The best camping gear…our personal favourites

When we find a new piece of camping or outdoor equipment that we love and that really works, it’s here. 

Everything you see – from barbecues to mosquito repellent – has been tried and tested by a member of the Campfire team and is now one of their actual camping essentials. If something let us down after long-term use, it’s gone!

Click on any picture or link for details and prices. And if you’re looking for something in particular – from the best campervan to the best loo – just use the search box!

Do-it-all camp rope

Looprope is great for hanging kit at camp, but is also strong and versatile enough to tie down bikes or other loads. Lots of lengths and tying options, plus no tangles. Ingenious.

Luminoodle LED lights

Fantastic Luminoodle – an LED light strip (different lengths available) with rechargeable powerbank and clever hanging options. Bright enough to read and cook by too.

Reusable coffee cups

We're NEVER using a throwaway cup again, so here's our favourite to take along to the coffee shop. The KeepCup Longplay. Read more about travel mugs too.

The smartest tent

Coleman's Cortes Octagon is our favourite tent for looks and versatility. Standing height, sleeps six to eight, the flysheet removes to create a screened shelter and there's a sewn-in groundsheet. We love the hinged door and the airy feel. 22kg and 4m x 4m.

Make yourself a spice tin

Get all your herbs and spices together in one easy storage container and you can stop rummaging! Look for metal tins and boxes with airtight lids. The Indian masala dhaba are an option, but we find square sides make for easier packing. Write on the lids with a chalk pen!

The best and simplest bucket

Sturdy and with a good lid, the Summit pop-up bucket is the best we've found for lots of uses (including a night-time toilet, providing you don't sit down heavily on it, of course!). Costs less than £10 too.

Double the space

This is the Khyam Screendome. It's a gazebo-type shelter that's literally up in 20 seconds and has enough room for eating, sitting and storing. Two sides open completely and two are big windows. Mesh panels on all four sides and poles to create a sun canopy or link to a campervan.

Wacaco Nanopresso

The best cup of coffee we've ever had. Honestly. Wacaco – a portable, hand-powered espresso maker that gets to the same pressure as a barista machine in a café. Double shot version and a pod version (if you must).

HydrateM8 food pots

Beautiful pots that keep your food warm for 12 hours or cold for 24 hours. Folding spoon in the lid and cute carrying handle. Go for the 700ml rather than 500ml size. Their steel water bottles are good too. HydrateM8

Beeswax not clingfilm

Brilliant! Food wraps made from cotton coated with beeswax and pine resin. Mouldable and sticks together to behave like clingfilm, but NOT plastic. Lots of sizes and designs from around £10 for a pack. Use them for leftovers, sandwiches and to cover pots. Made in the Cotswolds too.

Lawson Blue Ridge

You'll find a couple of great bivvy options on this page, but the Lawson Blue Ridge combines ground-based bivvy with almost flat-bed sleeping-in-the-trees hammock. Around £175. We love the airy feel with a mosquito net to protect you, but a rainfly if the weather turns wet. See more hammocks and bivvies too.

Carabiner hooks

Hang anything up anywhere with these nifty carabiner and hook combinations. Look for Heroclips or Qliplet. Use them to hang backpacks, lanterns and even a bike (they can hold up to 22kg! Lots of sizes and colours. From around £22.

Andes kitchen storer

For your kitchen kit

The Andes kitchen storer. Room for crockery, pots and pans, plus lots of pockets. An essential to keep things neat and to hand.

Water carriers

Our three favourite water carriers. The one in the middle for campervans and car camping, the two others for backpacking and wild camping.

Fab folding plugs

Folding smartphone and tablet travel chargers, and an international set too. Very neat.

Big hammock packs tiny

Light and well-designed hammocks by Ticket to the Moon. They fold up nearly into their own attached bag and come with easy hanging straps. There's a matching mosquito net too.

PackTowl luxe

Travel towels that dry

The PackTowl Luxe range – supersoft camping and hiking towels that absorb up to five times their weight in water, dry 30% faster than normal towels and stay fresher for longer. Lots of sizes.

folding table

The best camping table

Stable, lightweight, cheap, not fiddly...what more could you want. Perfect camping table for two.

Clean camping

No shower? No worries. We always take a couple of packs of these totally natural Aqua Wipes. Used to love the Water Wipes, but these new ones are biodegradable. Not dear, either.

Vaude Finsuit

Multiuse sleeping bag

One of our favourite (non-down) sleeping bags – it doubles as a blanket/quilt and even a wrap. The Vaude Finsuit is soft, warm, versatile and really well-designed. Spring, summer and a warm autumn

Lotus Grill

LotusGrill barbecue

The best barbecue we've found. The Lotus Grill. Has a built-in fan to get your coals burning fast, and can stand on your table for comfortable cooking. Have a look at our full review.

Simple thermos flask

Simple and perfect. The Isosteel 0.9l flask is as minimal as you can get. Good value and no bits to go wrong. We tested it thoroughly. Water hot enough to make tea after six hours; drinks still enjoyable after 18 hours

Incognito insect repellent

Keep mosquitoes away

All natural Incognito keeps everything nasty away. Mosquito repellent range that's a bit kinder on the skin. We've tested it in some buggy places! We prefer this to the old favourite Avon Skin So Soft, but try them both!


Best small campstove

We love our neat Campingaz Bivouac. Small and effective. Been using it for years and years and still just as perfect. Stows in a small bag and takes easily-findable canisters. The Cadac below is our choice when we need something bigger and more versatile.

Sleep under the stars

Our favourite sleeping arrangement for fairweather wild camping (when we can't use the bivvy hammocks in the trees). Aqua Quest's West Coast lightweight mesh tent lets you sleep safe from bugs and able to see the stars. See our wild camping kit feature too.

Sea to Summit Comfort Plus insulated mat

Super-comfy mats

Either the fabulous self-inflating Sea to Summit Comfort Deluxe or the Exped 10LW. Not cheap camping mats, but well-insulated, good at inflating (especially the S-to-S) and lovely to lie on. More options in our special feature on mats. Get even more comfortable with the best pillow we've found – a mini memory-foam, bamboo travel pillow of loveliness.

Cadac Safari Chef

Favourite gas stove

Cadac Safari Chef camp stove. Our favourite gas cooker. Very efficient, packs away nicely and has lots of options for cooking styles – from pizza stone to seared steak griddle plate. New models have added piezo ignition. All fits into a roomy, easy-to-carry bag and set sup in no time. High and low pressure options (ie. big gas bottle with hose or screw-in canister)

Park4night app

Find an overnight stop

Park4night – our favourite app (at the moment) for finding quick overnight stops for the campervan and campsites for tents and more. Lots more apps to look at in our guide too

Joseph Joseph chopping board

Clever chopping board

Our favourite camp chopping board, by Joseph Joseph. Made of bamboo, comes in two sizes and folds on a silicone hinge so that you can chop and pour.

Green Decore recycled plastic rug

Recycled, waterproof rug

The Green Decore rugs are made from recycled plastic and come in lots of colours. You can use them on wet grass, muddy campsites...wherever. Soft enough to be nice to lie on, and in lots of sizes for inside and out. That's the tarp in use too

Waeco CFX35 compressor fridge

Cool camping fridge

A Waeco compressor fridge. The 21-litre CDF26 is brilliant for two. And for a family, this CFX-35, 32-litre one is superbly quiet. They both stay cold whatever the temperature outside. See our fridge guide here for how to choose. This one has been working perfectly for us for years!

Frontier woodburning stove

Woodburning stoves

Fabulous Frontier wood-burning stove. It all packs down into a small bag, you can cook on it and keep warm. The water heater is brilliant and there are kits so you can use it inside a bell tent. See our wood-burning stove feature here

Peace of mind

The Netgear Arlo security system sends alerts to your phone when it detects sound or motion and lets you see what's happening at home. Peace of mind when camping. Previously had the iSmart Keep wifi security camera, which is much cheaper, but the Arlo comes with a router hub for extra stability and can link lots of cameras indoor and outdoor.

Quechua Tarp Fresh

Versatile tarps

A tarp. Nothing fancy, just a very versatile piece of kit. String it up from a tree, attach it to your tent, use it as a shade, an extra dining area, a rain shelter. We've got a feature on tarps here too

The best camping chair

We searched long and hard for a supportive camping chair. The Coleman Deck Chair has a strong back, a no-sag seat and is super light. Comes in khaki and cream.

Happy going

Skip to your loo

One of our funniest bits of kit...useful too. A waterproof toilet roll holder with built-in light (flashing option!). The Happy Going. Just get one. It'll make you laugh every time you pack.

Coleman FastPitch tent

Fast pitch tents

A contender for our favourite tent because of its fast-pitch air system and hinged door. Zips are annoying at night! The Coleman FastPitch Valdes tent features in our quick-erect tent review.

Clever clips and cords

These bits and pieces will cost you under a tenner and will change your (camping) life! Use the bungee cords to secure tarps, awnings, bits of flapping tent or for 101 other uses. The green clips fasten on to canvas taps, tents and so on without damaging the fabric and give you more options for securing.

Off-ground camping

If you like sleeping in the trees or wild camping in general, you'll love our favourites – the Amok Draumr and the Lawson Blue Ridge (mentioned above). Read all about them and more in hammock and bivi camping.

Petzl Noctilight

Headtorch to lamp

This handy (and cheap) little zip-up pouch holds your headtorch, turning it into a lantern. A handing cord wraps neatly around it. Clever little Petzl Noctilight!

Leaving kitty behind

A pet lifesaver. This SureFlap feeder only opens for the cat it's meant to feed! Interlopers from next-door will have to go hungry. Cat-sitters or visiting pet-carers don't always know who's actually getting the food they put down. See our article on taking cats camping too.

Safe camp kitchen knife

Joseph Joseph's chef and paring knives come with a safety shield and a built-in blade sharpener. Ideal for the camping cook kit. Kuhn Rikon's sheathed knives are a good option too, but no sharpener.

Easy camping meals

After a long day's walking or when you just can't be bothered, Firepot's dried meals are quick and delicious. All natural ingredients too. Just add boiling water. See more tasty cheats in our article on fast (but good) food.

Cobb oven

Cobb charcoal cooking

The Cobb is a great outdoor 'cobblestone' or charcoal-fuelled cooker. Not really a barbecue, but very versatile for other types of cooking. Loads of accessories and we've even made cupcakes on it. Have a look at our review.

Reisenthel toilet bag

Perfect travel toilet bags

The Reisenthel hanging toilet bag has supplanted our one-time favourite Samsonite. The medium size is plenty big enough, it's easy to find things, there's a mirror and it looks lovely. Perfect for hanging in trees, in the campervan or in the shower block.

Tanglefree cables

Tidy cables – a simple magnetic clasp for headphones and charger cables. Bye bye tangles. We use them for all sorts of other bits and pieces too.

Handimoova 2

Camping trolley

This HandiMoova all-terrain trolley folds small and can take loads of up to 60kg over muddy festival fields, through woodland or even over sand. Carry camping kit, coolboxes with ease. Lots of home uses too. Not cheap, but sturdy and lightweight

Nilaqua waterless wash

Waterless washing

We'd been using the nice Equip waterless wash cloths, but these are now discontinued. Nilaqua make a whole range of waterless washes, foams and shampoos. Best of the lot seems to be the towel-off foam. Use the Aqua Wipes mentioned above if you have sensitive skin, though.

Source Liquitainer

Turns out that this is the water container we use the most. The Source Liquitainer. A taste-free, non-BPA, foldable water carrier. Holds six litres. Stands up (many water bags don't), reliable tap and easy-fill top. See other options in our water-carrier special.

bog in a bag camping toilet

Bog in a bag toilet

The Bog in a Bag camping toilet has to be the neatest for storing. It's a stool with a cover that removes to reveal a hole. Fit a bag over the top and you have a toilet. Also see our advice on the bags to use and other alternatives in our toilet feature.

Klorane dry shampoo

Clean hair when camping

Give yourself a break from proper hair-washing. This Klorane dry shampoo leaves you with fresher, fuller hair and no powdered wig effect (unless you overdo it). Better still...make your own using arrowroot or cornflour (add cocoa powder for dark hair).

Ditch the plastic

Avoid plastic when you can! It's easy when bamboo crockery is as lovely as the Zuperzozial range. Lightweight, very stylish. Plus lots more earth-friendly tableware in our article on alternatives to plastic.

Headphones for cyclists

The best headphones for cyclists and walkers because they leave your ears free to hear the world around you. Super-light Aftershokz Trekz. Best for cycle safety.

Barbecue must-have

So, we've found the best barbecues, and this grill mat is the perfect addition. Makes it easier to cook small ingredients, stops the burn and is reusable.

For warm campervans

The baby Eco Chico Dimplex is an oil-FREE radiator that warms up super-quickly and is light to carry. Our choice for larger campervans or caravans on hook-up because you can safely leave it on to warm your space.

Lifestraw steel

Safe drinking water

If you're unsure about how safe the water is, the LifeStraw's the answer. As well as the Steel straw version shown here, there are water bottles with the same filtration system. Gets rid of 99% of harmful nasties.

A very clever tray

A freeform tray that turns into a mat. Very neat. Lots of different colours and sizes. Great for campervanners especially because it gives a solid surface for plates and cups on a bench seat.

No-smash travel mirror

Simple and unbreakable (!) travel mirrors from the Shave Well company. Stick or hang options for shower-rooms or the windows of campervans.

Hand-powered processor

Make speedy work of chopping without electricity or batteries. There are a few hand-operated food processors out there, but this Zyliss chopper is the most popular and the sturdiest. Will make hummus and dips, but they won't be supersmooth. Only £15 too.​

Music while you travel

The RISA electric ukulele. Silent when not plugged in for on-site practising. Concert or tenor sizes. Add a teeny, pocket-sized amp or your phone and an adaptor and you can sound like Jimi Hendrix.

Tarp poles for everywhere

Lightweight aluminium tarp poles that can be constructed with lots of different heights to suit your surroundings. Have a look at our article on tarps too.

Do you have a favourite piece of camping equipment or outdoor gear that’s always in your packing list? Do let us know in the comments below. There are prizes for camping equipment suggestions that get a thumbs-up from Campfire Magazine readers!

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  1. Caroline Roberts

    What great suggestions and a great site. ED: Aw, thank you so much!

  2. Velcro Cable Ties
    Not exactly camping gear, but I’ve used these for all sorts of things. Keeping a roll mat rolled up, securing luggage to my motorbike, attaching a spare paddle in my canoe and many more.
    When I carry my bicycle in my campervan I wrap a couple of the shorter ones tightly around the handlebars and brake levers to keep the brakes on and stop the bike rolling around in the van.
    Available in various lengths op to 450mm and can be “daisy chained” together for longer lengths.
    They cost pennies and can be re-used many times.
    I always have a few in the van and keep finding new uses for them.
    ED: Thanks, Dave. Great tip you can get them at Toolstation or on Amazon.

  3. Judith Hampson

    I’m so grateful for this thoughtful article. I’m in the process of converting my Berlingo (without converting it!) to go off camping with my dog (ED: have a look at our article on affordable camping in a Berlingo and also at our car camping guide). He travels in a cage, so I’ve had a wooden barrier made to secure the cage in the back when the seats are down, there’s handy bars already there to rest it on. I got a set of cab silver screens from ebay for £62 – really good quality, and am making one for the back window and curtain for one side with blackout material (you can use the holes provided for inner roof bars to rig up a bamboo curtain pole.) I’ve resurrected my old camping stove and intend to cook on the tailgate. I invested in an Vango Hexaway drive away awning as I like a bit of luxury – plus it gives you oodles more space.ED: Thanks for the info, Judith. Sounds like you’ve got it all sorted! Happy camping.

  4. Summer Bourne

    Hi. Thanks for the info -really helpful. One thing that we have added to our campervan is a bungee strap stretched across the back where you can hang damp towels/jackets to dry them off while you are driving.
    ED:Great idea.

  5. If I have to get something from amazon rather than locally or from independent sellers I try and use Smile – but not without some worry as articulated well in this article

  6. Neil Hosland-Round

    Your articles are totally brilliant!

    Only one downside, the products link to Amazon who are not Tax contributors throughout the world and a view should be taken on exclusive links to their site. That’s all!

    EDITOR: Thanks so much for your comment. I’m struggling to answer because I’m with you totally. I’m not at all happy with the way companies like Amazon operate. Governments have yet to find a way to catch up with multinationals who use the digital economy to get around ‘traditional’ legislation.

    Sadly, people love to shop on Amazon. And it’s not surprising. In many ways – as far as the buyer’s concerned – they’re exemplary. They have everything you want, they get it to you fast and they make it easy to return things. We know that if we didn’t link some products to Amazon, readers would simply leave the Campfire page and pop over to Amazon anyway.

    We’re still a very small magazine. It costs money to keep going and linking to products we recommend (and only products we recommend!) helps bring in a little income to offset the costs. We’ve tried other affiliate companies, but it doesn’t seem right to point readers to more expensive options. We do always check prices, though, and where there is a better option, that’s where we suggest readers look. Using or not using Amazon is one of the many modern dilemmas for people with a conscience. We buy locally wherever possible!

    I hope you’ll keep reading and we’ll put more work into finding alternatives.

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