Our Best Camping Tips and Advice

Best Camping Tips and Advice

I thought I’d update this blog article on the ‘best camping tips and advice’ after receiving lots of feedback over the years. It’s not meant to be the hard and fast ‘rules of camping’ – just a few of the things I’ve learn’t along the way, which you may find useful. I’ve read some really worthwhile articles giving great camping tips and sensible advice on how to avoid many of the camping pitfalls, as well as clever shortcuts and common sense ideas.

Here’s the original article with a few additions:

There was an interesting post placed by a new camper on the UK Camping community page I set up on Google+. A camper due to go camping in the UK for the first time this year was asking for some advice and tips before he headed on his camping adventure.

I’m not necessarily a camping guru, but over the years running Eco Camp UK’s two woodland campsites I’ve learned a few tricks of the camping trade. So I thought about some handy camping tips and advice I had  picked up along the way.

This list is by no means definitive, some of the advice will be obvious to regular campsite visitors and veteran campers,  but here are some of the better camping tips and advice I’ve been given.  I will add some extra posts along the way to expand the Eco Camp Advice and Camping Tips Collection – please feel free to add your own comments at the bottom and I will post your ‘best camping tips” as well.

Eco Camp UK’s Camping Tips and Advise

Here are some of the basics –

  • Tents – personally I’m a big bell tent fan, but if I want shoot off quickly I pack my three man tent and go. Here’s my tent tips;
    • My big camping tip when it comes to tents is always arrive during daylight if you are putting it up the first time!
    • Always check the ground around which you will be popping your tent up on for lose stones, old tent pegs and sharp objects. A rock pressing into your back whilst trying to sleep will be a real annoyance.
    • Take five minutes more setting it up and when the hurricane hits at 3 in the morning you won’t be crawling around getting soaked trying to stop it blowing over.
    • Extra tent pegs are always handy – the ones supplied with you tent may not be the best – so think about buying some heavy duty ones to replace them! Rubber mallet for banging them in and if you have space in the car you can now get peg sets with a removal tool that twists pegs out easily.
    • Always pack your tent back away properly or you may regret it on your next camping trip you!
    • Microfibre cloths (or similar) are handy for wiping down the inside of a tent with condensation or the outside of a tent after rain.
    • Always dry your tent out – tie it out your flat window, put it in the garden, over your car, but a wet tent will stink next year when you get it out…
  • Camp Box – create a separate camp storage box, packed with your utensils, matches, torches, spare batteries, suncream, toilet paper, insect spray, spare pegs, tomato sauce, coffee, tea bags, cling film, foil, long life food stuff, spices, oil etc etc etc. Then all you need to do is throw it in the car and chuck in the sleeping bags, tent and beds and your are almost done. Stop quickly at a farm shop and you have your dinner. If you take out the hassle and the hours of preparation you will camp more often.
  • Camp Chairs – more important than the tent. Sitting on the ground gets boring very quickly – especially if like me you enjoy watching FireTV and putting the world to rights!
  • Cool Box – get one that works. I’ve had my Aussie made Esky since I turned 21 – so over a quarter of a century and it doubles as a seat. I say get two – one for food and one for drinks. No one wants to remove the eggs and bacon every time Dad grabs another tinnie out!
  • Great Sleeping Bag – in the UK it gets very chilly some nights, so a good quality sleeping bag can make the difference between a great camping experience or a disaster. Also pays to take an extra blanket!
  • Good Camp Bed or Camping Mat. Get off the cold ground and get comfortable. I favour the half foam/half inflating camping mat. They are self inflating and if they do go down you still have a layer of foam left to cushion you from the ground and the cold.
  • Camping Airbeds – I’m not a great fan of cheap camping air-beds, so unless you’ve got a quality one – which can be great and generally then needs an electric pump – be warned you can end up sleeping on the tent floor on some hard pitches. Check if the campsite is off-grid (our two campsite are) if you are going to need to use electricity to pump the bed up. Also pays to put an extra blanket on an airbed and not just a sheet – as the air you are sleeping on can get very cold and transfer that coldness to you!
  • A Great Set of cooking pots – you want them to be lightweight, durable and easy to clean. The higear Basecamp 6 Cookset is a great set – made of hard anodized aluminium, weights less than 2 kg, and all fold up and fits inside each other. You get a frypan, four pots, utensils and accessories. If you bring your own pots and pans, not only will they take up half you car, but you will likely end up ruining them as they as they are not fit for campsite cooking.
  • Lighting. Headlamps, lamps and torches and spare batteries. Sounds obvious but the number of people who rock up to our campsites with one torch and flat batteries is incredible. I’d even recommend including a wind up lantern – as they ensure the flat battery situation will not occur – and they are eco!
  • Footware. Thongs as we Aussies call them – flip flops or waterproof sandals – great for visits to the showers and loos. At night though it can get quite cold camping in the UK, even next to a fire, so some walking boots and thick socks can be very handy.
  • Clothing. Layers is the key to camping. In the UK it can get fairly cold very quickly, so always a good idea to be able to add layers at night or when the sun goes down. Start the morning dressed warmly, then layers off when the sun comes out, you can remove them and catch some vitamin D. Also pack a woollen hat for late nights around the campfire, especially if you are follicly challenged like me. Hoodies for the kids – great for wearing in a sleeping bag to keep their heads warm and even gloves if it’s cold.
  • Good Pocket Knife or Multi-Tool. Pretty self-explanatory. There’s always a tin to open, something to cut or a a marshmallow stick to trim. I have a Leatherman and rate them very highly.
  • Matches, lighter and candles. But make sure you don’t leave naked flames alight in your tent. For hard core campers getting super prepared you could include lighter fluid in sealed container – can be used to get a fire going.
  • First Aid Kit – always a good idea to take headache/anti inflammatory pills, plasters, antiseptic cream, eyewash etc.
  • Single burner camping gas cooker and little kettle – great for the early morning coffee.

Here are some of my particular camping tips and great camping ideas I’ve picked up along the way;

  • Take lots of plastic bags – especially if it’s wet to pack away your clothes so they stay dry, or separate the dirty ones – good bin liners for rubbish – lots of campsite require you to take your rubbish home and no one wants a boot full of stinky leftovers. Also pays to locate the nearest recycling and waste centre to the campsite to dump your rubbish as soon after you leave the campsite as possible.
  • Wet wipes & talc. Especially for kids or if you don’t fancy the campsite showers!
  • Micro fibre cloths can prove handy for wiping down your tent in the morning if covered in condensation inside or rain outside before you pack away.
  • Toilet paper. This can be pre separated into segments of the right length and popped into a plastic zip lock bag to keep dry.
  • Tin foil – most important if camping with open fires – potatoes, sweet corn, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, (or almost any veggie) can all be cooked on a bbq or the edge of open fire in foil. Some plastic tubs for left overs. I even save the baked potatoes from the night before if uneaten and mix them with eggs and bacon in the morning for a Spanish omelette – my 11 yo loves it.
  • Must take the marshmallows! I’m biased but I only camp at places which allow open fires!
  • Freeze your camping meat – I like to freeze my meat, bacon etc for day 2 & 3 – it acts like an ice block in the cool box as it defrosts, and is fresh and ready to eat a day or two after arriving.
  • Wine in a box or twist top bottles – you can get some decent ones in boxes now days – helps the pack up with no empty bottles to carry or break.  Take a corkscrew and you will always make a friend on a campsite as someone will wonder around at night looking for one guaranteed!
  • Cans instead of bottle of beer or soft drinks. The empties can be crushed and put in a small (or large for some) plastic bag to be recycled.
  • Big umbrella as well – like a golf one – get one of kids or a mate to hold it over you if it’s raining while you are BBQing or cooking on the campfire – never cook inside a tent due to carbon monoxide poisoning – which is serious threat.
  • Daily Contacts Lenses – ever tried changing hard contacts in the wilds of sussex – I’ve had to do it for both my daughter and myself and the dailies are much easier and if you drop them you just pop another one.
  • Insect Repellant. In the UK I never need to use the stuff, but you never know when you will get a mosquito (mossie to an Aussie) infestation. Expect lots little biting insects at different times which home in on some people ahead of others. It’s also been suggested that some incense to keep away the insects at night. It can pay to have a tick remover if roaming or camping through woodland areas or where deer in particular have a presence – you can buy these cheaply online.

If you are a keen camper and have anything to add – keep the conversation alive and add your own comment with your favourite piece of camping advice or camping tip.

Cheers

Hugh

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