What do you recommend new players bring with them as far as camping equipment to ensure an enjoyable experience? What are the temperature highs and lows on the field and in the camps? How easy/expensive are food/water to acquire on site?
I’m assuming in this case that you’re camping by yourself, in an OOC camp.
Having checked the weather forecasts, err on the pessimistic side. This means a sturdy tent that you’ve had some practice pitching and striking, of the 2 or 3 man size (as 1 LARPer + their kit tends to fill a small tent). A good quality sleeping bag, with something reasonable under it. A foam mat probably isn’t enough: inflatable mats, airbed, or even a camp bed are probably a better idea. An extra blanket or cloak, over or under it, is useful.
I can also reccomend a small torch, a water bottle or two, and a spare roll of toilet paper (the loos are generally well stocked, but it’s still a gamble). You may also want a spare pair of shoes (for the mud) and in extremis, another plastic bottle, possibly with a wide neck. For when it’s cold and muddy and a long way to the loos.
Temperature on-site has varied over the last 6 years from -10 (including wind chill, the very first event) to 30 (summer heatwave, last year). It’s generally fairly reasonable, with my preference being between 5 and 20 degrees. Check the weather forecasts, and pack extra socks and an underlayer of something warm. Or make sure you aren’t going to broil in your costume in hot weather
If it’s cold, there’s generally some warm tents, out of the wind, to warm up in (group tents, friendly people, Imperial tents), firepits and braziers to warm up around, not to mention the various cafes and traders. The first event, there were a lot of people visiting the on-suite blacksmith as well
If it’s warm, there’s usually a few places to cool off, such as the Navarri woods and some of the more ventilated shady bars.
- Food and water. Starting with water, there’re a good few standpipes all over the site, with potable water supplies. Food: There are a few vendors “on-stage”, such as Conspiracy Catering and Skian More-ish. There also tend to be a few just “off-stage”, near the G.O.D. tent, such as the Wood-Fired Pizza, Flavours of Africa, the Bratwurst truck, the Wok Box, and so on. So you can get a wide variety, from sausage&chips, chilli & rice, satay noodles, pepperoni pizza, bratwurst & sauerkraut, and so on and so forth.
These will range in price, but generally you can get a substantial and tasty meal for between £5 and £10. They are all popular though, so you may have a wait of 5 to 15 minutes. But if so, there’ll be plenty of interesting people to chat to in the queue.
There will also likely be food available IC, in the cakes and snacks range, for in character money from peddlers, bars, teas shops, etc. Price and quality varies
Oh, and alchohol. There are many IC bars, and a pub that takes OOC money. The latter is resonably priced, I think.
Hope that helps, happy to answer further questions
Here’s a few bits of useful advice from the excellent larphacks Tumblr.
I can heartily recommend the rest of that blog as well for all sorts of advice .
When it comes to weather, expect extremes and / or great variation.
We get very wet events, so bad that they earn the title of ‘mudpocalype’ among those who were there. We get hot and dry events which make you wonder if the main battles will even be possible. We also get changes in the weather from one extreme to another.
To take E3 this year:
The Thursday and Friday were hot. There were bans on open fires and water everywhere just in case a stray spark needed putting out in a hurry. Warriors were trading plate and gambeson for light leather and short sleeves, but people were advised to have water every time they could because even the lightest kit was not enough to save you from heat exhaustion if you were not careful.
Saturday brought wind and rain. At least two people I knew took shelter in our carta tent because their tents were broken by the wind and could not be relied on to keep out the rain any more. I found a tiny tear in my IC tent simply because the rain was being pushed through it and I thanked the gods for gaffa tape.
This might be an extreme, but I went from rolling up the bottom of my tent (one more reason to love bell tents) one night to shivering in a sleeping bag with blankets wrapped around me the next. You want layers, you want blankets and you want to know that everything from the thigh down can be made waterproof at a moment’s notice.
I’m probably a bit late but I thought I would add my experiences.
There is some great news and that is there are showers. I usually bring shampoo and some shoes for the showers as they can really help start the day off, you just need to get up early enough. It shouldn’t be too difficult though as the sun gets into the tent easily. The only problems are that your stuff can get wet fairly easily when you are in the shower and you also have to brave the cold to get there.
People have recommended torches. What I recommend is a small bag you can carry one in (that looks in character) or make the torches look in character (IC) enough that you can get away with carrying them. Be careful of lanterns as they sometimes just create shadows around you and don’t actually help.
You should find that for the most part, the tent you have shouldn’t make a difference. What you need to be careful about is where you put the tent. You don’t want water flooding in because you are at the bottom of a hill. Getting up there earlier may be the best thing to do as you can get closer to the toilets and get a better place to set up. If the worst comes to the worst, make sure you are careful about opening your tent up if it has rained as the rain may come in. Also never touch the sides after it has rained as the water will be able to get in.
Bin liners. They will be great for dealing with the mud and all of that. You will also want good walking boots to deal with this as a lot of the time things do get muddy at anvil.
For a sleeping bag I go for the mummy ones every time. Being able to put the hood up and seal yourself in can be great. You also want to have something to keep you off the ground like a mat of some kind.
Make sure you are always topped up on water. You will need to stay hydrated and it is good to have some for when you are in your tent. Once you are in your tent, you really want everything you need as going out again in the cold is not fun.
If you want an in-depth food guide of what I suggest you bring and compare it to what they sell there, I’m willing to do that. If you want to be lazy then feel free to buy something but I think it is best to have some of your own stuff just in case as well as some comfort biscuits or something or if you start feeling down in the night.
One thing that catches most people out is not having a mallet. A mallet makes putting the pegs in a lot easier and cleaner.
Also when you have tent doors open you have your light off so things don’t come flying in. Spend as little time with the tent door open as well.
Maybe take some washing line as well. If things get wet you can all ways hang then up by attaching it from your tent to your car or between trees. You do not want to sleep in the wet as it just makes your day a whole lot worse.
If you aren’t good with the cold then blankets, heat packs and pillows will help you but they will take up more room and you will have to deal with them when you get back home. If you are really not an outdoors person though, you can use this to really make the tent more homely.
Finally, I would recommend you bring your phone but leave it in the tent. You may need it for emergencies.
E1 this year was my first camping and LARPing in nearly thirty years (and so much has changed in the interim), so the memories of those early camping experiences coloured my preparation for Empire. Also, I will pass on the information I learned from others, that no one here has yet mentioned that I found useful for comfort and wellbeing in the field.
I love my tent carpet, it helped insulate me from the cold, wet ground. I love my camp bed (I put a blanket over it to create an air pocket under me). I put a foam mat atop that, followed by another item that I love: my three-season mummy sleeping bag. Also, a knitted cap for my head to keep my head warm during sleep; and an eye mask to block out some of the light.
CLEAR rubbish/bin bags. Specifically clear, because you don’t want to accidentally chuck your wet armour/gear into the rubbish skip because it was in a black bin bag, just like the actual rubbish. (Thank you to whoever recommended that, you wise soul.)
A trench tool/folding shovel. Because trying to sleep on thistle-thorns (that CAN make holes in you tent floor!) or getting soggy/fresh animal poo on your tent is nasty. The trench tool allows you to remove the thistles and poos to elsewhere, if you cannot select another location for your tent.
I love my bell tent, I also have an awning so the rain has less chance of coming straight into my tent. I also love the separate ground sheet that goes under my tent’s ground sheet. Again, because of soggy, cold, thorny, and/or poopy, ground conditions.
Also, I highly recommend a second full set of high quality tent pegs/stakes, because the ground can be very hard, and full of rocks that will bend your pegs/stakes. Extra ropes are also helpful for securing your tent when the gusts hit at 70mph. If you’re in the OOC field, park your car so that you can use it to secure your tent to it, that should help keep it from blowing away. (Thank you to my friend who spent several years living in tents in Africa and the Middle East, for the advice of securing tents to vehicles.)
Two mallets can be good, especially if the first one was a cheap freebie that came with the tent; it also speeds up your setup, because two people can stake the tent at the same time.
A personal porta potty is great if you have a teaspoon-capacity bladder and it’s the middle of the night, and you’re likely to wake up several times because of tiny bladder.
Lots of good advice above already.
If you have a garden, practice camping in it a few times. If you don’t, maybe a friend has one you can use.
You can get a very warm sleeping bag quite cheaply.
For a given level of warmth, generally you pay more for a bag that weighs less and takes up less space when packed. Those factors are important for hiking and mountaineering, but not so much for LARP camping, especially if you have a car.
I like to have a separate liner to use in the sleeping bag:
- It adds a bit of warmth by hindering the movement of air within the main bag.
- You can wash the liner easily, and it keeps the main bag clean: washing a sleeping-bag is a hassle and shortens its life.
- In hot weather you can use the liner on its own.
If you put a blanket on top of a sleeping-bag, the blanket will squash the bag’s soft fluffy insulation, making it far less effective. Better to have the blanket inside the bag, if you need to use one.
Another tip for when it’s really cold: if you don’t want something to freeze during the night, keep it in your sleeping bag with you. A bottle of water and perhaps your toothpaste: once I couldn’t squeeze mine out of the tube. (Or you could use powder or tablets instead of paste.)
As others have said, insulation between you and the ground is important. How much do you need? Well, I’ve slept comfortably camping on the snow, wearing some warm clothes including socks and balaclava, in a “3-4 season” sleeping bag plus a silk liner, with just an 8mm closed-cell foam Karrimat under me (and the tent’s groundsheet). On the other hand, I know people who have been very cold with a similar mat and upgraded to something thicker.
Of course the other reason to put something under you is for softness and comfort… but you’ll have to find out for yourself what works for you: it varies hugely from person to person.
You may find you don’t need a torch except inside your tent. It’s nice to have your hands free for doing things, so a head-torch is good, or arrange to hang a light from the tent roof: something that shines in all directions instead of in a beam.
It’s possible to push in tent-pegs with your foot, but from time to time you’ll bend one, so it’s much better and easier to use a mallet (or find a rock or lump of wood to use as one).
Bring a mirror, especially if you need to do make-up for your character (e.g. for lineage or tattoos). You can get steel or plastic ones.
Finally, another article from LARP Hacks:
If a good full length mirror is a priority, these are acrylic and fold up and are absolutely excellent for camping: Magic Mirror
I would add a ‘onezie’ great for cold night camping, also for late night/early morning toilet runs, and crocs for the same (it’s a nightmare putting on boots to go to the loo at 3am!).
I think crocs are only good for in the shower. Last time I took crocs water got into them and my feet got covered in mud. I personally just have my boots open ready, slide them in and then tie it loosely. Onesies however are good, I remember someone wearing one under their kit to keep them warm.