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Camping in the Forest: A Survival Guide

Camping is a fantastic experience for people of all ages. Whether you’re camping alone, with friends, your other half or even as a family, there are plenty of incredible places to visit and loads to do at these amazing campsites in both the UK and abroad.

What’s more, many campsites are purposely designed to accommodate children, pets or any other request you may have. With Alan Rogers you can search for the very best inspected and selected campsites in destinations around Europe, matching the criteria required for your trip.

Camping in the forest is becoming ever-popular in Europe and there are plenty of stunning campsite locations scattered around the continent. Forest camping provides you with the opportunity to live amongst nature and whether you choose a designated camping site or prefer wild camping, there are loads of brilliant places to venture to.

However, as you would expect, camping in the forest brings with it a number of new challenges. Some of the things you’ll need to give particular consideration to is how you’ll cook food, whether there are sufficient activities for children and how to go about pitching your tent.

On this page you’ll find useful tips and information regarding all manner of forest camping, as we look to address some of the common issues and concerns campers may have.

Before delving into some of the major talking points, our first piece of advice is to be well prepared. When packing and organising your camping trip, don’t leave it all to the last minute. Instead, by preparing well in advance you’ll be able to better the experience and ensure a memorable adventure for all the family.

The Tent

As you’d expect, the tent is without doubt the most important accessory you’ll need to consider. If you’re staying in a designated camping site, you may be able to bring a caravan, campervan or other form of accommodation with you. However, for any type of forest or wild camping, you’ll need a suitable tent.

If you’re new to the camping scene, first thing’s first, you’ll likely need to go out and buy a tent for your adventure. Once you’ve chosen one fit for purpose, make sure to try unpacking and pitching it before travelling. This will save you a lot of time and hassle when first arriving at the destination.

Your Sleeping Arrangements

Camping in the forest can be cold at night, even during the summer months. As such, you need to ensure bringing sleeping bags that’ll keep you well protected from any drop in temperature.

For camping in the forest you’ll likely want to choose sleeping bags and ideally, solutions that are well insulated. After all, if the weather is a little on the humid side, you can always unzip slightly to help cool off.

Also, don’t forget to bring pillows with you as the ground can often be hard and uncomfortable. It’s recommended to choose sleeping mats too, acting as cushioning support whilst also retaining heat concurrently.

Cooking Equipment

If you’re staying on a designated campsite, the chances are you’ll have access to gas, electricity and even water. There are also campsites dedicated to glamping, so you won’t have to go out of your comfort zone.

However, if you’re planning on camping in the forest, you’ll instead need to consider how you intend to cook. Perhaps there’s a local community nearby where you can shop, but if not, you’ll want to bring all your food and cooking equipment with you.

There is the possibility of investing in a gas stove for your trip and if this is what you intend to bring along, you’ll need to take enough gas to last the trip. There’s also the option of liquid fuel stoves, although these don’t tend to produce a fierce flame, so it’ll take a while for anything to heat up.

Just remember not to pack too much in the way of cooking equipment. One saucepan is plenty and will keep the weight down. You can eat directly from this without the need for plates too – Just remember to pack a spoon or fork.

What Else Do I Need?

In all honesty, there is a near endless list of equipment and goods you can take with you on your camping trip and the three sections outlined above are simply the most useful. However, depending on your getaway, you may well prioritise other bits and bobs above others.

Take a look at the following list for items you could bring with you when camping in the forest. Feel free to print this out and use as a checklist when loading up the car:

  • Tent, including accessories such as spare pegs, a mallet, lantern, duct tape, sweeping brush and electric hook-up if required

  • A sleeping bag, mat or even camp bed, plus a pillow

  • Any furniture such as camping chairs, windbreak or portable toilet

  • A bin bag for all your rubbish

  • A large water container

  • A gas, coal or liquid stove

  • Pots and pans, a kettle, utensils, tableware, cutlery, tin opener, cool box and matches or lighter

  • First aid kit and any medication required

  • Sun cream, bug spray, hand wash, batteries, pocket knife and toilet roll.

Addressing Your Campfire

Camping isn’t the same without a fire and in fact, many campsites even endorse the use of one as long as you remain responsible and eco-friendly. As daylight disappears, there’s nothing quite like a campfire to see you through the evening and into the night.

Remember, campfires can be fun and as long as you inject some common sense into your practice, there’s no reason a problem will present itself. If you’re a first timer to the whole campfire scene, or simply want to get some more advice on getting your fire blazing in no time at all, we’ve got some great tips to help you start with.

  • Choose the right location: With any campfire it’s important to select a location that’s safe a practical. Preferably you’d keep away from areas with overhanging branches and dry undergrowth. Also ensure not to build your fire too near any tents.

  • You must use dry wood: If your wood logs are wet or damp you’ll really struggle to get any fire going. Therefore, store the wood in a dry place and keep your matches tucked away in a Ziploc bag.

  • Build up from small beginnings: A great campfire takes time and patience. You’ll need to start small and get the blaze going with firelighters, kindling or newspapers. Only then can you start to apply larger wood logs.

  • Apply a tipi formation: Arrange the foundations into a tipi shape, as this allows oxygen to circulate and also ensures your campfire has a basic structure in place. 

  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: When first lighting, look to light in a number of places, giving the fire better odds of a strong blaze.

  • Avoid rushing the process: Don’t add the larger logs on too quickly, as this can stifle the fire and see your efforts wasted at the first hurdle.

  • Remember to put the fire out: After your evening sat around the campfire, enjoying great conversation and some light hearted games, you’ll need to put the blaze out. Never go to bed believing a smouldering fire safe. Instead, let the fire die down and pour water or shovel earth on as required.

The Best European Forest Camping Sites

If you’re planning on a more unstructured trip and would rather turn up to a destination and pitch your tent, just ensure to maintain an eco-friendly approach. In this instance it’s important to use the notion of ‘leave no trace’.

However, there are some brilliant forestry camping sites for all ages, with plenty of activities, walks and local amenities to get your teeth into. If this is something you’re interested in, take a look at some of our recommendations for your next camping trip.

Wareham Forest Tourist Park, Dorset, England

This peacefully located and spacious park, on the edge of Wareham Forest, has 200 pitches and is continually being upgraded by its enthusiastic owners. Four main areas provide a wide choice of touring pitches from grass to hard standing and luxury, all with 16A electricity. The site has provided direct access for walkers into the forest or the seven miles of the Sika cycle trail may be used.

Castel Camping le Ty-Nadan, Brittany, France

Castel Camping le Ty-Nadan is a well organised site set in wooded countryside in southern Brittany, along the bank of the River Elle (renowned for fishing). There are 200 grassy pitches for touring units, many with shade, and 67 fully serviced, some with private sanitary facilities. A variety of outdoor family pursuits is on offer, including canoeing, horse riding, walking, mountain biking, rock climbing. 

Naturpark Camping Suleika, Germany

On a steep hillside in the Rhine-Taunus Nature Park and approached by a scenic drive along a narrow system of roads through the vineyards, this site is arranged on small terraces on the side of a wooded hill with a stream flowing through. The surroundings are most attractive, with views over the vineyards to the river below.