we came from nature and need to live in sync with it, not the other way around. However, a little hiking and camping trip from time to time can be an excellent way to stay in touch with our natural roots. Not only will every cell in your body enjoy it, but camping can improve your mental wellbeing too.

1# More oxygen to clear your mind

When you’re out in the wild enjoying the swirling of the wind between the livid green sprigs, the trees protect you from the polluted air you are constantly exposed to. During photosynthesis, these guardians of the forest fill the air with pure oxygen while getting rid of carbon dioxide. That way, they are not only cleaning your lungs – they are clearing your mind. While camping in the wild, you expose yourself to more oxygen. It all resolves in your bloodstream, and your heart starts pumping it to your brain. Enough oxygen in your blood is crucial for your brain’s normal function and development. The benefits are significant:

  • Your mind will feel more clear;
  • Your thoughts will be less over the place;
  • You’ll find it easier to focus.

So, if you have an important dilemma you can’t solve, go camping for a few days.

 A brain and a neuron
Your brain will be grateful for the breeze of fresh air full of oxygen.

2# Less pollution damage to your neurons

Clean air benefits your neurons in more ways than one. Polluted particles you usually breathe in destroy your neurons slowly over time. Did you know that prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases is now higher than ever in history? Some scientists argue that it’s directly connected with enormous gas emissions and the overall ecological red zone we’re in. Breathing in polluted substances exposes our neurons to constant stress, sometimes leading to irreversible damage. It’s good to give your neurons a break by spending some time away from dirty city air.

3# Master the memory games

We already mentioned how crucial oxygen is for the brain’s development and function. One of the areas that highly depends on oxygen levels is the hippocampus. The hippocampal area is essential for deciding which information and stimuli from your environment become a memory and which goes to the ‘trash’. Maybe you noticed how you can never study in a stuffy room. Or, that important meeting was blurred entirely in your mind because you were sleepy and no one opened a window. Lack of oxygen makes the hippocampus incapable of doing its job properly. Luckily, camp places have a lot of oxygen for use! Bring some fun memory games with you and see for yourself.

4# Sleep better

Being in the fresh air and away from light-emitting tech gadgets can also be a blessing for good sleep. The circadian rhythm of nature corresponds to your essential circadian rhythm. The pineal gland in your brain is ‘programmed’ to secrete certain hormones depending on how much light your eyes receive. But, we often trick it with artificial light sources, which is why many people nowadays have messed up sleeping schedules. Star gazing in the dark from your tent can help your pineal gland reset its natural rhythm and give you a healthy deep sleep.

You’d want to make it permanent

People who regularly camp might find themselves wanting to move to a more chill climate in an area full of forests. However, if you currently live somewhere hot and humid, proceed cautiously. It would be best to check out with your professional movers about the climate before moving to know what to expect and prepare for it.

A tent under a sky full of stars.
Stargazing before sleep is the most heavenly experience.

5# Detox from the stress

One of the main benefits of better sleep during camping is reduced stress levels. Everyday stress can be considered a regular toxin on the cellular level. When you experience stress, your cells produce many free radicals – molecules that damage the cell. When your pineal gland works and you sleep properly, it releases a lot of melatonin – the most potent antioxidant in your body. That way, your body regenerates and recovers from stress, feeling refreshed and relaxed in the morning. In other words, this is one of the best ways camping can improve your mental wellbeing.

6# Greenery keeps you calm

People who spend time outdoors, whether it’s a view of a park from their workplace or a daily drive through trees, have been proven to be healthier and happier. Many scientists agree that exposure to wide shades of green has a favourable effect on mental health. When you spend time in nature, even for only a few nights, your mood will improve, and your outlook on life will change. The whole environment can help you overcome anxiety and fear. green is quite the calm colour, and you’ll be too after exposure to it.

7# Socializing while camping can improve your mental wellbeing

Survival in the wild is what made the first homo sapiens socialize. So, camping in the wilderness can be a perfect opportunity to keep in touch with your primal core. Make a tribe out of your friend group or family! Finding ways in the forest together can strengthen your bonds with them. Also, the time you invest in these relationships away from everyday stress will benefit your mental health significantly. You can make a fun little game by lighting a fire or just enjoy the peace and quiet with your loved ones. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, camping can be quite enjoyable with company.

A family camping.
Nothing bonds people more than spending time together in peace and fresh air.

Bottom line

As you see – camping can improve your mental wellbeing. So, make sure to take the first opportunity and find it out firsthand. Take a minute to reconnect with nature deep inside. You won’t regret it.

Common Camping Fears and How to Overcome Them

tent and outdoors

Why does the very thought of our hypothetical camping trip open our mind’s Pandora box? Are we being cowardly, or is human fear of the wilderness an integral part of our nature? Without any hanging suspense, we can sigh with relief. It’s the latter. Fear of the unknown is nature’s work at its best; it’s a mechanism protecting human beings from harm since the beginning of time. Is this mechanism becoming redundant? Are we ashamed of our primordial instincts, and does it hinder humanity’s evolution? Is fear capable of impeding our sense of joy and adventure? Maybe, but it’s still our reflex survival strategy, as our sense of safety depends on its continuum. Modern humans have become estranged from nature; camping is our best remedy. Now, let’s dig deeper into common camping fears and how to overcome them.

Boredom, incoming

Oh, this one’s not that scary. First-time campers often fear empty hours and doing nothing. There are myriad breath-taking outdoor destinations in Ireland, but younger generations seem to prefer street noise to bird songs. Indeed, we have become too dependent on technology and outer stimuli to keep us entertained. Are we underestimating nature? It’s a thing of wonder; it’s where we witness unison and the cruelty of simply being alive. Forget TV shows; this is a Netflix documentary live broadcast. And it’s for free. Don’t miss out.

Boredom remedies:

  • JBL Bluetooth speakers
  • books
  • good friends
  • David Attenborough hour – plant identification app
  • night time fun: stargazing app
  • bring your dog
a dog in a tent depicts common camping fears and how to overcome them
Shoo, boredom, shoo.

In the dark places

Oh, yes, primordial fear hour. Our favourite. Why are we so afraid of the dark? Well, why wouldn’t we be? We get robbed of our senses at night; it’s hard to recognize the sounds and the direction they’re coming from, and unless we’re strapping on our night vision goggles, the power of our eyesight is restricted. That’s no fun. We fear the unknown, the pending danger. Fight or flight. I still experience swamp waves down my back when I hear something during sleep. And that’s okay.

Darkness remedies:

  • embracing the dark is all about practice
  • begin by enduring the night without any source of light in your own home
  • take your experience to a controlled outdoor area – a friend’s backyard
  • Bring flashlights and portable chargers
  • Keep the campfire burning

Wild animal terror

There are very few people out there with getting mulled by a bear or bitten by a snake on their bucket list. Creepy-crawlies are also not that popular among nature lovers. Waking up to gentle nostril tickles is adorable, as long as an 8-legged creature is not executing it. So, we fear animals. But, guess what? The feeling is mutual. You will never come across a snake that’s been dreaming about sucking the life out of a human being ever since childhood. So, how do you plan your first wild camping adventure and stop fearing unexpected visitors?

Fear of animal remedies:

  • if it’s your first time, go with an experienced camper
  • learn how to store away food to avoid attracting curious noses
  • knowing where to position your tent is crucial
  • get acquainted with the campsite’s wildlife beforehand, understand their behaviour
  • talk to camping veterans
a man sitting outside a tent
The best advice for common camping fears and how to overcome them: Get to know the site before camping.

Two-legged danger

Reptiles, insects, carnivorous mammals – fearing them only makes sense. But what about something more familiar? A fellow human certainly deserves to be on our “Common camping fear and how to overcome them” list. Strangers in the night? If you’re camping out in the wilderness and you spot a moving human shadow, – “Care to join me, creeper?” will probably be the last thing on your mind. More along these lines: HEY, CRICKETS, HAS ANYONE SEEN MY PEPPER SPRAY? Fearing someone will raid your campsite and steal your valuable possessions or camping gear is more than rational.

Unwanted guest remedies:

  • talk to people who frequently camp in the area
  • find reviews, connect to fellow campers online
  • learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (it’s beautiful to watch)
  • let your family and friends know your campsite location
  • bring your guard dog (Yorkies are welcome, too)

I don’t want to get lost

Getting lost in your imagination is beautiful; getting lost in the woods is a thing of potential terror. We rely on our Google maps to take us anywhere we need to go. But, the woods; it’s one tricky terrain. Tree after tree after tree. Thinking you’re never going to find your way back is something all beginners experience. The heart starts racing, your soul is sweating, and you just want to get back to your campsite, pack your camping gear, and leave within a nanosecond. Hold on, hold on. It’s just fear talking. Plus, you must safely pack your equipment. Once you overcome your camping fears, you will need it.

 Wander-proof remedies:

  • compass is your best friend
  • learn how to use it before camping
  • don’t wander off too far from the site
  • if you’re a beginner, never wander alone
  • get familiar with the site before exploring it on your own
forest trees
Beginners, tread carefully. Seek company.


The fear of freezing to death. It’s relatively common for first-time campers. If you have no experience spending the night outdoors, it’s only normal to feel anxiety. The only thing protecting you from the chilly weather is your tent. Learning about different types of outdoor jackets is crucial if you’re planning on becoming a serious camper. Do your homework, and you’ll be just fine. Warm clothes + campfire; how cold can it get?! If you want to be 100% sure, portable heaters may come in handy.

It takes more than 24 hours…

…to become a camper. Give yourself time and permission to be afraid. Keep coming back, and I promise you, you will find it to be the love of your life. Face your worst camping fears and you will overcome them. Tents up!


Top Camping Etiquette Tips

A person standing in a field near a tent watching the sunset

If you are preparing for a camping trip, you are probably excitedly going through your gear and reserving sites at campgrounds. Camping can be great fun. It involves late nights around campfires, falling asleep to the sounds of nature, and being woken up by the birds chirping.

However, many things can just as well ruin this idyllic trip for you. It may not be surprising who is at the top of that list—rude and disrespectful camping neighbours. Forget the peaceful nights and nature appreciation. You might experience quite the opposite with sleepless nights due to late-night partying or trash being thrown everywhere. This leads us to the rules of camping etiquette. Camping can be a fun adventure for families, but only if everyone plays by the same rules. These rules are easy to follow, and everyone appreciates a good camping neighbour.

Following the etiquette makes you someone who people are happy to have as their neighbour while on holiday. Whether you are getting ready to go on your first camping holiday or you are super experienced, it is a good idea to remember to be polite. Our list of camping etiquette tips will help you learn or serve as a reminder on how to be a tremendous and well-mannered camper.

How to Pack for Camping

Before you set off, consider a few tips for packing. When packing your camping gear, the right way to do it comes in a few steps. You want to first make sure to put all the camping-related items together. Make a list of what they are exactly before you start packing, and then go down the list to ensure you do not forget anything. All of that gear is vital to a successful camping trip, and you do not want to travel all the way only to realize you are missing a key component. After you are done with that, continue to pack your clothes, food, and other items you cannot live without.

Keep Your Campsite Clean

Do not leave food or rubbish unattended at your campsite. Aside from it looking bad, you will undoubtedly attract unwanted guests—rodents, birds, and bigger animals can vandalize your site and steal your food. If they sense an opportunity once, they will keep coming back. Birds can be irritating, but dangerous animals like bears and raccoons will lose their natural fear of humans and then you are in big trouble.

It is very easy to accidentally leave food out before going to bed. This is why it is vital to keep camping etiquette tips in mind at all times. Consider assigning someone to put everything away before bedtime.

In addition to this, wind and rain can ruin things that have been left out through the night. It is no fun to wake up to a complete mess of trash and soaked food leftovers.

Do Not Move Firewood or Chop Trees

Loads of insects and other parasites can remain on your firewood and create infestations. These begin in campgrounds and parks way too often. This is why campers must respect these regulations.
On the other hand, many campsites have seen young trees being chopped down for firewood or careless campers reversing their trailers into young trees in the camp area. Don’t thoughtlessly destroy wildlife. Firewood is typically sold at shops near campgrounds or even within the campgrounds. It is essential to follow these rules in order to preserve our natural world properly.

A large bonfire at night
Everyone likes a nice campfire, but do not chop random trees on your own accord

One of the Best Camping Etiquette Tips is to Keep Your Distance

Personal space is important to most people in everyday interactions. You know how annoying it is when someone puts a towel right next to yours at the beach? The same goes for camping! No one likes it when a camper sets up right on top of the campers around you. Find a spot in the middle of the campsite, and give space to those around you. Besides, isn’t one of the reasons for going camping to get away from too many people and enjoy the great outdoors?

What About Children?

Camping can be a fantastic experience for children, and they should have wonderful memories of these trips. But you also need to make sure that they follow the camping etiquette while still having fun. Keep in mind that not everyone wants to be woken up early in the morning by kids running around the campsite and making loud noises.

A dad with two kids in a tent laughing
Your kids should have fun camping but also be considerate to other campers

In addition to that, ensure that you are always aware of your children’s location. This is relevant for safety reasons as well as to make sure they are not disturbing other campers. Explain some rules to them and make them aware of being courteous to others nearby. Help them follow the noise level rules and ensure they are not playing or throwing balls within someone else’s campsite.

Let’s Talk About Pets  

Keep an essential thing in mind—your dog is your best friend, which doesn’t mean that everyone else will be thrilled or comfortable with it. Some folks may be terrified of dogs. Try to be aware of this and considerate of others’ needs and preferences. Do your best to keep the dog on a leash and not have it wander off all the time.

A dog looking into a campfire next to a lake
Make sure your pet follows the camping etiquette as well

Also, follow some basic camping etiquette while camping with your dog, and you will make your neighbours happy and your dog safe. For instance, your neighbours will not appreciate smelling or stepping in dog poop lying around the campground. Just like in the city, cleaning up after your dog is essential to being a good camping buddy.

Be Friendly

Drop a quick hello when you see someone, but avoid inviting yourself to their campfire or dropping in at mealtime. Basically, the same rules apply as in your everyday life. Being friendly but giving people around you space will label you a desirable neighbour. If you wish to make friends, you will likely find like-minded people while camping. The same goes for taking advantage to do the opposite—get away from unwanted chatter.

Enjoy Your Camping Trip!

We hope our camping etiquette tips will help you prepare for your trip properly and more importantly—enjoy it. The few rules will be easy to remember and will help you avoid any awkward and stressful situations during camping. Now you can pack, head out, and have the best camping trip with your loved ones. 

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Is Budget Camping Gear Good Enough for Wild Camping in Ireland?

I went out wild camping for a couple of nights with some camping gear courtesy of Rock N River – an Irish brand that offers “high-quality products at an affordable price”. It was my first time to use any of this equipment and a long time since I slept in any other tent aside from my Vango Banshee. For the most part, I was interested to know if budget camping gear was good enough or suitable for wild camping in Ireland.

In this post, I talk about my overall experience with this gear and some thoughts on using budget tents, mattresses, and sleeping bags for wild camping in Ireland.

Quick Overview of My Experience with the Rock N River Camping Gear

I spent one night in the forest and one night in an open field with nothing except the budget camping gear on this list. It was a comfortable experience and really no different from any of my other camping trips. I mean this is the most encouraging way because I did not expect camp gear in this price range to perform so well. The tent is a strong and spacious piece of kit and the sleeping bag was warm and extremely comfortable. I used an inflatable camp pillow which packed down to the size of a fist and the head torch was practical and a nice backup headlamp at the very least.

Here’s a glance at the budget camping gear that I tested out:

Tent – Rock N River Inis 200

Sleeping Bag – Rock N River Trek 250

Sleep Mattress – Rock N River Self Inflating Mattress

Rock N River Inflatable Pillow & Headtorch

📷 @ Derek Cullen Outdoors

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty…

The Tent – Rock N River Inis 200

I was especially looking forward to testing out the Inis 200 by Rock N River. This is a dome-style tent that comfortably fits two people. It’s important to mention that many 2-person tents are not actually big enough for two people but with a 140cm x 270cm floor plan, this is certainly not the case with the Inis 200. It also weighs 3.31kg which is neither ultra-light nor heavy. To be honest, the extremely affordable price tag left me thinking that something must be wrong with it!

But that wasn’t the case. On first inspection, I was genuinely impressed by the overall design and strength of the material. It only rained a little on my nights out but the seam-taped outer looks as good as any of my other, more expensive, tents. There were plenty of guy-lines to peg the tent down properly and the green colour makes this a suitable tent for wild camping because it blends in with the environment. With so much space inside and a nice vestibule at the front to store bags/gear, this tent is especially ideal for two people and suitable for weekend or summer camping holidays.

Inis 200 📷 @ Derek Cullen Outdoors

The Sleep Mattress – Rock N River Self Inflating Mattress

The Rock N River mattress was really not much different to my current lineup of self-inflating mattresses. It’s slightly bigger which means it takes up a bit more space in the backpack but it offers the same level of comfort. The Rock+River self-inflating mattress is nice and wide which gives you more room to move around. I found this unusual in the best possible way. I’m used to sleeping on a narrow mattress which can sometimes slide out from underneath my sleeping bag during the night. Finally, I was able to inflate the mattress within two minutes and it was super easy to deflate and pack away. If you don’t want an inflatable mattress – I also recommend the *Vango Thermatrek Sleep Mat.

*This is not an inflatable mattress and does not provide the same level of comfort.

Rock N River Self-Inflating Mattress

The Sleeping Bag – Rock N River Trek 250

I was amazed by the warmth and comfort of this sleeping bag. I was probably more impressed with this item than any other on this list. My night in the forest was especially cold after midnight but I was wrapped up in the Trek 250 and feeling toasty. I should mention at this point that I often used a sleep liner with my sleeping bag. This not only keeps the inside clean but also adds to the warmth of the bag.

There was also plenty of space inside the bag and I never felt restricted or confined in any way. The bag also comes up nicely around the head area which is something I personally appreciate about any sleeping bag. Anyway, I would happily use this sleeping bag for camping during the spring and summer months. It’s not as small (for packing) or lightweight as my other sleeping bags. This should not be a concern for first-timers or those wanting a sleeping bag for the occasional night of camping.

Rock N River Trek 250

The Rock N River Inflatable Pillow

Believe it or not, I have never used a pillow on any of my long-distance trips over the years. Instead, I might use a fleece or just sleep with my head on the sleeping bag flush to the ground. That’s an unusual habit of mine and I have friends who “cannot sleep” without a camp pillow. Anyway, I slept just fine on the Rock N River inflatable pillow and appreciated how such a useful item can pack down so small. There’s really no reason not to carry one and if you want something more like a real pillow, they also have a foldaway compact pillow that is made of polyester fabric.

Rock N River Inflatable Pillow

The Rock N River 4+2 LED Head Torch

This LED headlight by Rock N River features a red LED for night vision and an ultra-bright LED for floodlight/spotlight. It’s powered by 3 x AAA batteries and suitable for any type of camping. I really cannot fault a headlamp that does exactly what you might want or need on a camping trip. And the price tag is considerably less than most headlamps. That being said, if you go hiking and camping quite a bit, I recommend picking up either the Petzl Actik Core or a Ledlenser MH5 and then keep a Rock N River head torch in your bag as a means of backup.

Rock N River 4+2 LED Headtorch

My Honest Final Thoughts on Rock N River Camping Gear

There are a few reasons I might recommend Rock N River to other campers and especially first-time campers. The most obvious reason being the price of Rock N River gear which has got to be some of the most affordable camping gear in Ireland.

More importantly, I’m convinced that Rock N River gear is designed with genuine purpose and practicality in mind. There are no flimsy materials or easy-to-break parts. It’s an Irish brand that doesn’t hide behind the anonymity of the online world. You can also see this quality without testing the gear as the overall design is more elaborate than the cheap tents you sometimes see in the aisle of a supermarket.

But none of this is surprising because this brand was set up by a former scout leader (and parent) who felt that most camping gear was either too expensive or lacking in quality. That is to say, some camping gear is designed with cheap material. No parent wants to send their child into the wild without the right gear and the same can be said for anyone that wants to go wild camping in Ireland.

Is Budget Camping Gear Good Enough for Wild Camping in Ireland?

There’s a reason I use the word budget – it’s a better way to acknowledge that not everyone can afford expensive camping gear. I suppose there are also two ways in which to interpret the word “cheap”. I’ve bought cheap camping gear in the past that fell apart after one or two trips but then I’ve also bought items that were worth more than I paid for them. In other words, some camping gear is cheap because it’s badly designed or made of poor material and then some brands produce quality gear that you will actually use and appreciate. When you consider the importance of safety for camping (especially wild camping), it’s really important to pick quality camping gear that will keep you safe and warm such as Helly Hansen clothing or Trespass Gear. With this in mind, it’s not a good idea to buy any type of gear based on price but it does make sense to look for practical gear that will perform to a high level without burning a hole in your wallet.

How Do I Plan My First Wild Camping Adventure?

I know what it’s like to worry about what might happen on your first wild camping trip. My mid-twenties were dominated by acute anxieties. This didn’t bode very well for someone who wanted to experiment with wild camping. It was also these fears that helped bring about the confidence I have today. It’s also why I spend so much time encouraging others to get out and enjoy what the wild has to offer.

In this article, I talk about how to plan your first wild camping adventure. Also, why you should be mindful of any fears or reasons that might be stopping you.

Afraid to Take Your First Wild Camping Adventure?

We all have the same fears when it comes to wild camping. These are primal fears that can cause chaos for the limbic side of the brain. As you may know, this is the “chimp” part of the brain that likes to make decisions quick and fast. It’s also the side of the brain that causes all sorts of stress and anxiety. However, there are some points I would like to share about fear and the anxiety that can come before and during any wild camping trip.

– Fear is a good thing and will keep you safe on a wild camping trip.

– Most fears are irrational and highly unlikely to happen.

– Fear is something you can manage.

– Fear creates excitement and adds to the sense of adventure.

I know it might not feel this way for first-timers but fear or danger is often responsible for the sense of excitement we feel on an adventure. The truth is, I was very scared on my first few wild camping trips in Ireland. I was not only afraid of getting lost or stranded but also quite terrified of ax-murderers, angry farmers, and the banshee. This was the reason I camped right beside the infamous Hellfire Club in the Dublin mountains one night – to face my fear of the supernatural.

Anyway, you get my point, we all have certain thoughts that cause anxiety. This is certainly true when wild camping for the first time. You might want less of this fear but this will come naturally through experience. In my own opinion, these fears dissipate over time and you should be left with a comfortable sense of excitement.

📷 @derekcullenoutdoors

How to Actually Plan Your First Wild Camping Adventure

1. Pick Out Some Potential Wild Camping Spots

It’s important to have a decent idea in terms of where you are going on your first wild camping adventure. This not only refers to the actual hiking trail but also the general area you’ll pitch your tent. But how can you know this area or spot?

I used to go out for day hikes and use these short trips to scout for potential wild camping spots. This was a great load off my mind when it came time to go out with the intention of camping. This didn’t mean I had to camp in that particular spot. But rather I now had a backup camp spot that I could use in the event of not finding another.

That being said, most of my wild camping spots are chosen without any “recon”. In these instances, I look at a GPS map and mark a few forested areas as my provisional camp spots. I don’t particularly enjoy camping in the forest but it’s often a dry hospitable place to wild camp. I might also mention that I always make sure to choose spots away from towns or civilization in general.

2. Make a Packing List and Prepare for the Unexpected

It should go without saying that making a wild camping packing list is super important. This list is responsible for keeping you safe and a fool-proof way to prepare for the unexpected. As a rule, it’s helpful not to carry too much but wise to carry more than you think you’ll need. For example, it’s okay to be “too warm” in the outdoors but never good to feel cold. So carrying sufficient warm gear for cold weather is most important such as Trespass Gear. Similarly, you should always carry rain gear and spare clothes in a dry bag.

On one of my very first wild camping trips, I ended up in a bad storm and all of my gear got wet due to my own stupidity. It was my tiny emergency blanket (space blanket) that saved the day and allowed me to sleep or stay safe that night. I will never take a trip without one and the same goes for my small first aid emergency kit. While I’ve only ever used the panadol in my first aid kit, I carry one in order to prepare for the unexpected.

Feel free to check out my wild camping packing list here.

📷 @derekcullenoutdoors

3. Make Sure Electronics are Fully Charged and Carry a Powerbank

I like to use my outdoor adventures as a means of escaping the noise and busy nature of modern life. This includes technology which means my smartphone is only really used for navigation or taking photos. That’s why the smartphone is incredibly important, for your safety relies on it.

I always make sure everything is fully charged and my electronics are stored inside a reliable dry bag. This is also where I keep my charging cables and a decent power bank. I like the TP Link 15600amh or the Anker Powerbank. I cannot tell you how many times my smartphone has died unexpectedly and this power bank has saved the day. Yes, I can revert to paper maps but let’s be honest, having a fully charged phone is not only useful but also great peace of mind.

4. Have a Plan for Cooking, Food, and Water

Cooking is one of my favourite things about wild camping. It’s not that I love cooking but the fact that nothing beats a warm meal in the wild. You also want to keep things simple. This is why I usually stick with simple ideas like these quick and easy meals by Wayfarer. For lunch, I sometimes carry bagels with cheese or a pot noodle. For snacks throughout the day, I bring a mix between biscuits, cereal bars, and pastries.

Try to take note of rivers and potential water sources on your route. Don’t depend on these sources but use them whenever available. Remember that staying hydrated will keep you healthy and fit. You can do this by drinking water as much as possible – especially upon waking up and anytime “you don’t really feel like it”.

Of course, you will also need a camping stove to boil water or cook meals and the MSR pocket rocket is a small and lightweight option that I like to carry on overnight trips.

– Dioralyte is great for staying hydrated and Berocca is good for a boost of energy.

– Cereal bars are healthier than chocolate bars.

– Always carry a lot of water and try to camp near a water source.

– Carry a lighter AND a box of matches.

– Oats/porridge is a nice hot meal that packs a lot of energy.

– Coffee is filled with energy and a great boost for the mood in the mornings.

Note – I carry at least one backup meal and a spare box of cereal bars for emergencies.

📷 @derekcullenoutdoors

5. Tell Someone Where You Are Going

I used to feel like it was almost a bit childish to contact my brother before going out for a night in the wilderness. In fact, I often pretended there was another reason for these texts and left my destination plans at the end.

However, after spending so long in the hiking community, I’ve come to appreciate the very real reasons why you should always tell someone where you are going. There are lots of rescue stories and you only need to follow Mountaineering Ireland to see some of these. There are also many instances that don’t have a happy ending. I think the story of David O’Sullivan on the Pacific Crest Trail was the one that affected me the most. David, from Cork, is thought to have gotten lost on this trail in America. I’ve been sending out these text messages with destinations/maps ever since.

This brings me to the next point…

6. Use Paper Maps and GPS (and Maybe a SPOT Device)

I don’t really use paper maps anymore but you will usually find one in my backpack. It’s not that GPS is unreliable but rather that electronics are prone to error and failure. Whether it loses power or gets wet, a phone is always at risk in this sense. And yes, it might be unlikely but you should carry a paper map in case of the unexpected.

I carry these Ordinance Survey paper maps in my backpack.

As for GPS, there are several apps out there. Hiiker and AllTrails provide various features for trails in Ireland. Maps.Me is a simple alternative which I use a lot.

Quick Note – SPOT is a tracking device that uses a satellite network to facilitate GPS tracking and texts in hard-to-reach places. This means you can text a friend from almost anywhere in the world. You can even provide a map that uses this device to show your location. I normally recommend hikers invest in one of these for long-distance trips in the wild. It’s a good idea to have one regardless of where you go.

📷 @derekcullenoutdoors

7. By All Means Plan Ahead but Most Importantly – START!

I announce the start date of my long-distance trips on social media for one reason – accountability. I know that by announcing this date, the trip is far more likely to happen. I’m not suggesting you announce your wild camping trip online but highlighting the fact that getting started is never easy. There’s just always a reason to wait or put off an adventure. It’s worth embracing whatever helps you take that first step. My advice is to set a day or date and commit to making a start.

A Final Word about Your First Wild Camping Adventure

I’d like to finish up this article by saying that you never regret the adventure. I’ve had some serious fails and miserable times on the trail but there was always something to learn. As a tip of the hat to Henry David Thoreau, let me say that I go wild camping because I wish to live deliberately and see what I might learn and not, “when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Enjoy and remember that fear will always disappear in the face of confidence. This is why wild camping is an experience, not a competition.

How to Choose the Right Tent for Camping in Ireland

The tent is possibly the most important item when it comes to camping. While other options exist such as the bivvy bag and hammock, tents are more suited to the conditions in Ireland. Not every tent is suited to every type of adventure and certain things need to be considered to find a tent that’s right for your adventure:

What size should it be? Which features should it have? Is the weight or colour of a tent important? Is this tent something that you can afford?

In this post, I’d like to take you through some things to consider before investing in a tent. This will help you decide what type of tent is right for your upcoming adventure.

The Season, Size and Weight of a Tent

It firstly depends on what type of adventure you have in mind. For instance, if you plan to go car camping, the weight of a tent won’t matter. As for hiking the Wicklow Way, you will want to strike a balance that allows for a reasonably lightweight tent. Then there’s the season, conditions and number of people you need to squeeze inside!

The Season

Ireland has very unpredictable weather patterns. I recommend choosing a 3-season tent. This is considered an “all-rounder”. Aside from extreme weather, this will suffice in most types of conditions in Ireland. Most tents should be up to this task. For more extreme weather, you’ll need a formidable 3-season tent to withstand strong winds and heavy rain or snow. All considered, a decent 3-season tent should be enough to protect you from the wind and wet-weather conditions.

The Size

How many people will sleep in the tent? Each tent will display a specific size that states one-man tent, two-man tent etc. However, this size will also change with each brand. That is to say, there’s no “industry standard” and some are more spacious than others.

For Car Camping – Size won’t be an issue when you stay on a designated campsite with a car. There’s plenty of space and you don’t need to carry the tent. This means you can pick a tent with whatever special features catch your eye. If you go wild camping and take the car, you won’t want a tent so big that it attracts attention.

For Backpacking – I recommend that you pay close attention as the size will determine the weight that you end up carrying. As a rule, I always go one size bigger. I choose a two-person tent for solo camping and a three-person tent for two people. This is because most “two-person” tents feel rather cramped and small for two people. I also prefer to have lots of space for moving around and keeping my backpack inside. I’m happy to carry that extra bit of weight on my back in order to have this extra space.

Tip – Choose 20 square feet per person for a bit more room and 15 square feet per person for something more compact.

The Weight

You definitely need to think about weight if you intend to carry this tent in your backpack. It will be the heaviest item in your bag and a weight that you can’t lighten until you replace it. At the same time, remember that safety is your number one priority. You should never choose a lightweight tent that may not withstand the conditions and changing environment in Ireland.

A Quick Note About Lightweight and Ultralight Tents

The material on ultralight tents is rather thin and the poles are much lighter than a standard tent. It’s important to know that durability is not sacrificed. These poles etc are often stronger than you might find with a heavy tent. This superior material and design are why lighter tents are more expensive. Most long distance hikers in particular are happy to pay more in order to carry less.

What Else Should You Keep in Mind?

The “Peak Height” of Your Tent

The height of a tent will dictate how spacious it feels inside. The “peak height” is the distance between the ground and the top of the tent. This will determine whether or not you can sit up comfortably in the tent. For car camping, this will also illustrate if you can stand up and walk comfortably around the inside. Also, tents with vertical walls can feel more spacious as they offer more shoulder room.

The Tent Door

I never really cared about the entrance of a tent until I went on my first multi-day hike. In short, having more than one door is very useful. It means you don’t have to climb over another person to get in/out when sharing the tent. I also prefer the side door as it feels easier to pass through – but this is my opinion.

The Vents and Vestibules

Mesh and tents are not to be overlooked. Vents allow a tent to feel less stuffy and reduce the amount of condensation inside. This means vents are even more important on a single-walled tent. As for vestibules, these small porch-like areas are great for storing your bag or keeping your shoes and any wet gear.

The Color

The colour of a tent is important for wild camping in particular. A bright orange tent is more likely to stand out or attract unwanted attention. More specifically, I prefer to go with green or brown tents (natural colours) for wild camping. Preference is also important and light colour tents allow more sunlight to pass through the walls which is very important to me in the mornings!

The Footprint

Footprints are often ignored by hikers but they create the perfect barrier between your tent and the ground. I suggest investing in a lightweight footprint. This will keep the tent dry but also protect the fabric from any loose stones, branches or sharp objects on the ground.

Maybe you want a little more help with choosing the right tent? Here are a few of my suggestions to get you started.

My Tent Recommendations for Camping in Ireland

Hiking Tent for Wild Camping in the Mountains

The Vango Banshee Pro 200 is my favourite tent for wild camping in Ireland. It has a low centre of gravity which enables the tent to withstand heavy winds and rain. There’s just enough space inside for one person and a backpack. The green colour is useful for blending in with the environment. I have many very expensive tents but the Vango Banshee Pro 200 has outperformed most on many occasions. For a two-person tent, you can also upgrade to the Vango Banshee Pro 300. By the way, I carried this tent for the entirety of my 3,000km walk around Ireland a few years ago.

Check out more hiking tents here

Banshee Pro 200 – Vango

For Car Camping with the Family on a Campsite

The Avondale 5-person Airbeam by Outwell is a spacious tent that will suit a family or friends that wish to camp together on a campsite. It has a lot of headroom (height) and a specially designed ventilation system that makes it feel airy inside. The many ropes and pegging points allow for the tent to be secured properly. For something smaller or more affordable, the Huntsville Twin 600 by Easy Camp is a very practical option that features twin facing doors and a large living area inside.

Check out more family tents here

Avondale 5 Person Airbeam – Outwell

For a Multi-Day Hike on the Wicklow Way, Kerry Way etc

The MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person tent has been on my wishlist since hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I used a similar tent back then but many of my fellow hikers were using this tent and I’ve wanted it ever since. The tent is super light (3lb 2oz) which is something every long distance hiker will appreciate! The green colour also makes it ideal for blending in with the environment. Aside from the spacious interior, you’ll find this durable 3-season tent the perfect companion for a multi-day hike.

Check out more Hiking tents for multi-day hikes here

Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person tent – MSR

For a Budget Alternative for Wild Camping or Multi-day Hikes

The Inis 200 by Rock n River is incredible value and a green dome tent that blends in nicely with natural scenery. With plenty of room inside, the tent is ideal for one or two persons and the tent is rigid and fully waterproofed. There’s also a nicely sized vestibule in front with a mud flap and gear pockets for smaller items inside.

Check here for more great value adventure tents

Inis 200 – Rock N River

For a Different Night of Wild Camping in Fair Weather

I tell my friends that a bivvy bag is like a waterproof sleeping bag and this is partially true. A bivvy bag is more useful than it sounds. It is a great way to sleep outside, while feeling more “connected” to your surroundings. The Stratosphere Tent by Snugpack is a lightweight one-person bivvy. It’s a great alternative that promises a more personal or immersive encounter with the outdoors. That being said, I only recommend a bivvy bag to experienced campers and during decent weather.

Check out more hiking tents here

Stratosphere – Snugpak

Final Thoughts

You might notice my favourite tents for camping in Ireland are neither the most extravagant nor the most expensive options. There’s a lot to be said for experience and these tents have always performed well for me. That said, everyone will have their own preference. The above guidelines should at least help you find the right tent for whatever adventure you have in mind.

Everything You Should Know About Hiking the Wicklow Way

The Wicklow Way is my favourite long distance trail in Ireland. It was first written about in the mid-1960s by J.B Malone who set out to develop a long distance walk in Ireland. It took many years for this idea to gain much interest. The Wicklow Way is now the best known hiking trail in the country and easily accessible from Dublin.

Stretching from Marley Park in Dublin to Clonegal in Carlow, the Wicklow Way is approx 125km and split into seven “stages”. Each stage is intersected by a small town. Most hikers take up to one week to complete the trail without having to rush. In between these towns, the trail can feel surprisingly remote. It snakes its way through a series of foothills and mountains that climb more than 3,500 metres in total.

Hiking the Wicklow Way: What Should You Expect?

Most of the trail travels through Wicklow which mostly consists of mountains and hills. You will also hike stretches of paved road from time to time. These are usually quiet country roads and lanes with little-to-no traffic. It’s relatively easy to find a water source on most days (but not guaranteed). The accommodation at the end of each stage is reasonably affordable and cheerful. If you wish to wild camp, this is also possible – but more on this in a moment.

Overall, I’m always surprised with how remote it can feel on the Wicklow Way because you are always within walking distance of civilization. While the hill climbs come and go by the hour, they are rarely too steep and are accompanied by stunning views. The Wicklow Way is also well-marked and with a paper map and GPS, I believe most hikers will feel comfortable in terms of navigation. With these stunning views and favourable logistics, I think it’s an ideal long distance trail for a first-timer.

But maybe you don’t want to (or cannot) hike the full Wicklow Way?

📷 @sher_yogi

Hiking the Wicklow Way in Stages

It’s also possible to hike the Wicklow Way in stages. This makes the trail suitable for every fitness level. Some stages are much shorter than others so hikers can also pick out a specific stage, with which they feel comfortable. I’ve done this myself when short on time and if you live in Dublin, County Wicklow never feels like “a long way to go” for a hike.

What’s the Best Time of Year to Hike the Wicklow Way?

May to September is the most reliable time to hike the Wicklow Way. I would advise the less experienced not to attempt this trail close to the Winter months. Most of the accommodation (and many restaurants) are also not open outside of the Summer months. The weather is very unpredictable which is the main reason to avoid these months. In fact, I prefer to hike this trail in the shoulder months of May or September. There are less people on the trail and various attractions in between are less busy.

In case you might be asking yourself, I refer to places like Powerscourt Waterfall and Glendalough which are both highlights of hiking the Wicklow Way.

Where to Start and Finish the Wicklow Way

I should also say that you can choose to hike north to south or south to north. The main difference between each starting point is the ease of transport. That is to say, it’s easy to get to/from Marlay Park in Dublin but slightly more tricky to reach Clonegal.

There’s also the fact that starting in Clonegal will help ease you into the hike. Less climbs near the beginning when you hike south to north. While the last day presents stunning views of Dublin and the coastline.

Note: The number 16 bus travels from Dublin city centre to Marlay Park. Meanwhile, Bus Eireann stops in Kildavin which is less than 3km from Clonegal.

📷 @sallyham55

Wild Camping Vs. B&B – Where to Stay in the Wicklow Way

As for where to stay, there are B&B’s at the end of each stage on the Wicklow Way and a handful more in between. There is a nice little hostel in Knockree and another at Glendalough and three Adirondack Shelters on the trail. These shelters are small huts that were built so that hikers could take shelter from the elements. I’ve come across people wild camping beside these shelters and sleeping inside with a bivvy bag. With one or two exceptions I’ve found multiple spots to wild camp on the Wicklow Way.

You should know that wild camping is not permitted in Glendalough Valley. Hikers should always expect to either camp earlier than planned or to hike further when searching for a suitable spot. I say this because sometimes you happen across a suitable spot for a wild camp but it might be earlier than you expected to stop hiking. Likewise, it’s often necessary to keep hiking until you find a nice place to wild camp.

📷 @andreasrothphotography

Food and Water on the Wicklow Way

It’s important to carry enough food for each stage of the Wicklow Way because towns are few and far apart. There is no alternative to these towns in terms of buying food. As for water, there are many sources along the trail. There are also times when you might not come across one when needed. You should have at least two or three litres of water at all times. Remember that due to wildlife, farming and forestry, the water en-route is not always potable. With this in mind, it’s really important to pick up a water filter like the Trailshot Microilter by MSR.

For my own hikes, I always had at least one backup meal in dried food for each time of day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. I also pack many cereal bars and snacks in the case of an emergency (running out of food).

Following the Trail Signs and Navigation on the Wicklow Way

The Wicklow Way is sign-posted really well with a variety of markers that feature a “yellow man”. You will most often find them at junctions and then every half-kilometre for the long straight sections on the trail. There are also information boards from time to time but it’s best to have your own GPS, maps and apps to consult for navigation.

As a rule, if you don’t see a trail marker for more than one kilometre, it’s possible that you will need to turn around and at least check your map. I’ve mostly used offline maps (an app downloaded before hitting the trail) but in the case of my battery running out, I also have a powerbank and OS paper map of the Wicklow Way area.

📷 @courtneyshawactor

What Gear to Pack for the Wicklow Way

I’ve put together this packing list for a long distance hike which you might want to check out. It’s crucial that you also do your own due-diligence. The gear you pack will always impact how comfortable and safe you feel on the Wicklow Way. Footwear with good outsoles and support is recommended. I always use trekking poles – the importance of which many hikers seem to ignore. I won’t go into the specifics in this post but I would like to mention a few things to remember about clothing:

Layering Up – The weather on the Wicklow Way can change in a second and you need to be prepared for cold or wet weather on a hike. While it may seem like a sensible idea to take the warmest, waterproof jacket with you – the better option is to layer up. If you have both lightweight gear and several layers for underneath, this will enable you to regulate your temperature and provide you with the best of both worlds.

Avoid Cotton – When the weather is hot, cotton can cause chaffing. When the weather is wet, cotton is difficult to dry. When you are cold, wet, and wearing cotton, you are a walking recipe for hypothermia. Choose a material like merino wool, polyester or nylon which dries quickly and keeps the moisture off your skin.

Keeping Clothing Dry – It always brings me confidence to know that there is something warm and dry to wear later that night. Also, if you wake up to the sound of rain in the morning and your hiking gear is wet, resist the temptation to hike in your dry clothes. Instead, pack them up, put on the wet gear and suck it up. You’ll likely need this warm and dry gear to sleep in again that same night.

📷 @muno.explore

Day by Day Itinerary for Hiking the Wicklow Way

Let’s take a quick look at the seven stages from north to south on the Wicklow Way:

Marley Park to Knockree – 21km – Approx 8 hours walking.

Knockree to Roundwood – 18km – Approx 7 hours walking.

Roundwood to Glendalough – 12km – Approx 4 hours walking.

Glendalough to Aughavannagh – 14km – Approx 5 hours walking.

Glendalough to Glenmalure – 14km – Approx 5 hours walking.

Glenmalure to Moyne – 21km – Approx 7 hours walking.

Moyne to Shillelagh – 21km – Approx 7 hours walking.

Shillelagh to Clonegal – 19km – Approx 6 hours walking.

Some Final Points for Hiking the Wicklow Way

Carrying Your Own Backpack – Believe it or not, you don’t even need to carry all your belongings in the summer months. It’s possible to ask most B&B’s or even a local transport company to take your backpack to the next town – for a fee of course.

Consult the Weather Forecast – The Wicklow mountains are very exposed in places and rather scary in extreme weather. The weather can also change very quickly so it’s important to have an idea of what to expect and plan and pack accordingly.

Bring a Powerbank – Try to make sure that both your phone and powerbank is full charged by the time you depart each morning. Charging these items is the first thing I try to do as soon as I stop hiking for the day.

Be Careful on the Roads – Although there is little traffic on the road sections, cars can drive fast on these sections for this same reason which poses an obvious danger.

Remember to Leave no Trace – Know the principles of “Leave No Trace” and always pack out everything that you take with you on the trail. It’s also really important to respect the wildlife and local landowners and avoid starting any campfires.

📷 @philyob

Final Thoughts

You don’t need to have a high level of fitness to hike the Wicklow Way but decent preparation will always keep you safe. Early starts will also help take the pressure off in terms of covering any distances in between. I also encourage friends or family to hike the Wicklow Way alone. Yes, you can share the cost of accommodation with friends but hiking alone is a very different experience and the Wicklow Way is the perfect opportunity to experience a stunning wilderness in the “Garden of Ireland”.