Camping shops sell a wide range of camping gear and camping accessories, only a few of which are essential. If you pack camping carpet you need to ask yourself if you have the right hobby. We pack as light as possible because it makes pitching and striking from campgrounds easier and quicker: maximum utility, minimum weight.
Before rushing out to buy the biggest tent in the shop, bear in mind that some of the more interesting campsites are quite small and will refuse entry or charge more for an enormo-tent. At festivals, a big tent can be a massive problem, as it will be far too heavy to lug from the car park and you won’t necessarily have a large enough pitch for it. Nearly all the family tents on sale play to the delusion that you are buying a house, in which square footage is important and weight irrelevant. You are not buying a house. You are camping because you want to be outdoors, not because you want to cover the outdoors in a giant bag. A well-designed family tent should have headroom in the living area, but low ceilings in the bedrooms to trap heat.
A sheet of tarpaulin strung from a tree means you can cook in drizzly weather, and offers breezy shade when the sun is out.
All-in-one suits and wellies for toddlers, all-in-one suits for babies, and waterproof jackets for everyone else. If you don’t want to wear waterproof trousers, then change into shorts. Walking boots or wellies are essential, especially at festivals, where the mud can be biblical.
If you don’t want to bother with a table and chairs, take a plastic-backed picnic rug.
Table and chairs
We used to camp without a table and chairs, using a rug instead. After five years of eating off the ground, Math’s longing for a chair was so intense I was concerned that he would resort to theft. I found flat pieces of reinforced plastic that slid unobtrusively into my rucksack and could be folded into small stools, about six inches high, but the spectacle of him squatting on them only added to Math’s indignity and sense of failure as a man. Once we switched to camping with a car, he bought himself the biggest chair in the shop.
Long matches to light fires, stoves and barbecues. A cigarette lighter is not always suitable.
Ordnance Survey map of the area
Math is a great believer in the importance of orientating ourselves upon this earth.
Don’t forget to take a big warm jumper; whatever the season, it gets cold at night. At bedtime, stuff the jumper into a pillowcase and rest your head upon it.
Cath’s camping gear checklist:
Camping Gear – Tent and the basics