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How To Stealth Camp | Rucksack Setup and Equipment You Need

How To Stealth Camp
In The Uk

The art of good Stealth Camping is really quite simple,
although there are those that want to make it into some sort of science!

Essentially Stealth Camping is the art of non detention.

It's all about going into somewhere (insertion) staying for a pre-determined time (observation), and then leaving without anyone knowing you were there (extraction).

These type of actions have been successfully carried out for hundreds of years by the military, with the specific aim of gaining important intelligence and information about the enemy.

These three main areas are what sets stealth camping apart from the normal site or wild camping we see most people doing,

In theory, you could stealth camp just about anywhere really, as the whole point is not being detected.

Although stealth camping can take on various different forms, there are very few actual definitions on what really constitutes stealth camping.

Take for example, going on a long journey in your car and you decide to stop for a rest at a roadside cafe.
Then you settle down for an extended nap in your car - you have actually stealth camped without even knowing you were doing it.!
Although having 40 winks in your car for a few hours at at the local McDonalds is not quite considered hard core.!

Stealth camping itself does not necessarily mean illegal camping.
You can just as easily practice the art of concealment tucked away in the bushes at your local camp site.

Plus, there are many areas that offer 'wild camping' as an alternative to 'normal' camping, where you can hitch up a hammock or bivvy and have a camp fire as well.
These woodland areas are a good way to hone your techniques before doing it for real.!

Also, on the subject of illegal camping:

My advise is if you ever see a "No Trespassing" sign, then don not ignore it.!

Simple as that - it's there for a reason and displaying a sign adds to the owners authority of keeping people off that particular bit of land.

You also cannot use the the excuse of - "I didn't know I wasn't allowed to camp her mate"..!!!

How To Stealth Camping
Considerations for a successful mission

Mode Of Transport:

Just how do you get to you planned destination?
Note I say 'planned'. This is important - you need a good idea of where you intend to hide out of that night.
If you try to make it up as you go along, it will be nightfall before you know it, and that changes things a lot.

On foot can also mean that you need to use public transport. 
But walking to your chosen spot will mean a well thought out backpack - essentials only, and very lightweight - each time you go out you will change things about - eventually you have the perfect amount and type of equipment to suit your camping style.
Surprisingly, that doesn't take too long to get a good kit together.

Other modes of transport move on from walking - a bike being on of them.
I personally think the bike method is ideal for stealth camping.

Firstly you can carry a little extra equipment, and more equipment normally means a bit more luxury.!

Secondly, you can travel good distances and go relatively un-noticed, whist still being able to get deep into woodlands and forests, even on the narrowest of trails.

Quite often, on a pre-planned stealth camp, I get driven to a nearby drop off point and make my way from there.

The reason behind this is:
I have a specific drop off and pick up point and should there be any problems I have an element of safety built in if I do not return to that point by a specific time.
i.e. if I'm not contactable the alarm can be raised.

Have  Plan:

This is the most important part of stealth camping - always have a plan AND stick to it.

Before you venture out always review a map of where your going and treat it as a full on escape and evasion exercise.
Don't just grab your bag and go - have a pre-determined plan, know your routes and make sure you tell a RELIABLE FRIEND of what you are doing.
Make sure they have your mobile phone number, and agree check in times throughout your camping trip.

Remember, your not doing this for a living or making any money out of it - it is an interesting and challenging 'hobby' - so do not put yourself in danger.

For absolute peace of mind consider a PLB - Personal Location Beacon.
Should anything happen like an accident where you are unable to carry on, you can be located instantly using the PLB.

To Be Stealthy
You Must Blend In:

Being stealthy means going un-noticed. Blending in with your fellow man is as important as blending in with your surroundings.

In an urban environment you want to be 'The Grey Man' and simply fit in, raising no ones attention or interest. 

This may mean wearing one set of clothes on your way to your stealth location, but changing into woodland camo or hiking gear once you enter a forest area.

By blending in you do not raise any questions as to why you are there. So keep a low, understated profile - be the grey man...

Concealment becomes more important the closer you get to your final destination.

Secondly, the equipment you take with you must also help to conceal your whereabouts.

A bright red tent and a blazing camp fire simply wont do.!

When To Set Up Your Stealth Camp:

Always aim to set up camp at twilight - there will be far less people about for one thing,
This gives sufficient light to setup before it goes dark completely.
Be aware of your shape and silhouette:

Making that mistake is easy to do - positioning your camp on a horizon or at the edge of a forest will create a defined silhouette of everything you are doing, making your movements even more pronounced. 

The last thing you want to be doing is having to use a torch to light up your camp area.

If darkness falls to quick and you miss-time your camp setup, I suggest using red light.

This type of lighting will give you extra night vision, enough to continue your setup.
But will not be as obvious and will not attract attention like the normal white light torch beam will produce. 

Extra Planning When Setting Up Your stealth Camp:

As part of your pre-planned stealth camp trip, I suggest 'scouting out' your camp area beforehand if possible.
Make a daytime trip to the area and look at all the potential stealthy areas that could be used.
You can even covertly mark the route or the point of exit from a pathway to make it easy to find later on. 

Packing Up Your stealth Camp:

Take down your camp before dawn and be ready to leave camp by sun up.
Remember the golden rule of stealth camping
LEAVE NO TRACE

Take any rubbish with you and ensure you leave the camp just as you found.

Become Invisible:

It is essential that you try to blend in with your surroundings in order to become as invisible as possible.

Your equipment should appear to be dull and lifeless, with no shine or reflection that will make it stand out. 

To do this you must make use of the 6 S's and the 3 C's of stealth survial

  • SHAPE
    should not like like the human shape
  • SHINE
    make all object dull especially skin tones
  • SILHOUETTE
    blend in to the natural area
  • SATURATION
    drab and earth tones work best
  • STILL
    do not move around fast - flow with the vegiatation and souroundings
  • SILENT
    keep quiet - no talking, battoning or load noises - sound travel a long way, especially at night.
  • COVER
    use natural vegetation wherever possible - it is the best form of cover 
  • CAMOUFLAGE
    use a camouflage to break up outlines and match the vegetation.
  • CONCEALMENT
    cover with camouflage, erase your footprints and track and don't break or bend vegetation when walking to your stealth camp.

Equipment For Successful Stealth Camping:

You need relatively little equipment to spend a night out undetected.

The bear essentials can be broken down into just a few areas that can easily be packed into a small rucksack.

The only real time when you start adding more gear is when you have a few 'what ifs' to deal with.
Things like, what if it rains or I get very cold - if they concern you, then just pack the essentials to cover that concern

A recent stealth camp setup of mine - using the Lawson Hammock and tarp as shelter/sleeping

see my Lawson Hammock Review here:

You kit will change the more you go out - it will also change (considerably) when the seasons change.
Winter can be a bummer some times, especially if you get wet as well as cold - but the plus side is the fact that there are usually very few people around.

Hammocks, tarp shelters or bivvy tents make ideal shelter - I prefer the hammock as you don't have to worry about clearing an area below you.
But try to hang your hammock close to the ground, rather than the normal two foot above the ground.
Adding dead branches and foliage over the tarp will give more camouflage and concealment to your camp.

There are many other variation of sleeping, but it's up to you to see what suits you the best.

Food & Fire

The temptation to have a nice camp fire is high when you are out in the woods., and cooking over an open fire is mostly what wild camping is about.

But the sounds, smoke and smells of food cooking over an open fire can, and very likely will attract visitors - either animals, for example a person out with a stroll with their dog.
Or a nosey visitors wanting to know whats going on in the middle of the forest.!

Preparing meals over an open fire can only be done if you are 100% sure you will not get spotted.

For general overnight stealth camping I suggest you DO NOT have an open fire - 

If you must have a hot meal I suggest a small stove that burns clean, giving off no smoke or heat signature. 
Along with some dehydrated food packs - this way you only need to heat up water for the re-hydration process.

I use the excellent  Jetboil Flash Cooking System, and highly recommend it:

Follow this link to see my full video review of the stove in action.

Other Equiipment

Any other equipment you choose to take is going to be up to you:
The deciding factor is weight - there are some people that can get their kit down to a mere 5kg.! But that means sleeping in your clothes and no real luxuries at all.

The most weight is concentrated in your rucksack, sleeping bag+pad, and shelter, these are often called the Big 3 and by choosing wisely can reduce you backpack weight considerably.

This is my personal kit I have been using this summer for my own stealth camping trips.

Hopefully this article has given you an idea of what to consider when stealth camping.

It does not cover everything and there are many variations and different ways that other stealth camp.
That's what makes it so interesting - we all have different ways to achieve the same thing, but until you get out there and try it, you'll never know.

Happy Prepping Folks.

Steve

Steve Hart UK Preppers Guide

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2 comments

  1. Steve Knight

    Hi, Steve

    I’m interested in doing a few stealth camping trips. My question is this…
    With the thermal imaging technology available to the Police in their helicoptors, am I likely to get in trouble legally if they fly over and spot my thermal image on their system?.
    Last thing I want is the Police waking me up during the night with dogs, thinking I am a fugitive.

    What are your views on this.?.

    I went on a two night rough camp years ago with a mate, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and would like to take my son on similar trips, to get him ‘prepared’ for ‘bugging out’ if he needs to in the future.
    Regards
    Steve

  2. David

    Thumbs up Steve, a good post about a good subject with enough info to get on with it.

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