I am a big fan of the ‘midweek microadventure’: living a more adventurous life by shoehorning little bits of adventure into the work week. I’ll start right away with a disclaimer: I know that not everybody has predictable office hours, or the ability to get away from home for a whole night. But for those of us who do, there is a whole world of mini adventures out there just waiting for somebody sufficiently bonkers to rock up with a bivvy bag or a tent and take it all in.
I’m planning a midweek wild camp at the minute. For a few reasons, it may not happen. However, I wanted to share the steps I take to plan my midweek wild camping microadventures. It might seem excessive – it’s one night outside! – but that’s the nature of a busy schedule. If your life is anything like mine, with a 40-hour week plus a hefty commute, lovely friends and family to see and a bunch of other commitments and goals on top for good measure, you have to plan every little thing. (I even plan my outfits the whole week ahead, although I accept that this may be taking things a bit far…) Planning gives you the best chance at making it happen. So…let’s get down to it. This is how I plan a midweek microadventure.
Check your schedule
Take a look at what you’re doing with your week. It’s possibly not wise to go microadventuring the night before a big senior presentation, but if you’ve got an open morning or a ‘business as usual’ kind of day coming up, it could be the one… Find a day with the right level of commitments on which you feel comfortable shaking up your routine. If you have showers at work, find out where they are so you can use them the next morning. If not, you might have to spend a day looking a bit post-adventure. Own it!
Check the weather
Plan to go in temperatures in which you’re comfortable sleeping outdoors, and that your gear allows you the comfort to go in. If it looks dry and clear (colder, but with a chance of staring at the stars) or dry and cloudy (fewer stars but warmer for it), you’re on to a winner.
Get your gear out in advance
Work weeks and commutes are long and tiring. To give yourself the best chance of success, get your gear out the weekend before you hope to go. I have my rucksack packed with at least my sleeping stuff and base layers on the Sunday before my week starts so I can just grab it on the day.
Know where you’re going
I always recommend wild camping in places you’ve been before or checked out in advance. Seek out quiet spots away from buildings or homes. I look for places with great views, the promise of a good sunrise, and a bit of historical significance is a bonus. (Here’s a blog on the time I wild camped at an ancient long barrow.)
For midweek microadventures, I like to choose locations that I can get home from within an hour and a half or so. The reason for that is that, if I need to bail for any reason, I’ll get home at a reasonable hour ahead of work the next day.
Find somewhere good for dinner
You can, of course, take your own little stove and cook something. This might be the only option if your spot is remote. However, the joy of having a less remote spot for a midweek adventure is that many places are within walking distance of a decent pub. I’ll look for a 2-4km walk on footpaths or safe roads, and that most wonderful of map symbols, the little blue beer glass… Try to identify the pub online or in person (it’s good to be thorough…) first to check all the sensible things like ‘does it serve food’ and ‘is it going to be open’.
Set a reliable alarm
I’ve written about the time I totally messed up my alarm call and woke up over an hour late in a bothy in Wales, an hour’s hike and a 110 mile drive from work. Use a reliable alarm clock, preferably separate from your phone. If you’re using your phone be wary that, if it gets cold, the battery will die, and your alarm with it. Keep your phone in your sleeping bag with you to help it last.
After that prep is done, all you have to do is sit back and relax. Get your warm layers on, snuggle into your sleeping bag, and enjoy an evening away from screens and responsibilities.
I’m not sure how to describe the feeling you get from going to work from a night on a hillside. Is it smug? Satisfied? Happy on a different level? Just plain tired? It’s all of those things. It’s the feeling you get from living a more adventurous life. It’s great.
Essential Kit List
I’ve included links here to all the kit that I use. It’s a mix of affordable and more premium gear. This is by no means the kit you ‘have to have’, and it reflects where I’ve found it most important to invest. Use it as a starter for ten for anything you really don’t already have around you. I always recommend using things you already have, or affordable basic gear, until you really know what you want. It means that you only invest in the right things for you, and that you can use and enjoy your investment for many wild nights to come.
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping mat
(Thermarest type thing, or just a bit of foam! I’ve reviewed the sleeping mat that I use here.)
- Bivvy bag or tent
(I’ve reviewed my hiking tent here)
- Small first aid kit
(I carry a mini ‘ouch pouch’ with plasters and painkillers for little ouches.)
- Flask of hot chocolate or whatever beverage helps you to sleep!
- Watch and reliable alarm clock
- Sensible boots for getting to and from your sleeping spot
(You never can tell with the UK)