First time campers, and many who just haven't been for a while, often ask what are the basics? So here is our list of what you need most if you've never been camping before or it’s been a while...or last time was horrible and you want to be prepared…
There is an ongoing myth that camping isn't 'real' if you aren't cold, damp and roughing it. I beg to disagree... Fact is it doesn't need to be complicated or expensive, one of the joys of camping is it’s easy, cheap and fun. You can usually borrow most stuff for your first few adventures, and you can get some stuff second hand. We hire kit and can tailor your package to your needs — solo adventurer, couple or family. All funds raised from kit hire go towards our Outdoor Family Camping trips, so you can test out your own adventures and know you are helping others who perhaps face more barriers than you achieve theirs too!
If you only buy one thing I'd make it a sleeping bag or quilt, and the best you can afford, and next would be a sleeping mat. If you are going by car don't stint on blankets and duvets and your own pillow... If you are going superlight, take something that can be a pillow case!
Remember there is no such thing as bad weather… but camping is a LOT less fun if you forget waterproofs, sun tan lotion or your woolly hat as the temperature drops. that means in August too!!
So here is a basic list for comfy camping, cobbled together after several years of trial and error. It's not exhaustive and I'd love to hear your essentials that aren't on here! Hope it helps and Happy camping!
Down load the list here: Outdoor People Comfy Camping List
Shelter Think about: for how many, how long, how cold/hot and how comfy. Also think how far you have to carry it all. You can bring a trolley if needed! The priority (IMHO) is warmth – it can and often will get down to 5 degrees or even lower at 4am in mid summer. Equally important is keeping dry if it rains — don’t touch the sides!
- A shelter - tent or hammock (what kind is another blog!)
- Sleeping mat (we don't recommend cheap blow up ones, but if that's what you have bring a thick wool blanket and put it underneath the mattress)
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping bag liner
- Lights (a headtorch or torch is very useful, so are candles, and fairy lights are fun. A solar powered light is just lovely)
- Thick blanket or rubber mat (or yoga mat!) to put under the sleeping mat – cold comes up
- Extra blanket or duvet for over you
- An extra tarp to put over your tent entrance can be handy if it rains or is blazing sun
- A hammock
- Nice, warm pyjamas plus woolly socks and a hat!
- And a hot water bottle is just lovely
You can always change to just a T-shirt and sleep outside if it’s the prayed for heat wave, but if it’s cold you’ll not regret those extra layers!
Whether you are at a festival where you can get food or are cooking for yourself, here are the basics. I could do a whole list just on the outdoor kitchen…
- Stove — gas, meths or rocket stove or wood burning Ghillie Kettle, you need something that will boil water at least!
- Pots and pans — if you are car camping then just bring one you don’t care too much about. You can save up for the ultralight titanium set once you have yout eyes on a bivvy up Blencathra!
- Water bottle and large water bottle
- Thermos/flask to keep your coffee or tea hot (I like making it just before i go to bed!)
- Tiffin or tin plate
- Steel cups for for wine, juice or beer
- And maybe a cooler for drinks and beer
If you are going on an extended trip dried food is so, so much easier than cooking from scratch, but if you are in a car then half the fun is cooking over a fire or rocket stove and the only limit is your imagination…
Packing for British weather means thinking layers… and water/sun proof! You’ll have your comfy favourites, but here’s a basic list I use…
- Wellies – even if it doesn’t rain, grass is wet in the morning
- Flip-flops (ditto, and useful in showers)
- Leggings are comfy. Jeans are really not if they get wet.
- Base layers – thermal vests and long johns look gorgeous as the temperature drops!
- Socks/extra socks
- Sleep clothes (extra jumper/socks/hat)
- Warm hat
- Sun hat
- Waterproof jacket and mid-layer
- Waterproof trousers if doing hills, woods or anywhere wet
- Shorts and T-shirts
- Buff — it has so very many uses
- One dress/top that you want to wear to go to the pub/on the journey home
And if at a festival… some eco-friendly glitter, feathers and the like can be fun, and face paints for kids and young at heart!
- glasses/contact lenses (Ok this is personal, but if you need them like I do, they are top of the list!)
- Towels/washcloth (hamam towel I think is best, or a sarong. I used to like some of the microfibre ones but oh the microplastic pollution… no. Stick to cotton)
- Soap/shampoo (decant into little bottles, saves weight)
- Insect repellent and afterbite
- Tooth brush/tooth paste
- Feminine products (and those tampons can be AMAZINGLY useful… seriously good firelighters and a key part of everyones first aid kit)
- Pain killers, imodium, plasters, bandage (First Aid kit)
- Small scissors or knife
- Personal medications
- Sunscreen and Sunglasses
- Camera/extra battery
- Power Bank, plug and cables for phone/ipad
- Books/magazines (get off the iPad/iPhone!)
- Musical instruments
- Camp chairs
- Hammock (!)
- Money/ID/credit card
- Hand wipes
- Picnic blanket
- One luxury
Finally the most important thing to take is your sense of fun and adventure!
Make it easy to get outdoors…