06/04/2013
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What to pack when you go camping

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When planning your first adventure under canvas, it’s important to work out in advance what accessories you need to make your trip away go that little bit smoother. There’s an awful lot to be said for travelling light, but you can make your camping life a lot easier by taking with you a few little extra accessories on top of the basic camping equipment.

Obviously tent, stove and sleeping bags are at the top of your camping checklist but there are many other items you should pack to ensure you’re ready for any on-campsite eventuality.

Make a checklist of all the kit you’re likely to need and adjust it according to the duration of your trip and the time of year. For a quick weekend getaway in early Spring, you can probably afford to leave the hammock and insectrepellant flares at home, but might be glad of a small fan heater. But for a full-on two-week summer vacation, a few simple additions like a standalone gazebo or utility tent, fulllength windbreak and a couple of extra groundsheets can increase your living space enormously.

On arrival, one of the first things you should do is fill a big red bucket and paint ‘FIRE’ on it – just in case. A safe electrical hook-up extends your camping options considerably. While certainly not essential, it’s indisputably useful, providing power for lights, fridges and heaters. If you know the site you are visiting has hook-ups, adjust your kit-list accordingly – although you might want to draw the line at PlayStations if you actually want to spend some time with the kids over the weekend.

Spring and autumn camping mornings are likely to feel rather chilly but an electric fan heater will soon warm up any tent if you have access to the mains hook-up. In summer, if you’re planning to sit outside on those long balmy evenings, pack some insect-repellent candles or flares. A solar pow ered charger will keep the laptop, mobile, MP3 player working without mains electric supply – but if you really want to relax, leave the mobile and laptop locked in the car for emergency use only.

Still on the solar front, a solar shower hung from your car offers a handy source of warm water for washing grubby hands and feet. Convenient warm water is also useful when preparing food.

Often overlooked, the simple tea towel and a roll of absorbent kitchen paper are soon missed if forgotten. Tempting though it may be, don’t hang washing to dry on your tent or chairs. A simple drying rack takes up little space and does the job far better.

When packing up, never, ever leave rubbish on your pitch – a small collapsible waste bin keeps a lid on litter if you empty it every evening.

TOP TIPS

? Obvious though it may seem, don’t forget the camping essentials: make sure you’ve got a good choice of pegs, plus some to spare, a decent mallet, sealant and repair kit with spare guylines

? Airtight storage containers help to keep food fresh and defeat the best efforts of mice and birds.

? A couple of flexible plastic garden buckets or trugs makes a versatile piece of camping gear. Useful forcarrying gear, washing boots and as a shopping basket as well.

? Tough car mats by the tent doorway help keep the tent interior clean.

? Crocs ‘shoes’ have proved to be versatile camp footwear. Great for the showers and to wear all day at play.

? Board games often stay in their boxes on a fun camping holiday, but they are useful to keep handy for a rainy day.

? A ground spike for a beach umbrella gives extra height, stability and can be moved easily without fuss to the most convenient place for shelter.

? A simple beach umbrella gives shade for reading and cooking; waterproof it and you have an instant gazebo.

? A little dustpan and brush make keeping the tent clean a great deal easier.

? A large tarpaulin extends living space and offers shade or protection from rain. They are readily adaptable to the size of your pitch and easily moved as needed.

? In summer, remember to pack sunscreen, after-sun and insect repellent.

? A flag on a tall pole will help your kids spot your tent when camping on a crowded site.

? Nobody is immune from accidental damage. A repair kit for your tent and airbeds is a useful precaution.

CHECKLIST
We’ve split this into three sections: the first is a collection of essential items which could live in a dedicated bag or box – ready to throw into the car for a quick weekend getaway. The second and third categories are equally important but you’ll need to top up for every trip. If possible, leave the food shopping until you get to your destination and try to buy local produce – it’ll save space in the car and help the local economy.

Essential items
? Sleeping mats or inflatable bed
? Footpump or compressor
? Sleeping bags
? Hurricane lamp
? Pillows
? Windbreak
? Folding chairs
? Table
? Coolbox
? Gas stove and cylinder
? Spare gas cylinder
? Barbecue and utensils
? Corkscrew and bottle opener (vital!)
? Tin opener
? Chopping board and sharp knife
? Breadknife
? Whistling kettle
? Non-stick deep-sided frying pan
? Small saucepan
? Casserole dish
? Large salad bowl
? Cutlery
? Crockery
? Hand and bath towels (few sites supply these!)
? First aid kit
? Basic toolbox
? Gaffer tape
? Torches (and spare batteries)
? Dustpan and brush (or mini vacuum cleaner)
? Rubbish bin
? Fire bucket

Consumables
? Loo rool
? Kitchen roll
? Matches or lighter
? Washing up liquid
? Pan scourer and dishcloth
? Soap (bar or pump action liquid)
? Shower gel
? Disinfectant wipes
? Coffee
? Tea
? UHT milk
? Prescription medication
? Spare batteries
? Bin liners (recycled supermarket carrier bags work well)
? Toilet chemical
? Sun screen, after-sun, insect repellant
? Citronella

Perishables
? Fresh food and drink
? Butter or margarine
? Bread
? Fruit juice
? Fresh milk
? Beer
? Wine

Print out this handy checklist ready for your next holiday, and read more camping tips here.

Back to "Practical Advice" Category

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