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Essential camping gear for the summer


See also: Choosing the right camping gear

Summer is the perfect time to go family camping in the UK. There's nothing better than setting up your tent on the campsite and enjoying the sunshine and warm weather.

But to make the most of summer camping you need to make sure you have all the right equipment and accessories – both for making life more comfortable in hot weather and for allowing you to enjoy spending time outdoors in the sunshine.

The best camping accessories make outdoor life easier – and are lots of fun to use, and that applies to summer camping gear, too.

Here is a selection of some of the best accessories for your summer camping trips in 2021.

Campingaz Attitude 2GO CV barbecue
In the summertime, there’s nothing better than a spot of outdoor cooking on the barbecue, either on the campsite or in the garden. This is a smaller version of Campingaz’s outstanding patio barbecue and we’d highly recommend it for camping trips.

It has a large cooking area, the gas burners are easy to control and it runs off a compact Campingaz CV470 Plus cartridge, so there’s no need to pack a bulky bottle and none of the faff of a traditional charcoal barbecue.

Although it looks like a serious piece of kit, it’s really easy to use, either on the campsite or at home. You can literally take the Attitude 2go CV out of its box, attach the gas cartridge and start cooking straight away at the press of a button. The built-in thermometer lets you check the temperature without lifting the lid. Finally, the front-loading grease tray gathers all the fat drippings and can be removed easily for cleaning.

Kelty Folding Cooler
The blurb that accompanied this soft-sided cooler advises that the 45L version holds 70 cans of beer – which sounds a bit like a challenge to us. Of course, packing it to the brim with tinnies means no space for ice, so if you want a cold drink you’ll need to sacrifice a few of those cans.

That said, the insulation keeps ice cold for up to 36 hours, so you should be able to get by! When it’s not in use, the coolbox’s semi-rigid sides can be collapsed for easy storage. And for added convenience, there are carry handles and four cup holders on the lid.

Bo-Camp Industrial Chill Mat
Maybe it’s just us, but when we think picnic rug, the first thing that comes to mind is a threadbare tartan blanket, complete with salad cream stains and a loaf’s worth of crumbs from the last time it was used. Thankfully things have moved on since the 1970s… and the 21st century version of the picnic blanket is a significant upgrade.

With its swish geometric pattern and tasteful colour options, the Bo-Camp Industrial Chill Mat, available from Glam Outdoor Leisure, is as stylish as it is practical. And it’s certainly that; waterproof, mildew-resistant and UV protected, all designed to ensure a long life. As well as a picnic blanket, it’s ideal as a tent carpet or just for chilling in the park, on the beach or in the garden. It also comes in a handy carrying bag.

Easy Camp Chilly 12v cool box
Now that Covid restrictions have eased and we’re allowed to travel around the UK again (or at least we were at the time of writing), road trips are back on the agenda. Motorway services, though, are still best avoided, we think. Far better, when you’re racking up the miles en route to a campsite in Cornwall or Cromarty, to take your own food supplies for sustenance.

So make a few rounds of sandwiches, pack some pork pies and, of course, lashings of ginger beer, and stash it in this handily-sized cool box. It’s just the right size to squeeze into the boot alongside your camping gear and will run off a 12V socket in the car. As a bonus, it has a ‘hot’ setting, too, so you can keep your fish suppers warm on the way back from the chip shop!

Buff Sun bucket hat
Summer is here and the sun has got his hat on. You should too, and what could provide better protection from those nasty rays on a sunny day at the campsite than a knotted handkerchief? Well, pretty much anything, actually. And we’d prefer something that makes us look a little less like a Monty Python character, thanks very much.

Buff is best known for their hugely popular neck scarves but they also do a range of different styles of headwear, including the Buff Sun. This is a trendy (we’re reliably informed) bucket hat with a wide brim and UPF 50 sun protection. The inner moisture wicking sweatband and ventilation holes will keep you cool and there’s an adjustable drawstring at the back for a perfect fit.

Outwell Movie Screen
Want to enjoy the cinema experience in your tent? Or watch the summer's sporting spectacles on a big screen? Take a look at Outwell’s new Movie Screen, which can be used inside or out with a projector.

The cotton has been treated to ensure the best picture. Attach it to your Outwell tent using the HookTrack system. Now all you need is a movie projector (we found one for £35 on Amazon), and an industrial-sized vat of popcorn.

Spirit of Aloha 65
Spirit of Aloha drink £22.50, Detonators £4.50, Sun on a Beach hot sauce £3.50
Sunshine always makes a camping trip a little more special, but unfortunately you can’t always rely on the great British summer to deliver the goods. But never fear, you can always bring the spirit of the tropics to the campsite. Aloha 65 is a refreshing new pineapple and scotch bonnet-infused alcoholic drink and, with a bit of imagination, you could just about picture yourself chilling out in a beach bar sipping it from a glass with one of those little umbrellas sticking out.

The tipple was created for surfers by British expat barman, Stephen Thorp, at a beach bar in Florida and add some Detonators (fresh pineapple chunks pickled and infused with chilli) and you’ll be transported straight to the Sunshine State. There’s also a tasty hot sauce to give your campsite cooking creations a bit of kick.

You can buy them individually, or as part of a BBQ gift box that also includes mixers and barbecue essentials, including wooden tongs, citrus reamer and basting brush.

Coleman Performance wheeled cooler
According to the boffins at Coleman, a rounded shape is the most efficient way of keeping things cool. We can’t pretend to understand the science behind that, but we’ll take their word for it, because they know a thing or two about this subject.

So to improve the performance of the Coleman wheeled coolers, the designers lopped the corners off to give a more curved shape. The result is a 26-litre cooler box that Coleman says will keep ice frozen for two days, so perfect for keeping food fresh in your tent or for taking on picnics.

Vango AirBeam Modular Windbreak
A windbreak lets you relax in the sunshine, keep the breeze off your back and create a private outdoors area around your tent, for eating, socialising or just chilling out in the sun.

The Vango AirBeam Modular Windbreak can been put up in in minutes and the large see-through panels let you enjoy the view. It’s made up of three inflatable panels and you can add more to create a bigger shelter – creating a flexible shape.

Easy Camp Comfy Lounge Set
There’s something about this inflatable chair and footstool set that reminds us of 1970s sci-fi shows like Space 1999 and Logan’s Run – and if those references mean anything to you, congratulations on being among the first people in the UK to have received a covid jab!

Whether it’s the shape or the colour scheme, it somehow manages to look retro and futuristic at the same time, which is no mean feat. But as well as conjuring up images of polyester-clad, interstellar space travellers, this is actually a really comfortable and convenient set-up. You just inflate and literally put your feet up. The flocked surface is soft against the skin, too.

It’s perfect for the campsite, of course, but also for festivals, on picnics, or in the back garden. And maybe even aboard Moonbase Alpha (Google it, millennials!).

Crespo AP-237 Tex Supreme chair
Crespo camping furniture originates in Spain, and you can certainly imagine yourself enjoying a campsite siesta in one of these luxurious outdoor chairs. The AP-237 has a seven-position adjustable backrest and that, along with the padded Tex Supreme fabric, makes it super-comfortable.

The backrest, seat and armrests are also ergonomically designed to maximise comfort. The fabric is maintenance-friendly; resistant to losing colour from the sun and water-repellent. The H-frame provides extra stability and strength but the aluminium means it’s light to carry when folded up. Available in the UK from Glam Outdoor Leisure, the chair comes with a six-year parts warranty.

Easy Camp Mosquito lantern
Don’t be misled by its name. This is not a lamp designed to help mosquitos find their way around after dark. Quite the opposite, in fact. Any poor mosquitos stumbling across this lantern on the campsite will find their night brought to a swift and brutal end.

This handy gadget is a lantern and mosquito zapper in one – hang it up around the tent to prevent the blood-sucking pests from spoiling your warm summer evenings under the stars.

Blackline Power Harid 50W foldable solar panels
Take advantage of the summer sun and go off-grid for a more eco-friendly approaching to providing power in your tent.

These solar panels come folded up in a compact briefcase-style case, and when opened out, can hang from the side of your tent to make the most of the sun’s rays. Also available from Rally Design in a 100W version, the kit works perfectly with the Poweroak AC50S portable generator.

Thermacell Scout mosquito repellent lantern
Midges and mosquitos are the bane of campers’ lives… this compact insect repellent device is lightweight and portable enough to take virtually anywhere outdoors to create an insect-free zone around your tent and has the benefit of also being a camping lantern.

The technology uses heat to disperse the scent-free repellent into the air, so no need for smelly candles, sprays or lotions when you’re sitting outside in the evening.

Outwell San Juan fan
After the sweltering summers we've had recently, this will be top of many campers’ wish lists.

The San Juan fan (try saying that after a couple of beers!) is quiet enough to set up next to your bed and powerful enough to keep you cool at night. The soft rubber blades are designed for safety and you'll need electric hook-up in your tent to power it.



Finished reading?

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  Buying camping equipment: The ultimate guide

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