When we’re planning what new camping gear we’ll need for the year’s trips, we’ve been a bit disappointed by supposed camping ‘superstores’ that really don’t offer much choice.
So, we’ve compiled a list of all the best places to shop for camping equipment. We hope it helps!
Did you know…
If you pay by PayPal for an item and the retailer doesn’t offer free returns, PayPal will refund the cost? There’s a limit on the number of transactions and you have to make a claim via your account, but it’s easy and it works!
Decathlon is one of the cheapest places to buy camping and outdoors gear. Their camping range can be a bit limited (because they cover almost every sport – from boules to bodyboarding), but delivery and returns are easy.
Their tents are VERY affordable and quite innovative. Free delivery over £30, free click and collect and very easy returns (some free, depending on method chosen).
Go Outdoors is another superstore you can find in some bigger towns and touristy areas. They also have a full range online.
The camping gear can be quite basic, but it’s a safe bet for good prices and for camping essentials. They also do outdoor clothes and some sports gear too.
Returns to a store are free, but you have to pay (see the PayPal note in the intro).
You’ll still find a few Snow + Rock branches on the high street, but the biggest range is, of course, online. To be honest, we don’t shop there very much as it’s mostly technical adventure clothes and footwear, but they have some great sales.
Delivery is free over £50 (express and free over £100) and you have to pay for returns unless an item is faulty.
Ebay isn’t just for secondhand camping gear. Many real-world shops also have Ebay shops.
Returns are usually simple and payments are really well protected.
It’s a good place to check prices, though don’t assume everything is a bargain. We’ve sometimes found cheaper at some of the other stores and on Amazon.
You probably haven’t heard of Wildbounds? We hadn’t. It’s a newish and smallish company that specialises in some unusual and top-quality brands for camping and outdoor equipment.
More adventure camping than family trips, but lots of lovely things, including some of our favourite bivvy hammocks and backpacking stoves.
Oh, and we mustn’t forget the Ethical Superstore for some unique and environmentally friendly camping, cooking and living kit.
Have a look at our BIG green guide to camping in a more environmentally friendly way.
Delivery is free over £50 or you can pick up at DPD points in shops. You pay for returns but they’re easy to do.
A lesser known online store for camping gear, although they’ve been selling equipment since 1906 (not online, of course!). Fantastic range of brands – everything from wellingtons and socks to tents and sleeping mats – and good prices too.
Delivery is £1.95 and free after £50, all next day. No-fuss returns. You pay the cost, but if you want to exchange, postage back to you is free.
Cotswold is a sister company to Snow + Rock and another that has real-world branches in some places. Bigger branches usually have a few sleeping mats and bags to try out, but the ranges are quite limited.
They also do some tents and camping accessories, plus lots of walking jackets and boots. Sales are good!
All the same delivery and return options as Snow + Rock.
Whether you prefer maps, apps or books, the Ordnance Survey has them all. We came across it when researching for our article on apps for walkers and cyclists.
Did you know that buying a real map gives you access to digital versions for your phone or tablet too?
All maps are delivered for free.
Love it, hate it, can’t live without it? Amazon is almost unavoidable, but it’s often our choice because returns are usually trouble-free and the range is enormous.
Be wary of reviews
The reviews can be helpful, but many are fake. If you see an item with masses of five-star reviews, just have a look at the author of a couple of them. If they only ever post glowing reviews and if they harp on about the features in a way that sounds unlike a regular customer, be wary.
It’s a good way to check prices, but isn’t necessarily the cheapest. We usually put links in to products on Amazon if we’ve found their prices are good (and we get a small commission to help pay for the running of the magazine), but it does pay to shop around.
Our current ‘real-world’ favourite (though a five-hour drive away) is Norwich Camping and Leisure.
As an indication of their range, they have more than 70 barbecues to choose from. As well as every bit of camping equipment you can imagine, they also sell all those tiny odds and ends that just have to come in useful for something.
Free next-day delivery over £100. You have to pay for returns (and original delivery cost isn’t reimbursed). See the PayPal note above.
Winfields Outdoors has a few real-world stores and a massive online range.
There are often sales and special offers and some of the manufacturers of tents and other camping gear do exclusive-to-Winfields ranges.
Delivery is free over £50, but you do have to pay for returns (remember, though that PayPal will refund return costs for any purchases anywhere if you pay that way).
We’d always advise against buying a bike online unless you’ve tried it out and have a local bike store or person willing to set it up for you.
For top-notch bike accessories, though, Cycle Surgery is pretty good. Again, part of the S+R/Cotswold group so same delivery and returns.
For a massive range of road, mountain and electric bikes and good prices, Leisure Lakes Bikes is fantastic. They also have ten actual shops. Free delivery if you spend £10 or more.
If you have a favourite real-world or online camping store that’s given good service, do let us know so we can share the good news!