The Campfire team gets to test a lot of interesting camping, cooking and outdoors kit, but what do we actually take with us? A couple of the Campfire crew set out last summer for two months’ driving and tent-camping in Europe, and they’ve shared their packing list.
The best tent
We loved our quick-erect Khyam Wayfarer tent, but that’s now been replaced by the Chatsworth. which doesn’t have a built-in groundsheet and all four ‘windows’ can’t be opened (which isn’t good for hot countries). Our current favourite, though is the lovely Coleman Cortes Big Top with its hinged door (no zip noises in the night!) and lovely windows. Not a draught-proof winter tent, but big enough to add a pop-up bedroom tent inside. We also love the Coleman inflatable FastPitch Valdes (hinged doors on that one too. We’ve got a quick-pitch tent feature for you to read, by the way.
And if you’d rather have a campervan? Well, we love the VW California Beach.
The best camping chair
The Coleman Deck Chair is a sturdy and comfy chair that’s also ultra light and looks pretty cool too. Not sure why Coleman keeps appearing here, but the tent and chair were just great. The black one in the picture is an Outwell version that’s very similar but doesn’t seem to be available any more.
The best camping cupboard
We used to use an Outwell kitchen store bag, but these are no longer available. The best option we’ve come up with so far is a folding, three-shelf cupboard. The one shown here is the Zempire, but there’s not a lot to choose between the models. The Chatsworth is a cheaper alternative. You can also see a round-up of them in our camping cupboard review.
The best camping storage
A large one for car things (warning triangle, foot-pump), hook-up leads, games, first aid kit and so on; a medium one for non-perishable foods, spices etc, and a small one to use as a washing up bowl. Ours cam from Ikea, but there are lots more storage boxes to choose from if you need a specific size. The ones from the Really Useful box company are…really useful.
The best camping stoves
A rather fabulous stove with lots of cooking accessories. The Cadac takes big bottles of gas, which aren’t for backpackers, of course, but the stove itself folds away nicely for cars or campervans. The Campingaz Bivouac stove is perfect and neat for a more lightweight and portable option.
The best barbecue
The best barbecue we’ve tried. The Lotus Grill doesn’t always come along because some campsites (especially in fire-risk areas) don’t like charcoal barbecues. It’s fast, smoke-free and controllable, plus you can use it on a table, which should reassure some nervous campsite owners. The Cadac Safari Chef (see above), does the job without the coals.
The best folding camping table
A great, simple Kampa folding table with a solid (not roll) aluminum top. Five years old and still brilliant. It doesn’t fold up all that small, but it’s light and sturdy. Delighted that these are still available – and in two sizes too.
The best fridge
Basically a real fridge that’s super-efficient, can freeze as well as cool (whatever the temperature outside) and will run off the car battery or hook-up on-site. Not cheap at all, but essential for a long trip in sunny places. The one shown here is the Waeco CFX28. The CFX35 is more family-sized
We’ve got a couple of helpful articles on choosing a fridge by the way – a general buyers’ guide that explains the difference between types, and helps you decide which will work best for you. And a review of the models available.
The best self-inflating camping mats
It’s a toss-up between the Sea to Summit Comfort Deluxe with its bed-like comfort and the Exped Sim 10 LW camping mats. The S-to-S probably wins for its ease of inflation and packing away. There are lots of other recommendations in our camping mat review.
Vango Force Ten cargo bags. We find the 65l to be the perfect size for clothes and toiletries, simple, sturdy and waterproof. Slightly annoying that the top doesn’t open to the edge, but it’s a small issue.
The best water carrier
Camping essentials…sort of
- Pegless clothes line
- A stock of good readymeals for the days when you’re too tired to cook. The best are Firepot’s freeze-dried pouches because there’s enough in them to satisfy you and the ingredients are all natural.
- The Bog in a Bag folding toilet – or a pocket-sized alternative from our camping toilet feature
- A Green Decore recycled plastic rug – for inside or outside
- Pegs for hard ground – invaluable on many parched campsites
- Packaway bucket
- Head torch and small LED lantern – Petzl always seem to be the best. Plus now the Petzl Noctilight turns your headtorch into a lantern.
- Dinebox spice kit – customised with some of our most used herbs and spices
- Windscreen shade
- Water Wipes and Klorane dry shampoo (for waterless washes)
- Ticket to the Moon hammock
- Decathlon beach parasol with side shades
- The Vaude Finsuit sleeping bag – very versatile because you can use it as a blanket too. See the feature on sleeping bags for more.
- A single duvet – because it packs up as small as a sleeping bag, but doesn’t give the claustrophobic one nightmares!
- Fitted sheet and top sheet
- Four pillows
- Beach cushions (cheap lounger pads from Ikea)
- All-natural Incognito mosquito repellent
- Two stainless steel water bottles
Fun and games
- Maps and guidebooks
- Kubb outdoor throwing and strategy game
- Reading books
- iPad and keyboard – for Campfire contributions while on the road!
- Catan, chess and cards
- Snorkels and masks
- Inflatable Sea Eagle kayak, life vests and paddles
Got any recommendations for essential kit that’s made camping easier? Let us know below.