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Can someone help me shop for our very first camping trip please?

(30 Posts)
mumat39 Thu 08-Aug-13 00:37:58

Haven't booked anywhere yet, but hoping to go soon.

I've looked on pitch up and am already confused about whether we need a pitch with electric or not. Most of what's available is non electric.

There are 4 of us. Me, DP, dd (5) and DS (3).
DP is 6'2" so would need something he'll fit into.

We have 3 sleeping bags and two electric air beds, one of which has a slow leak.

I am worried about
Dc safety ESP at night
Being bitten alive
Using toilet blocks at all, but ESP in the night
I would have to 'cook' as dc have allergies and ready meals aren't an option for them.

So, can someone help point me in the direction of what I should be looking at in terms of tent etc. there seem to be so many versions and brands that I'm confused.

Also, were SW London, so if anyone can think of any sites not too far that we could try for our first trip that would also be helpful.

Thanks so much.

IpsyUpsyDaisyDo Thu 08-Aug-13 06:40:36

You're going to have quite a shopping list! What fun!
You don't need electric if you don't want it, we've never had it but friends wouldn't be without it grin - it can make things a little more comfortable & convenient.
Have a look at the Vango Icarus range of tents
Your DC will love it - and you can zip 'em in at night wink
A good campsite will have good toilet & washing facilities - of course it won't be like having your own en-suite, but it's only for a limited time.
We're in west London & have been to the New Forest a few times for long w/e camping trips - can recommend Greenhill Farm. It takes just over an hour to drive & it's beautiful!
What else? Oh yes, cooking - worth getting a little stove, we have the Camping Gaz Chef which has two burners & a little grill. Can cook any hob-top recipe on that.

HTH, have fun!

bubblepop Thu 08-Aug-13 08:11:58

Hi, you need a tent with a sewn in groundsheet, keeps bugs/rain out. There are lots to choose from on the market, visit your nearest outdoor store and often they are on display. You would be most comfortable in a 5-6 man tent. A tent carpet on the floor is marvelous at keeping the cold out..picnic rugs or similar will do for you at first. Get one of those suitcase style cookers that run on a disposable gas cannister, they are cheap to buy and small enough to carry around...perfect to warm up beans etc or to heat your kettle. Finally you will need season 3 sleeping bags if you want to keep warm at night...not the £5 ones you can buy they are useless. I f you can't get decent sleeping bags for your first outing take the winter quilts from your bed at home.
The difference between an electric pitch or not is the ability to be able to use a fan heater in your tent and use an electric kettle/coolbox/plug in your laptop/phone/use an electric air bed pump. If you book a pitch with electric you will need an electric hook up cable with a built in RCD. Lots of people camp without all this successfully but I could never be without my fan heater in the evenings im too soft!
Finally, never take a gas heater or bbq inside your tent due to the risk of carbon monoxide fumes which is a very real risk. Happy camping!

MummyPigsFatTummy Thu 08-Aug-13 10:24:52

Right, well all good advice above about the nicer aspects of camping so I shall aim low and talk about nighttime wees. Night time loo trips are a pain and involve lots of zipping and unzipping tents and going out in the cold - yuk!

Take a bucket. Either just a bucket or one with a seat like a luggable loo. Line it with a bag and either put a nappy at the bottom to absorb wee, or cat litter or, like us, invest in some poo powder to absorb and solidify the wee (helping avoid accidental spillage). It's expensive but I wouldn't be without it now. Link here:

Raising the tone a little, I would get a head torch for each member of the family. So much easier to be able have your hands free and see at the same time.

I wouldn;t bother with electric unless you really feel you can't be without. You have to invest in a proper EHU (electric hook up) set up with a lead and outdoor sockets etc. You can buy them from most good camping shope for £40-£50, but for a first trip, you can manage with a cool box and ice packs and a gas stove of the type others have suggested.

Also, EHU and campfires never seem to go together and there is nothing nicer than going to a site which allows fires so you can toast marshmallows and sit drinking wine and staring into the flames. Best part of camping I think.

Would Kent or Sussex be reasonably close for you? If so, somewhere like Forgewood or St Ives Farm (both fairly close to Tunbridge Wells/East Grinstead) might be a nice place to go. Otherwise, Washington Caravan and Camping Site in West Sussex: has nice showers and loos and also a shared fire pit if you do fancy a fire. Lots of nice walks over the South Downs there too.

mumat39 Thu 08-Aug-13 16:48:14

Oh, wow!

Thanks so so much for your help. That's brilliant.

If we go for a vango Icarus 600, can you cook in the covered 'living area bit? Or do you cook outside?

Just wondering about rain and how that would affect a gas stove?

Also, when you o out for the day, how do you secure a tent? Or is it a case of just leaving it? Also, how do you secure things when you go to sleep?

The luggable loo sounds sensible, so would you get a tent with a separate section for that bit?

Millets have a sale on at the mo, and they have that tent for £199 reduced by £116 which seems a good deal. They also have an extra 15% off if I was to order today.

I like that vango as we'd all be sleeping in one section. Just feels more secure as I'm a bit of a scaredy cat.

Is it worth getting a table and some chairs? Any recommendations of where to get them from? Millets don't have much.

Thanks so so much again. I've found a site that has availability in Dorset. Just going to look at the weather for next week and then take it from there.


mumat39 Thu 08-Aug-13 16:49:13

Oh, and how do I know if the vango Icarus 600 has a sewn in groundsheet?

QualityScout Thu 08-Aug-13 17:59:41

Relative camping newcomer here but I'd say get camping chairs and a table - but not a picnic table with chairs attached, they feel awkward and aren't that comfortable after a while.

I googled that tent and it says the ground sheet is sewn in.

I wouldn't bring gas inside a tent (possibly OTT but I'd rather get wet).

Lucky13 Thu 08-Aug-13 18:44:14

Lots of info about that tent here including loads of photos so you can actually imagine what it would be like if you owned it.

coribells Thu 08-Aug-13 19:04:17

We are relatively new campers as well. I picked up a 4 man tent + double sleeping bag , double air mattress and from gum tree for £45.00 .all in very good condition and had only been used once.
We didn't get a camp/ picnic table, we used our camp chairs and also put a picnic blanket on the ground which was easier for the kids to eat at ( rather than food on laps) we managed quite well with a single ring gas burner and disposable BBQs. A small camp table to cook on is essential, you can get them quite cheaply from Argos/ halfords . It did rain once while we were away ,my DS held a big golf umbrella over me whilst I cooked. Such fun .
We have also been to the New forest and would highly recommend, went to Salisbury last week because the boys wanted to see stonehenge .

mumat39 Thu 08-Aug-13 20:19:48

Thanks so much. You're all brilliant!!!

Just reading the reviews on the vango Icarus 600 on that website, Lucky, and it doesn't have a zipper on the outer door or summat like that. The reviewer mentioned bugs getting. So I think that's a no! I hate bugs but trying o be brave and go among with the dc, besides which, once we've had this initial outlay, it should be a much cheaper way of getting out and about for weekends away.

Anyway, thanks for all the tips. I'll look at argos for tables.

Thanks again. So so much! thanks

invicta Thu 08-Aug-13 21:41:49

Don't cook in the covered living area. Cooking should always be done outside, due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Grittzio Thu 08-Aug-13 22:00:28

Mumat39 - 'It should be a much cheaper way of getting out and about', that's what I thought, unless its the sites we choose, but we do like good amenities, and also some of the better sites have a minimum amount of nights you can book for, the one we are going to this weekend has a minimum of 4 nights, we only wanted 2 but as the weather is looking ok will probably stay 4. The kids love it, and for that reason I do it.

IpsyUpsyDaisyDo Fri 09-Aug-13 09:25:10

mumat39, don't write off a tent on one bad review - you'll never find one if you do! That was a good price for a more than decent tent (we have the Icarus 600 and it's fab), and I challenge you to find a tent that bugs won't find their way into grin

meala Fri 09-Aug-13 09:39:01

If you have a go oudoors shop nearby, try the voyager 6. It has a huge living area and 2 bedroom pods but you can easily sleep 4 in the large pod. Its been great for my family's first few camping trips.

Get pinic blankets to put under airbeds, really helps keep out cold from the ground.

A tent footprint is useful. This is just a sheet the shapeof the base of the tent that goes on the ground first. It helps position your tent and keeps the tent itself off the ground so keeps it clean.

For cooking, I've made easy rissoto. I choped and froze all veg before I left then cooked easily in one pot. Similar, chilli with nachos was an easy camping meal.

Hope you have fun

mumat39 Fri 09-Aug-13 10:03:16

Issy, thanks, you're right! Unfortunately, my DP wanted to have a look At it online before we bought it so by the time he got home, it had disappeared from my basket on the millets website as I think it sold out. I'll have a look and see if we can find it elsewhere.

Meala, I'll also check out the voyager 6, thanks for the tip :-)

Gritzio, hmm thanks. We wold also be looking at places with good amenities. Can I ask, how much roughly do you spend on the pitch per night when you go camping? I think we're opinion to be ale to get away for weekend trips a few times a year and assumed it would be cheaper than finding a decent b&b, which we can't really use as I need access to cooking facilities.

It sounds mad, but i am actually quite excited.

I have a couple of questions, again.

When you get a new tent, are you supposed to open t up, set it up and check it before you go away? Or is it okay just o get one and open it on the trip?

Also, when you go to sleep, do you have to bring all your bits and pieces in for the night? I'm just wondering about the 'security' aspect of things? Likewise, if we went for a walk, how do you 'lock up' the tent o keep things safe?

Thanks so so much! This is going to be a life changing thing for us. Sce my DD's allergies were diagnosed, we have hardly been away. We used to do b&b's a few times a year, but eating out is really difficult, so I can see this has the potential to be just brilliant!

allmycats Fri 09-Aug-13 10:20:56

Hope you enjoy yourselves
Can recommend a trip to GO OUTDOORS - very good value copies of
more expensive tents under their own brand name.
We camp a lot and I would say - bare minimum for comfort
good quality air beds and sleeping bags and bring your own pillows from home (also duvets for colder weather, especially if you have cheaper slleping bags.
Camping cooker - try to go for something with 2 rings - the really cheap
suitcase style 1 ringers with a push on gas bottle are bloody shoddy and IMO dangerous (have had 2 set on fire even with the gas cyclinder correctly connected).
Table and chairs - not connected together
A camp larder - this is a folding ,metal with a fabric outer and inside shelves for food etc, and they have a hard solid top that slots on so you
can raise your cooking equip. of the ground.
Toilet Bucket ( or you can buy a portable toilet that works like a caravan toilet, with a connected cassette which pulls out for waste removal and has a built in flush system - very good)
Folding storage boxes to keep bits and pieces in, also useful for taking the washing up to the sinks in.
Wind Break - to put around the front of the tent to make a cooking area
Basic small saucepan and a deep frying pan and cooking untensils
Cup/Plate/Bowl cutleryper person and a few extr bowls/plates for putting things on.
Wind Up Lantern
Head lights for the kids - v.good and much fun
Strong Torch
Mallet for pegs and extra pegs to those that come with tent
KETTLE - gas
If you have hook up, which I recommend, you could also have an electric light, blow heater, kettle, phone charger, hairdryer.

Most people bring their bits and pieces with their windbreak/outer tent area and MOST people are v. honest and your things are safe.


Blu Fri 09-Aug-13 10:52:05

Once you are camping you will aquire the most important thing: camping chill out. Stop worrying about security - lock anything valuable in the car if you go for a walk or take the car with you, but otherwise, just don't worry. No-one nicks tables and chairs or other people's air beds and knickers. No point in locking a tent, a pair of nail scissors is all that is needed to gain access if the zip was locked.

If you wanted to make sure that your 3 year old could not wander off in the early morning it is a camping trick to make sure that the zipper of the childfren's sleeping compartment is at the top of the door so that they can't reach it. But the reality is you can hear them breathing, and zippers can be heard from 50m away!

I would:
Not bother with EHU, ceratinly for your first trip
Go to one of the relaxed campfire sites, but make sure it is one with good shower and washing up facilities.
In those wooded, rural sites where tents are a long way apart SOME people, wee in the bushes at night...
Do get a cheap table and chairs
Take a couple of frozen dinners home made by you, preferably one-pot, in a good cool box, and use on the first two nights
Have a BBQ
Manage on simple basic meals - and remember you can shop daily if you are out and about.
Take with one or 2 of those one-ring burner stoves that run of the aerosol type cannisters
Use as much of your own kitchen stuff as possible, you don't need specific camping pans, plates and utensils - doubtless with young kids you have plenty of plastic ware
Make sure everyone has crocs or flip flops - easy to slip on and off as you go in and out of the tent
Take a washing up bowl or bucket for taking stuff to the washing up place
Take plenty of bin liners and plastic bags - they come in handy all the time
Relax and make it up as you go along!

Blu Fri 09-Aug-13 10:53:48

Ah - have read previous posters experience of the one-ring stoves shock Eeek - I use ours rather than the 2-ring stove with gas bottle when it is just the 2 of us on a short trip. Eek!

mumat39 Sat 10-Aug-13 22:19:34

Thankyou both.
Really good lists.

Can I ask, if we get a tent tomorrow, can we just open it when we get to the campsite on Monday? We spoke to someone at a shop today who said we should open it up, check it over and soak it to activate the waterproof stuff on it.

We don't have space in the garden to open it to set it up and check?

Thanks again. I'm going to print this thread out and take it with me tomorrow.


Blu Sat 10-Aug-13 22:39:19

Is it a canvas / cotton tent?

I have never checked a tent before using it, or 'activated' the waterproofing stuff! But I only have usual polywhatever shiny tents. If it needs activating won't it activate in the first rain storm? confused

Well, I did foolishly attempt to try out our new pop-up in our loft bedroom and would not advise anyoe to do that!

mumat39 Sat 10-Aug-13 23:50:24

Blu, grin at pop up tent.

It's a a polyester one. The lady said they need activating, but there must be so many people who buy tents who don't have gardens to do this with that it doesn't seem a practical suggestion.

She said that we could wait for it o rain, but that it may then leak confused. Something about getting it soaking and then letting it dry completely.

So we didn't buy it today as we it very confused.

Thanks again.

mumat39 Sun 11-Aug-13 23:51:25

Right then.

Just wanted o say a HUGE THANKYOU, to ou all for your replies.

We booked green hill and are off tomorrow. Eeek!

We have some simple air beds, and some picnic blankets to put underneath. Hoping they'll be fine and not too cold.

DP keeps saying it'll be really hot at night, but I'm not convinced so am taking sleeping bags and a duvet for me and dc. DP reckons his season 1 sleeping bag will be fine. Do you think I should pack an extra blanket in for him too?

I haven't thought about water? I think there are water points at the campsite, so assuming that it is drinking water. Is that right? Or do we need to treat the water confused

We've got most of the things suggested. Not sure how it's all going to fit in the car, but we'll get it in somehow.

We don't have an electric pitch so hoping that we'll be fine with our wind up lantern that is just charging now.

I'm hoping it doesn't rain, and if it does that the tent doesn't leak.

I was just reading another thread, and someone mentioned keeping a weapon strapped to you at night! I mean, really? Is that something we need to think of? shock

Anyway, thanks again , so much. I'll report back in a few days. Maybe sooner if it turns out o be the worst idea we've ever had.


dufflefluffle Mon 12-Aug-13 00:00:33

Of course there will be water points at campsite.
I have never checked a tent either beofre camping or in between camping trips. If there's a leak you'll learn the hard way. (I work in a shop that sells tents and we often get people looking for bits and pieces that indicate I am no alone in not doing a full MOT on the tent beforehand).
It'll be a squash and a squeez to get it all in but hopefully you'll haev such a great holiday that none of this will matter!
We paid for electris the last time we went and never needed to use it - overkill.
There's a great camarderie amongst campers - imo you'll be perfectly safe. Bring a beach bucket for wees at night and you'll be be fine.
You have to try one trip to know what you need so this is yours: consider it a re-con! ENJOY!

mumat39 Mon 12-Aug-13 00:13:58

Thanks duffle. The water question was a bit silly blush. Thanks for the reassurance tho.

Phew re the tent check. It did seem a bit mad that she suggested that we ought to do that.

I really am looking forward to it. It's a bit of a weird feeling actually as I usually dread the getting stuff together for a holiday thing.

Thanks again for your help. Need to find something to carry the water in now. Oh and wee bucket and washing up bowl.


SalomeD Mon 12-Aug-13 07:31:59

Definitely pack an extra blanket for your hubby if you have space as there is nothing more guaranteed to put a 'newbie' off camping than being cold at night

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