Camping gear must-haves – our 60 best finds

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 to find specific articles elsewhere on Campfire Mag!

Updated at least every month, and whenever we find something else fantastic for you!

The VERY best passive coolbox?

It’s not cheap, but it will (used correctly) keep ice frozen for five days when the outside temperature soars to 30C.

This is the Igloo BMX and it’s a thing of beauty and sturdiness. Brilliant insulation and holds 49l.

More fridges and coolboxes here.

Colapz camping shower

We’ve been using this portable electric shower on wild camps in the Lakes, on Mull and more. Great pressure and a neat kit to carry. Recharges via USB. We filled the Colapz 2-in-1 bucket from the river and topped up with a kettle of hot water.

If you prefer a non-powered option, we like the Decathlon hand-pumped pressure shower and the Hozelock Portashower.

More camping shower options here too!

 

Tent and tarp poles made to last

If you’ve read our articles on multipurpose shelters or our feature on tarps, you’ll know we love versatility. A good set of tarp poles means you can create a whole range of shelters and awnings.

The Unigear tarp poles are the best we’ve found. They’ll give you between 40 and 240cm of height and are made with lightweight (800g in total) but strong aircraft aluminium. They also have some good bits of design to add strength and make it easier to set up. They come in a set of two.

A real toilet?

While a bucket with lid is usually all we need, sometimes a real toilet makes for a more comfortable trip. The best we’ve found is the neat Thetford 335.

Small enough for a campervan or tent but with decent capacity and a flush. Not for big bums, though!  H31.3 x W34.2 x D38.2cm.

UPDATE: Never has there been such a rush on camping loos (!!). You’ll find many are out of stock at the moment, so have a look at more camping toilets here.

Simple instant gazebo with optional sides

A smart, surprisingly sturdy and affordable option. The Lumaland gazebo comes with one side wall and you can buy the others separately as needed.

Comes in a minimal black, a vibrant lime and a blue for those sitting on the style fence!

It takes less than two minutes to snap the poles into place and peg it down. It’s waterproof and includes a bag and pegs. We use it in the garden, on campsites and as a workaround campervan awning. Brill and not expensive.

The best firepit for home and camping

Solo Stoves are beautiful things. The smaller ones are hugely popular with backpackers and wild campers who want to cook without carrying gas.

The larger ones are (almost) smoke-free firepits and even come with a lifetime guarantee. We’ve just bought the Ranger because the size is perfect for home and for taking in the van for picnics and camping. Not cheap but gorgeous.

The smartest tent

Coleman Octagon 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.

New blackout bedroom version available now too.

Lots more options in our tent feature.

The simplest bucket

Sturdy and with a good lid, the Kampa (or Summit, they’re identical) pop-up bucket is one of 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 £15 too.

For all your kitchen kit
Andes kitchen storer

The Andes kitchen storer. Sadly, becoming hard to find. Room for crockery, pots and pans, plus lots of pockets. An essential to keep things neat and to hand. The modular X-Cosrack is an alternative and has two cooler sections.

Also look at our recommendations for camping storage cupboards and kitchen stands.

On-off shoes with comfort

We’ve been recommending the Dirt Boot shoes for all that in-and-out of tents and vans (see further down), but we’ve just discovered the Toffeln range of professional quality clogs and shoes. Brilliant!

Lightweight, waterproof, proper insoles and non-slip grips. Go for the higher-back clogs with back strap or the closed shoe. Both easy to get on, but won’t leave your feet half way to the toilet block. Around £40 and way better than Crocs. Oh, and men’s and women’s sizes plus lots of colours.

The best kitchen stand

We tested lots of camping storage cupboards and kitchen stands in our special feature on camping cupboards and camp kitchens, but the Campart Valencia. really stood out. Aluminium top and even a sink! There’s a smaller model too.

See more in our camping cupboard and kitchen stand feature

Water carriers

Current favourite is the Sea to Summit PackTap in the 10-litre version.

Easy to fill, holds enough for a weekend trip, taste-free water and you can hang it up too. The push tap is simple to operate one-handed.

Have a look at more of our favourite water carriers.

Keep mosquitos away

Incognito insect repellentAll natural Incognito keeps everything nasty away. Mosquito and midge 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!

 

The best camping table

Stable, lightweight, cheap, not fiddly…what more could you want. 

The (individually) adjustable-leg Uquip aluminium table is great for uneven ground and folds easily into a bag. Around £55 for the medium. You’ll also find it branded Nestling if the Uquip is out of stock. There’s also a large version for around £90.

Cool camping fridge

A Dometic compressor fridge. The fantastic new CFX3 35 (32 litres) is expensive but brilliant for two or a small family. It stays cold whatever the temperature outside. 

If they’re unavailable (as they often are) or your budget doesn’t stretch that far, go for the affordable but still great CDF range, which worked perfectly for us for years in the UK and Europe.

See our fridge guide here for how to choose.

The best camping toaster

It’s the simplest and, once you get your gas flame judged correctly, it’s VERY fast.

The Primus toaster folds flat and costs under £12.

And believe me, we’ve tried EVERY toaster for camping…as you can see in our special head-to-head on toasters.

The easiest real coffee – no mess

While we love the Wacaco Nanopresso (also on this page) and use it at home even more than when camping, sometimes you need quick, simple and mess-free for your breakfast coffee. Especially true when wild camping.

The best method we’ve found is to make your own coffee bags using unbleached plastic-free paper pockets and a good ground coffee (we use Percol because the whole company is going plastic-free).

Fill before you go, or take a jar along and pop in a dessertspoon of coffee, pour on boiling water, wait a few minutes and voilá. The bag is now totally compostable, and the coffee is perfect.

Camping security

We were burgled in our campervan while sleeping in the roof bed…it made us a lot more aware of security. So, these are our choices for quick and easy alarms.

The Doberman window alarms go off if anyone tries to break a window (or knock on it loudly!). That would certainly wake you up. Around £25 for four.

Our problem was that the site was beautifully dark, so our other choice is a sensor light. It wouldn’t disturb neighbours but would deter thieves and would probably have woken us up.

See lots more choices at our BIG article on camping security.

Wee tubes!

If you’ve read our guide to camping toilets, you’ll know we have a healthy interest in these matters! Kathy, of binoculars fame, also won us over with these super-handy wee tubes. They fold down small, seal well and have a fit that works for women as well as men. Oh, and they cost about £5.

Big hammock packs tiny

Don’t bother with cheap, Chinese-branded hammocks. We’ve tested a lot and they either rip or don’t measure up to the claimed dimensions.

You can’t go wrong with a Ticket to the Moon hammock. Although you’ll pay a bit more (around £50), it’ll last. The picture shows ours in France five years ago…and it’s still perfect.

They fold quickly into an integrated bag and are really light to carry too.

Waterproof beanies

I’m sure I’ve said this before elsewhere, but a waterproof hat (and a warm, waterproof hat in winter) makes you feel invincible.

The best I’ve found is the DexShell brand. Cosy inside, lots of colour choice and totally protective against wind, rain and snow. If I have one complaint, it’s that I’d like a slightly bigger, less close-fitting version, but I have a claustrophobic head! 

Fab folding saws

I’ve swapped my Gerber folding saw (but not the man borrowing it) for the Bahco Laplander (below), after spotting it in the timber merchants this week.

The Bahco Laplander folds away safely

The teeth cut in both directions, so it’s a bit easier to use, plus folding it up is a tad simpler. It’s super-cheap too. Both are great, though.

The Wild Guides

A brilliant series of guides that help you discover lovely landscapes, places to swim and camp, unusual and special places to eat and more. There are guides to Scotland, Central England, the Lakes and DalesWalesPortugalCornwall and the South WestScandinavia and wild swimming in the UK, Italy and France.

Look where the French one took us!!

Luci Base Lamp

We quite liked the original inflatable Luci light, but this bigger Base Lamp is really good. Three brightness settings, no weight, waterproof, charge lasts for ages and you can even charge your phone with it.

The best thing, though, is that it’s both bright enough to read by or illuminate outside eating areas and can be dimmed for a soft background light.

Viewranger for walking, biking and more

Viewranger is our favourite way of discovering new walks, cycle routes and exploring new places.

We used it for the first time on a trip to the Lake District. Absolutely loved its Skyline feature for identifying fells, tarns and interesting landmarks.

When we got back, I got in touch with them and they agreed a special offer for you, 10% off and you can try it free for a week. 

 

The best waterproof speaker

The Wonderbooms 2 is marvellous. Rugged and waterproof (even floats), connect two for true stereo for use at home, tiny form, big sound…what more do you need?

Oh. and the battery lasts 13 hours. If that’s not enough, you can choose your colour too. Around £60

Instant Pot for electric cooking

If you have a campervan or caravan or room in the car plus electric hook-up, the Instant Pot is a great way to cook your meals quickly and economically. From stews in 15 minutes to perfect rice and even cakes and yoghurt.

Basically, it’s a clever electric pressure cooker that also slow cooks and steams. The 3l Mini is the perfect size for taking camping (when you have power). Perfect for home for a couple too.

Take a comfy pillow!

Don’t expect to enjoy sleeping on a bunch of rolled up clothes or one of those awful, rustling blow-up travel pillows. The best we’ve found are super-comfy, breathable mini memory-foam travel pillows.

Multipurpose blanket

Try a Snugpak Jungle Blanket for sleeping under on warmer nights, for adding a layer to your sleeping bag or for wrapping around you and a friend so you can sit under the stars for longer. Lots of readers say they love them. Warm and light.

The Kelty Bestie blanket serves the same purpose and might suit you more if you’re after some colour!

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. Plus they come with a semi-transparent bag to make a sort of table lamp. Clever.

Friendlier fluid for your loo

Remember to buy a septic-tank friendly cleaning fluid or some campsites won’t let you empty your loo. Not to mention the fact that you don’t want to be adding formaldehyde to the environment!

Your own private (ish) loo and shower

Make your own pop-up private loo space with one of these toilet tents. Great with camping showers as well.

Our favourite is the Wolfwise because it has a removable base mat, an open top option for showers and pops up easily.

The Colapz utility bags

Very useful indeed. We use our Colapz bag for gathering wood, for washing up, for storing wet shoes and for taking recycling to the bins.

There are two sizes and both are suitable for holding water. Green or blue too.

A coolbox that stays cool

If you don’t want to invest in a compressor fridge, then a good-quality passive coolbox is the answer. One of the best we’ve found is the Coleman Extreme.

There are big ones (up to 91-litres) like the one above, but also a neat 28quart/26-litre version

We do love the Igloo mentioned higher up, though. 

Compare more camping coolboxes and fridges options here.

 

Nikon binoculars

It was our friend Kathy who introduced us to the wonders of these lightweight binoculars. For birdwatching, a pair of carryable binoculars is a really good idea.

These £80 Nikon binoculars are the best we’ve tried for portability and clarity. We’ve spotted a golden eagle, seals, yellowhammers and a naked man having a shower next to a green bucket on the beach! Who could that be?

Make yourself a camping spice tin

You’ll never have to rummage in your kitchen bag again.

A masala dhaba is a great idea, providing it has airtight lids or a double outer lid.

Go for a neat set of magnetic tins.

 

Adaptor for European trips

The Tessan plug adaptor has useful USB inputs. Very neat. Let’s hope European trips aren’t a thing of the past!

Do-it-all camping 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.

Wacaco Nanopresso for real coffee

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).

Smart bulbs and plugs for security

Boy, these are brilliant. We’ve been using bulb timers for when we’re away, but they were unreliable. The TP-Link Smart Bulbs and Smart Plug let you control your lights and a radio, say, from anywhere you’ve got signal or wifi.

Dimmable, tuneable lights with screw and bayonet fitting and the easiest, most feature-rich app to control them (Kasa). VERY impressed. From around £20.

Carabiner hooks with lots of uses

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.

Tentsile tree tents

 

You’ll find a couple of great bivvy options on this page, but the Tentsile tree-tents are something special. They’re expensive, though.

We love the airy feel with a mosquito net to protect you, the option to pitch on the ground and the perfectly flat (unslumpy) floor).

See more hammocks and bivvies too.

Beeswax wrap instead of clingfilm

You’ll probably have already come across individual cotton and beeswax (or vegan wax) wraps? Well, we’ve just found this fantastic plastic-free wrap on a roll.

Cut the size you need for wrapping sandwiches, using to seal bowls or for wrapping around loaves to keep them fresher. We struggled to find individual wraps big enough for large loaves, so this is a super alternative. 

You can rinse it in cold water and use it over and over. There’s also a vegan version that uses plant-based wax.

See more green camping ideas in our special feature.

Rite in the Rain notebooks

Brilliant and HUGE range of notebooks and journals that you can write on even when they’re wet. Hard and soft covers, all sizes, even printing paper. Affordable and recyclable too. Now you can write your novel while camping in the rain.

Windshield for your stove

As simple as it gets, but we wish we’d spent the £8 sooner. This aluminium windshield fits around almost any size of cooker and folds back easily to nothing!

It saves frustration, matches and gas.

It’s shown here around our lovely little Bivouac stove, on the Uquip table and with the Tefal Ingenio pan on top. All favourites included on this page!

LotusGrill Barbecue

Lotus Grill

The best barbecue we’ve found. The Lotus Grill. Have a look at our review.

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 LotusGrill review.

Reusable coffee cups

We’re NEVER using a throwaway cup again, so here’s our favourite to take along to the coffee shop.

The Joco Cup is the right size for a decent Americano, is nice to hold and a pleasure to drink from. We use the cardboard packaging to hold our camping cutlery!

See other reusable and insulated travel mugs too.

Multiuse sleeping bags

One of our favourite (non-down) sleeping bags – it doubles as a blanket/quilt and is made of eco-friendly materials.

The Vaude Navajo is soft, warm, versatile and really well-designed. We use the 900 option for spring, summer and a warm autumn. Great opened up as an extra layer when you’re camping with a duvet too.

More sleeping bag recommendations here.

Simple thermos flask

 

Simple and perfect. The Isosteel one-litre 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. And under £15. Oh. and two cups too!

Perfect on-off camping shoes

All that in-and-out, to the showers and back is a pain when you have to unlace shoes. We take easy-on/off shoes.

Some of the best we’ve found are these neoprene-lined slip-ons. Sizes 3 to 13 and only £20. Dirt Boots for women and men.

The Toffeln clogs mentioned above are probably a better bet for fast on-offness!

Best small camping stovecalor-bivouac-camping-stove

We love our neat Campingaz Bivouac stove. 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 (also on this page) is our choice when we need something bigger and more versatile, but this is the one we use the most.

Best for sleeping under the stars

Our favourite sleeping arrangement for fair-weather wild camping. Aqua Quest’s West Coast lightweight mesh tent lets you sleep safe from bugs and able to see the stars.

It takes about 20 seconds to set up and is roomy, without that claustrophobic coffin-like feeling you get in many small tents.

See our wild camping kit feature too.

Super-comfy camping mattresses

Sea to Summit Comfort Plus insulated mat

We do have an amazingly comfortable Sea to Summit’s Comfort self-inflating camping mat, but it was expensive, so for a second mat, we’ve gone for a Klymit.

We first came across them for their clever but exorbitant hammock pad, but now use their Static V Luxe as one of our main camping mats. They’re unusual in design, very comfortable and take up far less room.

More options in our special feature on mats.

Our favourite multipurpose camping stove

Table-top or on the ground

The Cadac Safari Chef 2 camp stove is our favourite versatile gas cooker. Very efficient, packs away nicely and has lots of options for cooking styles – from pizza stone to seared steak griddle plate. Piezo ignition.

And it all fits into a roomy, easy-to-carry bag and sets up in no time. High and low pressure options (ie. big gas bottle with hose or screw-in canister).

More gas stoves to consider here.

Find an overnight stop

Park4night appPark4night – 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

Clever chopping board

Joseph Joseph chopping board

Our favourite camp chopping board, the Chop2Pot by Joseph Joseph. Made of bamboo, comes in two sizes and folds on a silicone hinge so that you can chop and pour.

We’ve got both sizes and they’ve been going strong for three years at least.

Recycled waterproof rug

Green Decore recycled plastic rugRugs made from recycled plastic are a great idea for camping and for decks, patios and gardens. Fab Hab or Green Decore are the best. They come in loads 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. 

Bell-tents and tipis

We’ve just got excited about tipis and bell-tents because there’s only one pole to install (plus awning if you have one).

We do love the versatility of this affordable TentHome tipi.

Use the inner or the outer on its own and prop up the big canopy for loads of space. It gives you 310 x 360 x 240cm of space. Aluminium poles, bug-mesh and lots of ventilation. Great.

We’ve reviewed more over at our quick-pitch tent article

A woodburning stove

Frontier woodburning stove

A fabulous DWD wood-burning stove. It all packs down into a small bag, you can cook on it and keep warm. 

The water heater option is brilliant and there are kits so you can use it inside a bell tent.

Our other favourite for lighter packs is the neat and easy Solo Stove .

The Campfire Solo Stove four-person stove

See our wood-burning stove feature here

Peace of mind while you’re away

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.

See the smart bulbs and plugs on this page too.

And I’m sorry to have to suggest this, but do have a look at our guide to security when camping. We learned the hard way…burgled in our van while we slept in it!

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. This one is the good-value Unigear tarp, which comes with everything you need.

Remember to get bungee or elasticated cord for fastening your tarp (details at the end)!

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.

See more recommended chairs, including options with tables or coolbags attached. 

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. £3!

Have a look at our guide to all things toilet-y!

Fast-pitch tents…yes, please

We don’t like faff, so we have super-easy single pole or pop-up tents for quick camping. Although, we’ve been a bit sceptical about inflatable tents, we do like the Berghaus range, especially the Air4XL, for huge space and head height on longer trips and thoughtful touches like an electric hook-up point on each side. Affordable compared to Vango and Outwell too. 

plenty more 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.

Our favourite windbreak

We like the Regatta Calima windbreak for its simplicity. Just two big panels and three steel poles. Stays up in a wind (as it should!) and very cheap too. The Yellowstone is a near match if this one isn’t available.

More options in our round-up of windbreaks if you need bigger, prettier or whatever!

Headtorch to lamp

Petzl NoctilightThis handy (and cheap) little zip-up pouch holds your headtorch, turning it into a lantern. 

A hanging cord wraps neatly around it. Clever little Petzl Noctilight!

The best headtorch we’ve found is the new Actik Core 450-lumen Petzl. It’s big advantage is that it can be recharged from a USB socket or used with batteries. Very bright, very comfortable.

Leaving kitty at home?

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

Safe camp kitchen knives

Joseph Joseph’s Elevate chef and paring knives come with a safety sheath and a rest to keep them off the work surface. Ideal for the camping cook kit.

The set isn’t cheap, but enough knives for home and the camping kitchen.

 

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 (and now in paper rather than plastic pouches). All natural ingredients too. Just add boiling water.

See more tasty cheats in our article on fast (but good) food.

Perfect travel toilet bags

Reisenthel toilet bagThe Reisenthel hanging toilet bag makes organising your bathroom kit very satisfying (am I revealing a bit of fussiness here?!)

Anyway, I embrace my tidiness! 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.

The Kelty TruComfort sleeping bag

Double layered insulation and the option to open the foot-end. Trucomfort by name and nature! Beautifully designed.  There’s a lovely double too.

See more sleeping bags here

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. Oh, and they cost pennies.

Hand-powered food 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.​

Bog in a Bag camping toilet

bog in a bag camping 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.

And see alternative camping loos in our toilet feature.

Source Liquitainer

Although we’re using the 10-litre Sea to Summit Packtap more and more, the Source Liquitainer has the edge when it comes to filling with water and being able to see what you’ve got left. 

It’s 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.

For warm nights – the safest campervan heater

The baby Eco Chico Dimplex is an oil-FREE radiator that warms up super-quickly and is light to carry.

It’s our choice for larger campervans or caravans on hook-up because you can safely leave it on to warm your space. We use ours in the porch at home when we’re not camping.

More heater ideas here.

Perfect camping pans – for home as well

We like to keep extra gear to a minimum, so we use the same pans camping as we do at home. Tefal Ingenio pans share a removable handle so they’re easy to pack and can be used on stoves, in ovens and as mixing bowls.

Look out for them in French supermarkets when you’re on your travels. 

Clean and green camping

No shower? No worries. We always take a couple of packs of these totally natural Aqua Wipes. Just water and biodegradable. Not dear, either.

But, for even more environmentally friendly cleaning options…

…have a look at our new article on 25 ways to make camping greener.

Good hair days

Klorane dry shampoo
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).

The handiest holdalls

Dakine holdalls – a big range of sizes and colours. Fold up small, stylish, sturdy and easy to get things in and out of because the top opens up fully.

From 23 to 74 litres and from around £18 to £55.

Go plastic-free

Avoid plastic when you can! It’s easy when bamboo crockery is as lovely as these bowls, plates and more. Lightweight, very stylish. 

We’ve got more to look at too, including beautiful enamelware and even wooden plates!

Read our round-up of the best alternatives to plastic plates and bowls for camping.

Headphones for cyclists and walkers

This is one of the best ways of listening to music or a podcast for runners, cyclists and walkers. Why?

That’s because they give great sound, but also leave your ears free to hear the world around you. It’s safer and more sociable too.

Choose either the Plantronics Backbeat Fit 3100 earpods or (below) the super-light Aftershokz Trekz (preferred by my cycling friend). And don’t forget Apple Airpods. I’m a new convert thanks to the amazing sound quality.

There’s full review here of these and more.

Vango Transit Trolley

If you don’t need a heavyweight all-terrain barrow, Vango’s Transit is fab. Folds completely flat and weighs just 3kg. Around £30. It can take up to 70kg and comes with an elastic tie-round.

Freestanding mosquito net

A simple freestanding mosquito net from Lifesystems. Fasten it to your campbed or use it on the ground. Around £60.

This kind of ‘tent’ could be great for warm weather camping. But we’ve also chosen lots of tents that are basically a mesh shell (some with optional rainfly).

Have a look at our guide to the best tents for stargazing.

Safe drinking waterLifestraw steel

If you’re unsure about how safe the water is, the LifeStraw‘s the answer.

There’s also a steel straw version and water filter 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.

Multipurpose tent thingy

The Arpenaz Base Fresh is a very versatile gazebo/tent or campervan awning with a fixed groundsheet.
Affordable too at around £80.

Fantastic light, easy to put up and makes a brilliant campervan awning too.

Stackable, multifunction bowls

We love our stainless steel bowls for all our home baking and mixing. They’re even more useful when camping. These bowls (five of them) are great because they have lids, plus interchangeable centre bits for grating, slicing etc. Mix in them, measure in them, serve in them. Perfect and indestructible.

A barbecue must-have

So, we’ve found the best barbecues, and this (non-Teflon) grill mat is the perfect addition. Makes it easier to cook small ingredients, stops the burn and is reusable.

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.

Travel towels that dry

PackTowl luxe

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.

Tarp poles for everywhere

Lightweight aluminium tarp poles that can be adjusted for lots of different heights to suit your surroundings. 

Have a look at our article on how to rig up a tarp too.

A jolly good kettle

An old favourite, the Vango steel kettle has the best handle of all we’ve tested, and it folds. It has a whistle too (though it doesn’t always work). The spout cover saves steam and spills. A bit heavier and bulkier than some, but only £11.

Lots more kettles in our boiling  hot guide to the best!

Multitool for toilet trenches and more

After using a serving spoon for the job on our last trip (not recommended), I knew I had to get more professional.

Use this Redcamp trowel for digging a toilet hole on wild camps, or for sawing, chopping, cutting branches, pulling out nails and more. Use it for weeding at home. £10.

The shockcord-wound handle makes it extra-useful and comfortable, plus you can easily replace it when it gets worn.

Bungee cords for guylines

Thanks to ex-para and now car-camper Tommy Graham for his tip on using stretch rope or bungee cords when tying down tarps and other shelters.

What have we forgotten?

If you’ve found a must-have piece of camping or travel gear, let us know. Also have a look at some of our readers’ recommendations for good camping equipment.

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12 Comments

  1. Stanley toolboxLove the site and the list. For a camping ‘grab box’ I use a Stanley 1-97-503 Pro Mobile Tool Chest. Everything kitchen related goes in … Keeps wash bowl, bistro stove, plates, frying pans, saucepan, cups cutlery etc .. all cooking equipment. Just grab it and go!

    inflater Also a portable battery operated air bed inflator makes a great bellows to get the BBQ up to speed quicker.

    And always carry a CP250 gas blow torch. Fits onto a bistro stove‘s CP250 cannister and will sort any stuborn campfire out …

  2. Thank you for your great website. I have enjoyed looking at your well chosen, well designed kit .
    ..
    I am looking for a lightweight sheet like thing that folds to tiny I can take out & about to use to shelter under away from wind rain and sun . I would be grateful for any advice . ED: Sounds like you need a tarp, Jim. Have a look at our article on using tarps for shelter.

    Many thanks
    Jim Walton

  3. Eleanor Dinsmore

    You Guys are the Best! I’ve bought the Eco Chico heater and the Dometic fridge based on your reviews. Both are invaluable and I’m not sure I would have made the right choice left to my own devices.
    As a Newbie to Campervans, I cant Thank you enough for your recommendations. XX ED: That’s soooo heartwarming! Thanks, Eleanor. We started Campfire as a hobby and it’s amazing how it’s grown. It’s lovely to hear that we’ve helped. Hooray!

  4. Thanks for the tip of the petzl headtorch lamp combination. Just bought one and tried on a wild camp, fantastic kit. I would definitely recommend this. ED:That’s fab! Great to hear we could help. And thanks for taking the time to let us know!

  5. iain maciver

    my best bit of camping gear is my head torch

  6. Anne Course

    I can recommend Backdoor Shoes – they are comfortable, with either bare feet or socks, and hardwearing with washable cotton insoles. They can be scrubbed under a tap if they get muddy, are lightweight and will protect your toes if you drop anything on them. They are brilliant if you are on your feet all day (I have a pair I keep exclusively for when I am catering). No I don’t work for them! Their returns policy is good and they are British – what more could you want?

  7. Caroline Roberts

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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. The Loopropes would work well for that

  11. 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 https://www.huffingtonpost.com/brady-josephson/why-amazon-is-smiling-and_b_4360405.html

  12. 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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