When we find a new piece of camping or outdoor equipment that we love and that really works, it’s here. We have rounded up some of our best of guides to bring you our top picks from various sections.
Everything you see – from barbecues to camping showers – 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!
We have broken this guide into sections (as it is pretty epic!) so please use the index if you are looking for a specific area or just scroll through and enjoy, we have highlighted our top must haves for each section at the top.
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!
Camping Shelter & Sleeping
OUR TOP TENT PICK
Our top choice in this category. The Coleman Instant Tent Tourer 4 has dark bedrooms and plenty of living space. Can be pitched in under 1 minute. We like the large windows and dark bedroom areas.
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 also like the Berghaus range, especially the Freedom 7 Nightfall, for huge space and head height on longer trips. Affordable compared to Vango and Outwell too.
Plenty more in our QUICK-ERECT TENT REVIEW
Now here’s our favourite find of the past yeat. The Sheltapod is an awning, tent and sunshelter all in one (saving you money and valuable space!). It will fit on any vehicle up to 2.8m.
It’s based on a roll-up system so that you can be totally enclosed, as in a tent, or can be open to the air and sunshine. It has aluminium poles and comes with privacy panels, window blinds, a door panel, a groundsheet and an inner tent included.
Our extensive campervan awnings and shelters guide has plenty more too
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.
For sleepers that struggle with a bad back, comfort is at the top of the list of priorities. This camping bed from Redcamp boasts a study frame and a delightfully comfortable mattress for the perfect night’s sleep.
More options in our special Best Camping Cots.
This is such a hardy piece of camping equipment, the mattress is very lightweight and at just 10cm in thickness, you could be forgiven for thinking that it wouldn’t do much in the way of support, but the opposite is true.
The mattress is contoured to support the body effortlessly and thanks to the anti-air leak function, you won’t need to worry about waking up and feeling the ground beneath you. Available in single or double size.
As featured in our Best Camping Mattress for Couples
We do have an amazingly comfortable self-inflating camping mat, but it was expensive, so for a second mat, we’ve gone for a Klymit.
We now use their Static V2 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.
Good Value Sleeping bag
One of our favourite value sleeping bags that offers some great wriggle room as well as warm and comfy, It also has a handy internal pocket if you want to store your phone or spare cash there, as well as a drawstring on the hood to keep that extra bit of warmth. The Cocoon has a good non-slip fabric too.
- Comfort 3°C and limit -3°C
- Pack size: 43 x 25cm
- Weight: 1.7kg
Sleeping bag for 2 people
Double layered insulation and the option to open the foot-end. Berghaus Indulge is beautifully designed with heavy duty zips and a bag it easily slides back into. Plenty big enough for 2 people, probably could fit the dog in there too!
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
There’s now a new blackout version too available now too, though this is more expensive.
Lots more options in our Fast-Pitch tent feature.
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
BEST FOR SLEEPING UNDER THE STARS
Our favourite sleeping arrangement for fair-weather wild camping. Wild Country Zephyros 1 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.
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.
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, it’ll last. For peace of mind we took ours to France five years ago…and it’s still perfect.
They fold quickly into an integrated bag and are really light to carry too.
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.
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.
These tarp poles are some of 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 simple freestanding mosquito net from Lifesystems. Fasten it to your campbed or use it on the ground.
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.
Camping Bathroom & Toiletries
OUR TOP TOILET PICK
Another favourite of ours is the DOMETIC 972 Portable Toilet, we find ours to be a little smaller than some others on the market and can be easier to handle when going to empty it!
Small enough for a campervan or tent but with decent capacity and a flush. Not for big bums, though!
Should you need something a little less bulky, 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.
OUR TOP SHOWER PICK
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.
Your own private(ish) loo and shower cubicle
Make your own pop-up private loo space with one of these toilet tents. Great with camping showers as well.
We really love the Lumaland gazebo, which we use as a campervan awning and in the garden at home. So, good to see there’s another goody from this German brand.
The pole system is ready installed, so you just click the hinges into place. We like the removable floor and the neat storage inside.
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 JUPSK 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.
The shockcord-wound handle makes it extra-useful and comfortable, plus you can easily replace it when it gets worn.
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 very little.
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!
Skip to your loo with one of our funniest bits of kit…useful too. A waterproof toilet roll holder. Just get one. It’ll make you laugh every time you pack.
Have a look at our guide to all things toilet-y!
Perfect travel toilet bags - The 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.
Travel towels that dry - The PackTowl Luxe range are 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.
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.
Camping Essential Toiletries
Good hair days - 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).
Clean, green camping - No shower? No worries. We always take a couple of packs of these totally natural Aqua Wipes. Just water and biodegradable.
Biodegradable doesn’t mean you should ever chuck them in the wild. They take a long time to disappear and are just litter meanwhile. Take them home!
For even more environmentally friendly cleaning options…
Check out our article on 25 ways to make camping greener.
Keep mosquitos away with All 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!
Camping Accessories & Add Ons
The Best Camping Chair
See more camping chairs, including options with tables or coolbags attached.
Also check out the best chair for bad backs.
These chairs curve in at the back rather than letting your back slump outwards.
Keeping Stuff Cool
Utterly Reliable Compressor Fridges
We tested the CDF36. Despite its name, this is actually a 31-litre fridge/freezer that’s high enough to take upright wine bottles and two-litre bottles.
There’s a cold section and a smaller area equivalent to the salad drawer in your home fridge, and even an interior LED light. A pull-out basket makes it easy to transfer things from the fridge to the cooler when you’re packing. Its temperature range is +10 to -15, and, being a compressor, it’ll achieve those temperatures whatever the heat outside.
If you have a little more budget take a look at the CFX3, Could this be the ultimate camping fridge? The CFX3 is Dometic’s latest compressor fridge and, although you won’t be able too inexpensive, they certainly offer a lot of features.
There are seven models – from 32-litres to 88-litres – and you can choose a model that will either chill or freeze, models with an ice maker compartment or true dual-zone fridge/freezers.
There are big ones (up to 91-litres) like the one above, but also a neat 28quart/26-litre version.
We also love the Igloo mentioned below.
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.
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.
Of course, if you’re a skilled mechanic and you’re building your own van from scratch, you can just buy the kits for diy installation (Triclicks is a good ‘un).
The Triclicks diesel heater kit is pretty well thought-of and a very good price if you feel confident enough to DIY your heater (or if you know a friendly fitter).
Around £110 and comes with everything you need, including a remote control.
The Best Camping Table
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.
If you are in the market for a camping fire pit that looks as incredible as it performs, then this could be a viable option for you. It is finished in a heat proof black paint that will compliment any outdoor camping area. What’s more, it comes with a BBQ grill, making this an extremely versatile piece of equipment.
While this may look like an incredibly sleek and lightweight camping fire pit, it is, in fact, one of the most heavy duty options on the market right now. This is a stainless steel pit that boasts amazingly durability and excellent stability, all in a compact and lightweight design.
The fire pit is super easy to put up and take down and with just five components, this can be one in under 60 seconds! This makes it perfect for campers on the go. The materials are rust resistant and this is a fire pit that folds down to a very compact size making it easy to transport.
When it comes to cooking, one of the biggest irks of campers is that the food gets stuck to the grill. Check out our guide to cooking food on a fire pit.That won’t be an issue with this one since it boasts a non-stick grill that is superbly easy to clean.
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.
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.
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.
We’ve found for lots of uses (including a night-time toilet, providing you don’t sit down heavily on it, of course!). Another goodie for under £15.
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.
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. It can take up to 70kg and comes with an elastic tie-round.
Bungee cords, clips and bits!
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.
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.
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.
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 (screw-down) or black clips (slide-shut) fasten on to canvas taps, tents and so on without damaging the fabric and give you more options for securing.
Our Favourite Windbreak
There are some VERY expensive inflatable windbreaks, but very few of us could justify spending upwards of £200. The best of the bunch (so far) is the Maypole. We like the fact it comes in separate panels that you can slot together.
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 Dales, Wales, Portugal, Cornwall and the South West, Scandinavia and wild swimming in the UK, Italy and France.
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.
Our favourite camping blanket. Packs into a pillow, good insulation, withstands damp and drizzle and made with the environment as a priority. Use them as a blanket, a wraparound, a sleeping bag and a pillow. Lots of gorgeous designs and colours (I have the Bahia), as well as models with a fleecy lining.
Rugs 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.
Just imagine how many of those 5l plastic containers of screenwash get chucked away every year. Keep the one you have and use P1 Autocare screenwash pods instead. They work just as well and work out cheaper. Just add one to your empty container and fill with water. Around £9 for six (30 litres in total).
Camping Kitchen & Cooking
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.
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.
More stoves and Cooking Appliances
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 .
We love our neat Campingaz Twister 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.
Also handy to have 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.
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.
If you do not have power you might want to consider the Hungry Fan, no power needed and keeps food warm for upto 12 hours!
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.
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 believe me, we’ve tried EVERY toaster for camping…as you can see in our special head-to-head on toasters.
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).
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.
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.
For all your kitchen kit
Also look at our recommendations for
Clever 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.
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.
Avoid plastic when you can! It’s easy when enamel or 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.
The set isn’t cheap, but enough knives for home and the camping kitchen.
Nice to Have
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.