Camping Tips

It’s my first time camping… what do I need to buy?

Some people have asked what kinds of camping equipment they need to buy as weekend retreat will be their first camping trip.

We have put together this guide, and divided the items up into two categories – ‘the basics’ and ‘other useful items’. We have given a price guide for some items and a few links to give you an idea of the kind of products we have bought in the past. If you have any questions at all please do ask us as we are seasoned campers and have lots of tips.

Also, remember that this retreat is held on farmland that is 1000 meters above sea level. The days are warm, and often the nights too. However, it can get chilly at night, so take steps to make sure you don’t get cold. The top three things you need to keep warm at night when camping are:

  • A thermal layer to sleep on (we explain what this is below)
  • A duvet on top of your sleeping bag
  • A wooly hat

These three items will make the difference between a good night’s sleep and a not-so-good night’s sleep!

THE BASICS

Sleeping bag: Sleeping bags come with a ‘season rating’. A 3-season will see you through the spring to the autumn and is the best kind to buy if you are new to camping. A 4-season, although will be warmer, will get too warm in the height of summer.

If you are worried about getting chilly, then bring a few blankets, or a duvet. At this time of year, a 3-season sleeping bag and duvet should keep even the most un-seasoned camper warm.

We recommend investing in a sleeping bag. It is early summer, and depending on how chilly the night gets you could certainly get away without one, bringing a big thick double duvet and a blanket instead. But if you do this, watch out for those draughts sneaking under the covers! 

Pillow: No special kind – just the one you use at home.

Thermal layer to sleep on: This is really important - a must - as it acts as a warm barrier between you and the ground, which is cool and damp. It doesn’t matter how many layers you put over you, if you haven’t got your under-layer right, you are going to get cold.

The super budget option is a simple multi-mat. For a few pounds more, between £10 and £25 you can get yourself a self-inflatable mat. A blow-up mattress will not be warm enough as it doesn’t have a thermal layer built into it. If you bring a blow-up mattress you will need to also bring a thermal roll mat to lay underneath it, and don’t forget your pump to blow it up with!

Tent: The rule of thumb is go up a size for the number of people you have, so you have a little more space and room to store your things. So, if you are camping on your own a two-person tent is ideal. If there are two of you then a three or even four man tent is good. The larger your tent, the longer it will take to put up and take it down, but only marginally as most tents up to 4-man now go up in less than 15-20 minutes. For a weekend like this one, a 2-man tent for one person will be sufficient for your needs.

When you buy your tent as standard it will come with an inner section (the sleeping compartment bit), outer section (the waterproof bit), poles and tent pegs. All tents come with this. We recommend you don't opt for a 'single skin' tent - such as the pop-up tents -  as condensation builds up in these and your belongings will get wet.

The additional extras you might want to consider is whether it has a section to sit in with a table (you will need to go up to 4-man size for this most likely), and an internal groundsheet for the outer tent, and whether it has multiple separate sleeping compartments. You also want to consider how much space you want in the covered area outside your sleeping compartment, for your wet clothes and shoes, and cooking area. Some of the 2-man tents don’t have much space for this. 

Price wise, you can go high but it’s not necessary. We have never paid more than £100 for a standard everyday use tent, and on average around £60. I (Nicola) paid £30 for a 2-man tent and it lasted me years and years, so there is no need to pay a lot of money for a functional tent. Typically, you should look at spending around £40 for a 2-man tent, £50-£70 for a 3-man tent and £60-£100 for a 4-man tent, although you could spend a lot more if you wanted to. If you start to pay over £100 for these smaller tents you are generally paying for the label, its weight (for if you are trekking), and its ability to withstand very very fierce storms out in the wilds – not the kind you will be camping in. Halfords, GOOutdoors, Decathlon and Argos are all good places to go for everyday use tents. You can buy online, or if you want to get a good idea about the tent size and layout its best to go to a specialist camping outlet where they have lots of tents pitched in their shop, so you can try them out.

Head torch, or normal torch: Head torches are useful as you will have both hands free, but if you don’t have a head torch, then any torch is fine. It’s always a good idea to have spare batteries, just in case they run out during the trip.

OTHER USEFUL ITEMS

Wet wipes: These are really good for when you haven’t got access to a shower.

A wooly hat: These are really good at keeping you warm at night, as often the only part of you which is uncovered is your head, so a hat will help keep you nice and snug.

Gloves: These are good as you are outside all the time, and particularly in the evening they keep your hands warm as you sip your wine!

Camping chair: We like the Vegas XL Chair as it is super comfy.

Mallet: You might want to buy a mallet to bash the tent pegs in, although normally here in the UK the ground is soft enough to simply push the tent pegs in so you probably won’t need one.

Hot water bottle: For the belt-and-braces approach! 


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