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Some of my happiest childhood memories are of sunny, summer days spent in our family trailer tent. I loved setting up the breakfast table in the dewy morning grass, stomping around the campsite in my welly boots, and stargazing at night with just the hooting of owls for company.
It’s a perfect holiday for kids – making friends with the other children on site, spending all day in the fresh air, helping with the chores (is it just my kids who find washing up one of the highlights of the holiday?? Haha).
Camping is also really cheap once you’ve got your equipment (even in the middle of August, it will only cost you about £150 per week for a good campsite!).
But you need to make sure you invest your money in the right equipment beforehand!
Couch to camping in 4 months
Camping is big business and there are hundreds of things you could buy… But if you want an honest, no-frills camping buyer’s guide, then this is the list for you.
Hubby and I bought our tent and then drafted out a list of the camping essentials that we would need to create a great family holiday. As with most young families, money is tight, so we had to be strict about what we needed and realistic about what we could afford.
We worked out that there were four paydays left until our holiday so we broke the list down into four manageable chunks. As each pay check came in, we bought the camping items for that month and carefully stored them away.
As the fourth and final pay check rolled in, we were ready to go on our camping expedition!
I wanted to share our camping buyer’s guide with you for any families out there who are wanting to go camping but just have no idea where to start or of the costs involved. Just click on the word “website” to find out more information about each product and where to purchase it.
In total, our equipment cost £1037.66.
Camping Buyer’s Guide
Total cost: £263.92
Highlander Folding Camp Chair
Amazon | £12.99 each | Website (aff)
Okay the first item on our camping buyer’s guide is a set of fold away chairs. Whether you want to sit out in the sun watching the world go by, or cosy up in your tent reading a book, you’re going to want somewhere comfy to sit.
These chairs are very light, making them easy to move around the tent, or even carry down to the beach. They also make a great space-saving substitute for garden furniture once you get home again.
We bought 4.
MultiWare folding campbeds
Amazon | £21.99 each | Website (aff)
We went for foldable camp beds and, although a little hard, they are wider than camp beds we’ve had in the past. Hubby is over 6ft so we needed something that would accommodate him and these do the job.
We bought 4.
Children’s sleeping bags
Snuggle Sac | £50 each | Website
As a mum myself, I know that when you’re going away with young children, you want to do everything you can to ensure a good night’s sleep. These fleecy sleeping bags are super comfy and warm and the eye-catching designs will get your little ones excited about climbing into bed.
They are machine washable so any accidents can be easily sorted. If you get chance to use the sleeping bags at home beforehand, I recommend it; then the sleeping bag acts as a familiar comforter when the children are away from their usual beds.
We went for 2 pirate Snuggle Sacs.
Adult’s sleeping bags
Mountain Warehouse | £12.99 each | Website (aff)
This sleeping bag is recommended for summer or indoor use, but it’s a great buy for the price. The temperature can drop quite a lot at night time, even in summer, so take some fluffy pyjamas with you!
It’s machine washable so if it gets muddy, you can clean it easily, and comes with a drawstring bag.
We bought 2.
Total cost: £244.62
Food is another important thing to consider when going away with little ones, and this next section of the camping buyer’s guide mainly focusses on the cooking equipment you’ll need.
Double burner stove with toaster
Coleman | £109.99 each | Website
This is one of my favourite camping gadgets because it’s a fully functioning hob and grill that folds away neatly into a built-in case. For ease, we stick to tinned foods, or fried meat with a stir in sauce when we’re camping.
You can control the temperature with these, which is a big plus, and it heats up quickly.
Stove stand and storage unit
Kampa | £59.86 | Website (aff)
The stove (above) does have its own feet but it’s a lot easier to cook when you’re stood up, which is why this stove table made it into my camping buyer’s guide.
This one is nice and sturdy and the storage cupboard means you can keep your food and utensils close-by. It is a little tricky to put up at first but once you’ve got the knack, it’s great.
4.5kg butane gas regulator 2m hose
Calor Gas | £13.99 | Website (aff)
A small but essential piece of kit! The gas stove works by hooking it up to a portable butane gas canister (you will need to buy this separately). We opted for a two metre hose to ensure we had enough room to move around.
36 Piece Plastic Place Setting
IKEA | £8.45 | Website (aff)
Okay it’s not glamorous but these plastic place settings from IKEA are superb value for money. There are six bowls, six plates, six cups, and six cutlery sets so you’ve got more than enough. It’s just not worth taking anything breakable away with you.
Our girls use these at home too.
Pan nest and kettle
Outwell | £41.99 | Website
Space-saving is the name of the game when you’re camping and this pan nest ticks all the boxes. There is a single “gripper” handle which you clip on and off each pan as you need it, meaning they all sit nicely inside each other for storage purposes. They are also incredibly lightweight.
A 0.9L kettle is also included.
5L collapsible water carrier
Amazon | £5.39 | Website (aff)
You can get some huge water carriers, but we have found that 5L is plenty to keep stored at the tent. That’s enough to cook a meal and make a couple of drinks for everyone. This one collapses, so it’s easy to transport, and includes a tap for spillage-free pouring.
Washing up bowl
Addis | £4.95 | Website (aff)
As I said before, helping with the washing up is one of the highlights for my kids! Some campsites have wash rooms where you can use running water, or you may just need to boil water in your kettle. Either way, a washing up bowl is an essential for the camping buyer’s guide.
Total cost: £273.47
Month 3 of the camping buyer’s guide is all about the creature comforts. Yes I know you’re going camping so you’re getting back to basics, but these items will really make the holiday more enjoyable and we wouldn’t go camping without them!
Coleman | £49.99 each | Website (aff)
A tent carpet really helps to make your tent feel like home. We have a rule that all shoes come off at the entrance of the tent (otherwise we end up with half the field inside!) so having something soft to step out onto is a must.
My Carry Potty | £22.94 | Website (aff)
Trust me on this one – your kids may be potty trained but they will NOT want to traipse across the field in the middle of the night to go to the toilet! Save your sanity and invest in a travel potty that can be used through the night and emptied in the morning.
We used this one when we were potty training the little one because it has a lid that seals everything in, and a handle so you can easily carry it.
Thermos | £31.95 | Website
Your cool box is going to be your fridge while you’re away so make sure you get a big one. This 32L one is great for us and it’s tall enough to carry a 2L bottle upright.
Top Tip: choose a campsite that has an ice pack service – this means you hand over one of your ice packs and keep one in your cool box. Once yours has thawed out, swap it with the one you handed in which will have been stored in the freezer for you!
Thermos | £6.61 | Website (aff)
These ice packs work really well with the cool box above. We actually have two this size and one larger one, but we find the large one too difficult to pack things around so I’m recommending three of the small ones instead.
Amazon | £3.99 | Website (aff)
Next on the camping buyer’s gift guide is a peg rack. I ALWAYS pack a peg rack when we’re going camping because my kids have a special gift for getting muddy and wet wherever we go! If you’re lucky, the weather will be beautiful and you can hang all your wet clothes on the guy ropes outside. But if not, you’re going to need somewhere inside to hang things.
HandiHoldall | £130 | Website
No matter how good your packing skills are, you’re going to struggle fitting all this kit into the car! You might manage it but you’d probably have to leave the family behind! Haha.
But if you’d like a better solution, this soft roof rack is great. It is fastened onto your roof bars and holds and incredible 320L. We packed our tent here along with all our clothes and the chairs. It gave us about an extra boot’s worth of room!
Plus, when you get there, it doesn’t take up room in your tent because it rolls up really small.
The day we tested it out, the rain was torrential (not an exaggeration) and there was a slight leak but we had packed everything in bin bags so it didn’t matter and we’d still recommend it as a space-saving option.
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4ft Portable Table and chairs
Amazon | £27.99 | Website (aff)
This table is brilliant for camping – it folds in on itself, making a handy carrier for the four stools to slot inside. It is easy to put up and down and the legs are adjustable, meaning you can make it as high or low as you like.
Through the summer, we keep it in our shed so we can easily whip it out for a barbeque or craft time in the garden.
Our 3yo struggles a little to stay balanced on the stools so this is something to bear in mind. However, we also have some proper folding chairs (see above) so we just let her use one of those at the table instead.
Total cost: £255.67
Month 4 – you’re nearly ready! This final instalment of the camping buyer’s guide includes all the extra bits and pieces.
Outwell | £109.99 each | Website
This large storage unit will help you keep the tent tidy and ordered. It has two solid doors which fasten using magnets, and a sturdy top. This is the biggest piece of kit in the camping buyer’s guide as the top is one single board, but it does all fold flat into that and is easy to assemble.
Vinsani | £12.99| Website (aff)
Windbreaks are a common way to extend your living space on a campsite. Set them out around the entrance to your tent to make a courtyard / garden space. They also help to stop the wind blowing out your fire while you’re cooking.
These windbreaks are 12ft long. We bought two.
Tent maintenance bundle
Storm | £27.75 | Website
It’s important to look after and maintain your tent; if cared for properly, your tent is a long term investment. We put together our own Storm maintenance bundle which includes:
- WASH: tents and covers – cleans without damaging waterproof coating
- PROOF: tents and covers – restores water repellency
- NON-SCRATCH SPONGE – removes stubborn dirt without scratching
- TEAR-AID PATCH PACK – a clear, air tight, water tight patch that you cut to size and stick on
Varta | £34.99 | Website (aff)
You’re going to need some light for the evenings. The Storm camping lantern is shock-proof and water resistant and has a hook so that you can hang it up in the tent. The batteries last an impressive 130 hours and you can choose to have it on either white light or “comfort light” mode (an amber light attracting 60% less insects).
Amazon | £9.99 | Website (aff)
I’ve tried to make this camping buyer’s guide as thorough as possible and a small item that is often missed off lists like this is the humble mallet. You’re going to need this to bash in your tent pegs and windbreak posts.
I’ve chosen this particular one because it has hook at the end so you can hang it up and, more importantly, you can use it to pull out your tent pegs at the end of the holiday too.
Insulated water bottle
Klean Kanteen | £27.95 | Website
This 20oz bottle claims to keep liquids hot for 14 hours and cold for 48 hours! So whether you fancy a steaming brew on the side of a mountain or a refreshing cordial on the beach, this bottle has you covered.
In the name of an honest review, we tested the Klean Kanteen on a typical family trip out and we’re pleased to confirm that the hot bottle stayed hot and the cold bottle stayed cold.
Total cost: £149.65
So those are the absolute essentials in my camping buyer’s guide BUT I thought I’d share with you some of the other items that we take away with us – the added extras that make a trip into a holiday!
Thermos | £24.95 | Website
Imagine being able to tuck into a chicken curry on the sea front, or a sausage stew by the lakeside. A food flask can keep meals hot for 14 hours so you can cook something in the morning and take it with you on your day out. It has an extra wide mouth so it’s easy to serve from, and the lid acts as a bowl.
Hubby has also used this to take a hot meal to work with him!
Mookie | £26.99 | Website (aff)
If you visit any family-friendly campsite, you’re bound to see a swingball set! It’s a brilliant game for camping holidays because, you play it outside, the ball isn’t going to fly off and hit someone’s car, and it packs away into a neat little box.
I’ll often send the girls out to play with their swingball while I’m cooking – it means they’re entertained and I know exactly where they are.
DOMU | £34.95 | Website
If you really want an authentic camping experience, you need to spend some time sat around a campfire! And a firepit is a really easy way to do this because you have a ready-made basin to build the fire in and a mesh cover to stop it spitting. This foldable fire pit also come with a grill so you can use it as a barbeque.
Not all campsites allow you to build fires so make sure you check beforehand.
The Chemical Hut | £20.99 | Website (aff)
Obviously this is to go in the fire pit and the sack contains everything you need:
- 15kg logs
- 3kg kindling
- 96pk eco firelighters
To give you an idea, during one long evening by the fire (4 hours), we used half the logs, but had loads of kindling left.
Paul the bear headlight
Varta | £8.99 | Website (aff)
Torches are always useful when you’re camping because you don’t have the luxury of a light switch! My girls find these Paul the Bear headlights easier to use than a torch because, being attached to their heads, it automatically points the way they want to go.
I had wondered whether the light wouldn’t be very good (a gimmick for kids rather than a tool) but no problems here – the light is bright and the head strap is sturdy and easily adjustable.
ENKEEO | £23.79 | Website (aff)
You only need to watch Ray Mears for 10 minutes to discover what a handy piece of equipment a tarpaulin can be. That’s why this one has made it into the camping buyer’s guide. This tarp has ropes attached and metal stakes so you can easily pitch it. It’s also waterproof and anti-UV.
We use our tarp to cook under when it’s raining, and we use it for shelter when the sun is hot. You can also use it to extend your tent living space by adding it to the front of your tent.
Set of two Universal awning poles
Andes | £8.95 | Website (aff)
And the very last item in my camping buyer’s guide is this set of two awning poles. We use these in conjunction with the tarpaulin. You can string a line between them and throw the tarp over the top to create a classic tent set-up, or you can use them in conjunction with some nearby trees to create a canopy.
We also use these in our garden to create an area of shade.
I have worked really hard to make this camping buyer’s guide simple yet informative and I hope that you have found it helpful. I think a lot of people are put off camping by just not knowing where to start so I hope that this post can take some of that fear away. And, once you’ve got your equipment, you can reuse it again and again and create some really fab family memories.
Have you ever been camping? What are the best / worst bits? What’s the one bit of kit you couldn’t do without? Let me know in the comments section below.
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Disclosure: Some of the products here were gifted for inclusion but I have been honest in my reviews and all opinions are my own. The affiliate links (aff) grant Lucy At Home commission on what you buy but does not affect the price you pay. For more info, please check out my disclosure policy. All product photos used with permission.
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