Hiking Boots Next To Person Resting On Hill


It happens to all camping enthusiasts at some point. You are bound to forget one of your most essential pieces of kit. The first time it happened to me, it was my sleeping bag. I spent the whole weekend annoyed, and disgruntled, furious at myself for being so stupid.

The second time it happened, it was my tent. I had forgotten the outer shell after hanging it up to dry, leaving me with only the poles and non-waterproof inner shell. As Murphy’s Law would have it, it poured for the first two days, leaving me without a tent. This time, instead of getting annoyed, I began thinking about how to make the best of these horrible situations. There is a way to manage without the basic camping essentials so that it doesn’t ruin your much-needed getaway. Here is how…


There are ways to maximise your ability to stay warm without your beloved down jacket. Firstly, you need to think about your layers. Add an extra layer to the top and bottom to trap more air, and if possible, include a windbreaker as the final layer to lock your heat in and prevent you getting wet.

It also becomes even more important to stay dry when you don’t have a down jacket. Cotton’s biggest weakness is that when it becomes wet, it loses much of its insulating properties. This applies to sweat too. If you have sweated through a cotton layer underneath, take it off, thoroughly dry yourself off and then replace it with a different t-shirt. As soon as any layer becomes damp, replace it to preserve your body heat.


I developed a strategy for getting a relatively good night’s sleep without a sleeping bag, having developed it out of necessity on more than one occasion. But just to be clear, this is a short-term solution for when you have no other option. I would highly recommend buying a sleeping bag at the earliest possible opportunity, as one night of interrupted sleep, you can get away with but beyond that, your body will need a solid night of sleep to recover.

Fairly recently I went camping with a couple of friends, it was summer and the days were scorching but knowing the temperature plummets at night in the bush, we had all planned to bring plenty of warm gear and sleeping bags. Of course, after we had set up the tents and built our campsite, I realised I had forgotten my sleeping bag. I considered the situation, then came up with a solution.

Because it wasn’t a windy night, I thought the best thing to do would be to sleep outside the tent and wrap myself in the tent footprint. My logic was that hopefully, this would trap a layer of air between me and the tent, which my body would warm and therefore keep me warm. I then collected as many stones as I could and heated them in the fire all evening. Before I went to sleep, I removed the stones from the fire and built a ring of warm stones around me, careful to keep them far enough away that they wouldn’t touch my groundsheet cocoon.

It provided enough warmth to get a couple of hours of sleep, then when they had cooled and I awoke to aggressive shivering and cold, I put the stones back in the fire and removed another set I had placed in the fire before bed. I would wake up every couple of hours throughout the night and replace the stones, buying me a little more time of sleep. It was far from ideal but it gave me enough rest to get through the following day when I went back to civilisation to get a sleeping bag.


This is nowhere near as bad as it sounds and might even sound impossible but believe me it happens. Providing the night is dry, a tarp underneath your sleeping bag will provide the necessary insulation and wrapping yourself in as many layers as you have should keep you warm enough to get through the night. The biggest issue with camping without a tent is the mosquitoes. Light a fire with green, mossy twigs to keep them at bay. Damp twigs will also do the same job once your fire is raging. It should give off a lot of smoke and stop the flying hypodermic needles from feasting on your sleeping carcass.

Forgetting your gear is never ideal. But instead of letting it ruin the trip, consider it an opportunity to test your survival instincts and knowledge. Part of the thrill of camping off the beaten track is that it tests your adventurous spirit and survival knowledge. What better way to do so than by leaving you short-handed and looking for a quick fix to a potentially trip-ruining problem.


Do you have any camping tips for when you have forgotten the essentials? Share your experience through the comments section below.

Jane F
Jane F

Jane loves camping, hiking and anything to do with the outdoors. She might love glamping but she will do it all.