Staycation Tips and Best Buys for camping this summer
We’ve not been abroad for a family holiday since our honeymoon in 2004. Since then our family vacations have consisted of different staycations exploring the countryside around the UK.
We’ve been camping in an 8 person tent, purchased, renovated and travelled in a cheap old caravan, converted an old patient transport ambulance and stayed in small, medium and large lodges for our holidays.
So you could say we’ve covered most of the Eco Friendly options for Staycations and Holidays in the UK.
The only things we’ve not really tried are Bothy’s (because they’re too remote for our needs) and Motorhome Hire because, well we’ve not had the chance so far…
For us there’s still plenty of places to explore in our home country and as a bonus we get to take the dogs too!
The thing is, if you’ve never tried staycations before, where do you start?
While lodges and holiday lets are great, if you really want to do something different camping is a great starting point, so for the purposes of this article lets start with camping and we’ll go through things as if you’ve never camped before.
As a family we’ve always tried to camp as comfortably as possible, but you can end up spending a huge amount on gear that you soon realise either just gets in the way or you never use once on site, which makes travelling with a car full of gear in every spare bit of room tough on those longer journeys, so lets focus on what you actually need, and what can be nice to have, rather than everything the shops will try to sell to you.
Lets start with a few basic camping tips:
- Buy quality that lasts and buy once. This way you can go as many times as you like once you have the essentials.
- Tent sizes are based on people sleeping like sardines in a tin. If it says its a 4 person tent, then you’ll probably be comfortable with 2 people, 3 at a push. Take a look at the sizes and look online for review videos if your not sure. (We’ve offered a few options further down this article.)
- Check the weather forecast, it won’t ruin your holiday if you’ve prepared for the worst. (see best app below)
- Pack light, its not a fashion show, you’ll happily cope with a few essentials and it’ll make your holiday easier.
- Plan your meals How many at the campsite and how many other options will work for you?
- What’s nearby? Do you have access to a shop, places to go etc. Google will make planning day trips easier as will some of the Apps we’ve mentioned in the article.
- Test your kit out a few weeks prior to the holiday so you can see what works and how everything goes together. You’ll appreciate learning how to put your tent up in the dry without the need to actual use it .
- Dry your tent kit before packing away and if possible check it again before packing away for the season.
- Waterproofing sprays will help keep your Tent waterproof for years, give them a spay at the start of the season for prolonged life, and pack your spray just in case.
- Forest & Country Fires – Camp fires, Burners and BBQ’s are a great part of a camping holiday, but during the hottest days in the summer, they can be a huge risk to the area too. Tiny floating embers from a campfire / burner can quickly set fire to extremely dry land and forestry creating massive wildfires that burn thousands of acres in days. Keep this in mind whenever lighting yours and make sure to use water to put out any campfires or burners once you plan to leave them unattended. Keep water handy whenever cooking just in case things get out of control.
- In the UK & Ireland there are different rules for access to the countryside depending on which part of the country you are in. You can find out more about the region you plan on visiting by using these links: Scotland Outdoor Access Code Natural England , Natural Resources Wales , Northern Ireland Countryside Code & Ireland Recreation in the Irish Countryside
The camping market is extremely slow when it comes to Eco standards, while there may be a few brands that make small gestures into Eco camping gear, its few and far between and some of the price tags can be eye watering.
While it’s great that companies are making Eco ranges we think these companies should be spreading the extra cost of making the Eco versions of their products to their standard versions increasing the standard products cost slightly across the full range, while reducing the cost of the Eco versions down to normal levels. If they all did this eventually the only products mass produced would be the Eco versions and their costs would become the normal without extra costs incurred, finally ending the production of virgin materials products far more quickly.
For now, and to keep things realistic buy the Eco versions when you can, but if they stretch out of your budget try to think about your purchases instead. The better the quality the longer it lasts, so buy gear that you’ll keep using over and over again and you’ll save yourself and the environment a lot. (Most of our gear is 17yrs old or older now and still works great!)
To make your decisions easier we’ve added some links to decent products below. All of the links below will redirect you to Amazon via a referral link which supports our work in a very small way. While we don’t agree with a lot of Amazon’s waste practices, its the best way for us to find and link to decent products we already own ourselves, or we’ve checked that come with decent reviews that we can share into a single location for you.
We are looking for alternatives to do this better, but so far all we’re finding is a lot of greenwashing and badly made sites, so if you do know of another eco service like this please let us know in the comments section.
RoofBoxes / Roofbags
Roofboxes / Roofbags are great for camping trips because they leave you with some space in your car for a more comfortable trip. We suggest using them for your tent (if it fits) for easy access once on site and Gas cannisters if you have them so they’re not stored inside the vehicle with you.
Roofbags – Roofbags are much easier to store than a Roofbox when not in use and as an added benefit once you arrive onsite and you’ve unpacked them, you can also fold them up and pack them back into your boot which will reduce drag on your vehicle and save on fuel too. Paranoid as we are, while these things are designed for their purpose we’d still suggest buying additional straps for all the roofbags simply for peace of mind. Padlocks can be used on some of these bags, but they won’t stop most determined thieves so think about this when stopping at services and public places.
Roofboxes – Unlike Roofbags, Roofboxes are lockable but will only stop the opportunistic thief. Roofbox prices also vary wildly from £180 to over £800 and that’s without the Roofbars and Feet required to fit them to your vehicle. We purchased the cheapest non brand Halfords Roofbox 20yrs ago now and its still going strong and has never let us down, so we’d suggest saving your money here.
Roofbars & Feet – Roof bars and Feet depend on your Vehicle Make and Model so you’ll need to look these up yourself. We definitely suggest buying the aero bars when possible as they’re much quieter than the block type and save on drag / fuel too. There are Inflatable Roofbar systems but they come with mixed reviews so we’ve not added any here.
HandiHoldall XL 400L Waterproof Roof Bag (Black) £142.00 – Waterproof 400L RoofBag / Cargo Carrier with Foldable Solid Base – the reviews are all great for this roofbag and its good value too. **Roofbars Required
AUPERTO Car Roof Storage Bag Waterproof £88.00 – Waterproof RoofBag 425 Litres (15 Cubic Feet) Rooftop Cargo Bag with 2 Extra Heavy Duty Straps Fits all Cars. One of the best value Roofbags we could find with excellent reviews and no roofbars required! **No roofbars required
Thule 688006 Ocean 80 UK, Black Glossy Roofbox £180.00 – the Thule Ocean 80 has a 320 litre loading capacity large enough for 3 holdalls, it opens from the rear, being hinged at the front. This means that it can be conveniently loaded and unloaded from virtually the entire box without restriction. **Roofbars Required
Tents, Shelters & Associated Equipment:
Tents & Shelters
Price doesn’t mean a lot here, you can pay hundreds for a tent but it doesn’t mean you’ll be warm and dry when the heavens open (as they often do in the UK), so its not all about the big names. What you want to look for is how much rain can this tent cope with if you are caught in a major shower.
If you’re looking to buy a tent that uses a polyester-based material, then look for the term Hydrostatic Head to describe how rain proof it is.
Basically Hydrostatic Head (HH) is a way of measuring how waterproof a fabric is. The resulting measurement in millimetres relates to how high a column of water standing on the fabric would need to be before the water would eventually penetrate the fabric.
So with this in mind we suggest finding a tent that suits you and the total number of people you’ll have using it, including space to move around in at night etc. Then check for the best HH in your budget. Plan for a downpour and then you won’t be disappointed when the heavens eventually do open.
Personally we’re looking for a HH of 3000mm or more with a tent size of 2 people extra. eg 2 people in the tent so buy a 4 person tent etc for the extra space, or look for tents that have different zones for sleeping and living in.
We’ve added links to a couple of options below, but remember you can also buy second hand on places like ebay and gumtree and save the environment and yourself a few quid, just remember to check the make and model number and then check reviews on amazon and online too to make sure your not buying someone else’s poor decision.
2 Person Tent £47.00 – Regatta Malawi Tent which is just about suitable for 2 people and a small amount of gear. Only £47.00. Its definitely no good for hiking with because it doesn’t fold down small enough. But for a quick pitch tent it’s ideal. If you want an easy popup tent with good space and 3000mm HH this is a cracker. I own one of these myself and it’s been great for me, it could do with a porch and slightly better ventilation, but that’s the trade off with most popup tents. Its also great to have in the car for roadside emergencies (if you have space in the boot under the shelf).
5 Person Tent £177.00 – Coleman Tent Trailblazer 5 Plus, This is actually a 5 Person Tunnel Tent, with sun protection factor of 50+, Waterproof HH 3000mm and a sleeping area and separate living / porch area for only £177.00 This is a fantastic price and it looks to be a good size for 2 adults and 2 kids, and it has lots of great reviews online too. The separate areas for sleeping and sitting make this a great choice for space especially if you need to hang out inside during a rain shower.
ECO 4 Person Tent £400.00 – Vango Aether 450XL Tent Moroccan Blue This Vango Aether Tunnel Tent is part of Vango’s “Earth Collection” and is made using 100% recycled materials, PET single use plastics are collected, sorted, washed and crushed and the resulting plastic is made into pellets and spun into threads which is then woven into quality, durable and strong fabrics. The Vango Aether comes with HH 3000mm and the Nightfall bedrooms are designed to reduce the amount light penetration, particularly in the early morning light, helping to create a more peaceful nights rest. Vango’s Tension Band System (TBS II) further adds to the tents stability by creating a bracing system to reduce the amount of pole flex in side winds
6 Person Tent £370.00 – Vango Farnham Family Tunnel Tent, River Blue, 600 This 6 Person Tunnel Tent has a fantastic Waterproof HH of 4000mm which is ideal for late season camping, and a sleeping area and separate living / porch area for only £370.00 This is a fantastic price and it looks to be a good size for 4 adults and a few kids from the pictures if you were pushing the limits. The online reviews are great and there are separate areas for sleeping and sitting making this a great choice for space especially if you need to hang out inside during a rain shower.
ECO 6 Person Tent £534.00 – Vango Joro 600XL This Vango Joro 600XL Tunnel Tent is part of Vango’s “Earth Collection” and is made using 100% recycled materials, PET single use plastics are collected, sorted, washed and crushed and the resulting plastic is made into pellets and spun into threads which is then woven into quality, durable and strong fabrics. The Vango Aether comes with HH 3000mm and the Nightfall bedrooms are designed to reduce the amount light penetration, particularly in the early morning light, helping to create a more peaceful nights rest. Vango’s Tension Band System (TBS II) further adds to the tents stability by creating a bracing system to reduce the amount of pole flex in side winds
Hard Ground Pegs – £9.50 OLPro Hard Ground Camping Tent Pegs (Pack of 20) Blue The usual pegs that come with a tent are pretty useless for anything other than your back garden, so you’ll want to invest in a few hard ground pegs like these to be safe and don’t forget your mallet £6.00
Mallet £6.00 Regatta Camping Rubber Mallet with Steel Handle perfect for driving camp pegs into the ground. but not very portable so not the best for hiking.
Double Hammock – £66.00 Easthills Outdoors Jungle Explorer 118″ x 79″ Double Camping Hammock with Removable Mosquito Bug Net and Rainfly. A hammock is great if your looking for an alternative light weight camp for 1 or 2 people in an area with trees, but remember with these you only have space to sleep with minimal gear unless your gear is in waterproof bags. **Camping mats also work well in a hammock and insulate you from below.
3m x 3m Rainfly UV cover – £25.00 GEEDIAR Multifunctional waterproof Fly Tent Tarp 300cm x 300cm, Anti-UV Lightweight Camping Shelter Outdoor Footprint Rainfly Hammock Fly (made to work with guy ropes or walking poles or both – no poles included) These are great for days out as they fold into nothing and make great shelters wherever you go, but they’re also great as a second line of defence. Lets say you have an accident and punch a hole into part of your tent on day 1, or the tent gets 3 days of heavy rain and is starting to struggle, or the sun is so hot the tent is just too hot to stay in. This is where your extra rainfly / UV cover comes in. Chuck it over the top of your tent and it’ll protect you as an extra layer either from the rain or from the intense sun through the day.
Groundsheets / Footprint £mixed – We’ve always preferred buying the fitted groundsheet that fits our tent when we can because 1) It keeps your tent cleaner for packing up 2) It reduces the damp getting into your tent 3) Fitted groundsheets are easier to use and won’t stick out from under your tent and collect water. You’ll need to look these up once you’ve selected a tent as they’re all different.
Tent Carpets £mixed – £50.00 example tent carpet These are definitely a nice to have but not need to have items, unless your camping in the colder seasons. Fitted tent carpets keep your tent groundsheet protected and insulate you a little more from the cold and damp floor. They also help to keep things clean as you can take them outside and give them a shake. **Check your tent size before ordering As an alternative you could take a fleecy blanket from home.
Buy something suitable for the time of year your camping, remember in the summer months your tent could be like a sauna once the sun comes up, so don’t be taking your 13tog duvet or equivalent 4 season sleeping bag. You’ll want something that’s warm enough through the night, that won’t cook you in the mornings or on those sticky summer nights.
For summer camping we’d suggest a 1-2 season sleeping bag and if your worried about cooler nights chuck in a thin fleecy blanket or an extra, XXL camping towel as an extra layer that won’t take up too much space.
For the end of season camping think about your countries average nightly temperatures, for example in the UK your probably better off with a 3 – 4 seasons sleeping bag. Again if your likely to feel the cold chuck in an extra fleecy blanket or an extra, XXL camping towel (see below) as an extra layer that won’t take up too much space.
Single sleeping bag 2 seasons – £36.95 Outwell Campion Lux Single 58 Blue – Left Zip – The Outwell Campion Lux sleeping bag to get extre warmth. Featuring a second layer of insulation, the Campion Lux is ideal for camping slightly out of season or if you’re heading north for the summer. This version comes in stylish petrol blue and is breathable, soft and snug. The rectangular shape gives extra legroom and there’s an inner pocket for small items.
ECO Single Sleeping Bag 3 Seasons – £156.00 filled with 100% recycled polyester insulation, it also has a recycled shell and lining. Aside from the zipper teeth, this eco-friendly sleeping bag is made of 100% recycled materials. . The Eco Trail Synthetic 20-degree is made with a 100% recycled shell and insulation that provides warmth even when wet and features an embossed lining for enhanced aesthetic appeal. 50% post-consumer recycled Heatseeker synthetic insulation has great warmth to weight ratio and can be easily packed into a stuff sack. Warm yet lightweight synthetic insulation makes this long lasting sleeping bag a camp staple. Fitted hood with cinch-cord, draft collar and zipper baffle that prevent heat loss, extended width at the knees for maximum comfort and mobility, and a vaulted footbox for added warmth. Temperature rating of 20-degrees Fahrenheit (-7 Celcius) and up, this sleeping bag will keep you warm and comfortable at the camp site.
ECO Single Sleeping Bag – £37.00 The Vango Evolve Superwarm Single sleeping bag is from Vango’s new Earth Collection and is made from a recycled fabric with stylish embossed design, made from 100% recycled single use plastics. The recycled fabric is resilient, whilst being soft to touch. Double layer construction creates an open structure that retains heat in the bag, while the integrated head rest provides additional comfort and warmth.
Double Sleeping Bag 2 seasons – £43.00 – Outwell Brown Campion Lux Double Sleeping Bag – The Outwell Campion Lux Double Sleeping Bag is perfect for spring to autumn camping. Made for two, the rectangular shaped offers more wiggle room and for greater versatility, this sleeping bag can be unzipped fully to create a smart, cosy duvet. The specially developed anti-snag system with auto-lock facility ensures the zips run freely and stay closed. A full length zip baffle runs neatly behind the zip to prevent cold spots and draughts, and a discreet inside pocket offers handy, secure storage for small items such as keys and even a small torch. It also comes with a cap compression sack. This bag is PFC Free. Free of Perfluorinated Compounds (PFC) that are harmful to health and the environment.
We own one of these sleeping bags and its really well made and will definitely last (we’ve owned ours for 12 years or so) however one frustrating design flaw with most double sleeping bags is the zip. Its well made and has an anti snag design which is all great, but it only opens up from one side, which can be frustrating if you are on the side without the zip.
ECO Double Sleeping Bag 2 seasons – £60.00 The Vango Evolve Superwarm Double sleeping bag is from Vango’s new Earth Collection and is made from a recycled fabric with stylish embossed design, made from 100% recycled single use plastics. The recycled fabric is resilient, whilst being soft to touch. Double layer construction creates an open structure that retains heat in the bag, while the integrated head rest provides additional comfort and warmth
Double Sleeping Bag 3 Seasons – £53.00 – Outwell Campion Lux Double Sleeping Bag -The Campion Lux Double Sleeping Bag offers 3 season performance, with Isofill insulation, a siliconized hollow fibre that gives optimum warmth and insulation to ensure you keep warm during your spring/autumn camping trips. Full length zip baffle with Easy glide zip, Liner attachment points, Compression sack Reduces storage size, Inside pocket – For storing small items, Comfort hood, Temp (Dimensions: L225 x W140cmFabric: 190T brushed 100% polyester) (same 1 sided zip design flaw as mentioned above with the 2 season double.)
We’ve never had a good nights rest on those yoga mat type camping mats, they’re just too thin for our liking and nothing ruins a decent trip more than poor sleep!
Now before you go mad, you really don’t need those huge inflatable mattresses either. They’re pretty bulky, slow to inflate and you’ll need a decent pump to inflate them.
Instead look at getting an inflatable mat with a built in pump, we suggest inflatable mats of 6cm depth which will give you a great nights sleep. They’re comfy, quick to setup and pack, waterproof, compact and light and you won’t need an extra pump and pillow. Inflatable Camping mats will also insulate you from the cold ground.
Single inflatable camping mat £28.00 – Single inflatable camping mat with built in foot pump – 6cm depth similar to ours with built in foot pump and built in pillow, with great reviews for only £28.00 This also has poppers on the side so you can connect multiple units together to create a bigger double or larger mattress. (great for a hammock too!)
Single inflatable camping mat £53.00 – Single inflatable camping mat but this time a 12.5cm depth for those who want an extra thick mattress with built in foot pump and built in pillow, its bigger so obviously heavier and it’ll take longer to pump up but it gives you options if you think 6cm isn’t enough for you.
Camping Chairs £18.00 each – Trespass Branson Folding Camping Chair with Drinks Holder & Packaway Carry Bag (Blue Stripe) If you’ve ever tried to buy a good quality camping chair for a reasonable price then you’ll know our struggle finding these for you. We’ve bought all sorts of expensive and cheap camping chairs from folding ones to air filled ones, but this type always seem to be best overall. The reviews all say these are well made and comfortable for camping chairs and having used some like these before we agree. At £18 each they’re a great price too.
ECO Camping Chairs £33.00 each –The Vango Osiris Chair is a lightweight folding chair great for camping, day trips or relaxing in the garden. The Earth Collection is made using 100% recycled materials to continue to help protect our outdoor environment for years to come. PET single use plastics are collected, sorted, washed and crushed. The plastic is made into pellets and spun into threads which is then woven into quality, durable and strong fabrics. The steel frame provides a strong and reliable construction
Camp Cooking & Eating
Now we’ve got the basic accommodations sorted, lets look at what you need for food prep etc. Lets be honest you’ll not be cooking a full roast so what do you actually need… A table, a stove, gas if you buy a gas stove, gas regulators for a bigger gas stove if you plan a long trip, a wind shield to make things cook quicker and easier in breezy conditions, a kettle, a pan, drinks cups, bottles, water containers and cutlery.
There’s lots of great camping tables, but our experience has taught us to go for the Aluminium tables. Firstly they’re more environmentally friendly and secondly because you can cook on them without worrying about the heat. These tables are also handy for your garden for the rest of the summer.
Large Compact Camping Table – £60.00 Aluminum folding Table for Outdoors Ultralight Compact with Carry Bag and four adjustable legs. The Nestling table is easy to install, easy to carry, easy to store, very sturdy and ultra-lightweight
All four legs are adjustable which will be great on uneven ground.
Small Compact Camping Table – £33.00 Aluminum Table Top, Folding camping Table Ultralight Compact with Carry Bag. Hard-top, waterproof, solid construction made with aerospace-grade aluminum alloy, compact, Low height. If there’s only a couple of you this would be ideal and definitely for the light pack.
There are quite a few options here from double burners with grills to single compact gas stoves and portable multifuel stoves, each with a benefit depending on your type of getaway. Be careful around your tent and remember the smaller open flame burners could create a wildfire so be prepared.
Multi Fuel Portable Burners – £10 – £23.00 Lixada Camping Stove Stainless Steel Fold Flat Lightweight Stove / Burner for Portable Outdoor Camping Cooking Picnic. Unlimited Fuel Sources: Cook a meal using twigs, branches, leaves. Say goodbye to heavy, costly, polluting petrol fuels. This stove is ideal if your looking to avoid carrying gas and its eco friendly too if your using twigs and things. Just remember to take extra care with this type of stove if your camping in dry locations where an ember could create a major fire.
Wind Shield for Stoves – £8.00 Camp Stove Windshield, 10 Plates Stove Windscreen, Folding Aluminum Camping Burner Windshield. If your cooking outdoors then you’ll need one of these, they keep your flame directed at your cooking equipment saving time and fuel. Great for portable and larger stoves too.
Smallest Portable Gas Burner £30.00 – Campingaz Twister Plus PZ Stove. Pocket sized folding Gas burner that attaches straight to the top of the wee gas cannisters. Ideal for camping or festivals. *Make sure you get the PZ igniter model.* This burner runs on Campingaz gas cartridges CV300 Plus and CV470 Plus, high availability in over 50 countries; dealer overview on campingaz.com/gasfinder. This is a great wee burner (we’ve used one for 17 yrs now) it folds away neatly into the provided hard case, takes up very little room and is easy to use. Just beware on uneven ground with this type of cooker as they aren’t the most stable without the legs. Also worth noting as its a foldable unit it can sometimes be easy to fold it back while cooking when you move things around on top of it..
Camping Gaz Gas CV300 – £27.00 – 4 Gas Cartridges, for Campingaz Easy Click Plus Valve Camping Stoves for Easy Installation, Propane-Butane Mix
Single Camping Stove – £27.00 Milestone Camping 18949 Portable Gas Camping Stove with Carry Case | Gas Powered | Lightweight & Portable | Camping/Festivals/Fishing Trips we have one of these too, obviously not something you’ll carry on a hike, but a great wee burner that comes with a case and they’re much more stable too. We use ours all over on day trips and even during power outages. (we even lent ours to the neighbours during a blackout so they could warm the babies milk!) The cases are pretty flimsy though so be aware, ours is held together with duct tape.
Gas for Single Camping stove – £12.00 Marksman Marks 8 Butane Gas Bottles These are the bottle designed specifically for the single stove type above. Remember if your taking a few cannisters with you, keep them out of direct sunlight and away from your stove.
Double Gas stove – £60.00 Campingaz Chef Folding Double Burner Stove and Grill, compact gas cooker. We have one of these too (used in the van and camping on occasion) These Run on Campingaz gas cylinders R907/R904 (runtime: 14/8 hours), but we use ours with a propane regulator and regular BBQ propane bottle. This a great camping stove, ideal for lots of uses, but definitely not portable for hikes etc. The grill is so so, but better than nothing especially for basic grilling. We recommend buying a mixture of Gas regulators (below) for all available gas bottle types so you always have what you need and you can swap them in an emergency.
Campingaz Gas Regulator £12.00 Campingaz Type 30Mbar Gas Regulator With 2M Hose + 2 Clips Fits 907 904 901
Spare Regulators for Double stoves **Check sizes before using as continental sizes differ** –
£11.00 CALOR GAS BRAND BUTANE GAS REGULATOR FITS CALOR 4.5kg CYLINDER
£17.00 21Mm CALOR GAS Brand Butane Regulator 2Mt Hose & 2 Clips FITS : CALOR GAS 15kg 13kg 12kg 7kg BUTANE CYLINDERS , FLOGAS 13kg 7kg 4.5kg GOLD/YELLOW CYLINDERS (NOT BLUE) OR ANY OTHER CYLINDER WITH A 21mm VALVE
Large Frying Pan – £11.00 Baoblaze Non-stick Silver Pan Frying Large Camping Pan. We don’t think you need many cooking items. For us most of the food we cook / prepare for our trips just needs heated in a single pan, so if you get a large non stick frying pan like this one you should be fine. Decide what you plan to cook and then see what you’ll need and remember add a wee bit of Olive Oil and wipe around the pan before every use to keep the pans best non stick values. Only wash with water and never scrub or use metal inside. Alternatively take a look at the Helikon stainless steel camping dishes below as these can be cooked in too.
Pan Set -£32.00 Bramble – 9 Pc Stainless Steel Camping Cooking Set – Stainless Steel Pots, Pans, Plates & More in a handy set. We think this is overkill when it comes to pans, but it does give you a lot of other useful kit for the price.
Dishes & Utensils
Cutlery & Dishes – We tend to use basics from around the house a small spatula & spoon for cooking, a small sharp serrated knife for cutting and forks, knifes and spoons for all. Plus my multi knife just in case. But if you really want compact camping cutlery try these.
Camping Dishes – £19.00 Helikon MESS TINS 3 PCS STAINLESS STEEL CAMPING billy cans. These are great for cooking and eating from and most importantly they’ll save weight and space. The reviews are great and your better buying quality stainless steel that will last forever, than buying cheap plastic or cheap aluminium dishes.
Collapsible Washing bowl – £9.00 Orbit Innovations Collapsible Washing Up Bowl Lightweight, foldable washing bowl great for everything in your camp from washing dishes to getting ready in the morning, these collapsible bowls are all you need.
Camping Cutlery Set for 1 – £18.00 Navaris Titanium Camping Cutlery Set – Lightweight Camping Cutlery for One – Knife, Fork and Spoon Set with Carabiner and Bag for Hiking and Trave. Perfect long lasting set that’s portable and easy to pack.
Water & Drinking
Water Filter (wild camping) – £28.00 Waterdrop Water Filter Straw with Gravity Water Bag, Portable Camping Filtration System, Drinking Water Purifier for Emergency Hiking Travel Backpacking. If your only source of water will come from Rivers Lakes or Lochs then you’ll need to filter your water with a filter system like these. This is the same type of system as the lifestraw but with these you can open the top and scoop the water in and then use gravity to filter the water into the clean bag or your bottle for you. If your just going to be fetching water from a campsite then this is a nice to have item, but to be honest we think its a worth having this item either way.
Drinking Water Container
KONKY Folding Water Bucket – £13.00 5L/10L/15L Collapsible & Portable Water Container with tap, BPA-Free. Ideal for folding, packing and saving space but worth noting collapsible water containers are always harder to handle and pour from even with the tap.
Kampa – Splash 10L Water Carrier – £14.00 This 10l water container is solid and comes with the filler on one side and the tap on the other making it easier to fill and pour from. The only downside is it’ll take up a lot more space when packing.
Camp Kettle £25.00 Tentock Camping Kettle with Foldable Handle Fast Heating Gas Teapot Outdoor. This kettle has a heat diffuser built into the bottom for faster boiling which makes it great for heating water fast and saving fuel while making drinks and camp meals.
Enamel £27.00 for 6 – Enamel Mug Cup Set of 6, Homikit 16oz Enamel Coffee Tea Cups Mugs, Red/Green/Blue/White/Black/Yellow Drinking Tin Mug. To create enamelware, companies use a base of iron, steel or aluminum and coat it with porcelain enamel. No poly- or perfluoroalkyl chemicals are used in the production of this cookware, so it’s environmentally friendly and built to last too.
Stainless Steel insulated £10.00 each – HEECN Stainless Steel Metal Camping Cups Foldable Handle Mug with Lid ECO-Friendly HESS-007R. As with all the stainless steel items we’ve selected, these are built to last.
Alternatively use insulated mugs that most people already have in their homes for your camping trips.
Most people have reusable water bottles these days, so our advice is use what you have, but if you’ve not got one yet or yours is on its way out, try these out.
Vigour UK – £7.00 – Eco-friendly Collapsible water bottle Black Expandable water bottle – 550ml at full capacity. Light weight, Portable FDA approved & BPA free with carabiner. This bottle doesn’t look like much but its design allows it to shrink and expand depending on how much water you want to carry. Great if you’ve emptied it and don’t want to carry a full sized bottle around all day.
Opard Sports Water Bottle – £11.00, 600ml BPA Free Non-Toxic Tritan Plastic Drinking Bottle with Leak Proof Flip Top Lid BPA Free. This bottle has the added handy feature of measurements up the side and gets great reviews.
Coolers & Coolbags
Coolers are definitely not essential camping kit if your buying camp meals or eating takeaways etc, but if you do plan on keeping food and drinks around with you on site then a 12v cooler will be useful. Electric Coolers keep your food and drinks cold whereas a Coolbag / Box will just slow things from warming up too quickly, unless you can add ice packs daily or buy ice at the campsite.
*Just remember with the 12v coolers that if your not using a campsite 240v hookup and your using the car instead that, some car sockets switch off once the engine is turned off and if not you could drain your vehicle battery.
32l 12v Cooler £53.00 – Clas Ohlson Cool Box Drinks Cooler and Food Warmer Heater Box, Large Capacity 32 L, 12 V **No 240v Mains Adapter – Grey. We’ve had a similar unit for about 15yrs now, eventually I dropped it and broke the handle, but it still works fine and its nothing a bit of gaffer tape couldn’t fix! The reviews say the fan is pretty quiet on this model (unlike ours) and there’s also a divider and handy extra access point in the top to save loosing all your cold air from the cooler, its a decent price too.
45l 12v Cooler £90.00 – Hi-Gear 45-Litre 12V 240V Cooler, Grey. Keep food and drink cool for longer This large electric cooler has 45-litres of space available for food and drink. Run it from your vehicle’s 12V socket or 240V mains, it’s up to you. Wheels and handle make it easy to move around the when it’s full. Power control dial has a switch between hot and cold setups and there are dividers so you can separate food and drinks for more organised storage. Supplied WITH240V mains and 12V in-car plug cables. This is great option for a family camping trip with the added option of a 240v electric hookup.
Coolbag 26l £20.00 – Lifewit Insulated Soft Cooler Bag Cooler Backpack, 26L /34 Can Leakproof Soft-Sided Cooling Collapsible CoolBag. Grey Fabric outer with washable insulated inner. We’ve just bought one of these after recycling a rather knackered 7yr old M&S bag for life coolbag. We got ours for work & day trips but its great for camping too. Its really well made with mesh side pockets, other zipped pockets on the top and front and a bottle opener tab. It looks really smart in the grey fabric too. Backpack straps and a handle make carrying easy. Keeps things cool with ice packs (not included) for hours, we’ll have this for many years to come now. We use the mesh side pockets for hot drinks (in the summer) and a picnic rug with all the cold items inside. Obviously once the weather changes we’ll be using it for keeping things warm instead.
Coolbag 40l £40.00 – Lifewit 40L Soft Cooler Bag Large with Hard Liner, Insulated Picnic Soft-Sided Cooling Bag for Camping / Outdoor Activities. This is made the same way as the 26l bag above that we’ve just bought with mesh side pockets, a bottle opener tab and other pockets too. Same as above only this version has a larger capacity but no rucksack handles.
Our Other Basic Camping Essentials
Torch / Lighting £20.00 – Rechargeable Head Torch, Super Bright Headlight 18000 Lumens 8 LED 8 Modes, Waterproof with Red Flash Light, Extra Battery set Mini Multitool and case. I own one these headtorches and I can honestly say in its highest most powerful setting this thing lights up fields. The torch has multiple brightness settings and also comes with additional red light settings which help you see without attracting bugs, which is perfect for camping. Batteries last forever once charged via a Micro USB cable and you get a spare set for even more convenience. Uses the same 18650 batteries as the LED Lantern below so you could swap them between devices always having a set on charge. This headtorch is perfect for camping and good value too.
LED Lantern £26.00 LE Rechargeable Camping Lantern, 1000 Lumen LED Outdoor Light 4 Modes Rechargeable LED Light, IP44 Water Resistant. Recharges via Micro USB the same as the Head Torch above and uses the same 18650 rechargeable batteries so you could swap them between devices always having a set on charge. Charge time is 8 hours but this could be left on all day to work all night in a camping situation. Great for camping and around the house too.
While electric hookup isn’t essential while camping, if your taking a cooler and phones and kids tablets etc, they can be quite handy. We suggest buying the proper outdoor cable version below with RCD for safety though.
240v Hookup cable £47.00 – Maypole MP3765 15m Mobile Mains Power RCD Unit, 230V 10A with 3x 13amp British sockets & RCD protection. This is a proper outdoor cable with RCD unit fitted for safe use in a campground setting.
Multi-Tool & Clip Folding Knife £26.00 – Gerber Multi-Tool and Clip Folding Knife Mini Combo Pack Multi Tools are great for camping, they have all the essential bits n bobs and slide right into your pocket. Having a few Gerber knives / tools of my own these come recommended. This set has all the basics at a reasonable price and they’re built to last.
Eco Dustpan & Brush £16.00 – Full Circle Mini Dustpan And Brush, Green This looks like the perfect wee set for camping. It won’t take up too much space and its made from recycled plastics and bamboo too, ideal for keeping the muck and dirt out of your tent and sleeping areas.
Eco Loo Roll £1.00 per roll – Who Gives A Crap – Eco-Friendly Recycled Toilet Paper | Box of 24 Rolls (3-Ply, 400 Sheets) | Soft, Strong, Sustainable, Biodegradable, Plastic-Free. This B Corp certified toilet roll is great for home use and camping, with no nasties built in and being biodegradable its the perfect camping choice.
Eco Kitchen Towel £14.00 x6 Rolls – Who Gives A Crap – Eco-Friendly Bamboo Blend 2-Ply Kitchen Towels (6 Rolls) This B Corp certified kitchen roll is great for home use and camping, with no nasties built in and being biodegradable its the perfect camping choice.
Eco Bug Repellent Spray £9.00 combo pack – THEYE Natural Mosquito Repellent Cream and Micro Spray Combo Pack | DEET & Alcohol Free | Scientifically Proven | Family Friendly | Up to 8 Hr Protection. If your going to explore the countryside then you’ll definitely want to add a bug repellent spray to your kit, but you’ll not want to be spraying nasty chemicals all over yourself. This set is ideal and not only vegan but also totally natural.
Microfibre Camping Towel Poncho £22.00 Changing / Hooded Beach Towel Poncho Adult £22.00 packs small, dries quickly and handy for days out too, These ponchos are great for days at the beach, camping and even swimming and they pack up tiny too.
Microfibre Camping Towel £16.00 triple pack x3 Towel Microfibre set (face, hands, body) Quick Dry Towels Microfibre towels like these pack small and are really absorbent, they also dry really quickly and don’t smell so they’re ideal for camping.
Apps & Useful Services
Map App – What3Words – Android / Apple / Web – The world broken down into 3mx3m squares. Find where you are easily, Mark exactly where your tent is or where you parked in a new area, plan trips and know your exact location in case of emergency anywhere in the world. What3Words is now widely used as standard by emergency services throughout the world.
Weather App – Weawow – Android / Apple / Web – We use this app all the time for planning and it seems to be one of the most accurate among the countless weather apps we’ve tried. Don’t forget to setup your camping location in the favourites to make things easier for planning.
Hiking, Dog Walking & Exploring App – AllTrails – Android / Apple / Web – Think of AllTrails as a Park Ranger in your pocket, giving you access to all the best walks, bike trails and places to explore around you. (note for safety we still suggest downloading what3words for the best location map in an emergency.)
Did we miss anything?
Hopefully this article will not only help you pick the right kit for your needs, but also give you a few tips to make your first or next camping trip a success.
Let us know your thoughts and feel free to offer up your advice in the comments below and remember…
The NO1 rule when enjoying the outdoors: Leave it as you find it or better!
Staycations themselves are definitely more environmentally friendly when done right, especially when compared to foreign holidays with flights and long journeys, but they’re definitely not if campers leave things or dump things after each trip like this mess in the picture above.
The beauty of going somewhere nice to camp is just that, going somewhere nice. When campers leave Tents, towels, chairs, food waste, food wrappers, toilet paper and human waste where they camped, its definitely not nice anymore and definitely not environmentally friendly either.
So please leave your campsite as you found it, or make it better by clearing up any mess you find when your there.
Enjoy Camping and don’t forget to tell us how you got on!