Camping essentials for first timers
Today’s blog is designed for those who are getting geared up for their first camping trip or festival. It is packed with good, practical advice and tips to help you on your way.
This year you might be venturing out on your first camping holiday or going to your first festival, if you don't own any camping equipment it can be rather daunting for camping newbies to know exactly what important items are needed. Imagine you are at a festival for the first time and forget something essential, you might not be able to pop out to a camping shop easily, and forgetting something vital could spoil your enjoyment, so it's far better to be over-prepared than ill-equipped. We take a look at the essential items you might need for camping.
The most obvious thing needed for camping is a tent. There are so many tents out there that even for the seasoned camper it can be hard to choose the right one. One important distinction to make is between single skin and double skin tents. For a festival, a single skin tent may do the job but they are not great at keeping out rain and condensation. Double skin tents are much more effective at protecting the occupants from rain and wind, and help insulate the tent keeping you much warmer overnight than a single skin one. Of course, double skin tents take a little longer to put up and are more expensive, but over the course of two or three camping trips or festivals the extra comfort will be worth the time and money.
Many people buy a tent that is too small to change clothes or store luggage in, so buying a tent that can accommodate one more person than intended is a good idea, as it gives you that extra space for costume changes, or simply to shelter comfortably if it rains. For festivals, it is almost essential to have a porch you can store muddy boots in, which will help to keep your sleeping gear clean. Coleman and Kampa both make good value tents; this one is great for festivals and short term camping trips.
Sleeping bags are another vital camping item, and again there are so many different types out there it can be hard to make a decision. For a first-time camp out in the UK, there is no need to buy an arctic rated bag, a standard rectangular one will do. The most lightweight ones are more expensive, as they are aimed at travellers and backpackers, but if there's a long walk from the car park to the campsite it might be worth getting an ultra-lightweight small one, and it will take up less space in your luggage, leaving more room for clothes and food. This Outwell bag is a good price, will perform well in UK weather and offers a pillow like top area under which you can stuff clothes for a makeshift pillow. Whether you take a separate normal pillow or an inflatable one is up to you – rolled up clothes will do perfectly well in a pinch.
Sleeping mats are a matter of personal taste. While an 18-year-old boy at his first festival may be able to sleep just fine without any protection from the floor, that is not the case for most of us. Foam roll mats are cheap and provide a little comfort, but anyone with back or hip problems will want some form of inflatable mat. If it is your first time camping, there is no point in spending a lot of money on fancy self-inflating mats, so a cheaper airbed and foot pump offers a comfortable night’s sleep without breaking the bank. Airbeds also come in handy for overnight guests, so they are much more flexible in use than the thinner camping mats. This Outwell mat is reasonably priced and is not much more expensive than the thin foam mats, and is actually cheaper than the thickest foam ones. One thing to bear in mind when choosing a mat and tent, is that they will both fit together properly. Some mats are longer than the inners of some tents, and by forcing it in you can badly damage the tent seams.
Most festivals do not allow camping stoves or barbecues, although some do, so check whether you are allowed to take one before you go. Whipping up a quick campsite meal is much cheaper than buying from the food stalls, but you will need to carry that food in with you, and wash up your own dishes. On a camping holiday, away from a festival site you may prefer to eat out rather than buy a camping stove for a first trip, but then these gas stoves can be invaluable in a power cut. The Campingaz Bistro 300 is a table-top stove with convenient carry case for extra protection during transport and storage.This single burner cartridge system is good for teenagers on a rowdy campsite, as the flat wide base makes it hard to knock over. It is good value for money and does the job perfectly well. This camping stove is ideal for use on tables and flat ground, it's lightweight and compact size make it the perfect choice for those looking for an unforgettable weekend-trip with friends or family, it is inexpensive and will give you the flexibility to test your outdoor cooking skills before either abandoning that idea or upgrading to a double burner or other camping stove.
Torches and lighting are absolutely essential for camping. Candles and tea lights in tents are an awful idea as there is a big fire risk, but tea lights in jam jars can be used outside around a campsite for a little extra lighting. Head torches are great for middle of the night trips to the loo, especially if you are taking kids, while lantern style torches provide good lighting inside a tent. Most tents have a lantern or torch hanging strap at the centre of the roof – so if you were wondering what that loop was for, now you know. At festivals a head torch is a great idea, as you have both hands free to rummage in your tent for jumpers and water, and providing they stay on your head, they're almost impossible to lose. Make sure you fully charge your torch or take spare batteries.
Toilet roll, a first aid kit, emergency water and snacks are the other things you will want to have with you for your first camping trip, whether at a festival or in the more sedate surroundings of a countryside campsite. The last thing you'll need to pack is your clothes, toiletries and your sense of adventure, now you are ready to enjoy all the great outdoors has to offer.
Today’s blog is designed for those who are just getting geared up for their first camping trip or festival. It is packed with good, practical advice and tips to help you on your way.