Recreational camping has been an institution since the early 1900’s when Thomas Hiram Holding went as far as to establish the first camping club. It’s come a long way since and has become a sort of rite of passage for many families and deservedly so, because there really is little else that compares to the wonder of being at one with nature. However, you can still enjoy that freedom while simultaneously being prepared. Considering ourselves members of that camping club, we thought we’d share our comprehensive checklist to camping.
Our list of absolute must-haves for would-be campers. Although it might sound obvious to say ‘hey, don’t forget your tent on a camping trip’, a lot of people fail to check that they have both their tent and pegs in the bag. It’s equally important to ensure your tent is in good working order. Whether it’s out-of-the-box new or something you’ve had in the back of your garage, we advise that you pitch your tent at home before taking it on a trip. If there are any issues with it - small holes, broken parts or anything else that needs patching - it’ll be much easier to deal with at home as opposed to out and about where it has the potential to turn into a massive headache. It might be a belts and braces approach, but being prepared is vital to the success of your trip.
Pillows are a must and so is a sleeping bag. Don’t be fooled into not taking one because it’s the heart of summer; evenings can still get chilly when you only have a sheet of polyester between you and the elements.
If you’re planning on making trips between the campsite toilet and your tent, your toes will thank you for bringing a torch. Just remember to bring spare batteries so you can keep avoiding roots and stay injury free throughout your trip.
We consider bin bags another camping requirement. Campsites often have bins, but they can be few and far between. Instead of walking up and down every time you have something to throw away, keep a bin bag near the tent, fill it up daily and dispose of it once a day.
Let’s recap our absolute essentials:
Some people choose to “rough it” with just their sleeping bag as cushioning, but we believe comfort is key. Opt for a sleeping mat and if you’re a little more inclined to cosy up, then a Vango Double Camping Airbed might be right up your alley. A night or two on the floor might be okay, but your body will thank you for an inflatable bed if it’s any longer than that. Besides, it might help putting more space between you and the ground when it’s a chilly night.
Camping chairs are a must for any trip, but especially if you’re planning on spending the long summer afternoons lounging in the sun or by the river waiting for fish to finally take the bait. Sitting around a fire as you barbeque will be completed by the addition of a chair, and if you’re keen to save space on the trip up, invest in an inflatable sofa.
Something else worth investing in if you’re planning on doing a lot of cooking, is a kitchen island like this Kampa Commander Field Kitchen. Providing you not only with stability, but also storage space, this little unit will enable you to keep organised, whilst also making preparation of whatever meals are needed a lot simpler.
Let’s recap our campsite furniture:
If there’s one activity that really allows you to take in the fresh air and admire your surroundings, it’s cooking. Whether it’s a brekkie on the barbeque or a camping stove risotto made with those freshly foraged mushrooms (only picked and eaten when you’ve got a guide to advise which ones are edible) sitting down to eat outside at dusk, dawn, or anywhere in between really provides that aha moment.
To ensure you get the full experience, you’re probably going to want to remember charcoal for your barbeque, as well as gas for the camping stove. Pack a lighter or matches to get the fire roaring and cooking utensils, pots and pans to make the most of each meal.
Other bits for your checklist should include cutlery and plates to eat out of. Also remember a tin opener, a kettle - because who doesn’t want to kickstart the day with a strong cup of tea or coffee - and a bottle opener.
To easily deal with spillages or dirt, pack wet wipes and a roll of paper towel and get a water carrier for convenience. The latter will save you walking up and down for water, ensuring you stay hydrated and that there’s always enough water for that cuppa we were just talking about.
Let’s recap our camping cooking tools:
- Camping stove and gas
- Cutlery and tableware
- Cooking pans and utensils
- Water carrier
- Charcoal for barbeque
- Cleaning equipment to wash with
- Tin opener
- Bottle opener
- Wet wipes and paper towel
Using a bathroom that isn’t yours doesn’t have to be a stressful prospect. If you pack crocs or flip flops for the shower block and ensure you have a full supply of anti-bacterial handwash, the battle is already halfway won. However, if you’d like to go the extra mile, invest in a toilet/utility tent where you can set up your very own, private shower/toilet.
To create a shower ‘room’, you’ll also need a solar shower and a large bowl to catch the water in. For a toilet tent, invest in a portable camping toilet and remember to pack plenty of loo roll. If you’re going down the route of creating your own toilet, you might also want to grab a bottle of toilet chemicals to keep things smelling fresh.
Kitting out a utility tent with a full washroom will add a sense of convenience and luxury in equal measure. Be sure to think about the space you want to create though. If you’re simply building a toilet, you won’t need room for much more than the portable toilet, a little bowl to serve as a basin and a place to put your loo roll. For an en suite, however, you’d need a utility tent tall enough for you to comfortably stand up and wash. Think about also using some sort of caddy or storage cupboard to house towels, soap and anything else you might need.
Let’s recap what we need for our camping bathroom:
- Antibacterial handwash
- Toilet roll
- Crocs or flip flops for the shower block
- Toilet tent with camping toilet and chemicals
- Shower tent with a large bowl and solar shower
- Storage cupboard
The following items could just as easily have slotted into our essential items checklist, because as key as a sleeping bag is, you also don’t want to be caught without a first aid kit.
Camping is a chance to be one with nature and as rewarding as that can be, we shouldn’t forget that nature is unpredictable. Something as simple as tripping over roots can leave a cut that’s vulnerable to infection if left untreated. Not to mention the amount of time you and your family will be spending around open fires. Be prepared by packing a compact first aid kit stocked with everything you need to treat minor cuts and grazes, as well as burns, blisters and other minor injuries.
Not so much medicinal as it is preventative, is sun cream, insect repellent and citronella candles. You might be on holiday, but the sun never is and to avoid very sore and uncomfortable bodies, you’ll probably want to layer up on the sun cream.
It also isn’t a secret that bugs and nature go hand in hand. Use citronella candles to form a nice bubble for your family as you cook and eat, keeping small bugs that are attracted to the light of the fire away from where you’re working.
If you’re one of the unlucky ones who often get insect bites, make sure to use a liberal amount of insect repellent on exposed areas. Be sure to get your ankles and elbows, as they’re easily forgotten, but a real nightmare when itchy.
Let’s recap our medical supplies:
- Travel first aid kit
- Sun cream
- Insect repellent
- Citronella candles
Time to get down to the nitty gritty of tent maintenance. As in daily life, duct tape can be extremely valuable when camping. Any tiny issues that arise can easily be handled with something like waterproof cloth tape. However, depending on the length of your trip, you might also want to prepare yourself for tears and holes that would need a more permanent fix; a tent repair kit is perfect for it.
Taking a little brush along is a good idea when you want to keep your tent clean, but an even better one if you want to ensure debris, like sharp rocks, don’t cause damage to the floor of your tent.
Other useful tools include a mallet to make the task of putting the pegs in a little quicker and easier and this’ll be especially useful when you’re hammering into a slightly rockier surface.
You’re almost guaranteed to find yourself in some sort of situation that would require a Swiss Army Knife. Whether you’re cutting open a packet, snipping a piece of tape or opening a bottle of wine, this’ll undoubtedly be worth the space it takes.
Inflatable tent campers might also want to consider packing an extra tube/bladder in case anything out there causes a puncture to your existing one.
Let’s recap our tools:
- Duct tape
- Tent repair kit
- Swiss Army Knife
- An extra tube/bladder
In this section, we take it from camping to glamping as we add all the optional extras on to make your camping trip as cosy and as close to home as possible. Let’s start by insulating you against the elements to really keep the chill at bay. A windbreak is one of the best ways to shelter your tent from the wind and it comes with the added bonus of giving you an extra element of privacy.
By laying down a tent footprint before pitching, you add a layer between you and the ground which not only leads to warmth inside, but also protects the underside of your tent against small nicks or by wearing out against a rough surface. With a tent carpet on the inside also, you’ll have no issue with the chill.
A tent porch or gazebo is a great way to expand your space, offering you the option to move out of the scorching sun when you’re preparing food or relaxing with the family. Because we strongly advise against cooking in a tent - the gas fumes often get caught inside because of a lack of ventilation - a gazebo can definitely offer some protection against bugs and dirt in your food, whilst still being a safe environment to cook in.
Thinking about playing a lot of board or card games with the family? A camping table is the perfect solution to creating a space where the family can come together. It can also be a huge benefit for families with smaller children where kids might need to sit at a table during mealtimes.
And last, but certainly not least, is a camping trailer or roof box to keep all your camping supplies stored in whilst travelling. When a boot just isn’t spacious enough, you can always fill up the additional space of a trailer or box, but be sure to check the requirements of your additional storage space. A trailer will require a tow bar for one and could very well need a cover to stop everything from spilling out as you drive and you might need roof bars for a roof box.
Let’s recap the optional extras: