We mostly associate camping with the family holidays during our childhood. Travelling is expensive, especially when you’ve got children, and therefore our parents chose to pack a tent or rent a caravan and keep the costs to a minimum. And even though there probably were a lot of downsides to this kind of trip, as a kid, you only noticed how free you were and how nice it was to make friends on the camping ground. A freedom which you’d like to rediscover now, after having spent a couple of years stressing behind your desk.
It’s not surprising camping is gaining in popularity again these days. After a year filled with Covid-19-troubles, during which we spent most of our time inside, we desperately want to go and discover the world. Reconnect with nature. Spend time with our family and friends. Enjoy life. Experience adventures. And honestly, there’s no better way to do so than by going camping.
Different forms of camping
Of course, there are a lot of ways to go camping and there’s one for very budget out there. You could opt for the classic way, pack your tent and a sleeping bag and book a spot on a camping ground. Easy and cheap. If you’re up for a bit of an adventure, bivouacking is a fine choice. As this isn’t allowed everywhere, this asks for some preparation beforehand yet it’s even more satisfying – and cheaper, actually. Of course, sleeping in a tent isn’t that comfortable so we’d understand if you’d rather sleep in a van, a camping car or a mobile home. Whether you rent one or buy one, is up to you. And if you prefer a picture-perfect holiday, you could of course go glamping, yet another totally different experience.
Bivvying is camping at its simplest: sleeping outside without a tent and minimal gear. It isn’t about a comfortable night rest. It’s about squeezing an adventure into a humdrum weekSusanne Masters, the Guardian writer
Bivvying: the definition
But today, we’re not here to talk about any of those options. Today, we talk about bivvying. One look online is enough to understand it’s a trend, yet what exactly is bivvying? Well, it’s the most basic form of camping. You don’t even need a tent – just a sleeping bag and a waterproof bivvy bag to prevent you from getting soaked during the night. Once you’ve got those two tools, the world is your oyster. You choose a spot, put down your sleeping bag for the night and wait for nature to surprise you. Don’t expect to sleep well though – you won’t.
The Guardian writer and fervent bivvyist Susanne Masters describes it as follows: “When I bivvy I’m not in search of sleep. I know I’ll wake up frequently, feeling restricted by my sleeping bag. Bivvying is camping at its simplest: sleeping outside without a tent and minimal gear. It isn’t about a comfortable night’s rest. It’s about squeezing an adventure into a humdrum week; it’s about being in nature, hearing hedgehogs snuffling and waking to the dawn chorus. It’s a short, sharp dose of escapism that has become even more restorative in the past 15 months.”
1. Just for the night
As a bivvyist, you want to keep your impact on your surroundings to a minimum. Which doesn’t just mean you sleep under the open sky, yet it also means you don’t light a campfire, you don’t cook, you don’t put on music. Which is quite different to the way most of us imagine camping. It also means it’s not something you do for nights in a row when you’re hiking, as you’ll need to cook something for yourself in that scenario. Most people who go bivvying therefore opt for a place close to home. They eat at home, they wash themselves at home and THEN they go out in search of the perfect spot. The whole experience lies in what happens during the night, not in what happens during the day before nor after.
2. Allowed or not?
If you’re wondering whether or not bivvying is allowed in your country, we can’t give you a straight answer. Everything depends on where you live and how closely the rules are guarded. Nick Hayes, author of ‘The Book of Trespass’, explains it there as follows: “In all my years sleeping out, I’ve never been caught or asked to leave. That’s because no one has ever seen me. This isn’t hard: you’ve got to get out into the English countryside to realize just how much open space there is, and how many snug options there are for a night’s snooze. You don’t need to go anywhere near a home or private space. I prefer woods – not just because they block wind chill and rain, but also because few people want to walk through the woods at night.”
One last piece of advice if you’d like to take up bivvying yourself: choose your spot wisely. A slightly covered place, like a forest, under a single tree or under a rock, fits the purpose best. You don’t want to be totally unprotected from Mother Nature neither.