Camping, Bushcraft & Survival

Camping Equipment | 8 Pieces Of Camping Gear You Should Own

Looking for the best camping equipment list for beginners? Where can you find the best gear for sale in the UK? Look no further...

Having the right camping equipment is important when you’re spending a night in the wild.

There is nothing worse than having the wrong gear. You’ll end up cold, wet, underfed and become (in all likelihood) not a big fan of sleeping outdoors.

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However, with the correct gear, sleeping outside can be a truly amazing experience. There are plenty of stores in the UK which sell good quality gear.

Some people find it helps writing a kit list to make sure they don’t leave anything behind.

We’ve put together a guide to the essential equipment you should have before you head off. If you want to know more about camping in general, read our everything you need to know guide.


Equipment begins and ends with a good tent

First things first, you will need a tent.

When choosing which tent to buy, you need to think about the following things: how many people need to sleep in it, when you are planning on going and how much you would like to spend.

There are different tents depending on whether you’re looking for something small and lightweight to be carried hiking or big and bulky for a family camping trip.

Generally, you should always buy one size up when buying a tent.

If you buy a cheap £30 pop-up tent from Tesco, the chances are it’s not going to last you long

So, if you’re looking for a tent to sleep two people, it’s worth getting a three-man tent, so you can comfortably fit all your gear in there with you.

Most tents are three seasons, which means they are suitable for spring, summer and autumn. Winter tents are more expensive and only worth buying if you’re going to camp in cold, potentially snowy conditions.

Next, the price. Camping equipment can be expensive. If you buy a cheap £30 pop-up tent from Tesco, the chances are it’s not going to last you long – or keep you dry in a torrential downpour. However, you might not necessarily need the swankiest tent on the market.

The average price for a decent three man, three-season tent is between £80 and £400. If you’re looking for an in-depth tent buying guide, REI have a great one here.

Sleeping Bag

Sleeping bags are an essential piece of equipment. Make sure you buy one that’s suited to the right season

Number one priority when buying a sleeping bag in warmth. You never want to spend a night freezing your butt off because you bought the wrong sleeping bag.

Sleeping bags again depend on the season. Three-season sleeping bags will keep you warm in temperatures as low as -9°C (assuming you are wearing thermals and have a sleeping mat). Winter sleeping bags are built to cope with much colder conditions.

You ideally want your sleeping bag to fit relatively tight to your body. The less room in the sleeping bag, the faster you will warm up and stay warm.

Sleeping bags are either rectangular (roomy and comfy), barrel-shaped (tapered for heat efficiency) or mummy (lightweight and narrow). You can even get two-man sleeping bags for couples and women’s specific sleeping bags.

Should you go for down or synthetic insulation? It really depends on how much you want to spend.

They both do a brilliant job – down sleeping bags are more durable and pack down into a smaller sack, but many choose synthetic because of the reasonable price tag.

Sleeping bags (three-season) range from £40 to £200.

Sleeping Mats & Air Mattresses

Sleeping mattresses- like this Thermarest – can be found in camp stores around the UK

Sleeping mats are a must-have when you camp – they are vital for comfort and insulation. There are three different types: air beds, air pads and foam mats.

Air beds are big and bulky. They often require a pump (electric or hand-held) and are pretty much impossible to take backpacking because of the size and weight.

However, if you’re driving to a UK campsite and pitching up close by, then this might be a good option – particularly for first-timers.

Roll mats were traditionally a favoured piece of equipment. Made from foam, these mats are cheap and insulating. The downside is they are bulky and not as comfortable as an air mattress.

Air pads are revolutionary for campers. They are lightweight air mattresses that roll up into pouches no bigger than a beer bottle. We are big fans of Irish brand Thermarest. Their self-inflating mattresses have transformed our camping experience.

Camping Stoves

A portable stove – will you be using to just boil water or cook your dinner?

Camping stoves are a crucial part of any camper’s essential kit list – but which one you buy depends on where you’ll be taking it and what you want to cook.

If you just want to boil water, then a simple gas canister stove will work perfectly as they are light and portable. However, if you’re doing some gourmet camp cooking in a campsite, you’ll want a bigger dual ring stove.

Biolite stoves runs off twigs – and it also charges you phone at the same time

You’ve also got to decide whether you want a gas canister stove or a liquid fuel stove. Gas canisters are popular because they are lightweight and portable while liquid fuel is non-pressurised and is unaffected by temperature.

Multi-fuel stoves are popular because they use all common fuels, so there’s no fear about arriving somewhere remote and not being able to find the right fuel.

Alternative fuel stoves are becoming increasingly popular. Biolite stoves, for example, fires up using twigs. It also charges your phone while you make your dinner.

Read our guide to camping stoves here and camping food guide here.


Every kit list needs a lantern on it

Everyone needs a lantern – especially if you’re in a tent with no power hook up and you need to go to the toilet.

While head torches are useful, the best kinds of lanterns have super bright LED bulbs (which means a high lumen output) and a good battery life.

They come in small compact sizes now, perfect for backpackers looking for lightweight camping accessories.

Camping Chairs

Don’t want to get a damp backside? Make sure you bring a foldable chair

Camping chairs are incredibly useful, but something many will forget when they camp for the first time. If the ground it damp, you will really appreciate having a chair to sit on.

There are three types of chairs: traditional camp chairs, portable camp chairs and backcountry camp chairs.

Traditional camp chairs are large, bulky but very comfortable chairs. They are higher off the ground and have good back support. If you don’t mind lugging around the extra weight, these are brilliant.

Portable chairs are smaller, lighter and take more time to assemble. If you have to carry it a bit further, then this is the one for you.

Backpacking chairs are even lighter and much more packable than the types above. However, they aren’t quite as comfortable.

Survival Knives

A good knife is key for every adventurer’s kit list

Every camper needs a good knife – but which knife is right for you? You’ll need to think about what you’re going to be using it for.

Are you slicing your way through undergrowth in the Malaysian jungle? Or are you just chopping up bacon for your breakfast? You ideally want one which is multi-purposed to join the rest of your camp equipment.

Make sure you get a fairly priced knife. Many knives will be sold at extortionate prices, but often a mid-ranged knife will do the job. Ka-Bar knives are great quality at an affordable price.

We’ve put together a rundown of the best survival knives for outdoor adventures.

Waterproof Jacket

The UK can be wet. Very wet. Pack a waterproof jacket

If you’re setting up camp in the UK (or internationally), you are guaranteed to need a waterproof jacket at some point.

The best rain jackets are lightweight, super waterproof and packable, so you can stash it back in your backpack when the sun comes out. Breathability is also worth considering, as you don’t want to be sweating like a pig in a bin bag.

Price will probably determine which jacket you choose to buy, but it’s always worth buying a slightly more expensive jacket if you think you’re going to use it regularly as it will last longer.


Photo: LifeStraw

Obviously you can’t limit your camping equipment to a mere eight items. There are plenty of handy extras that you might want to pack if your backpack.

We are big fans of the LifeStraw – a pocket-sized water purifier. You just use it like a straw to drink from any water source (as long as it’s freshwater, not saltwater) and it’s completely safe. It removes 99 per cent of bacteria in 100 litres of water. How cool is that?

You might also want to check out Incognito. It’s a 100 per cent natural bug repellent spray. You’ve probably used DEET in the past and found it burning holes through your t-shirt. What can those harsh chemicals be doing to your skin?

Incognito is marked as ‘highly effective’ by the London School Of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It’s sold in Waitrose and Holland & Barrett.

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