What do we need? The real camping pack list

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We loved our quick-erect Khyam Wayfarer tent, but that’s now been replaced by the Chatsworth.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 aColeman big top tent 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

Camping chairs Coleman and OutwellThe 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

Zempire camping cupboardWe 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

Cadac Safari Chef

campingaz bivouac camping stove

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

Lotus Grill 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

folding tableA 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

CFX28Basically 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

Exped Comfort 10It’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 Cargo bagsThe handiest holdalls

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

A toss-up between the gorgeous La Nuova Sansone stainless steel pot (not for backpacking, clearly!), the multipurpose Platypus and the foldable and neat Source Liquitainer.


Camping essentials…sort of

Fun and games

  • Catan travel gameMaps and guidebooks
  • Kubb outdoor throwing and strategy game
  • Reading books
  • iPad and keyboard – for Campfire contributions while on the road!
  • Chargers
  • 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.

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