Having just been camping as a family of four, with the camping set up fresh in my mind, I thought I'd share with you the current kit that we use, and highly recommend...
1. The Tent
We have a 5m Bell Tent and we LOVE it. It was given to us as a wedding present, and we have loved using it.
A lot of people see bell tents and think that they are really hard to put up, but it's actually really simple and far less stressful than messing around with tent poles! When we were just a couple (golly, those were the days!), we just set it up as a whole unit, but have recently purchased a Dark inner tent with a double compartment, so that we have a separate "bedroom" to the kids. I have to say that it's been a game changer for both giving the kids their own space for playing in, and making bedtimes on light Summer evenings that bit darker.
If a bell tent isn't what you're after, then I'd just say that size really does matter when it comes to a tent! If you're a big family, then I'd really recommend getting a tent with separate compartments for bedrooms, and a large enough "living space" to accommodate you all if it buckets down (which let's face it, is highly likely in the UK!).
2. The Beds
Well... do you even need to ask what we sleep on?!
We each have a Bundle Bed. My two sons sleep on Toddler Bed prototype Bundle Beds, with bumper sides (coming soon we hope!) and then Ben & I have a Bundle Bed each, with a double sheet to connect them together.
After years of deflating air beds, my own bedding getting damp outside of the tent, or sweaty sleeping bags, I'm loving having Bundle Beds! They are really easy to set up, they fit into the foot well of the car (handy to know for camping packing tetris!), they have a waterproof outer layer, so can be dumped outside when setting up the tent without worry, and are so comfy, with super cosy sheets & duvet.
3. The Day Tent
At the moment, we are just using a 3 man tent without the inner compartment (see image below), however we have our eyes on a gazebo style family tent from Decathalon.
We use our day tent as storage, for everything from our cool box and cooking stuff, to scooters & bikes. We zip our camping table and chairs up in there at night, or bring them in there and sit in it if it rains/gets windy during the day, to protect us from the elements!
We have recently purchased a kitchen storage and cooking unit from Decathalon which has been a game changer for storing dry goods & non-refrigerated items. We put all of our plates, bowls, mugs & cups in the one side, and then food in the other. The mesh front means that no bugs or creepy crawlies get in, but it doesn't get too hot. It also helps to keep things tidy!
The surface is then heat-proof, so ideal for cooking with a gas stove. We have two single ring stoves, that use clip-on gas cartridges. One of them is a Campingaz stove, and one is a Kemper stove, both bought from Decathlon.
We often take the boys out for a little walk and make a hot chocolate together at the end, so the single ring stoves work well for taking on mini adventures, however there are a range of options for double stoves, or smaller units too.
5. The Cool Box
I cannot recommend our new cool box from Cool Boxes UK more highly! We bought a 40L Icey-Tek Cube box in yellow, and it did not disappoint. It will keep your contents frozen for 2 days and cold for up to 10 days with no power... and they have 11 colours to choose from - so you can even match it to your tent, or Bundle Bed!
6. The BBQ
For Father's Day, I bought Ben a Weber Go Anywhere BBQ, and we LOVE it! It's compact, it has steel legs that keep it off the ground when cooking, and then double up as clips to keep it shut when transporting it, and it just seems to heat up and cook really well. I love having a BBQ when camping as you can make a delicious meal, and then its great for toasting marshmallows and for some extra warmth in the evening.
7. The Camping Table & Chairs
I'd recommend getting yourself a comfortable camping chair, and if you have kids, definitely get them one each too... Having somewhere that is their own little place to sit allows for a bit more downtime! There are lots of fun options, and our two kids love having fun animal chairs, similar to these Regatta ones.
For meals, we use a decathlon folding table, which comes with an extra set of 4 stools - ideal for if you have some guests for a drink or meal, or even for a reduced kit, quick night away!
8. A few other bits...
A Jerry Can -
We bought a 10L Travel Jerry Can from Decathalon and it has been perfect for both camping trips, and BBQs and picnics out and about with friends. It packs down to nothing, which is definitely a bonus for maximising packing space in the car!
Rubbish Bins -
I bought a set of three of the IKEA DIMPA waste sorting bags and they were perfect for what we needed... We use one for the black bin bag, one for recycling, and the third as a laundry bag for dirty washing in the tent.
We absolutely love the Enamel Factory for gorgeous camping plates, bowls and mugs, personalised for all of the family.
And a final few boring bits that are essential...
- A stove top kettle for cups of tea and coffee in the morning (you can use a pan, but a kettle makes the pour of boiling water a little easier!)
- A dust pan and brush - to sweep out your tent before you pack down.
- A washing up bowl, washing up liquid, cloth & sponge, and a tea towel to dry.
- A chopping board and a knife (one with a blade cover is ideal)
- A colander to drain pasta/rice etc
- A coffee maker of some description (if you're a coffee drinker!). We take our Aeropress.
- Hand sanitizer
- Loo roll
- A long bit of string to make a washing line/or take a collapsible washing dryer, for wet towels etc.