Camping and surfing has come to mean something else in recent years, as I may have mentioned previously.

Whereas it used to mean - to me at least - trying to finger next to a pile of cider sick in a field outside Newquay listening to the sinister beats of Aphex Twin, it’s now been gentrified, like everything else.

Now you could be forgiven for thinking it's all about Instagrams of a well-lit dome tent, timelapse of the Milky Way overhead.

About Merino wool base layers, twin fins with plywood keels and possibly salmon fishing. A paradox of contrived square photo opportunity #mindfulness.

The truth of course, probably lies somewhere in the middle.

The camping/surfing marriage is one that can go either way. It can be the best, most inexpensive and wave-drenched trip you ever take, or not at all.

In order to keep it the former rather than the latter, here are 5 key areas to address.

 

"You’ll need shade, some sort of shelter for your quiver. Be that a tree, a rigged up tarp or even just canny use of a beach towel"


1. Temperature regulation

Probably one of your bigger challenges as a camper. More than waking up more tired than you went to bed, more than overcooked pasta, more than toilet issues… hmmm actually on a par with no.2’s.

Here’s the deal: You’re freezing at night, and sweltering in the day (if it’s sunny). Your tent will have something of a continental climate, thus troublesome food and beverage storage, and surfboard storage.

You’ll need shade, some sort of shelter for your quiver. Be that a tree, a rigged up tarp or even just canny use of a beach towel.


2. Coffee

I can’t say this enough but despite the aesthetic advantage of the Moka Pot, they actually really suck. I mean, are really, really shit.

They burn the coffee, badly. I’m actually on a campsite in Spain right now and all I can smell is burnt, ruined coffee, ruined by Spaniards and Dutch alike.

Pope botherers and Puritans alike, they’re shamelessly at it.

Get an Aeropress or a cafitiere instead. Aeropress is plastic and thus light, and won’t break. Or, go cray cray and micro grind it and make Bali/Java (mud) coffee. Just whatever you do, avoid the Moka.

Italy, I respect you for so many things, but this time, you fucked up.

 

"The worst thing about plop sauvage, which is otherwise a good time, is the paper trail"


3. Toilet

Hmmmmmm. We all do toilet. Everybody. Imagine my shock when in 1992, I realised even Helena Christensen did poos (don’t ask). Truth told, I’m still coming to terms with it. It’s still too soon.

If you’re on a campsite with a toilet block, fine, just adhere to conventions explained in How To: Poo Away From Home in Comfort and Style.

If going wild, the UN recommend establishing your latrine not more than 50m from shelter, not closer than 6m. Six?!? UN, what are you, savages? I’d go closer to the 50 myself.

The worst thing about plop sauvage, which is otherwise a good time, is the paper trail.

You know, when you’re checkin the surf from a vantage point just off the trail and there’s all these bits of used TP strewn around that’ve gone hard and stuck to the long grass. Yuck. Your only real way around that, other than toileting at sea, is to wipe with one.

 

4. Surfing

The best part of camping and surfing is that you’ve almost nothing else to actually do.

In between preparing whole food plant based meals and reading Martin Amis, that is. At times, you’re so bored you just decide to surf to stave off the general horror of existence.

Or, the surf is actually cranking, that’s a good reason to surf, too.

Just be sure to drink lots of water, like loads. Camping dehydrizzles the best of us, as does the shred, and two together can be troublesome. And without the luxury of a porcelain backdrop, you might not know how yellow your wee is (how did we get back to that?). Drink.

 

5. Drinking

Drinking and camping go together for a number of reasons. But you need to be careful.

There are burning hazards. There are pitch darkness at 10 yards and ankle twisty hazards.

Then there are hazards in the shape of you and your mates. As one pro surfer once recalled, on a camping mission in the Canada wilds, they’d get drunk and then put their sleeping bags on the fire, for shits and giggles. Then their tents. Not big. Not clever. Even less so when there are grizzly bears.

Anything with a low alcohol % is impractical, in terms of carrying, storage and serving. Beer is very impractical. Hemingway cooled his wine in rivers in the Pyrenees in between bodysurfing San Sebastian and raging at San Fermin, which is a nice, improv touch.

We’d recommend a bottle of something strong that can be drunk sans ice, like whisky.

Just try not to put your tent on the fire.