If money is not a problem you could go all out on some glamping luxury, but that’s not an option for most of us on a small budget.
So instead, here are my Top 10 recommendations for camping gear that will provide you that little bit of extra comfort.
1. Ergolife chair
If you have any back pain, or just find sitting on the floor uncomfortable, I couldn’t recommend this chair enough. There are other slightly cheaper alternatives, but this one curves to the shape of your back and is really supportive, and it also rolls up which makes it easy to carry around. Since buying this for festivals I now take it out with me all the time – even just to picnics in the park – it feels like I’m resting on a proper chair.
2. Larger gas stove and coolbox
We used to go to festivals with tins of things and a tiny little camping stove. Now we have a two burner camping stove, we can make coffee and breakfast at the same time. Together with a decent cool box, you can be eating proper home cooked food without it costing you a fortune.
We use a Coleman 33L Xtreme Hard Cool Box. It’s big, but you can get a lot in it and it stays cold for days.
With a good quality cool box you can bring meat for the BBQ and wake up your neighbours to that amazing fresh morning bacon smell. Or for vegetarians – how about fresh grilled mushrooms topped with runny cheese? For me, it’s not a holiday without some lovely food too!
3. Travel Coffee Press
I’ve just discovered the Bodum Travel Press and now I don’t want to go camping without it! If, like me, you love real coffee this item is a must. It removes the need to take a cafetiere – you put the fresh ground coffee straight into the mug. It has a separate lid without a press so you can use it for tea and other hot drinks. It has a spill proof clip over the opening so that you can close it completely to carry it around.
4. Wine Glasses
I couldn’t leave out the wine drinkers from this list! Drinking wine out of plastic cups doesn’t feel right somehow, and as parents we spend more time hanging out by our tent in the evening. So why not get some properly shaped wine glasses to go with your carton of pinot grigio? If space in your car is an issue you can get these ones that handily stack together.
There’s just something about drinking out of a wine glass that feels like a real luxury…
5. Fire Pit
After envying other people last year, I am planning to get a Portable Firepit with BBQ Grill. I have seen them being used both as BBQs and wood burners, so they are perfect for festivals. You can buy slow burning wood logs or some festivals sell firewood – make sure you check in advance.
Don’t forget to pack Mystical Fire to make it even more exciting for your children!
6. Camping table with chairs
If you have enough room in the car a proper camping table makes a huge difference. I recommend the metal ones as they are more sturdy – there are cheaper plastic versions but I feel that’s a false economy as some of them are quite flimsy and will break after a few trips.
We recently replaced our solid top folding table with an Easy Camp Rennes Camping Table which has been brilliant. It packs down in to a bag just longer than a camp bed and isn’t heavy, there’s even an adjustable leg to set it level on bumpy ground.
7. Tent Carpet or Rug
Many of the family camping tents have carpets available to buy which fit into the living space of the tent. This is wonderful as it keeps your feet off the freezing groundsheet underneath and gives the tent a warm, cosy feeling.
They are very heavy however, which is a problem if the camping is a distance from the car park, and they are quite expensive. A cheaper alternative is to get one or two fleece picnic rugs.
8. Decent Camping Mat
Inflatable beds are not well insulated so are often cold, and of course there is the hassle of pumping them up. We recommend a good quality self inflating mat – it’s worth spending some money on a decent quality one. The Vango Comfort 75 is a great cheaper choice, or if you have a bit more money to spend, the Thermarest Dream comes highly recommended.
I have some serious back problems so after reading reviews I have recently treated myself to the Exped MegaMat. I can’t wait to try it out in August!
9. Rechargeable lantern
If you don’t like messing about with torches at night time (especially when you’re trying to get several small children changed for bed!) a lantern is fantastic. You can also get solar powered ones which means you can charge them up during the day.
The excellent Mr.Beams lantern can also charge your phone!
Just remember that they cast great shadows so don’t undress between the lantern and the tent wall!
Look away squeamish people! Last but not least is the all important portable toilet.
With only one child we started off with a bucket for her to use at night, but now we have three children we have had to move up to a proper camping toilet (a bucket is not big enough!)
It’s fantastic for the children of course – they don’t have to use the festival toilets at night – but I’ve also found it invaluable for me too. If I need the toilet and there are no other adults around I can’t exactly leave other children in the tent on their own!
If you line it with a compost bag you don’t even have to clean it out – apart from the annoying trek to empty it in the morning – it makes camping life so much easier. I can’t say that I miss those night time treks to the loo!