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.

My 7 Favourite Wild Camping Spots from Walking Around Ireland

I went wild camping for more than one hundred nights in the year that I walked around Ireland. It was my first time to sleep in all of these spots with no directions or information. I was often camped in a random forest next to the road or on a hilltop above a farm. These spots were not always spectacular but always provided the sense of adventure and excitement I was hoping to find. Some wild camping spots really stand out in my memory. In this blog, I will share with you for the first time – my favourite wild camping spots in Ireland.

My 7 Favourite Wild Camping Spots from Walking Around Ireland

1. Dunree Beach on the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal

This area is best known for Dunree fort which sits on a rocky promontory on the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal. It was built during the Napoleonic Wars and really adds to the sense of mystique in the area. I was far more interested in the beautiful view that opens up as you approach the sandy and rather isolated stretch down below.

Dunree Beach feels like a sort of amphitheatre due to the shape of the bay. On more than a few occasions I’ve had this beach all to myself . The dunes provide enough shelter from the elements and privacy which is needed for a comfortable night of wild camping. I’ve also parked up the road and walked down to the beach with my gear in-hand.

Dunree beach 📷 Derek Cullen

2. Glenmacnass River Near Lough Tay in Wicklow

Glenmacnass Waterfall was used as a filming location in the movie “Braveheart”. The river preceding this spectacle leads up further into the Wicklow mountains and past a popular attraction known as the heart-shaped lake – Lough Ouler. I often camp right next to this river after visiting the lake or climbing nearby peak – Tonelagee.

While there is often a swarm of midges awaiting at dusk, I love the sense of wildness in this area. It’s common to see deer at sunrise or sunset. The silhouettes of the mountains offer some of the most spectacular scenes in Wicklow. When you first arrive at this river en route to Lough Ouler, it’s best to walk at least a few hundred metres up river. That way you are out of sight and not bothering any hikers that come that way.

I used to walk all the way to this spot from Glendalough via St Kevin’s Way and Tonelagee Mountain. I then return to Glendalough by either climbing over Scarr Mountain or walking the nearby road that runs down the valley and past Glenmacnass River. It’s a hike but a real adventure to take on for a weekend of wild camping!

Glenmacnass River 📷 Derek Cullen

3. Mountains or Lakes Between Killarney and Black Valley in Kerry

Want to see some of the most stunning mountain scenery in Ireland? Climb up above Torc Waterfall on the Kerry Way hiking trail. The trail is well-marked and there are many potential wild camping spots between here and “Black Valley”. I eventually settled for a majestic spot next to a lake. I happened across many more spots earlier that same day but it was too early to stop. There’s not much else around except silence and natural beauty so be sure to bring supplies. I have yet to hike this trail in full but this section put the Kerry Way at the top of my “to hike” list.

Killarney, Kerry 📷 Derek Cullen

4. Lough Salt in the Hills of Donegal

I know that lots of people will be quick to recommend a visit to Glenveagh National Park. While I totally agree, I much prefer the lesser known spots for wild camping. Located approx halfway between Dunfanaghy and Letterkenny, Lough Salt is the perfect example of what I hope to find on a night out in the wild. The lake is used as a reservoir and especially interesting as it sits more than 450 metres above sea level. There’s very little traffic on this road (zero after dark). I camped close to the lake but on the other side of a hill that faced down into the mountains. Cue the most incredible night of reading under my headlamp and watching a dark mist descend on the mountains below.

Lough Salt 📷 Derek Cullen

5. Great Blasket Island Just Off the Coast of Kerry

I think this just might be my favourite place to visit in Ireland. Not to mention my favourite place to go wild camping. There’s a lot of history behind the ruined village and life on the Great Blasket Island. I recommend reading “Twenty Years a Growing” or “The Islandman” to know more about this history. I’m just as fascinated by the wildness and wildlife on the island. You can spend an entire morning or afternoon walking from end to end and the views are beyond special.

I camped next to the “Kings House” on the Great Blasket Island. It’s important to take great care in terms of the principles of Leave No Trace. There’s a tiny coffee shop on the island that allowed me to use the toilet by day. There is also a spring for water but you need to bring all of your own food.

Note – I get the feeling that wild camping might not always be welcomed/encouraged on the Great Blasket Island. I plan to return as soon as possible for this reason/suspicion!

Great Blasket Island 📷 Derek Cullen

6. The Mourne Mountains in County Down

I walked through a small portion of the Mourne Mountains on my walk around Ireland last year. This was one of the most beautiful sections of the entire walk and one that made me feel especially small! There were so many spots I wanted to camp for the couple of days I spent walking this area. Some of these spots were graced with spectacular views of the land below. Others were sandwiched in a valley between two towering peaks. Due to an injury, I was eager to reach the next town and kept walking past many of these potential wild camping spots.

I still managed to pitch up in a lovely spot, such is the beauty and remote nature of the mountains. I could see the lights of a town in the valley below and only silence surrounded my tent that night. I hope to seek out many wild camping spots in the Mourne Mountains in the future.

Mourne Mountains 📷 Derek Cullen

7. Nephin Beg on the Bangor Trail in Mayo

There is a part of Nephin Beg which is said to be the most remote point in the country and 8km to the nearest road. I’m not sure of the exact coordinates but the entirety of “the Bangor Trail” felt like the most remote place in the country. It felt quite strange to be hiking and camping in such a dark landscape. The sights were reminiscent of the bleak times of history like the famine years. In spite of this rather dark atmosphere, it felt like a privilege to camp here.

It was absolute silence and stillness. However, there were a bazillion midges objecting to my wanting to camp or cook in the area. It’s also quite a tough hike (much harder in wet conditions). The trail is not well-marked but for experienced hikers/wild campers, a night in Nephin Beg is an exciting and unusual experience to say the very least!

Nephin Beg 📷 Derek Cullen

Final Thoughts

In all my years of wild camping, I’ve often found the best camping spots in the most unlikely of places. Lough Salt and Dunree Beach are examples of this. While some spots stand out from others, I believe the same sense of excitement can be found just down the road as on an adventure on the other side of the country – or even the world, for that matter!

In praise of Winter Camping

Winter is the perfect time for camping.  Yes, we know that this is a controversial statement and are well aware most people see it as an activity only suited for days when the sun is busy splitting stones and a heat haze rises off the horizon.   If you curtail your camping only to the hazy days of summer, you will miss cold misty mornings, an unshared wilderness, the high starlit skies of winter and the joy of hot drinks cupped in warm hands around the campfire.

Ireland often has ideal hiking weather from late Autumn to Early Spring.  Dry cold days with winter sunshine are perfect for taking to the trails. Camping at the end of a long trek, under a clear starlit sky can be idyllic end to an expedition and although you don’t have to worry about insect bites, dehydration and falling over other hikers, there are other considerations to winter camping  The secrets to successful winter camping is quite simple!  Take the right gear with you and follow some common sensical advice!

The right Winter Camping gear

You can expect to pay a little more for winter weight camping gear.  That pop up festival tent is not going to cut it.  The Outdoor Adventure Store selection of cold weather Trekking Tents gives you plenty of options. To make that escape to the winter hills, you’ll need a lightweight tent that is strong enough to withstand the toughest weather conditions. Explore our range of mountaineering tents from top brands such as MSR, Force10, Snugpak and Vango.  They are all still relatively light for carrying, yet provide great space to weight ratio, plus strength and stability so you can simply enjoy the adventure.   Choose a decent sleeping-bag designed for the cold.  A mummy bag with a hood is ideal.  Don’t try to get away with a summer weight sleeping bag, unless you have also invested in a good liner and some thermal sleeping gear.  There is nothing worse than a lousy night’s sleep after a great day in the outdoors, so put a little thought into the ground mat too.  Investing in the right ground mat will keep a high-quality insulation barrier between you and the cold hard winter ground and reduce the loss of body heat.

Choose the Campsite carefully

You can have a wilderness experience not too far from the general population just in case the weather turns fierce nasty.  Camping in winter in Ireland is all about the wind chill.  Pitch your tent using natural windbreaks such as tall hedges and trees and always face away from the prevailing wind.  If there is a bit of a slope on the ground, then face the front of the tent downward as cold air will flow into a tent facing uphill.  Surprisingly enough, a valley may be a colder spot in the winter. If you fancy beach camping, keep an eye on incoming tides and perhaps pick a more inland spot for your winter outdoor adventure. Choose campsites that allow fires and/or use a safe fire pit. This amazing Irish hand-made Midos phoenix fire is perfect for toasting your toes and the ubiquitous campfire marshmallows!  Pitch your tent in a safe place and not too far off the beaten track.  You can have a wilderness experience not too far from the general population, for safety and security.

Dress for the weather

Layers are the secret to keeping warm on the winter trail.  Layers on the body. Gloves on the hands. Warm dry boots and socks.  A snazzy hat and you are all set.  Check out our great range of jackets which keep wind, rain and misery out!and don’t forget that a thermal layer underneath, or a layer of thermals underneath, will keep you cosy dry and comfortable on the trail. It is easy to forget to hydrate when camping in the winter, so be sure to drink plenty of water as you would in the summer months. Don’t forget the torch, stove and lots of food to keep you going.

Enjoying the best spots without anyone else around

Winter camping means bagging all the best camping sites, with no tourists, day campers, bugs or midges to bother you.  This is definitely because people will think you crazy. Having said that, off season camping is enjoying an increase in popularity and the appeal of peeking out of a tent at snow-capped mountains and frost covered fields is on the rise.  It is still likely that the wild spaces will be all yours at this time of year.  Enjoy that rare solitude. Plan ahead, bring the right gear and leave nothing behind but good vibes. 

What You Should Know About Wild Camping in Winter

I had some extremely cold nights on the Pacific Crest Trail a few years ago during which myself and three hikers found it difficult to sleep. We had decent equipment at the time but not enough to feel comfortable in the snow-capped peaks of Washington.

But how might this cold and sleepless night have been avoided?

If I had a warm sleeping bag liner, there would have been no issue and I ended up relying on wearing several layers of clothing in my sleeping bag. And while this kept me safe, it just wasn’t quite warm enough and certainly not comfortable.

Wild Camping in Winter: From Stressed Out to Searching for Solitude

I go wild camping to have a good time and add a little excitement to my week. But I also want a stress-free time and a good night of sleep is also near the top of my list.

With this in mind, there were times early on when I really didn’t enjoy wild camping and felt stressed, worried or uncomfortable. Here’s a few reasons why:

– Taking a tent or sleeping bag that was unsuitable for wild camping in winter.

– Wearing insufficient rain gear.

– Having no weather-proof system to keep my gear safe and dry.

– Leaving my stove behind and missing out on the pleasure of a hot meal!

I will talk about some of these in a moment but for now, I wanted to make it clear that having the right gear and preparation is most important for wild camping in winter. In fact, once I figured this part out, I fell in love with wild camping at a time of year when the trails were so quiet and when the frost made me fully appreciate my morning coffee or the warmth of my sleeping bag as I sat up in the tent doorway.

You see, I should also add that I absolutely love wild camping in Winter!

Some Things to Keep in Mind for Wild Camping in Winter

Pick Somewhere that’s Easy to Reach and Return

I went wild camping in Wicklow some years ago and decided to trek up over Tonelagee and down to Glenmacnass River. It felt like a nice workout upon reaching the river but after a night of heavy rain, the way back took twice as long. In fact, it took so long that I was miserably wet and cold and near ended up hiking in the dark.

Moral of the story? Remember daylight is short through Winter and the unpredictable weather can turn what seems like an easy trek into a proper slog.

I suggest you pick a local marked trail with which you are familiar and then plan to wild camp just off that particular trail. If the trail is maintained (which is should be), you can rest assured that getting home should require the same effort as getting in there.

Invest in a Sleeping Bag Liner

It wasn’t just the Pacific Crest Trail when I was left yearning for a sleeping bag liner. This has also happened on my wild camping trips through Africa and even here in Ireland. It’s true that my choice of sleeping bag wasn’t always right but most times in which I was cold, the weather had taken me by surprise. A sleeping bag liner is not only a lightweight item to carry but also surprisingly effective and just as useful for trips during the warmer months or when sleeping in hostels on the Camino de Santiago.

Use Separate Dry Bags for Your Spare Clothes and Belongings

If you plan to hike in especially wet weather, it’s not enough to expect a waterproof cover to protect your backpack. You will need one, of course, but a backpack cover is only useful for reducing the exposure of your bag’s contents to the elements. In reality, rainwater will always find a way into your backpack during a heavy downpour and this will certainly happen any time you need to open up the bag. You can protect these contents by using a separate dry bag for clothing, electronics etc.

Make Sure You Take Warm Gear and Proper Rain Jacket/Pants

It’s essential to have dry gear at the end of every day in the wild. This includes your jacket, clothing and sleep system. It should go without saying that you can’t keep warm and dry in wet conditions without a proper rain-jacket and I always discourage relying on a poncho of any kind to do the job.

You also can’t sleep in wet socks and I recommend taking long-johns and a having a warm fleece on hand for the evenings. Believe it or not, I will often pack my down-jacket away somewhere dry so that I have an especially warm layer to wear in the evening. Waterproof trousers are another item that some hikers forget and you absolutely need these for wild camping in Ireland or anywhere for that matter.

Either way, safety is the main priority for wild camping in winter and nothing is more important than going to bed in a safe, dry and warm environment.

Try to Develop a System for Staying Dry

Even if rain is not forecast, you should still have a strategy for keeping your gear dry. The weather is just so unpredictable in Ireland and I can’t count the number of times I got caught in an unexpected downpour. Also, there is always the risk of stumbling head-first into a creek in Donegal which is something I may have done in the past. Afterwards, I had to return to a B&B in town because my sleeping bag was so wet.

Anyway, I recommend having a system in which bags are kept inside other bags and then also protected by a backpack cover. Never leave your backpack open or sitting in the rain and put snacks in your pocket before leaving shelter so you don’t need to open your backpack again. Finally, don’t wait for conditions to deteriorate before putting on your rain jacket or waterproof pants and get ready at the first sign of rain.

Here’s a few more tips for wild camping in winter:

– Keep your backpack inside the tent at night (not in the porch area)

– Keep your shoes inside the tent (not in the porch area)

– Keep your tent inside the backpack (Not strapped to the outside)

– Put your sleeping bag inside a plastic bag/bin liner at the very least.

– Avoid having your sleeping bag or clothes touching off the sides of the backpack.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Warm Meals and Drinks

If the wind, rain or cold feels like too much, I might not be in the mood for taking out the stove. However, I always do because nothing compares to a warm drink or meal in these conditions. If you worry about keeping the stove lit at such times, think about buying the MSR Windburner but either way – please do take the stove with you!

I also say this because I firmly believe that cooking, eating and drinking are central to the enjoyment that comes with wild camping. I don’t particularly enjoy cooking but will humour myself for the sake of the pleasure that comes from a warm meal/drink.

And Some of these Last Minute Tips for Wild Camping in Winter

– Buy a reliable headlamp so you can put your hands in your pockets.

– Wear a beanie hat to sleep so you don’t wake up with a cold head!

– Take a flask of hot water if you don’t want to use a stove.

– Cooking in cold weather isn’t the most pleasant – Buy ready-made meals.

– Get up and moving early to keep warm and have cereal bars for breakfast.

– Put your phone in a ziploc bag in your pocket.

– Put your pride away and wear long-johns the entire time!

– Bring a book for entertainment and leave streaming for when you’re back home.

Final Thoughts

Wild camping in winter is all about preparation. While I don’t think it’s wise to feel overly stressed, I do think it’s important to be especially careful at this time of year. If I was to re-iterate one thing in this piece it would be to stay as local as possible – especially if you don’t have much wild camping experience. This might mean camping on a nearby hill instead of the mountains and sticking to well-marked trails at the very least. Otherwise, if you pay close attention to what you pack and make every effort to stay dry and warm at all times, wild camping in Winter should be a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience.

10 Wild Camping Tips for Beginners that You Should Know 

I remember walking into a campsite in Kerry last year and feeling sorry for some of my neighbours. There were some fantastic setups but there were also a lot of people looking incredibly stressed and frustrated. In fact, one family was already arguing over the remote because yes, they had taken a television on their camping trip.

And each to their own, right? Of course.

But this also reminded me of why many people don’t enjoy their first spot of wild camping. Wild camping is far from being a science but it’s easy to spoil this experience by taking the wrong gear or failing to understand what makes it so enjoyable.

In this article, I talk about some wild camping tips for beginners and simple ideas that would have saved me a lot of hassles and discomfort when I started out.

10 Wild Camping Tips for Beginners that You Should Know

+ FREE Printable Wild Camping Checklist

1. Pack Light and Only Take What You Need

Carrying too much gear was my first mistake when it comes to wild camping. I think that because I was so afraid, I compensated for this fear by carrying more gear than necessary. This not only meant carrying too much clothing but also too much food and accessories. For instance, I had three different torches and spare batteries for each one! Because I took this approach to multiple items, I ended up carrying more weight than during my hike on the Pacific Crest Trail a few years ago. I believe experience teaches everyone the same lessons about wild camping but it’s sometimes better to learn from others’ mistakes, rather than your own!

I’ll be outlining a basic packing list at the end of this post.

2. Make Sure You Have a Warm Sleep System/Gear

You just won’t enjoy a night of wild camping if you have an insufficient sleeping bag, which is why I have a different sleeping bag for the warm and cold weather months. But here’s a few ways in which I suggest you can keep warm and comfortable each and every night:

Bring thermal leggings and socks that you can wear if needed.

– Invest in a lightweight sleeping bag liner – they can add an insane amount of warmth.

– Wear a down jacket/puffy jacket in your sleeping bag on especially cold nights.

– Place a rain jacket over the foot area of your sleeping bag.

– Wear a beanie hat to sleep so that you won’t wake up with a cold head.

– Take an emergency foil blanket as a backup.

In short, it’s better to be too warm or a cold night of wild camping is just not enjoyable!

3. Choose a Suitable Tent for Wild Camping

I sometimes use a bivvy bag for wild camping and really enjoy the immersive experience they offer. But a bivvy bag is not always suitable and this is especially true during wet and windy conditions. For this reason, I most often use a one or two-man tent for wild camping in Ireland.

But what else should you consider when choosing a tent?

If you want the best chance of remaining unseen and to avoid the risk of being asked to move, a green or brown tent is the most discreet for obvious reasons.

Pick a tent that performs well in especially wet and windy conditions. I find a low profile works best because they are much less likely to shake like crazy or make noise in general.

4. Pitch Your Tent Before You Go Wild Camping in Ireland

I went wild camping on Dunree beach some years ago with a Vango Banshee 200. It’s my favourite tent for wild camping in Ireland and incredibly easy to pitch. However, I made the mistake of assuming this would be really quick and easy to set up for the first time.

It was getting dark and raining hard at the time. Due to these conditions and the onset of frustration, I spent a good hour trying to figure out how to pitch the tent properly and the rest of the night trying to get dry and warm myself up again.

It’s true, the tent is extremely easy to pitch. However, every tent design is different and the Vango Banshee 200 required a different approach than my other tents. Moral of the story? I could have avoided this disaster by pitching the tent in my backyard beforehand.

5. Consider Taking Cold or Pre Made Meals Instead of Cooking

After a long hike, I do enjoy a hot meal but I’m often too tired to cook. That’s why I always carry the option to have a cold meal in the mornings or evenings. Cooking is one of the most enjoyable things about wild camping but it’s also messy at times and not always ideal in especially bad weather. What’s more, I’ve often found a cold chicken tikka wrap to be just as enjoyable as a hot meal of any kind- especially if someone made the wrap for me!

6. Aim for a Wild Camping Spot Away from Built Up Areas

I find that picking a forest area can be especially reliable for wild camping. A forest is most often a sheltered and calm place to camp but also one in which you’ll be out of sight. In terms of choosing a spot, it’s also quite easy to pick out forested areas on any GPS or physical map.

You should also notice it’s harder to find a wild camping spot near a town or built up area. This means if you are hiking a long distance trail such as the Kerry Way or the Wicklow Way, it’s best to pick out some potential wild camping areas either long before or after such places.

7. Choose a Safe and Comfortable Spot (Near a Water Source)

Camping on a bed of pine needles is a beautiful thing and much better than a bed of stones or especially hard ground. That being said, none of this matters if it rains and you’re pitched in a ditch or depressed area that’s likely to flood or become waterlogged. It’s also important to stay clear of any dead trees or branches and avoid exposed areas when the weather is particularly wild. The last thing I would mention is the convenience of having a nearby water source. This will not only mean that you can use as much water as you like but a water source also makes washing dishes (and yourself) much easier. On the other hand, maybe it’s a spot known for midges? In which case, midges like water and this might be something to avoid.

8. Wait Until Nightfall to Pitch Your Tent

If you want to avoid getting moved on, it’s best to wait until nightfall to pitch your tent. I actually do this so that I won’t be thinking or worrying about having to relocate. It obviously won’t matter as much deep inside Wicklow National Park but it’s a decent rule of thumb.

For the sake of the wild camping community, I also suggest you pack up and leave at first light. It’s not about getting caught but rather about making every effort not to disturb locals and to help the wild camping community avoid any unwanted attention.

9. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of a Headlamp

I used to lead camping safaris in Africa. Before these trips, I would often pick up a few headlamps as my guests would often show up without one. You see, many of these guests had never gone camping before or tried to pitch a tent in the dark – without a headlamp. It might seem like a rather obvious or minor matter but you need both hands to pitch a tent which will inevitably make the process a little more than frustrating. The same goes for cooking in the dark, reading in the dark and going to the toilet in the dark – you get the idea!

10. Use Reusable Dry Bags (And not Plastic Bags)

I try not to use plastic bags wherever possible and dry bags are the ideal replacement. It’s important to use these bags to ensure your gear is fully protected from the elements. The truth is, backpacks can leak and a dry bag will ensure your backup gear is properly stored.

Just so you know, I use reusable Ziploc bags for food. However, I not only use a dry bag for my spare clothing but I also have a separate dry bag for my cooking equipment, sleeping bag and electronics. You can never be too careful but you should also find these precautions will serve you well on future trips.

Now, here’s a quick look at a basic packing list for wild camping. Please remember this is a basic outline and you will need more or less gear depending on various factors/conditions.

Basic Packing List for Wild Camping

  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag (& Sleeping Bag Liner)
  • Sleeping Mattress
  • Down Jacket
  • Gloves
  • Rain Jacket
  • Rain Pants
  • Beanie Hat
  • Backpack Rain Cover
  • Dry Bags
  • Spare T-Shirt
  • Spare Socks
  • Warm Sweater
  • Thermal Top / Bottoms / Socks
  • Headlamp
  • Map / GPS
  • Water Filter
  • Stove / Gas
  • Pot
  • Spork
  • Lighter & Matches
  • Camping Knife
  • Phone
  • Powerbank
  • Charging Cable
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste
  • Toilet Paper
  • Credit Card / Cash
  • Plastic Bag for packing Trash / Waste

Final Thoughts

I think that most people often worry and think about the same things before they go wild camping for the first time. These “things” include getting lost, being attacked or not having the right gear. But most of these thoughts are either unlikely or irrational and having the right gear is a simple matter of careful research and packing.


Either way, stay safe and whatever you do – enjoy your time in the wild!

My Biggest Wild Camping Fails that Everyone Should Avoid

Outdoor Adventure Stores are pleased to welcome the wise, witty and honest words of Irelands’ best known Outdoor Adventurer, Derek Cullen to our blog spot. Derek tackles everything from cycling across Africa, backpacking around this Island to long distance hiking and wild camping with enthusiasm and candid good humour. Here he shares his knowledge, some hot tips and his experiences on the trail.

Wild camping in Ireland has really taken off in recent months. It’s quite a contrast to when I walked around Ireland last year when many people were asking if wild camping was safe, enjoyable or even allowed for that matter. It’s great to see because I have always tried to encourage others to try sleeping in a forest or on a nearby hilltop.

At the same time, wild camping is much different to staying at a campsite. Without facilities or any kind of “safety net”, it’s important to keep certain things in mind. Having had so many camping fails myself, I also think it’s worth taking the time to plan a bit better.  –

For this reason, I’d like to share some of my wild camping “fails” and ideas that might help others have a safe and more enjoyable experience in the wild.

Skimping on the Cost of My Sleep System

When I first took to wild camping, I spent many nights trying to keep warm and comfortable. My sleeping bag just wasn’t warm enough and my foam sleeping mat was little respite from the stones and twigs protruding into my back. While I did eventually invest in a decent sleeping bag, I went for many years with an especially thin and rather useless foam mattress.

In fact, I picked up my very first inflatable sleeping mat (Vango Trek 3 Compact Mat) earlier this year. It’s true, after eight years of wild camping, I finally realized the benefits of a comfortable sleeping mat. This also prompted me to look for a more suitable sleeping bag as my trusty North Face Kazoo was losing its warmth by the day.

I know that everyone wants to spend less but your sleep system is not the place to skimp on spending. That said, there are still some great budget sleeping bags out there for wild camping and a good nights’ sleep is worth more than the cost of a decent sleeping mat.

Takeaway – Take time to choose the right sleeping bag and invest in a proper sleeping mat.

Getting Giardiasis after Drinking Contaminated Water

I’ve taken a lot of stick online for this one and rightly so. When hiking the Pacific Crest Trail a few years ago, I got giardia – an illness that comes from drinking contaminated water. It happened because I kept on “taking a chance” and drinking straight from the rivers. Big mistake. Giardia made it near impossible to hike, and I was lucky to reach a nearby town a couple of days later in which I could recover. But did I learn my lesson? Nope.

On my walk around Ireland last year, I took this same risk while camping next to a river in Kilkenny. Next morning, after walking up the river, I happened upon a section that was filled with the feces of some nearby cows and later that day, I succumbed to giardiasis once again!

Takeaway – Always use a reliable water filter when you go camping. It takes just a couple of minutes to filter water and an illness like giardiasis is just not worth the risk.

Using an Open Bivvy Bag in Midge-Country

I can only think that midges take their holidays in County Wicklow. It’s not bad whilst hiking because they can’t keep up, but they swarm like crazy as soon as you stop for a few minutes. I made a big mistake one evening when I went wild camping in Wicklow with an open bivvy bag. Due to the number of midges, I was literally unable to cook or eat and even sit outside and resigned to pulling a sleeping bag over my head for the night.

Needless to say, midges inhabit every corner of Ireland!

Takeaway – Use a tent or closed bivvy when wild camping in areas known for midges, because without a zip/mesh lining, you will be exposed to midges. It’s also worth packing a long sleeve top and bottoms and a head-net to help keep them at bay.

Taking the Wrong Tent into the Dublin Mountains

I’ve tried wild camping in Ireland with all of my tents. However, after an especially stormy night in the Dublin mountains, I’m a lot more careful about what tent I take with me. I found it hard to sleep because the tent really struggled with the rain and wind that night. I worried my tent might collapse due to the winds and the noise during this time was irritating to say the least.

That’s why you might have noticed I always use the same tent when wild camping in Ireland – the Vango Banshee Pro 200. I have several very expensive tents but the Banshee Pro is much better suited to the weather and conditions in Ireland. It features a strong build with a low centre of gravity and strikes a nice balance between durability and weight.

Takeaway – Choose a tent that can withstand the wind and rain. If I had the money, I might upgrade to the MSR Hubba Hubba NX but the Vango Banshee Pro has never let me down.

Picking the Wrong Wild Camping Spots

I’ve had my tent flooded in the past after pitching near the bottom of a hillside. I’ve also had sleepless nights after camping right out in the open or on top of a mountain summit.

It’s important to camp away from habitation and “out of sight” to avoid any unwanted attention. However, there’s lots more to consider in terms of picking a spot for your tent:

Camp on Flat, Soft and Dry Ground – Try to pick a flat area and preferably somewhere with soft grass or pine needles.

Avoid Dead or Precarious Looking Trees – Keep an eye out for dead trees and stay away from trees or overhead branches that might look unstable.

Camp Near a Water Supply – It’s always handy to have a water supply nearby for cooking, washing and drinking.

Camp with the Morning View in Mind – You will usually find a better view higher up but either way, never underestimate the power of a remarkable view. I will often look for somewhere to camp with the view from the tent door at the forefront of my mind. Remember, you’ll wake up to this view!

Camp in a Sheltered Area – You can often get away with camping out in the open but it’s also a risky option in blustery weather. Instead, camp in the forest or on the sheltered side of a hill.

Pitch Your Tent the Right Way Around – Unless you want to be sliding around all night, pitch the tent with your head facing uphill.

Takeaway – Common sense is usually enough but the above tips should help.

Over-Packing for the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland

It’s quite funny to think back about all the gear I carried on my first hiking trip. Hiking the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland was literally one painstaking step after the next. I just didn’t enjoy that hike because I packed far too much gear and ended up with deep bruising on both shoulders. In hindsight, I should have made every effort to not only choose as much lightweight gear as possible but also to cut back on the number of items in my backpack.

For this reason, I will often pack my backpack and then try to remove half of these same contents before leaving the house. It takes experience to realize that many items are not needed for wild camping in Ireland and most people pack far too much food in particular!

Takeaway – Try to practice a minimalist approach to wild camping and pay attention to the items which you carry often but never use.

Some Last Minute Tips for Wild Camping in Ireland

The truth is, you’ll learn a lot more about wild camping through first-hand experience but here’s a few last minute tips to keep in mind for your next trip:

Wait Until Dusk to Set Up Camp – It’s not a case of hiding or trying to sneak about the place. I suggest waiting until dusk so you can 1. Avoid the risk of being moved on and 2. Rest without mistaking every rustle outside for a witch or an evil axe-murderer.

Just Keep Moving – When searching for a place to camp, just keep moving until you find a place in which you feel comfortable. It always amazes me when I keep hiking that small bit further and find the absolute perfect camping spot that I might have missed by staying-put.

Focus on Keeping Everything Dry – I’m not a fan of plastic bags and recommend keeping dry bags inside your backpack. A backpack cover is also needed and the objective is to make sure your sleeping bag and spare clothing are not exposed to the elements while hiking.

Practice LNT Principles – Leave No Trace Principles are there to protect the environment but they also help others to be more approving toward the concept of wild camping which is something we should all try to encourage.

Final Thoughts

It’s common to feel a sense of fear when you go wild camping in Ireland for the first time. However, in time, you should find that most of these fears are quite irrational. What’s more, practice and experience will bring confidence and after a few nights sleeping in the wild, you will certainly enjoy this experience a lot more than when you got started.

Now is the pitch-perfect timing for a camping staycation in Ireland!

The best places for family staycations camping in Ireland and the very best reasons why you should choose to holiday at home in 2020

The time has never been more right for a camping holiday in this beautiful country. An increasing number of families are now considering holidaying in Ireland.   A camping staycation. The desire to leave a smaller carbon footprint on the planet makes staying closer to home for your annual holiday, a very inviting prospect.  The high cost of fuel, both to our own pockets and to the environment, means that long journeys are increasingly unappealing.    A camping staycation in Ireland allows families to enjoy a wonderful break with the smug and self-satisfied knowledge that they are not contributing further to climate change, pollution or toxic emissions.  Of course, the fact that we have the most awesome scenery and incredibly beautiful places to pitch your tent, makes the sacrifice of staying home, a very easy one to make.

Best Campsites in Ireland

Foreign travel involves a lot more organisation than a home camping trip.  Packing for a staycation is a less tedious task.   Airports and ferries can be expensive and stressful and you may lose a few days traveling to your destination.  A staycation has a lot of positives to offer, particularly for camping families.   No queues or cancelled flights/ferry sailings.  Doggie people can enjoy the company of their best friend for the duration and no kennel fees when you choose dog friendly sites. It makes sense on many levels to vacation at home.  Often you can be one short-dated passport, or one unfilled prescription away from disaster when traveling abroad!

The money you save on international flights can be invested in a family tent and some great camping equipment. The Vango Airbeam tent is a hassle free, no poles, no arguments, comfortable and stress free camping dream for any family to spend starry nights dreaming in.  It has two bedrooms that are separated by a centre porch. Fits up to 8 people and only take 12 minutes to pitch. This is camping luxury that you will enjoy for years to come.    

Camping can be quite luxurious now and has come a long way from burning a tin of beans over a fire before sleeping on rocks with various insects for company.  See our blog on Glamourous camping.

Camping Ireland

Where to pitch up…

Here are some of Ireland’s unique and best camping sites for the family tent.

Pure Camping in Querrin Co Clare

On the Wild Atlantic Way and near the scenic village of Kilkee, Pure Camping is an eco-retreat that welcomes pitching tents and even has some pre-pitched, if that is your preference. A sauna, solar showers and rainwater harvesting add to the eco-friendly vibe.  Children love the donkeys and chickens, and the nearby woods for adventuring. A communal dome tent provides a place to make new friends. 

Coomshanna Wild Camping in Co Kerry

The views over Dingle Bay are incredibly inspiring.  A stream runs by and other than this, there is a field devoid of rocks and bumps in which to pitch your tent.  Take your wee shovel when you want to use the toilet and no fire rule is enforced.  This is eco-friendly and   peaceful camping.  The starry skies are incredible.

Nore Valley Camping and Caravan Park Co Kilkenny

Family friendly, child friendly and well… just really friendly. Nore Valley has a lovely vibe. Maybe the hay trailer rides, the crazy golf or the petting zoo have something to do with Nore Valley being one of the most popular family camping sites on the East Coast.  Get lost in the wooden maze.  Go for a trip on a pedal powered go-kart.  This camping site is close to Kilkenny city and is a great camping base to just chill with the ostriches (Gail and Ragsy) or to explore the East Coast treasures.

Hidden Valley Holiday Park Co Wicklow

Classic campsite in Rathdrum which boasts fantastic facilities for families.  Kayaking and swimming on and in the Avonmore River.  Fish too, if that is your jam! Riverside campfires, a kid’s adventure fun park and cinema nights with beanbags are all on offer in this beautiful campsite.  The Wicklow Mountains are on the doorstep for hiking, biking, sight-seeing and generally enjoying the wonders of the garden of Ireland.

Eagle Point Camping Co Cork

Eagle Point campsite is a 20-acre campsite, a few kilometres from Bantry in West Cork. A great family campsite which hugs the water, with pebble beaches and great views over the sea.  A kids TV room, football, basketball and the usual facilities make Ballylickey/Eagle Point an easy place to pitch for a gentle fun filled holiday.

Affordable Camping Gear

Perhaps in the rush to explore foreign climes, we have forgotten all that there is to offer here at home.
This is just a wee taste of the fantastic camping choices available around Ireland The Wild Atlantic Way has a trail of camping sites that will bring a new experience every day. Stay-cationing is fun and make sense. It contributes to saving the environment, by cutting down of fossil fuels and air miles.  It is good for local employment and the sustainability of rural communities.  But most of all its good for your own sanity, and isn’t that what a holiday is all about.