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Camping at SCA events is quite a bit different from modern-world camping. Here are some basic tips to get you going:

In General

SCA camping is both more luxurious and more rustic than modern camping.

  • You'll find that you take along much more gear when camping in the SCA.
  • Sites can be very rustic. Toilet facilities may be an outhouse. You may have to bring in your own water.
  • If the event is large and the site is crowded, you will find yourself camping very closely with your neighbours. Remember that you're not in your home. Voices carry easily from one tent to another. Shadows cast by those inside a tent are easily visible from the outside.
  • Respect the event steward and the site rules. Camp in the Noisy Area or the Quiet Area, as appropriate to your activities. Keep alcoholic beverages hidden or disguised as required by the site rules. Observe the Quiet Hours.
  • It rains a lot in An Tir. Always be prepared for rain.

Site Care

  • Leave the site cleaner than you found it. After packing up, do a sweep of your camping area and pick up any little debris (duct tape ends, cigarette butts, food scraps, etc) Pick up after your neighbours and along any nearby paths as well.
  • Tell the event steward immediately if there are any issues with site facilities (broken toilets, flooding, etc)


  • Wear waterproof shoes and wool socks in the evenings and rainy days.
  • Wear layers of clothing so you can add or take away depending on the weather.
  • Wear a hat to keep the sun off your scalp. A cotton veil or "turban" are also good options. Bonus: on hot days, wet the turban down to keep cool.
  • Cotton and linen are your friends--the fabric will breathe better and keep you cooler. Wool also breaths well and has great insulating properties. Polyester blends don't do well in heat and sun.


In our modern lives we don't use fire much, but in our medieval lives it's fairly common. Exercise extra caution around fire.

  • Have fire-extinguishing equipment handy and visible. This can be as rustic as a bucket of water, or as fancy as chemical fire-extinguisher.
  • No open flames in tents, ever. Enclosed flames are just barely okay, but battery-powered lamps or flashlights are much better.
  • Tie back veils, flowing sleeves, and long skirts around fire.


  • At night, tone down your lighting expectations. If you give your eyes a chance to adapt to the dark, you'll find you can get along just fine with a lot less light. Leave the gas-powered Coleman lamp at home. To light your way use available moonlight (surprisingly bright), an enclosed candle lantern, or a small hand-held flashlight.


  • A chair and folding table are awfully nice
  • A camp cot will keep you up off the ground
  • Don't assume your bedroll is thick enough. Always pack something thick and warm to sleep on. (It's very uncomfortable to realize how thin your blankets really are.)

Staying Warm at Night

  • The ground will suck the warmth out of you faster than the air will. Start with a tarp or other moisture barrier between you and the ground. Then add two layers under you (foamie, blanket, doubled sleeping bag, sheepskins) for every layer above you (sheets, sleeping bag, blankets) If you have the space, feather beds work wonderfully well. There's a reason they've been popular for centuries. They go underneath, not on top.
  • If you use an air mattress, be sure to have an insulating layer between you and it, as suggested above. You'll waste a lot of body heat trying to warm all that air! In addition, be sure the air mattress is protected from sticks and sharp objects, for obvious reasons.
  • Wear a nightcap. Seriously. You lose a great deal of your body heat from your head. Wear a wool touque, polar fleece hood or other head-covering to bed.
  • Take a hot water bottle to bed. Better still, fill the bottle with hot water while you're doing dinner dishes and put it in your bed before you go out for a night of recreation. When you go to bed, it'll be toasty warm.
  • Wear your night clothes under your evening clothing. You won't have to undress all the way down to skin when to go to bed. Alternately, wrap your nightclothes around the hot water bottle from the last suggestion. (edited to add: Wearing your night clothes under your evening clothes, or wearing your under-tunic/shirt to bed won't work as well if you sweat at all. Damp cloth will cool you faster than bare skin, and you'll have to warm the cloth back up once you're tucked in bed. Wrapping them around the hot water bottle, or even just tucking them between the bedding is a better option.)
  • If you are using a cot, place a cover sheet over the cot under your sleeping bag/bedding. This will trap air and keep you from having a miserable backache! Personal experience at Randle! Brrrr!
  • Your mileage may vary on this, but I find flannel sheets and pillowcases are much better for camping with than regular types of sheets. They're usually warmer, and I personally find they don't 'feel damp' when they're cold, like regular sheets do.


  • Make a small emergency kit part of your regular packing. Include:
a roll of toilet paper &/or handi-wipes (individually wrapped to avoid drying out)
toothbrush & paste, floss
emergency blanket (one of those shiny silver ones)
a lighter, waterproof matches, or flint
a couple of envelopes each of dry soup mix and tea/hot chocolate
a couple granola bars or pkg of trail mix
a blanket or a good wool cloak
a metal cup and a sheathed knife
some bandaids and neosporin
tylenol & advil
flashlight & extra batteries
small mirror (to signal searchers looking for you)
compass & maps
hot water bottle
small wilderness survival book
can opener
(what else?)
  • Create a master packing list of all the gear, costumes, armour, furniture, etc you ever bring to any SCA events. When you're preparing to pack for an event, sit down with a copy of the list, cross off the things you won't need and add the things you need to do/fix/buy special for this event. Pack according to the list, crossing off each item as it's packed or done.
  • Keep your modern (packing up) clothes in your vehicle, where they'll stay dry and out of the way until needed. Include a pair of socks and shoes.
  • Don't pack anything in a black garbage bag (like laundry or bedding). Too often they get thrown away by mistake. Either use a transparent bag or sew up a simple garbage-bag-sized fabric bag to transport your laundry or bedding.
  • Always prepare for the bad weather as this is An Tir and weather here changes as quickly as a person's moods.


  • Keep a pump bottle of hand-sanitizer handy (but out of sight). Use it after every visit to the toilet facilities. Tell everyone in your camp where to find it and encourage them to use it as well.
  • Keep a roll of toilet paper and handi-wipes in your emergency kit.
  • If you desperately miss your morning shower, a sponge bath in your tent in the morning can be quite refreshing. If you prefer to bathe at night, remember that it gets quite cool in the evenings, and the shadows you cast on your tent walls are plainly visible on the outside.
  • Fighters: allow your gambeson and armour to dry in the sun before packing it up.
  • Necessity is a mother of sorts. Bring a 1 gallon pump sprayer from your local hardware store filled with water for rinsing dishes and cooling off. It uses much less water to do the job and also makes a moderately effective fire extinguisher!


Sometimes you have to take your garbage home with you. Be prepared.

  • One option is 5 gallon buckets with lids. This has the added bonus of keeping the smell and flies down in camp. You can substitute basically any bucket with a handle and lid, like the ones that cat litter, dog food, etc come in. The key is getting one that the lid fits tight on. --Brendan ap Llewelyn
  • Wal-Mart and many other places sell industrial strength garbage bags (usually called contractors bags) for just a bit more than your average Glad bag. At events we use a regular garbage bag for garbage and then when it's full it gets tied off and put in a contractors bag and tie it off really tight. If the main bag isn't too full you can sometimes fit two in one contractor bag. These bags are much thicker than regular bags and very tear and puncture resistant so we rarely ever have a leak. --Anne


  • Always bring clothing suitable for extreme heat, extreme cold, or extreme wet. You don't need separate outfits; layer your garments. Natural fibres (linen, cotton) are generally cooler than synthetics. Wool will keep you warm even if it's wet; cotton (jeans) won't.
  • Drink lots of water. Wear a hat (it will cool you in the sun, and warm you in the cold).
  • See Heat for tips on dealing with hot weather.
  • Damp canvas (as used in tents or armour) can mildew very quickly. Unpack damp gear as soon as possible and allow to dry.
  • At cool or cold events, keep your head covered. Much of your body heat is lost through your head. At night wear a nightcap to bed; a stocking ski cap works well. If you're sleeping on or near the ground, make sure you have two layers under you for every layer above. The ground will suck warmth from your body faster than the air.
  • Keeping ones head covered is not only "period" but fleshes out ones garb. A mantle or liripipe hood will go far to keep you warm and stylish!


  • Prepare/cook as much as possible in advance.
  • Freeze everything that can be frozen.
  • Beware of attracting local wildlife. Keep food secure in boxes, coolers, or up high.
  • Keep the cooler in the shade. Cover your cooler with a wet towel or blanket.
  • Freeze bottles of water--it will keep your food cold without creating a lake in the cooler. Bonus: you can drink ice-cold water during the week!
  • Pack just-add-water or canned goods to prevent spoilage. (Bring a can opener!)
  • If you have blood-sugar issues and are on a meal plan with a merchant or sharing a camp kitchen with a group of friends, pack along a some suitable small food items to nosh on in case there's a delay in mealtime.

Gleaned from the Steps Mailing List

A newcomer asked:

I know it's a long way off...but no better time to prepare for summer camp outs than early right? Should a relative newbie decide to go to an event such as Clinton War....what does one take for food??? I Understand there are no fridges so what can one do to eat up there?

A Reply

You might want to try camping at two or three local events to get your creature comforts taken care of before you go to Clinton. Find food that you like that can stay in an ice chest for two or three days. Or you can do the research to find period foods for your persona that would travel well. There's always MRE (Meals Ready to Eat). I took cheese, crackers, summer sausage, peanut butter and a small ice chest of coke for the first six events I went to. Finally, there's always going offsite to the local fast food joint not healthy, but it works if you're hungry.

You well need boots and a wool cloak. Pick period clothes that are easy to get in and out off and machine washable. You may want to bring some sweats to sleep in and slip-on shoes for the 4 am biffy run.

Talk to member of your local group. They will have insight to camping in your area. Lastly, bring a sense of humor. So if you wake up floating, you can laugh about it and remember, it could be worse. You could have woken-up sinking.

Another reply

- Buy or offer to exchange labour (like washing dishes) for a place in a kitchen. The food and company is guaranteed to be better than eating alone out of your cooler.

- Larger events might have food merchants on-site (edited to add: some areas even at smaller events; ask the locals). Check the event copy or call the autocrat/merchant organizer.

- edited to add: Some food merchants offer a meal plan for the duration of the event. Pre-arranging with them for your meals is cheaper than buying on a meal-by-meal basis and helps them plan better for how much food they will need and will more or less guarantee you will get food. Most will also bring extra for 'walk-ins' but only so much. Make sure you know what times meals are (not every merchant keeps the grill on all day), whether or not you need to bring your own feast gear and that you have communicated with the merchant about any food concerns and whether they have alternate food choices if one of the planned meals is something you can't or won't eat.

- Bring dried food and swap favours or labour for a little time on someone's camp stove to cook/rehydrate it.

- Check out the Clinton War page for tips specific to that event

A "Keeper" posting collected from the North Road (Tir Righ mailing list) posted 11 May 2007.

I have a trick for keeping my water and my food cool, my food dry and save room. Before an event we buy a 2-4 of the small water bottles (250mL) and freeze most of them a few days ahead of time, and put the ones we don't freeze in the fridge. When we pack up the food, the frozen water bottles are our ice. As they defrost, they don't fill the cooler with water that can get into our food, we don't have to find room in the cooler for ice, and we have cool water all weekend. (The unfrozen water bottles are because otherwise we don't have any water to drink until Saturday night, or we have to leave it out in the sun for a hour before drinking it.)

My lord's best food trick is ziplock bags and pre-measured portions. Some of it is just prepackaged, ready to go into the pot, but it's even handier for things like pancake mix, which he measures out into a ziploc bag and adds spices (I LOVE spiced pancakes), so at the event all he has to do is add water and an egg. In fact, he uses the sturdier ziplocs, in a large size, so he can add the water and egg into the bag itself, seal it and shake it to mix, and in the end just throw it out. The only dish used to cook is the pan. Come to think of it, that would also work with things like couscous. Though I wouldn't pour boiling water or soup stock directly into a ziploc, I've made couscous with warm water too. Just takes longer to soak the liquid up. You could add any spices when you package the couscous up at home.


  • Pets are not always welcome at all events. Check the event copy first and contact the Autocrat if pets aren't mentioned.
  • You are responsible for your pet at all times. Keep them under control.
  • Clean up and dispose of your pet's feces appropriately.
  • Ensure your pet's health, comfort, and safety: provide shade from the sun, a warm bed against the cold, adequate food and water (which may be more and more often than usual), and the security of knowing where you are (or that you will be back frequently to check on them).
  • Your pet is likely not used to the situation, and may behave irrationally; a stranger's hand, possibly a child's, may be perceived as a threat if you, as owner, are not supervising access to your pet. Ideally, if a dog, it will be on a leash attached to your belt, or the belt of someone you trust; otherwise, a portable kennel in camp will provide secure territory, providing strangers do not have ready access to it.