Just sitting here thinking of a couple of friends who have gone camping for the first time with their kids, the weather couldn’t be worse for them this week. We’ve text a few times, the gazebo has collapsed in the wind, a tarpaulin has taken flight and they’re currently hiding in the Children’s Play Barn. Bless them, but their spirits don’t seem to be ‘dampened’. Hopefully it brightens up for them this afternoon.
This year we were incredibly lucky, we went camping for a total of 14 days in a row, taking in 4 camp-sites (Hurley Riverside, Wo Wo, Stubcroft Farm and Eweleaze Farm) and only had two days of rain which is a miracle in the UK. We normally go to Canada every summer and this is the first time in 7 years we didn’t, the flight prices just got too much, hence the extended camping trip. Personally, I love camping, I can sit by a fire drinking beer and my daughter gets a chance to be a ‘kid’ running feral with all the other children on the site.
We are fairly well kitted out for camping and have most things. Anyone who is in to camping knows it’s all about the gear. In some ways, mostly financial, it’s a good thing we are limited on space in our car. I’ve been quite skilled at ‘Car Boot Tetris’ which is similar to ‘Fridge Tetris’ which I play at Christmas.
However, if you’re thinking on embarking on a Family Camping Trip there are a few essential items you should put on your check-list, that will make it more enjoyable.
10 Things You Need to Take Camping
Corkscrew Bottle Opener – it’s now acceptable to buy wine with a screw top but if you get caught out, it’s not impossible to get one with a cork open without a corkscrew, if you have a tree and a tea towel, but it does make it a lot easier. You can also get a beer bottle open with a cigarette lighter or if you’re my Auntie she can do it with her teeth, but again, it’s easier with a small bottle opener and costs less at the dentist.
Can Opener – I really wish I could find my Swiss Army Knife then getting into a tin would be a doddle. However, if you think a bit ahead and try to buy tins with a ring pull you won’t face this conundrum. I also try to buy pre-sliced buns etc.
Bungee Cords – I swear the people that manufacture tents and sleeping bags have seriously warped senses of humour. Stuff sacks! You are kidding me. Apparently, we have an over-sized tent bag, if over-sized bag means it just fits without the zipper bursting open then they would be correct. We carry a couple of spare bungee cords which allows us to cinch the tent a bit tighter so we can get it back in the bag with minimal arguments. Plus, they are great for make shift clothes lines etc.
Insulated Coffee Mugs – Beer o’clock is a moveable feast when camping but until then it’s coffee for me. Boiling a kettle on a camp stove can take ages, especially if you watch it, the Insulated Coffee Cups, first reduce the chance of spilling and lets you enjoy the coffee before it’s turns into an Iced Cappuccino. These ones have a narrower base so they fit in the cups holder in the car. And when you are all coffeed out you can sneak a beer into it, no one will be the wiser, and it stays cooler longer.
Rock Pegs – when you first buy a new tent, check out the pegs if they are the thin ones with the hook at the top, throw them straight in the bin, they are completely useless and after a couple of whacks with a mallet (see below) they bend and are rendered completely useless. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Rock pegs can penetrate the hardest and rockiest terrains. However, they can be a bit tricky to get out but you don’t have to worry about your tent or gazebo taking flight.
Mallet – we are now the proud owner of three mallets; a wooden one, rubber one and a plastic one. When I first opened the plastic one, I really thought it would shatter after trying to hammer in the first rock peg, but I was pleasantly surprised at how strong this Tent Peg Mallet was. The best bit about it is the other end can be used to pull out the stubborn rock pegs with a bit of persuasion and on occasion levering.
Bin Liners – take a whole roll if you can, they are great for dirty laundry, make shift rain ponchos, covering wet chairs, wrapping up wet boots and of course for rubbish/recycling.
Dry Shampoo – Face it! Showers don’t tend to be brilliant at campsites and on occasion you may have to queue for one. So, if you miss a day or three, a blast of dry shampoo can fool you into thinking you are slightly less filthy.
Walkie Talkies – prior to this camping trip we bought a set of Walkie Talkies for our daughter, thinking we could keep one with us and track her down if need be. However, I found another use for them…. scaring the h*ll out of other kids on the camp-site, you can scan for their frequency, then the fun begins. No, I did not say things like ‘I’m watching you’. Hours of fun!
Solar Powered Fairy Lights – there are no real reasons to cover your tent and gazebo in Twinkly Lights but they’re soooooo pretty and if you have a few too many beers, you can always find your way back from the loos in the dark. Not bad for highlighting evil tripping Guy Wires (or is is Guide Wires?) in the dark.
I’m sure there is a few things I have left off the list. What are your must have camping essentials?