Lockdown 20/21 has given many of us a new passion, or habit, call it what you will – streaming Youtube channels to your TV – and when we’re not listening to music, our favourite OMM wormholes are anything to do with log cabins, wild-camping, bushcraft, homesteading, or camper / stealth van conversions. If that’s not your bag, just take a look at your parents, and maybe their parents, because, I warn you, however ‘cool’ you think you are now and despite still liking blast beats and music with shouting in, you will none-the-less start becoming fascinated with things like growing vegetables, chopping wood, and tractors when you get to a certain age. So, in part one we take a look at the wild and stealth camping videos that have become the new TV series in our house. We watched quite a lot of channels, unsubscribed from a fair few, and these characters are the ones to whom we keep faithfully returning. We did drink a fair amount of beer and whiskey too whilst doing our research.
PART ONE – WILD / STEALTH CAMPING
What wild-camper hasn’t agonised over the weight of their gear, forever looking at more inventive ways to shave 10 or more grams off their cooking set up, with that pricey titanium stove perhaps, or that new heat reflective isotronic sleeping mat that cost £200 and only weighs as much as a a sachet of MRE. That way, you will have plenty of space in your rucksack for the 6 kilos of strong lager you are inevitably packing! But how do the pros do it? We take a look at four channels.
Paul has a very relaxing narrative voice that could land him voice-over work should he ever need it, and he has lots of camping equipment which he reviews in detail on his expeditions. He flies a drone over the peak and lake district and camps mostly on hilltops, behind rocks, late at night, in all sorts of weather. One of the most informative of the channels, Paul tells you everything you need to know about wild and stealth camping. In his recent videos he is also doing up a camper van. Nice one Paul.
Expect: Drone footage from the Lake District, very long and semi-dangerous walks that might remind you of your youth, cooking with tiny lightweight utensils in the rain, and lots of information on the best gear.
Patrick ‘hollow legs’ Dickinson has perfected being a pedantic and boring old guy but his videos are none-the-less extremely compelling to watch, if only to see how much meat, ale, whiskey and pudding he can put away whilst crammed in a tiny tent on a Peak District hillside, or in his lockdown ‘shed pub’ or back garden. He is definitely a man with a tale to tell. If Patrick is your dad you would definitely be proud. He even congratulates you on getting through his videos! Patrick has tons of camping equipment from the 1970s, all catalogued and presumably stored at the right humidity. Whenever there is a new Patrick video, we shout ‘hooray!’. He’s brilliant!
Expect: Drones flying over hills. Cooking in the tent. Whiskey and beer consumption. Downing pints in one. Slurred speech, long-winded, detailed explanations and stories that would help small children get to sleep.
Gareth and Zoe Wildcamps.
Gareth is perhaps as boring as me, and I like him for that. Zoe accompanies him on his camping trips with a large supply of Baileys whiskey and never seems to once complain. She might even be a bit wiser than Gareth, who does most of the talking and what I guess we could call ‘mansplaining’, but hides it well, because we all know that behind a happy man there is a fine woman who at least some of the time pretends to be a bit dimmer than he, and laughs at all his jokes. They sure do have a lot of lightweight camping gear, and they camp in lots of nice places up north, often in woods, or review camping gear in their little lockdown house. They’re great!
Expect: Gareth grinning into a selfy stick, Zoe’s fixed Egyptian-eyed hypnotic gaze, a windswept Northern England, stove tests, alcohol..
The absolute king of stealth camping videos, heating engineer Steve Wallis and his friend Crazy Neighbour get up to all manner of daft projects in the wilds of Canada, as well as his solo wild-camping ‘stealth’ videos where he sets up camp in varying places, cooks a meal, and then gets up in the morning and goes home. I mean he camps anywhere. Having slept in the odd motorway storm drain, or having sneaked onto the odd building site to find shelter I know how exciting it is to wake up with a Bulgarian nightwatchman relieving himself three feet from your head unaware you are sleeping under his porta-cabin, so this is one of my favourite channels. Steve lived in a van when he was younger too, and now he is married and settled down it is great to see him still going out once a week. He does have a worry of being caught wild-camping that gives the videos an air of tension – presumably Canada has a vagrancy act that casts a shadow of shame on the populace – and in a dark twisted way perhaps we are all waiting for the day when that finally happens. Steve has a really good straightforward delivery and personality that keeps his subscribers coming back for more week after week. What a great guy!
Expect: Inventive sleeping arrangements, complex yet well-planned meals involving tins of processed food, cartons of liquified scrambled eggs and several carefully packed plastic bags. Also, IPA beers. flame throwers to light the fire, square fishing tents that erect in 10 seconds, plus the excitement of getting caught. And the phrase, ‘It doesn’t get much better than this!’.