So you have read our website and lapped up every word. You have made the decision that you want to become a feisty camper. However, like we were, you are a student and rather impoverished. Is it really possible for you to become feisty? As eternal optimists we would argue “yes.” All you have to do is follow our simple ideas listed below and we can get you out in the woods for at least three seasons and a British winter for under £100. And guarantee (with a little gumption) warmth and dryness as well.
In this article we make the assumption that you already have a backpack, your own cutlery, a mug, and clothes to wear. We aim to provide you with the following for under £100 (price £84.50, total pack weight 5074g):
2. Sleeping bag
5. Head torch
6. Roll mat
Shelter: Army surplus bivy and plastic tarpaulin
Weight: Bivvy 800g. Tarp 550g
Dimensions: bivvy 250 x 80 cm. Tarp 240 x 300 cm
Packed size: bivvy 30 x 10 cm. Tarp 40 x 30cm
Price: Bivvy £25 Tarp £5
Feistiness rating: 3.5
There are plenty of reviews on the army surplus bivvy and generally speaking people absolutely rave about it. It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours and it is worth doing some research here. They are made of goretex which means that they are waterproof and breathable, although they may be prone to condensation on the inside.
The hood is a drawstring variety which means that it is not waterproof at the head and you will need a tarp to protect your face from rain or snow. Similarly there is no mosquito net so make sure that in Spring, Summer and Autumn you take some bug spray or modify your bivvy.
The beauty of these bivvies are that they are positively palatial. You could easily put your rucksack at the bottom and have some kit arranged around the edges. With a bit of daring do it should also be possible to get changed inside during the rain.
With regards to the tarp, if you’re camping on a budget we suggest shopping online or heading down to your local hardware store and buy a 240cm x 300cm plastic tarpaulin for £3-5. You can buy a nicer colour than the rather minging one we have photographed! Make sure it has loops in it for pegging out and attaching rope. They will function just as well as a tarp that is over £100. If you want to go lighter, you could buy a smaller tarp. The beauty is lies in the cheapness; if it gets holes in just throw it away!
Sleeping: Snugpak Sleeper Extreme and British Army 5 Season Roll Mat
Weight: Sleeping bag 2.1kg. Roll Mat 600g
Dimensions: Sleeping bag 220 x 75 (Shoulder) to 38 cm (at feet). Roll mat 185 x 55 x 10cm
Packed size: Sleeping bag 28 x 26 cm. Roll mat 55 x 15 cm
Price: Sleeping bag £35 Roll Mat £5.50
Feistiness rating: 4
There are many sleeping bags in this price range but heed our warning; many of the comfort ratings are lies. Unless you go for the Snugpak Extreme. For the price it is impossible to beat this product. A giant will fit in it and it goes to a genuine comfort rating of -7C. This should get you through most British winters and the bivvy will give you an extra few degrees on top. Don’t get us wrong, this product is a bit on the heavy side and its packed size is large but this is compared to products that are 3-4 times the price.
The bag is filled with siliconised synthetic fibres which give a really soft touch finish. A zip and shoulder baffle come as standard. The roll mat is a no frills device that is good for 4 season use and will keep the cold ground from invading your warm sleeping bag. You will live in minus figures with this kit but not only that. If your hips can take it, you will get a good nights sleep.
Cooking and head torch: Trangia mess tin, hexamine stove, and standard hardware store head torch
Weight: Stove 370 g. Mess tin 154 g Head torch 350 g
Price: Stove £3. Mess tin £7. Head torch £5
Feistiness rating: 3.5
A cheap military style mess tin that’s light weight and useful for the solo camper. It’s strange in some ways I get more benefit from this mess tin than more expensive kit such as MSR cookware. The reason being I just don’t mind if my tin gets damaged because it is so cheap (£6 approximately). I will happily put this directly on the hot coals of a fire and don’t mind if the metal is tarnished, in fact that’s just a medal to show that good times have been had.
Being ultra light weight the metal is of course very thin so if you wanted to cook anything directly on the metal itself it is liable to burn very quickly unless you are very careful with the temperature of your stove/fire.The mess tin also doubles as a bowl to eat out of so you won’t need plates etc which is another great way to save a few grams.
There are various mess tins on the market and my only advice would be to exercise caution with insulated handles on a fire as the black plastic may melt.
The hexamine cooking stove is a bit of a double edged sword. There is no doubt that, combined with the hexamine fuel, it has the lightest packed size. However, the fuel is as heavy as camping gaz and you burn through it much quicker. It will take about 5 tablets to boil 500ml of water. However, what you could do is use a campfire flame and make use of the stove in emergencies (or during the day time when you don’t want people to be attracted by the smoke of a campfire).
With regards to head torches they are fairly ubiquitous and a trip to your local hardware store usually will help you to pick up the cheapest options. Go for an LED head torch as they will last longer and the more lumens the better. Check the battery life and avoid lithium batteries as they are expensive. and not rechargeable. For £5 this will be a no frills torch and you will be lucky if you can see more than 5 metres in front of you. Fine for camp-craft, cooking, limited foraging in darkness, and pitching a tent but rubbish for navigating to unknown destinations under the cover of darkness. Try them out before you buy.