How to sleep rough

Camping in the Himalayas

If your travelling on a really tight budget then chances are you will be planning on hitching at least some of the time. If so, you need to be prepared to sleep outside.  I would only consider taking the stuff below if I was hitching or trekking somewhere without lodges. Always look into local rental options when trekking. To find out more about what I take abroad check out my backpacking gear list. 

Sleeping bags – When hitching you will probably end up sleeping outside at least once or twice a week so make sure you have a tent and a sleeping bag unless you are travelling somewhere  warm. The type of sleeping bag you will need depends on where you are camping and the time of year, I would suggest going into an outdoor store and asking for advice. Down sleeping bags are warmer and more compact but they are also a lot more expensive and have a shorter life than synthetic bags. Normally a three season bag will be fine all year round in the majority of Europe although a four season bag is obviously preferable during the winter.

Mats – A cheap roll mat is advisable but not essential. Only splash out on a themarest if you are sure to frequently use it. If you do want to buy a thermarest make sure to shop around and if possible test a few out, from the point of view of practicality and comfort the Prolite series is definitely the best.

Rented home while climbing KilimanjaroTents – When choosing your tent spend accordingly, if you are going to be living in this tent non-stop for over a year do not buy a cheap one, for a good mix of quality and value I recommend Vango. If you are only going to use the tent for a couple of weeks you can probably get away with a cheaper pop up tent. The best two man tent I have ever owned is the Vango Banshee 200. When looking for a tent it is important that you take into account packing size as well as weight. You need your tent to fold down to a reasonable size, once you have taken a tent out of it’s factory sealed bag you will sometimes never get it back in again. Because of this it can be worth buying a larger stuff sack or dry-bag to keep your tent in. Even if your going to buy a cheap tent you should try and choose one with an inner skin and an outer skin rather than just one layer as these tend to leak. You should try to choose a tent with a large rain-fly which comes down the sides of the tent and doesn’t just cover the top. Always try to get a tent with a one piece waterproof bottom that has no seams. Make sure you have gaffa tape to seal any leaking seams. Ask around and see if you can borrow a tent to save some money.

Stoves – Unless you are spending at least a couple of weeks hitching you probably do not need a stove. If you travel for long enough having a stove will save you money and allow you to regularly eat hot food (rice and pasta are the best options). Most backpackers however don’t need a stove as depending on where you are trekking there will probably be villages or lodges where you can buy hot food. If you do want to buy a stove I would recommend getting a cheap one from an outdoors shop. If your feeling creative, you can also make one very cheaply.


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