The Mumsnet Guide to Camping(40 Posts)
Help a woman out, we've decided to be campers. We've got two young boys and a short August weekend booked nearby as our first trip.
We. Own. Nothing! To camp with so want to start building our kit up from scratch and figured we'd probably spend around £1000 on tent and sleeping bags etc.
Any recommendations of what we need or top camping tips would be really appreciated
Don't want to spend a fortune on things we don't know will be good long term but similarly I don't want to underdo it and have an uncomfortable trip and never go back, or waste money buying cheaper items only to immediately replace them after 2 nights.
Thermal self inflating sleeping mats NOT an air bed.
Double duvet and NOT sleeping bags for the adults.
Good sharpe knife, bottle opener, fairy lights.
Table with fold our attached benches better than camping chairs and spectate table as the chairs are too low to eat at a table with.
Comfy camping chairs for the evenings.
Hot water bottles of you feel the cold.
Pillows from your bed at home.
Can you borrow one first, put it up in the back garden and see if you like sleeping in it?
(Never-afucking-gain for me!)
Tempting Frankie but think my husband will use all the camping gear anyway with the kids if I decide never again. He was a
nerd boy scout so loves that crap.
I would buy a 6 berth tent with 2 (possibly 3) sleeping areas, an inside area and a porch. Think carefully about buying something bigger as it can be a PITA to fit in the car, put up, store, and then you buy tonnes of stuff to go in it.
I like thermal self inflating mats- lidl/aldi both do them as part of their specials but many shops stock them now at a reasonable price. Buy slightly better quality for the adults if you can as you are heavier and will notice the difference more.
You can take duvets/pillows from home (although I personally prefer sleeping bags). Buy a few cheap fleece blankets from Ikea or similar- nice to have on camping chairs, wrap up at night, sunshade, between the mattress etc.
Again you can take kitchen stuff from home, but look in wilcos/charity shops if you want to start a little collection to keep in a box. I prefer metal cutlery and melamine plates- makes it feel more like home. You will need sharp knives, bottle opener, chop board, plates, bowls, mugs, cutlery, fish slice, large spoon etc.
Think about how much cooking you are planning to do. If it's a lot, it's worth investing in a double burner or similar (or 2 smaller smaller laptop stoves but don't place them side by side). If you're planning to do breakfast and just eat out you might get by with 1 stove.
It's worth buying a small kettle. You will also need a water carrier (though we get a new 5 litre bottle from the supermarket every year and refill).
A few tables are handy, one high up for a 'kitchen' and a lower one. I prefer tables over clunky kitchen stands.
A cool box, or cool bag. You can get electric ones, but you can use frozen milk/blocks/prepared chilli etc to help.
EHU is a possibility, though watch out as some cheaper models have smaller length cables, it's worth getting a longer one.
Some way of lighting the tent- we just use cheap ikea lights, if you go non-EHU you will want effective battery ones.
The best thing is to just go and then nose around other people's set ups. Most campers will respond to a bit of flattery about their set up and are happy to
justify talk about their purchases.
Just remember that more stuff isn't always a good idea!
I was a reluctant total camping newbie 10 years ago with toddler, having been persuaded into it by outdoorsy dh, and was astonished to find I really enjoyed it!
I have an airbed and love it. The rest of the family have thermal mats. And we all have sleeping bags. We have a 6 berth tent for 4 people. It has a big, round living area with 3 sleeping pods off it. Take lots of hats, gloves, fleeces and thick socks if you're in the UK, even in midsummer. Crocs for slipping into and out of easily to go to bathroom block etc (no shoes on in the tent!). We only have a single burner for cooking but I want a double!
Vango are usually very good value for money and should stay standing if the weather gets rough. You will probably trade ease of erection with size. My preference is for something I can sit on a chair inside but doesn't need to be able to stand up. Woolly hats if it could get cold in the night. How much are home comforts needed for you? I have camped for years without electric anything and loved it. Torch is needed. If you camp on a site with a cafe for the morning cuppa you may not need much cooking gear other than a disposable BBQ. Take food in a box with lid to avoid visitors.
A portable barbecue (if the site allows them) is a good option for evening meals.
Have a look round for local camping fairs, so you can look round the different tents and get a feel for them.
If you go for three sleeping areas that gives you the option of a storage room, so you can keep your living space and sleeping areas clutter free (assuming your boys sleep in one area together)
Practice assembling the tent at home before you go so that you can get it up reasonably quickly on arrival.
Make sure you fit all the stuff in your car if not will need roof rack or box. I would agree see if you can borrow a tent to give you an idea of what you will need. We started off taking stuff from home, found duvets warmer than sleeping bags. We do a lot of camping and have a proper camping fridge which runs off a leisure battery when we don’t have EHU. Camping is great for all I always feel mentally better when camping.
A double self inflating mat and double sleeping bag were DH and my best buys! Got them from Go Outdoors.
Coffee bags (like tea bags but with filter coffee) are a thing we always take.
And a Swiss army knife with corkscrew...
Think about the cost of pitches when you choose the size of tent. Many campsites charge more for larger tents, especially the huge tunnel tents or tents with 3 pods round a central living area.
Decathlon is amazing for camping stuff at very reasonable prices.
Stuff like waterproof trousers for when children are up and about in the morning dew
How do you envisage your camping?
Bell tent with a tarp outside? - cotton or polycotton, lovely, cool in hot weather a bit warmer in cold, easy to put up. But heavier and bulkier than a nylon tent and you have to dry them carefully at home if you have a wet pack up or they go mouldy.
Fibeglass or steel poled tent. very good value. Tunnel tents are very easy to put up. Steel poles: heavier and bulkier and more expensive, fibeglass , might split in a bad gale (but easily replaced). The Icarus / iris / Isis with porch would be a good starter in these kinds of tents.
Airbeam: Quick / easy to put up, good in high winds, expensive, heavy and bulky to pack. In v hot weather (.g if you go to S France or Spain) you have to fiddle about with the pressure in the beams.
EHU or 'wild'? Will you want sites that offer as many facillities as poss and EHU, or do you prefer 'wilder' sites where you can pitch anywhere, have more space, maybe in woods, and have a campfire? Cook over your fire? If you choose this option you need a grill to cook over the fire with (maybe a tripod), an iron pot, but you can get away with a small one-ring cooker.
How old are your kids?
To begin with, all you need is tent, something to sleep on, something to sleep in (sleeping bags are good for kids) , something to cook on or prepare simple meals, a camping chair each and probably a table.
Does the site have a washing up sink? Washing up bowl and some liquid and a sponge.
Lights / lanterns. There are some lights that look like lightbulbs that you can hang from your tent roof.
Some people take ludicrous amounts of kit. You need to find your style and your priorities!
My main bit of advice is Decathlon. I've camped for years and gradually gravitated towards them when replacing equipment. It's cheap and good quality.
Just to say your local gumtree or eBay often had very good quality tents for sale from people
with more money than sense who've bought expensive kit then decided it wasn't for them. Polycotton outwell tents for much less .....or the Dutch website obelisk which drives to UK...
EBay has a beautiful Obelink Palamos for £240 at the moment.
But I am not sure a camping newbie should dive into a canvas storm tent until you know it is 'you'.
How old are your children? We have been camping since our eldest was 1 and have found that having a sleeping compartment that can be used just for storage is really useful. You can zip up to the top so they can't get in and find the sharp knives, matches etc. Also, give yourself enough space that the kids can be entertained in the tent in the rain. ours has a living area big enough that the table can be set up for board games or colouring but everyone else can still easily move around.
If your children are still young then one large sleeping area is probably better than a set up with two smaller sleeping areas either side. They can usually be divided later on. As others have said self inflating mats are great but DH much prefers an air bed so it's a matter of choice. Ready beds aren't warm enough really (not even in summer) so you are better with an air bed (for young children one with sides is more secure and stops them rolling out) and a decent junior sleeping bag. I wouldn't get a tent without an integrated groundsheet but a separate matching footprint and ground sheet really helps (it makes pitching loads easier as you're rolling the tent onto something dry) and helps keep the tent warm and dry. I wouldn't bother with a tent carpet though.
I think it's better to have a tent you can stand in. Go outdoors is good to see lots of tents together to get an accurate feel. Decathlon might be cheaper but they don't usually have lots set up.
Some things that make it more fun/easy. Multiple fleece blankets, you can never have enough. Cardboard flattened as a door mat inside. Dustpan and brush. Instant latte sachets and disposable paper cups. A bottle of rum. Cards and games (and a tablet with power pack for the kids on a rainy day). Decent camping chairs.
I think the thing that most influences my enjoyment is the site. I love camping, and i don't need electric, but I do need a good toilet and shower block. Otherwise I'm miserable! So we tend to go to caravan club sites. They would be boring for some and that's fine.
One last thing, practice putting up the tent in the garden a cpuple of times. The pressure of working it out in public is so grim. Have a great time!
Thanks so much, lots of good advice here - I really appreciate the time and experience. I always enjoy taking advice from people who've made all the mistakes so I can trod the easy path . I've been having a few wistful days on Pinterest trying to pretend it wont be cold. And damp.
We looked into it slightly last year but I did run away with myself slightly so I left it to make sure we were making the right decision. We've just bought a tent as I thought the offer was quite good - a Vango Avington 600XL for £400 including additional groundsheet and carpet. I think we'll go for a double SIM and double sleeping bag, with perhaps an additional duvet so I can see which is better?
Fortunately for our first time we'll be camping with family and only for a short time so aside from sleeping and tent I can save spending on storage and cooking for now and see how it goes. I will try ebay and local Facebook once people start pulling out their camping gear for the year!
Things that I think sound brilliant:
*Filter coffee bags - genius idea, I love you.
*melamine - I already love it and have 2 mugs. Perhaps largely why I am agreeing to go camping in the first place!!
Things that I'm not sure of:
*I really have no idea about EHUs, so I think I will just ignore this for now and perhaps best for our first trip to go non-electric and then reassess?
*What I want from a camp site. I probably want what everyone wants - pristine facilities, nice and quiet. A cafe nearby does sound lovely.
*Will we eat sausages for the whole trip? I think I am ok with this...
Somehow missed the dustpan and brush comments but just rereading through now and can instantly see why this would be really helpful and something I wouldn't have thought of!
Tent has arrived today, it's very heavy!! I think a test run will be a good idea and help the kids learn what to expect. They're preschool/KS1 age. Perhaps I should buy a Peppa Pig Goes Camping book...
Doormats! DH and I only camp when it is expedient to do so - no way we're doing it with the boys but alongside dustpan and brush, one doormat inside and outside cuts down on wet and muddy footprints inside.
Sheepskins as mini carpets and something to sit on inside that isn't bedding or tend base are also good.
Last year after camping for 40 year (10+ seriously as an adult) I discovered paper plates on a camping trip are a game changer. Washing up seriously reduced!
Also pouring milk directly into the mini cereal cartons and getting the kids to eat directly out of them.
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