Getting Into Camping – What You Need to Know

The Staycation

This year has seen more people camping than ever before. With travel restrictions being in place for many and the risk and thought of having to quarantine on return from some popular holiday destinations in Europe and further afield many people are choosing to stay in the UK and have a staycation instead. 

The world is certainly going to take time to get anywhere near back to normal after this year so many people are not willing to take the chance of booking holidays abroad next year either. With this in mind and with the number of people who camped for the first time this year I thought I would write a little about what you need to get into camping, including a few tips that should save you some money or take the guesswork out of the gear you need.

For many, the staycation holiday of choice is camping or glamping. This is a choice I have made year after year as I not only love camping but we feel that although we may not always have the weather that popular European holidays have to offer we certainly have some stunning locations.

You don’t need to be restricted to just staying on a campsite, there are many different types of camping and some may suit you more than others. While some people like to stay in one place for a week or two others like to be more adventurous and travel, camping somewhere different each night. Whether this is on a campsite or a little wild camping if you are in Scotland the choice is yours. If you want to see which type of camping may suit you please read the following 

UK Beauty

The thing about a staycation is it gives you the chance to explore your own country for a change. Ok, we might not have the lovely hot weather some countries in Europe and beyond have but we do have some beautifully diverse landscapes that everyone can enjoy. You never know, using this time to vacation in your own or surrounding lands may just make you value more of what we have and even let you fall in love with this land you call home.

From stunning beaches to rolling hills and glorious mountains and everything in between there is sure to be something for everyone. If you are not into exploring our land why not take the chance to explore our history or cultures. Did you know there are over 1500 castles in the UK?

Maybe you are the more adventurous type, if so, why not try a new sport or activity. Kayaking or paddleboarding, whether around coastlines or along rivers is a great way to see some of our lovely country. Challenge yourself to climb a mountain and sit in awe as you look out across the landscape below (on a clear day that is). Try gorge walking or any other activity that takes your fancy. Many of these can be incorporated into your staycation all you need to do is a little research online.

Scottish Beach

Buying a Tent

There are many factors you need to take into consideration when you are looking to buy a tent. Below I have listed some questions to ask yourself to help you decide on the ideal type and size of the tent before you even begin to start looking.

The best way to get a tent to suit your needs is to do plenty of research before making a purchase. Get to know about all the different features that tents can have from privacy blinds to cable entry and pitch times to storage pockets. All these little features can make a big difference to your camping experience and comfort.

  •  Which type of camping are you wanting to do? See the link to types of camping above or would you like to do more than one type and would it be feasible to use the same tent for both or all. You wouldn’t use the same tent for campsite camping and bike camping but could use the same for trekking and biking when camping as both will need to be small and lightweight
  • How many people will be camping? If you are going to need a lightweight tent (biking, trekking, etc) get a tent for the exact number of people. If you are a couple get a 2 man, if you are a family look at taking more than one tent so you can share the weight or one that is light enough for one person to carry or can be split down to share the load. i.e someone takes pegs, another the tent, and another the poles. If you are planning on a campsite look at getting a tent that is +2 in size. i.e. if for a family of 4 get a 6 man tent, this allows for a little more space and saves you being cramped in sleeping pods during the night. It also means plenty more room in the living area if you are stuck inside due to bad weather.
  • Who will be pitching the tent? It may just be you and that is fine for small tents but not so good for a larger tent if going to the campsite. Maybe you are a single parent and will have to pitch the tent yourself, take this into consideration when thinking about your future purchase. Air beams, Bell Tents, or Tipi style tents are great if you have to pitch larger tents alone.
  • Do you need a tent to be compact or lightweight? This is important if you are having to carry the tent or strap it to a bike.
  • What budget do you have for a tent? The budget is also an important factor. The more of a budget you have to play with the more specific you can get about features of a tent while browsing and seeing details that you like in tents. You may not have a budget to buy new at first and be looking to buy something preloved instead. But by having a good idea of what you NEED and Want in a tent saves you from rushing into impulse buys that you may regret later.

Once you have thought about and answered these questions the next step is to look at tents. You can do this online by visiting tent retailers like Go Outdoors, Winfields, Amazon, or eBay. You may even want to watch a few YouTube videos on pitching tents or tent reviews to get an idea of what is involved in pitching different styles of tents. 

We have many reviews on this site although the list is not extensive it will give you an idea of types of tents, prices, weights, pitch times, etc.

You can look through the reviews under the review tab or through the link below.

Some things you may want to look for when looking at tents are –

  • Does it have a sewn-in groundsheet? These are great for keeping out drafts and bugs. We wouldn’t buy one without a sewn-in groundsheet and most tents have them as standard these days.
  • Bedroom areas or whole tents in smaller compact tents. Do you want a darkened fabric in sleeping areas to keep more light out? This allows a better sleep during summer months and can keep sleeping areas a little cooler when hot and hotter when cold. Do you want removable dividers if there is more than one sleeping pod?
  • Windows? Do you want your tent to have windows? Especially if camping with kids who want to explore outwith the tent without you.
  • Storage inside the tent. Yes, even some of the small one-person tents have useful storage pockets for keeping things like phones and chargers in and they can make life a little easier and keep your belongings safe. Nobody really wants their costly phones or other electronic devices just laying about the floor to be damaged.
  • HH or hydrostatic head is how waterproof the tent is and we would always recommend the higher the HH the better but not below 3000. This doesn’t apply to cotton/canvas tents as they are made watertight by the fabrics swelling and creating a strong waterproof barrier.

I hope this information helps and is not too overwhelming. You can always come back and read for a refresher at a later date if you need to. The more knowledge you have and an idea of exactly what you are looking for in a tent the more chance you have of buying a tent that will provide you with lots of happy camping experiences.

Sleeping Bags and Mats or Beds

Next to having a tent or shelter, the next thing you are going to need is something to both sleep on and in. 

I really want to stress at this point these 2 items are the things you really don’t want to skimp on when it comes to spending money. How you sleep while camping can make or break your camping trip. You need to be warm and comfortable and should always have something between you and the ground, no matter what sleeping bag you are in you will be cold. The ground draws the heat away from your body so it is always important to have a barrier between you and the ground for this purpose and there are several ways you can do this.

Out of all the camping gear you purchase this is where you really should blow a bit of your budget. There are different types of sleeping bags such as mummy, pod, envelope, and doubles, and all sleeping bags are rated by seasons. Sleeping bags are not a one size fits all piece of kit. It is always best to visit a good outdoor or camping shop to have a look at and feel the sleeping bags they have on order.  If you are thinking of purchasing a sleeping bag it is always worth trying it out before you buy. This is especially true if you are tall or on the larger side as not all bags of the same style are made equal.

Sleeping bags

Season ratings on bags also vary from brand to brand so always check this when buying. Most will give temperatures for comfort and extreme the lowest temp the bag should be used in.  You will also need to consider how warm you sleep. This means how you feel the temperature during the night. I am a cold sleeper and need a lot of warmth during the night while my other half is a warm sleeper and doesn’t require the same amount of heat (season of the bag) to keep her warm.

Mats or beds are other items to give great consideration to. If you are looking to go lightweight an inflatable mat is what you will be looking for but for camping on sites where you will transport everything to where you will be pitching, SIMS or beds will be what you will probably want to purchase. 

But what is the difference?

If you are wanting to go lightweight there are some great inflatable mats out there. These not only will give you a little cushioning and comfort off the ground but many now come with an internal foil insulator. This will help reflect back towards your body and keep the cold from the ground getting to you.

Other mats or SIMS often have an internal foam mat that can be compressed to be rolled away or filled with air and allowed to expand into its shape once you open the valve and allow air to enter. You then close the valve for when in use to keep the air trapped inside. 

These are great for using on top of beds but most don’t have an inner foil layer meaning that these can draw the cold air from the ground during the night and leave you feeling cold. If this is something you would like to use to get started you can always put a foil blanket below them or a foil backed picnic blanket. These are great for bedroom areas as they add that carpeted luxury feel as well as providing another barrier between you and the ground and it helps keep things a little warmer.

Cookware & Crockery

Cookware is another thing you should give much thought to, as your purchase of these items can be swayed by both individual preference and the number of people you will be feeding at mealtimes. It may also be worth thinking at this point about what type of meals you will be eating and whether you will be cooking from scratch each mealtime or taking many prepared meals with you, as this will also depend on how you store your food.

You can buy some really inexpensive cooking kits nowadays that stack nicely together for transporting, just remember to check the sizes of all pots and pans to ensure they will be big enough for your camping party.

Camping Kitchen

Another important thought here is how you will be cooking. Will you be using a gas stove, a twin gas stove, using an electric hob or grill? There are many variations so choose what you will cook on before purchasing pans as this can make a difference to the types of pans you use and the materials they are made out of, especially if you are going to use an induction hob.

Crockery

Check this out for cookers >> https://campmehappy.com/top-7-camping-cookers this will give you an idea of what is available.

Your crockery is more preference than anything else. You may choose to go for a matching melamine or bamboo set, or you may choose the good old fashioned enamel plates and bowls that are now available at most pound shops and bargain stores during camping season. 

Toilets and Showers

Just because you are camping doesn’t mean that hygiene needs to go out the window. For those camping on sites, toilet blocks and shower facilities are normally available for free, although some showers are coin-operated. £1 for 3 or 4 minutes is the average charge. Due to COVID 19, there are some changes on sites and you should check when booking what these are.

If you are traveling around camping (biking, trekking, hiking, or car camping, using wild spots you will need to think of both toilet and shower/washing and how you are going to do this. For the toilet, you will be looking for something as lightweight as possible so a good old shovel or trowel is your best bet. That’s right, you dig a hole, do your business and cover it, leaving no trace. The one thing to mention here is that you should not bury your toilet paper. For that, you bag it and carry it out with you. This saves any wild animals digging it up, which results in it being strewn everywhere.

Insurance

I am not going to go on about insurance here, but I do want to make you aware that such a thing exists. Your home insurance may cover your camping gear when it’s stored at home but it will not cover any of your items while traveling to the campsite or whilst there. 

Accidents happen so we always feel it is best to make sure your tents and camping gear are covered by insurance. It could really help save your holiday should something go wrong.

Read more by clicking the following link >> https://campmehappy.com/camping-insurance

Choosing a Campsite

Choosing a campsite can be just as much fun as going camping. Things to consider is how far you want to travel, what type of site you want to stay on if you want to take your pets if you want to do activities on-site or in the area. You can really narrow down finding the perfect site if you know what you are looking for beforehand.

Two great websites for finding your ideal campsite are https://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/ or https://www.pitchup.com/.

Both are great places to start to look for all types of campsites and both will give you a good idea of what is available in different areas. I’m sure that you will find the perfect site for your time away if you just spend a little time looking. Remember to use the filters to find the perfect site quicker too. The more filters you use on your search the better the chance you have of finding somewhere right for you and your family.

Other Information

Although this has been a fairly long post it does not cover everything so why not bookmark the site so you can come back and find out some more information on other camping related products and news or even sign up to our newsletter to get regular updates from us.

Thanks for reading and we hope you get to enjoy camping as much as we do and make many memories in the process.

Some other good posts you may like to read if just starting out are

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