Often we are put off doing things like camping because we think we need to have so much expensive equipment. While it is true that you could spend a fortune on camping equipment you really don’t need that much for a night or two away. Coming from Australia, the majority of our camping gear is back home so we had to start from scratch when we arrived. As we lived in a very tiny flat, storage was a problem so we didn’t want to buy too much gear that would take up a lot of room and that we would have to get rid of when we go back to Australia. What we found is that a lot of things that we had about the flat we could just as easily use while we were camping!!
What we bought
- A tent
- Foldable Chairs
- A Picnic Backpack
- Picnic Rug
- Insulated fridge bag
When you look at the cost of these items against the cost of hotel or B&B accomodation, it doesn’t take long before your initial investment pays off.
Additional Extras we bought later
- A stove top kettle
- A tarpaulin
What we already had
- Bedding (we had 2 doonas or duvets) and pillows
- A portable gas burner (our flat had electrical hobs so we’d bought this for stir fry
- A saucepan and frypan
- A chopping board, sharp knife, wooden spoon and spatular
- IKEA fabric box that fits into our IKEA furniture
It’s amazing how little you do actually need when camping – which is kinda the point of camping… but lets go through everything;
A tent – pretty self evident, we got ours for about £70 on sale from Mountain Warehouse. It wasn’t the best tent I have ever had, actually it’s probably the worst, and that’s looking back over many years of camping in Australia since I was about 5 years old… but it did the trick for the most part. You don’t need to spend a lot.
Foldable chairs are handy to have anyway, again we got ours at Mountain Warehouse on sale about £10 each. We tend to leave ours in the car through summer incase we want to stop somewhere while we are out and about, to sit and soak up the sun. They are also good to have for after a paddle so you can sit and have a quick bite to eat.
Picnic backpack – these are great, again we got ours from Mountain Warehouse (we have a Kathmandu one in Australia which is heaps better quality. Again another item which you don’t have to get solely for camping. They have 4 plates, glasses and sets of cutlery in them. We also bought a couple of bowls to add to ours for breakfast cereal and replaced the plastic cups with a couple of ASDA wine glasses that cost about 50p each. The back pack also came with a bottle opener which is why we had to buy wine glasses of course!!
Picnic rug we use just out of the tent but still under the fly so that you’ve somewhere to put your shoes on. This also is handy for picnics when you’re not camping. Again this we got from Mountain Warehouse – it’s all a bit matchy, matchy 😉
The insulated fridge bag also from Mountain Warehouse is good for carrying anything you want kept cool such as milk, butter, fresh vegetables. We have found that with a plastic water bottle which has been frozen in the freezer overnight it keeps pretty cool for about a day if you keep it out of the sun. We find milk is the thing you want to keep cool the most and so buy small UHT milks from the CO OP which come in a half litre which is about perfect for 2 people for porridge and coffee in the morning. Of course if you are camping in a park that has a camp kitchen with a fridge then this becomes less of a problem. We also use this bag for picnics or when we are going for a drive to keep food in, even without the frozen water bottle it is still handy for storing food. A side note here is that we don’t eat a lot of meat so if you are taking meat to cook you might need something that will keep it colder than this type of bag.
As far as bedding goes here you might want to buy actual sleeping bags. We haven’t bothered so far as the doonas (duvets) do the trick and are more breathable. You might also want to look into either a self inflating mattress or an air mattress for added comfort. We haven’t bothered with some of our trips as the doonas are pretty thick and we try to pick a camp site with soft grass! On our last trip we did upgrade to an electric inflatable mattress which was a bit of an indulgence. I slept on one of these at a friends place and didn’t even realise it was an inflatable mattress – I was impressed! We had family coming over from Australia and were then off on another trip so we decided to purchase one. These are so good that they are a really good way of providing a spare bed but not having to take up room when you aren’t needing it. You do need electricity though. We took ours to Orkney and a funny side story but we had to inflate in inside the tent before the tent was pitched (it won’t fit through the door once inflated) as our site was about 70 meters from the nearest electrical outlet 😂. It was great though, but also with so much air it’s a bit on the cold side.
Portable gas burners are relatively inexpensive and a must if you want instant heat for your cooking which is why we bought ours, trying to cook Pad Thai on an electrical hob at home is just asking too much if you want to keep your sanity in my opinion!!! So we already had this and recommend getting one if you are camping without facilities. They have little gas cans which look like slightly larger hair spray bottles and are easy to use.
Kitchen equipment – think about what you are going to eat while you are away and what you are going to need to cook it. I find that a frying pan and a saucepan usually are adequate. One dish meals are a really great option so you don’t have to take too much equipment. A sharp knife and chopping board to cut up vegetables, a wooden spoon to stir and a spatular to flip eggs usually does the trick for us. This covers us for porridge or eggs for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, soup, curries, pasta for dinner. A fry pan also is good for frying meat such as sausages or steak for dinner.
You’ll also need some sort of storage box to carry and store all this gear. We have some fabric boxes from IKEA that pack down flat and also fit into our IKEA wardrobe for storing when we aren’t using them. They also make a bit of a bench for food prep, but really we could do with a folding table.
It goes without saying that there is always more items you can get to make your trip more comfortable however if you are trying camping for the first time or just starting to put together some gear then this is a good start. Camping can be a really affordable way of seeing the country and staying in locations close to the waters edge for that early morning paddle. It’s amazing what you can use from home and how much you already have. And after the first trip you will get an idea of other items you can purchase for your next trip – maybe some fairy lights to add to the atmosphere!!!
I didn’t realise just how much Mountain Warehouse equipment we had until writing this post. We have bought and paid for all items and gain nothing by mentioning their products, we just found that they were inexpensive and there was a shop close to where we first lived.
Stay tuned, next week when we are back on the Forth and Clyde Canal at Cadder Wharf to Bishopriggs, Scotland. Do you have a favourite SUP location that you think should be added here? Contact us on the ‘Contact’ tab and we’ll include it in a later post.