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Retro camping: This is how we camped in the 1970s!


Who doesn't love the 1970s? Voluminous flares, clumpy shoes and massive sideburns were everywhere. And that was just the women… 

In the camping world, tents were divided into two camps, as it were. Solo campers and couples opted for ridge tents –  small, traditional shaped tents with room to sleep and little else.

Meanwhile families stayed in frame tents – big, bulky and heavy and difficult to transport and pitch.

This is the slightly dubious sounding Europleasure range of tents, whose advertising featured scantily-clad ‘dolly birds’ puffing away on cigarettes and boasted of Bell End extensions. Their catalogue was “an eye-opener” apparently.

The cost of a camping pitch was generally much cheaper then than today. Many sites didn’t charge at all for a tent and would simply charge you per person. At one site in Northumberland for instance, campers paid 18p per night – around £1.50 today. At, the now gone, Grange Farm campsite in Chigwell, Essex (above) it cost just 23p per person.

An artist's impression of 70s family camping. With bell-bottoms so wide you could camp in them.

Of course, it's easy to mock 70s fashion. So let's do that.

Trousers were so wide in the 70s that it led to a worldwide shortage of fabric - meaning some people had to resort to wearing the skimpiest of shorts and bikinis.

Style never goes out of fashion...

...but thankfully, looking like a serial killer does.

It’s tempting to think back to the 70s as a time when camping was much simpler and cheaper than it is today, but that’s not really the case. A six-berth ‘Family Luxe’ frame tent by Black’s of Greenock would have set you back £195  - which doesn’t sound too bad until you consider that would equate to around £1,600 in today’s money.   

Sometimes it’s hard to see why particular innovations catch on and others don’t. The Campajet was a fresh water pump system that allowed you to have running water in your tent, rather than having to pour from a large container. Not a bad idea you might think, but not one that has really stood the test of time.  

These days it’s rare to visit a campsite in Britain without seeing a Volkswagen campervan at some point. They are retro design classics of course, but back in 1975 the VW Caravette was the height of modernity. 

And finally, a few more 70s ads and features.


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20/11/2019 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

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