We love modern camping gear, of course we do. It’s functional, lightweight and waterproof and does everything you need it to do to make sure you have a comfortable time under canvas. But even the most enthusiastic camper would admit that all those blues and greens can be just a little bit dull. Sometimes you want something different, something with a bit of style, maybe something that transports you back to camping trips of yesteryear. Of course, as much as you want your equipment to look good, it’s just as important that it still does the job it’s supposed to do. We’ve searched out some retro accessories that should do just that. But please… no-one mention glamping!
CATH KIDSTON STRIPED CAMPING STOOL
This portable folding stool is stylish and practical. The stripy canvas seat gives it a distinctly 70s look but the construction means it folds up small so it's easily portable. Can be used as a seat, a footstool or even a little side table for your retro bottle of Blue Nun.
OUTWELL HURRICANE LAMP
A large traditional-style camping lantern that runs on paraffin and provides a lovely, warm flickering light that is far removed from the starkly clinical LED lights that we are used to these days.
It’s easy to forget in these days of muted browns and olive greens, but it’s not so long ago that our beaches and campsites were awash with slightly garishly striped windbreaks like this (usually with three or four blue-tinged children in swimsuits huddling behind them). These come in a variety of colour combinations and unlike the originals, are made from 100% cotton with a handy pocket for your bits and pieces.
These kettles have been used for decades by Irish fishermen but are perfect for using on a camping trip. Capable of boiling up to five mugs of water without needing refilled. The base camp Kelly brings water to the boil within a few minutes over a fire – using whatever solid fuel is naturally occurring in the area. According to the company’s website, users have described these kettles as the “greatest invention of all time” which the inventors of penicillin, TV and sliced bread might take issue with, but you get the point.
A retro-style 500ml flask that will keep your drinks hot or cold while you’re out and about. The pear print co-ordinates with other 'fruit tree' items in the collection.
SOUL PAD CANVAS BELL TENT
This is camping as it used to be, in the days before nylon and polyester. Just the smell of the canvas is enough to transport people of a certain age back to their youth (so we’re told). The Soul Pad 4000-ease can accommodate two standard sized double air-mattresses and still has space for equipment. It’s easy to pitch, has an extra thick sewn-in groundsheet, four zipped windows on and three vents, all with mosquito mesh fitted.
ROBERTS VINTAGE DAB/FM RADIO
The leather and wood gives this radio a classic look but the technology is bang up-to-date. Get your favourite digital radio stations while you’re on the move – Absolute Radio has retro 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s channels to keep the nostalgic mood going. And if you’d rather provide your own campsite soundtrack, there’s a socket for plugging in your iPod.
TIMEX MEN'S EXPEDITION CAMPER DELUXE WATCH
We did think about recommending a digital watch for a true piece of retro kitsch, but this watch is actually called a Camper so it was a no-brainer. It features classic “oversized retro” styling (whatever that is?) with luminous hands and a date function and fastens with a fabric strap.
PATTERNED MELAMINE SIDE PLATES
These quirky side plates come in a variety of vintage designs and add a touch of retro-chic style to campsite mealtimes.
VINTAGE EGG CARRIER
Basically a mini-suitcase for eggs, this is a genuine vintage 1970s carrier, perfect for filling up with free-range eggs from the local farm shop. Comes in suitably kitsch, moulded orange plastic. Check out the website for more items to liven up your camping trip, like lengths of colourful cotton bunting that could be draped over your tent.
GOPAK ALUMINIUM TABLE
£139.05 plus VAT
This multi-purpose table was discontinued more than 20 years ago and would have been consigned to the camping history books if it hadn’t been for Scouts and Guides groups. Their pressure meant Gopak recently brought the tables back into production, which was great for the groups, great for Gopak and great for campers who like their simple, retro, aluminium look. Not cheap but should last a lifetime.
CAMPFIRE COOKING TRIPOD AND DUTCH OVEN POT
Everyone loves a campfire and more and more sites now allow them. The idea of cooking over a real fire rather than slaving away at a gas stove appeals to many, but where do you start? Well, this traditional cooking tripod should answer that question. All you need now is a recipe book.
EASY CAMP TREKKER 300 SLEEPING BAG
Back when we were growing up, a mummy sleeping bag was the one the same as daddy’s. Bags were rectangular and came in blue, brown or green nylon – and usually had a delightful orange lining. Technology, design and colour co-ordination have moved on somewhat since then, but this sleeping bag from Easy Camp took us back to those happy childhood days. It’s brown and orange. What could be more retro than that?