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Image CC BY-NC simpologist


In July 2010 I asked my Twitter network what they considered to be the essentials for going camping with our (then) three year-old son. There were lots of great replies, which I listed in this blog post.

We haven't been camping as much as I'd hoped during the years since then - partly because we've had another child. Now that we have a seven year-old son and a three year-old daughter, it's time to start properly. This summer we're planning to pack the boot of our 10 year-old VW Golf Estate and travel around some of Europe, camping as we go.

Below you'll find the suggestions from the original post and comments section. Look there for attribution. I've stripped it out here for ease of reading. Over time I'll whittle this page down to what our family consider the essentials.

Health & hygiene

  • Baby wipes / handwash
  • Toilet roll
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Microfibre dishcloths
  • Bathroom plug
  • Candles – bug/nice
  • Bucket
  • Sun cream
  • Solar shower
  • Piriton cream and tablets
  • Basic first aid kit including tweezers, flamazine cream (in case of burns) and antiseptic.

Sleeping & relaxing

  • Decent mattress
  • Inflatable bed
  • Thermarest mats
  • Hot water bottle
  • Lots of tent pegs
  • Folding camp beds
  • Folding camp chairs with beverage holder
  • Games
  • Waterproof, rip-proof ground cloth
  • Picnic blankets
  • Pillows
  • Cool Camping: Kids book
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye mask

Eating & drinking

  • Hip flask (@daviderogers)
  • Thermal mug
  • Jetboil (portable stove)
  • Gas mini grill & full gas canister
  • Integrated cutlery
  • Matches, and spare matches in another location in case they get wet
  • Wine/beer
  • Whisky for coffee nightcap
  • Toast gadget
  • Corkscrew
  • Stove for coffee
  • Disposable BBQ
  • Tin foil for BBQs, etc.
  • Coffee bags

Clothing & footwear

  • Wellies
  • Flip flops
  • Waterproofs
  • Warm clothes, even in summer
  • Umbrella

Storage & carrying

  • Picnic rucksack with plates, etc.
  • Shoulder bag
  • String
  • Rhino tubs
  • Collapsible water carrier
  • Old carrier bags
  • Washing-up bowl

Technology & gadgetry

  • Torches – or torch app on iPhone
  • Wind-up lamp
  • Spare batteries
  • Shovel
  • Headtorch
  • Swiss army knife
  • Pocket-sized lastolite
  • Lantern
  • LED light to clip in tent
  • Cigarette lighter to plug socket adapter
  • Fire steel
  • Power sockets for electric hook-ups
  • Lighter
  • Tin opener
  • Star map (@daviderogers)
  • Joby GorillaTorch

Misc. hints & tips

  • Have all camping gear put away in storage boxes for ease of loading. Helps with last-minute/seize-the-day decisions!
  • Save any checklist you make and add to it after every trip
  • Runswick Bay camp site (North Yorkshire Moors) is lovely
  • Spiers House in Cropton near Pickering middle forest has activities
  • Take wine glasses – it’s not the same out of a mug!
  • Take cans of beer instead of bottles
  • Use a hammer and 6-inch nails instead of tent pegs for hard ground
  • Take half the clothes you think you need for yourself, but double the amount you think you need for your children
  • A large fabric softener bottle is the ultimate midnight pee solution as it’s apparently unisex!
  • Take more socks than you think you’ll ever need
  • Take at least 3 bin bags they turn into great things to sit on if out for a ad hoc picnic + have loads of other uses i.e rain mac and hat. They also come in handy as things in the front of tents get damp at night so wrap them up.
  • If you are doing the car camping, some sort of folding table for setting up a cook place.
  • I keep a plastic crate with my cooking gear, stove stuff, a bag of spices, etc. Grab from my shed and go.
  • Dehydrated food packs are easy to prepare, but blechh they taste awful. Do some searching on camping recipes, make simplifications on home ones. With cold water dry milk is not too horrible. Couscous is one fo the most versatile grains and simple to cook. Pancakes are very doable
  • Map & compass! (Don't use a GPS trekking device: it takes all the fun out of it. Nothing like camping for inspiring the kids with enthusiasm for maps!). For Ben, 'cos he's very young, use a Google Maps satellite close-up photo of the area so he can compare 'map' to 'on the ground'.
  • Baking potatoes, eggs and foil. Make a bonfire (ringed by stones for safety), cut a cap off the thin end of each raw potato, hollow out the bodycarefully to make space for an egg. Crack an egg carefully into each potato, replace the cap, wrap tightly in a double layer of foil, and prop upright buried in the glowing hot embers of the bonfire for 45-60 mins. They'll be burnt, scorching hot, smokey, and totally delicious with butter at night. (Keep the flamazine handy!)