Most campers keep their kit stocked and ready to go. I’ll admit not all of us have a laminated pack sheet which they tick off every time they load the car… but hey, you can’t all be as spreadsheet-awesome as me, right?
But do you actually have all the essentials in there? Oh I know you’ll have enough sleeping bags, pegs, plates and dry socks. But take a look at this list – campsite winners will have every one of these tucked into a handy pocket or corner of the tent, ready and waiting…
1 – First Aid Kit
We’ll start easy. most people keep on in the car, so you probably do have one of these. But a camp kit should include the basics plus burn cream, bite/sting cream, and some all-healing antiseptic wash. Savlon wins for me, but stinky TCP might be more your choice.
2 – Matches
You might have a fancy-dancy self-lighting stove, but no one wants a cold dinner just because it fails to light. Also – camp fires? Never ever miss the opportunity if your campsite allows them.
3 – Spare Groundsheet
I’m sure your tent is full equipped. But a spare layer of waterproof sheet is always super-handy. For sitting outside on cold damp ground. For laying over the top of hiking boots you want to store outside. for securing around food packets you don’t want the local wildlife to be invading during the night. For sitting under on a damp morning with a mug of coffee (don’t knock it, I LOVE doing this!). Or, y’know, impromptu water slide.
They fold small and are perennially handy.
4 – Rope
Probably more useful if you like the wilder side of camping, but frankly you just never know when a bit of rope will come in handy. You may already have one mind – you may just call it a clothes line. But rope’s also handy for creating an impromptu swing in a river bank, hanging food from a tree, throwing that spare tarp over to make an impromptu extra shelter (oooh, get you and your new friends at the campsite). Coil one up and stash it.
5 – Peanut Butter
It has a lo-o-ong shelf life, so is fine to leave in your camping gear til next summer. It requires no cooking to gain a burst of energy, it can be smooshed onto a hunk of bread for the hungriest early morning camper… and yet it can also be used as emergency shaving cream, oil, smell remover and of course sandwich between biscuits for an instant CAMP DESSERT!
6 – Headtorch
Yes of course you’ll have camping lanterns, and you’ll no doubt have hand held powerful torches for every one too. BUT.
I learned long ago when trying to figure out how to open a zipped bedroom flap at 3am, cross to the kids bedroom, open their zip and deal with night-terror-stricken 4yr old that holding a torch in your teeth is inconvenient and frustrating (and mostly useless, thanks to drooling and dropping and awful teeth rubbing on metal torch handle). Have a light beside your pillow which fixes to your head and everything else becomes easy.
7 – Camping Chair
Of course you can sit on the floor. But… why? Why would you want to do that? Having a chair makes sooo much difference at the end of a long day, whether you’ve been hiking the fells or just sauntering around a city.
You don’t need a fancy one with cup holders and foot rests. Just a comfy seat will do – look at specialist Outdoor Stores like Simply Hike, there’s often deals to be had to get your bum off the floor!
8 – Camping Mat.
Don’t sleep on the ground. It’s cold, even in a warm British summer it can be cold and damp by 5 in the morning.
Even if you have an air mattress, the coldness can seep upwards; adding a simple camping mat between you and the ground helps massively with insulation. And if you’re hiking and carrying our gear, one of the self-inflating camping mats are frankly a godsend.
9 – Loo Roll
You just never know. Never camp without it.
10 – Hot Water Bottle
British Camping can be chilly, even in the summer. Here’s our top secret insider tip. Hot water bottles.
The thing is, it’s getting into a chilly sleeping bag that’s the problem – once you’re cold, all you do is insulate that cold. So the trick is to be warm before you got to sleep.
While you’re clearing up after dinner, boil the kettle again and fill up a hot water bottle for each sleeping bag. Tuck them inside the sleeping bags and at bedtime there’ll be ready-heated cosy sleeping bags to slide into.