In Depth

Camping checklist essentials: the kit you need to pack

If you’re planning a camping staycation don’t forget these must-have items 

Travel may be opening up again, but for millions of people across the UK a staycation, and camping in particular, will be on the agenda for this summer.

There’s plenty of places to explore in the great British outdoors - you’ll just need to have everything packed before your trip. Ahead of the busy camping season, we pick out the essentials...

Coleman Tent Octagon - camping equipment checklist
Tents

The more adventurous types may decide to sleep out under the stars, but for many others, the camping experience needs a tent. The Coleman Tent Octagon (pictured above) can sleep between six and eight people and is priced at £217.99 on Amazon. But if you’re looking for something smaller, cheaper and easier to assemble then a two-man pop-up tent from Mountain Warehouse for £39.99 may also do the job. 

Eurohike Pop 200 two-person tent

If you’re not a frequent camper and don’t need fancy gear, this great-value Eurohike Pop 200 two-person tent (£33; millets.co.uk) will serve you fine. It is waterproof, and has an easy pop-up design that takes seconds to set up.

Don’t forget the pegs...

If you already have a tent, a word of advice, check you have pegs or even some spares! As this writer once found out, a missing bag of pegs can ruin a camping trip... Also check you have a tent groundsheet, a mallet and in case of emergencies some tape or a tent repair kit.

Sleeping bag
Sleeping bags and blankets 

As Go Outdoors says on its website, “a sleeping bag can be the difference between a good and a bad night’s sleep while camping”. The company has a range of sleeping bags and pods on its website, with prices from £5 to around £300. Pack a pillow, blankets and warm clothes too...

Fältmal wearable sleeping bag from Ikea
How about a wearable sleeping bag?

Worried about committing to outdoor socialising in the cold? Ikea has you covered. The Fältmal (£25) is a cushion that unzips into a wearable sleeping bag-style blanket, with sleeves, and a kangaroo-style front pocket. 

Trespass air bed
Airbeds, mattresses and sleeping mats

You may choose to rough it in a sleeping bag on the tent groundsheet, but for those seeking a bit more comfort, an airbed might be needed. Trespass has a number of blow-up and inflatable air beds and mattresses.

Thermarest NeoAir XLite Regular Sleeping Mat 

The Thermarest NeoAir XLite Regular Sleeping Mat (£116; amazon.co.uk) is extremely lightweight and fits into a tiny bag, but can still keep you well insulated from the cold. It makes for a supportive sleep surface, and comes in several sizes. 

A warm and ultra-strong jacket

Since it was discovered in 2004, graphene has been regarded as a “wonder material” due to its incredible strength and lightness, but it has long been out of reach for most consumers due to its high cost. Gradually though, it is becoming more affordable, and can now be found in hardy outdoor clothes such as this ultra-strong jacket from fashion start-up Graphene-X.

The Alpha Series jacket (£246) is constructed from enough graphene to cover five football fields, offering abrasion resistance and self-regulating heat retention meaning you will be kept warm when the weather is cold, and cool when temperatures begin to rise. It’s waterproof, breathable and “scienced” to be strong and resilient. Plus it comes fitted with RECCO technology, a rescue tracking system, which responds to a signal sent by rescuers to find you just about anywhere in the world. In short: the perfect camping companion.

Milestone camping chairs
Camping chairs

Perfect for sitting around the fire, for reading a book or just general relaxing, a decent camping chair is essential. These Milestone Camping steel foldable chairs (above) are lightweight and cost £10.99 each from Outdoor Camping Direct. If you’re seeking something softer than a folding item, then Trespass has an inflatable camping chair (£20 from Argos) or even an inflatable double sofa (£30 from Argos).

Trekology Yizi GO Portable Camping Chair

Thanks to its collapsible legs, this Trekology Yizi GO Portable Camping Chair (£40; amazon.co.uk) folds into a remarkably small storage bag, which is kept under the seat. It has a side pocket, but no cup holder.

ADDTOP Solar Charger
Tech and gadgets

So you say that you really want the proper experience of sleeping in the wilderness. But what about checking the latest tweets or listening to some tunes?

One such smartphone which could be ideal for camping is the Google Pixel 4a which has a robust all-day adaptive and fast-charging battery. Key features of the Pixel 4a include Night Sight mode which helps capture all the fun around the campfire even in low light. You can also use it to see into space and shoot the stars with one simple tap. The Pixel 4a costs £349

A portable phone charger should also be on your packing list. If your gadgets do require charging then use the power of the sun. This waterproof ADDTOP Solar Charger (pictured above) is perfect for the outdoors (Amazon, £38.99).

Portable speaker

Every camping trip needs entertainment, especially for the nights spent sitting around the campfire. If you have your music on a smartphone then you’ll need a portable speaker to play it on.

Rugged, dustproof and water resistant, the Tribit StormBox Micro (£41.99) is perfect for camping. Its long battery life means you can get up to eight hours play time on one full charge and its Bluetooth connection has a range of up to 100ft. Even though the StormBox Micro may be small, and won’t take up any space in your camping bag, the sound quality is excellent. The built-in XBass gives it a strong booming sound, which is ideal for a fire-side party in the wilderness. 

Coleman cool box
Cool boxes for food and drinks 

Unless you’re hunting for your dinner then it’s probably expected you’ll be taking some grub with you to cook on site. A decent cool box is essential for any camping trip. Winfields Outdoors stocks cool box brands such as Coleman, Igloo, Outwell and Kampa Dometic on its website.

Aeropress Go
Coffee on the go

Already beloved by coffee drinkers as an easy way to make an espresso in a minute, the Aeropress is now more portable than ever. The “Go” version (£32; aeropress.co.uk) comes with a lid and packs down into its own plastic mug.

SUCHDECO outdoor camping fire pit
Portable fire pits and gas stoves

If building a fire isn’t your thing then maybe you could bring your own fire pit. This SUCHDECO outdoor camping fire pit is for sale on Amazon for £23.99. Go Outdoors, Argos and Amazon also stock many gas stoves for you to cook up a storm. Don’t forget to pack cooking utensils, cutlery and plates.

Tesco first aid and survival kit
First aid kit and bin bags 

Definitely pack a first aid box but also bring some extra essentials such as antibacterial wipes, insect repellent and sunscreen. It’s not just yourselves you need to look after though, but also the environment. Remember to take some bin bags to keep your site clean and tidy before you leave. Ethical Superstore sells a range of compostable bin bags.

Overboard Classic Waterproof Backpack
Waterproof backpack 

There’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning to find your belongings have got all damp in the night. The 30-litre Overboard Classic Waterproof Backpack (£55; over-board.co.uk) has a secure roll-top and even floats if dropped in water.

Thule roof box
Roof boxes 

You have all your camping equipment but where are you going to put it all in the car? If you need some extra space then a roof box may be a valuable addition. Thule roof boxes start from £308 and Go Outdoors stocks roof bags and roofbars.

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