Wild Camping: Don’t make a mess and don’t drink unfiltered water

While campsites across Wales and Scotland are set to join England ‘s re-opening of campsites, increased demand at sites means that wild camping is on the increase – and some sites offer minimal facilities to give a wild camping experience anyway.

Leave no trace

Wild campers who are camping without the owner’s permission are technically trespassers, but both the National Trust and local councils are keen to distinguish between discreet wild campers – who pitch late in remote locations and go early without leaving any trace of their presence – and larger groups camping in inappropriate places and leaving behind rubbish and human waste, as has been seen recently. It goes without saying that if you venture into the outdoors, it is important to leave the location as you found it.

Cornwall council’s environment cabinet member, Rob Nolan, said that locals were getting fed up with inexperienced campers turning up without bookings and staying overnight in unsuitable places, in some cases leaving behind piles of rubbish and burying human faeces on beaches.

“We don’t encourage it [wild camping] – but we live with it,” he said. “I’m more concerned about poorly-equipped groups and families turning up and pitching right beside the beach or parking camper vans in public parks. It’s just not acceptable.”

Safety First

So if you are wild camping, what other points should you bear in mind, apart from leaving the location as you found it and taking your rubbish with you?

Well, first off, make sure the location is safe – for example, camping too close to a river could see you submerged as tides cause river levels to rise, but water is a consideration in other ways too.

It’s really important to ensure your drinking water is free from water-borne contaminants such as viruses, cysts and bacteria – and many of the myths we grew up with could put families in danger when drinking water outdoors.

Backed by more than 10 years of experience working in the humanitarian sector, LifeSaver’s advanced filter technology is trusted by organisations such as Oxfam and the British army. Here, they debunk some of the most common myths about drinking water outdoors.

Four of the most common wild water myths debunked:

MYTH: The water looks clean and clear, it should be fine…

TRUTH: Clear water is not clean water – viruses and bacteria are microscopic so when it comes to wild water, the stuff you can’t see is what you need to be concerned about. In the outdoors, you also need to consider herbicides and pesticides in the water, while urban travellers should remember that tap water could contain nasty bacteria that may cause stomach bugs or worse….

MYTH: It’s the UK, I’ve been drinking wild water for 30 years, water here is ok to drink…

TRUTH: Wherever you are in the world, water should be filtered before you drink it. Even in the most remote areas of the UK you need to consider the likelihood of animal faeces, agricultural chemicals or worse. There are natural factors to think about too, for example the acidic nature of peat can cause stomach upset, so it is always better to be safe not sorry.

MYTH: Wild water is fine if you make sure to collect it from a fast-flowing or upstream source

TRUTH: Even in areas you know like the back of your hand, in lakes and rivers you can never be 100% sure of what you can’t see. Fast flowing rivers are a great place to collect water from, but still carry risk. A dead animal carcass upstream could be contaminating the river, so it is always best to filter or treat water before drinking.

MYTH: Filtering water is difficult and takes ages…

TRUTH: Typically, enthusiasts fear using chemical treatments on the go or the inconvenience of carrying heavy and expensive pumping equipment to ensure that they remove all types of viruses, cysts and bacteria. With a lightweight, portable filtration device like the LifeSaver Liberty™, clean and safe water is just seconds away. A couple of pumps…it couldn’t be easier. 

Not all filters are made equal, so for complete peace of mind make sure to look for a water filtration solution that remove cysts and smaller viruses, as well as bacteria, as these can make you very ill.

What are the risks from unfiltered natural water?

Some of the more commonly reported problems experienced from drinking impure water include, but are not limited to, the following waterborne illnesses:

  • Gastrointestinal Problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Intestinal or Stomach Cramping
  • Intestinal or Stomach Aches and Pains
  • Dehydration
  • Death

Considering a filter?

Exceeding the highest possible NSF P231 standards, the super portable LifeSaver Liberty™ bottle filters out a minimum of 99.99% of cysts, bacteria and viruses, ensuring you can filter really dirty water and drink with complete peace of mind.

The LifeSaver Liberty™ bottle works both as a personal drinking bottle or a powerful in-line filter to pump clean water into other bottles and containers.  Requiring no additional power or chemicals, the bottle’s hand pump creates air pressure internally which forces water through the ultrafiltration membrane. The filtered water then passes through an extra carbon filter, eliminating any unwanted tastes.

Be a considerate camper

If new wild campers continue to disrespect the environment, the rules are likely to toughen up and spoil it for future generations, so if you do head out into the wild this summer, be considerate, stay safe and think about donating your normal pitch fee to the National Trust.

However, wild or not, when it comes to collecting and drinking wild water, it pays to be safe rather than sorry.