How to Wild Camp on Bikepacking Trips

The Apidura guide to sleeping in the wild, with practical guidance and expert advice

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On a bank of a river, a person inside of a green tent rearing his head. Also, there are two bikes with a kit of bikepacking bags on the floor next to the camping area

Wild camping, or sleeping rough if only equipped with a bivvy bag and no tent, can be a daunting prospect for adventure cyclists that have never done it before. However, while fears of being discovered by somebody (or something), not being comfortable, or breaking the law, are all perfectly legitimate reasons to treat the exercise with caution, they shouldn’t be factors that lead anyone away from attempting a night in the wild.

The benefits of not having to book, locate, or indeed pay for accommodation, need no reiteration, but added to that is the incomparable feeling of waking up in the wild – be it in some far-flung foreign country or in a nearby woodland. It is an experience with a richness that would be lost on nobody, but such is the nervousness that surrounds the idea of sleeping out in the wild, it is also an experience that is only cherished by few.

So, at the end of a long day of riding, with legs that need resting and eyelids that need closing, it’s decided that the time has come to stop and find somewhere to sleep. But what happens then?

two people into sleeping bags with their bikes and bikepacking bags next to them


– Check the local law on wild camping. If it’s forbidden, we can’t condone it
– Pick up food and water supplies late in the day to see you through the night and morning
– Wait until dusk before you end your day in order to minimise the chances of being seen and discovered
– Once a potential site has been identified, make a quick and confident exit from the road or trail to evaluate it
– If no ‘wild’ spots can be found, don’t be afraid to ask a land owner’s permission to camp


– Utilise level, higher ground and extra protection from trees and buildings for a naturally secure site
– Once site is identified (away from road), wait for ten minutes. This allows for a measured assessment time in which any problems should become clear
– If you are discovered, be open and friendly. Knowing words like ‘friend’ and ‘sleep’ in the local language can help
– If nobody bothers you in that time, begin setting up camp. If there’s two of you, split tasks for speed


– Be wary of torch beams after dark in order to maximise your conspicuousness (and ensure you can see the stars)
– Put all food in a sealed container (e.g a dry bag), to prevent smells from reaching local wildlife during the night
– Secure bike if necessary and retreat to sleeping bag
– Enjoy a hard-earned snooze in your temporary 10,000-star accommodation
– In the morning, leave before you’re discovered, and with no trace of your presence

A person camping in the mountains: She is sitting outside next to the tent and their bikepacking bags

“To secure my bike, I just use a simple cable lock. It’s more of a deterrent, really. Then I tie my bike to my tent or sleeping bag in some way, so that if somebody does try to steal it then I have a warning signal.”

Lee Vilinsky, Apidura staff member

“You don’t really need a sleeping mat for temperate climates. Instead, pay extra attention to finding a dry and grassy area. Next, sweep away any obnoxious twigs, rocks and pine cones, et cetera. Even with a minimalist mat, the space savings allow room for more critical gear. A giant burrito, perhaps!”

Ryan Correy, Apidura ambassador and wild camping enthusiast

“Remember that people are generally nice, and if they bother you, usually it’s only to see if you’re OK. Be friendly and considerate, and nine times out of ten you’ll be left in peace.”

Josh Cunningham, Apidura staff member

bikepacking tips to sleep outside the setup