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Camping Essentials For Festivals This Summer

Updated on February 3, 2013
Glastonbury Music Festival, the biggest festival in England!
Glastonbury Music Festival, the biggest festival in England! | Source

OK, so the summer is upon us, and that means only one thing! Festival season!

If like me, you love to go to music festivals, or any kind of festival for that matter, you will be aware of the issues around having to camp in a crowded field, miles away from your car, meaning you have to carry everything you need to your final camping place on foot.

This creates several issues:

  1. You can't carry everything you need in one trip, so you spend the entire festival making trips back to your car to get something you decided to leave behind at the start.
  2. You only pack the bare minimum in the first place for this reason and spend the entire festival a little uncomfortable, "doing without" various items that you would otherwise deem as essential!

Both these options can leave you feeling exhausted by the end of the weekend, and not just because you've been partying too hard!

Ideally, you should be able to party hard at the festival, but still be able to go back to your camp for a comfortable sleep with everything you need. It is possible if you know how!



Top Tip

Whenever possible, always arrive at the festival early, i.e. if the festival starts on a Thursday, you want to be getting there Wednesday morning!


This will give you the best camping site and allow you take up a little more room!

What to do?

I'm going to explain, step by step, how to make this experience as comfortable, and easy as possible, including what to pack, and how to go about setting up your camp.

A little bit of thought and work at the start, can save a whole lot of strife later on, making sure all you need to concentrate on is having a good time!

My packing plans are assuming there are at least 2 of you going together. If you are going alone you will need to pack much lighter and on a smaller scale to be able to carry it!



A typical camping area at a large festival
A typical camping area at a large festival | Source

Camping Essentials

OK so here are the essentials you can't do without!

Tent

Tents come in every shape and size imaginable, and these days can be picked up pretty cheaply, When buying your tent you need to consider several things. How many people will be sleeping in it? How easy is it to put up and take down, and how heavy is it?

Believe me, the weight of everything is paramount if you will be carrying it over rough, uneven ground (often uphill) for any distance!

I, personally believe that you can't get better than a pop up tent. These come in all sizes, some of them with several rooms, they are light and easy to carry and usually come in a bag you can wear on your back!

Remember, we are talking comfort here, so don't be afraid to get a tent that's nice and big, as long as it is light and easy to put up!


Bed

Please don't think you will be comfortable enough sleeping on the ground! You won't!

There are two main options here, depending on your needs.

Inflatable Mattress

This means you can have a comfortable double bed, as long as you look after it and there are no holes! Always check there are no sharp stones or twigs underneath it that could cause a puncture.

Have an extra blanket to put underneath the mattress (on top of your ground sheet) as extra protection.

Don't forget your air pump to blow it up!

Folding Camping Bed

These are great because you are off the ground and you don't have to worry about pumping it up!

They do take up a little more room though and weigh more.

If you go for this option you need to ensure you have enough head room in your tent for it!


Bedding

I always take a double quilt and pillows, but sleeping bags can be warm and comfortable too and take up very little space.

This one's up to you!


Cook Safely!

Barbecues are often allowed at festivals and are nice to cook on. However, do not ever take the lit barbecue inside your tent! Even if you think it is out! A smouldering barbecue gives off carbon monoxide and will poison you in your sleep!

Camping stoves should also only be used outside, you can use them in the doorway of your tent if the door is open, and always make sure you have turned it off completely when you have finished.

Top Tip

The cheap water containers you may find in a pound shop tend to add a plastic flavour to your water! This is fine for washing etc, but no good for drinking.

If you are saving money here, just take an empty 5 litre water bottle that you would get mineral water in!

Cooking Gear

There is a very good chance that you will want the option of cooking at your camp, festival food is very expensive and being able to cook yourself some breakfast or lunch easily can take the stress away. If you are anything like me, you will definately need to be able to make tea and coffee! You will need:

  • A camping stove
  • Gas
  • A kettle
  • Saucepan
  • Frying pan
  • Utensils
  • Cutlery
  • Bowl
  • Washing up liquid and sponge
  • Water container
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Mugs or cups
  • Tea towel
  • A cool box full of ice.

This seems like a long list, but when carefully packed (most of this will go inside the bowl for instance) it doesn't take up too much room. The water container does not need to be large, and you can get collapsible ones. There are always plenty of taps so you will not need to store lots of water at a time.


Don't waste your camping gas, it can run out pretty quick and will cost a bomb on site. Also always remember to check it's off before going out or to bed!
Don't waste your camping gas, it can run out pretty quick and will cost a bomb on site. Also always remember to check it's off before going out or to bed!

Alcohol

Take beer or the alcohol of your choice if you wish and are allowed to. Usually no glass bottles, so beer in cans, and spirits need to be decanted into plastic bottles!

Although I would never advise anyone to break the rules, any festival that say's you can't take your own beer, in my opinion, are really cheeky! If you choose (and I'm not telling you to) to smuggle any in, be aware you may get searched and it may be taken away if found!

Cover it up well in your other stuff, bottoms of rucksacks, under all your bedding etc, use your imagination!

Food and Drink

Think carefully here, what are you likely to eat! Also, what will keep well in possible extreme heat conditions when it's stored in your tent on a hot day!

The cool box full of ice will keep meat fresh for a few days (as long as it is fresh to start with), but I prefer to use it mainly for drinks! The cool box works great for beer, be the only person on site with a cold can of beer on a Sunday! Also fruit juice and any other drinks you like to keep cold.

Have a plastic box to keep your food in, think tins and dried stuff that's easy to prepare! Bread goes mouldy quickly, pitta bread works much better and you don't need butter.

Have some cooking oil!

Pack some salt and pepper, even some herbs and spices to liven things up a little.

Pasta with a jar of pesto and some cheese for instance is a very affordable, and tasty dinner if you've run out of money near the end of the festival!

If you eat meat, the only meat you need is bacon! Make sure it's smoked and it also won't take up too much space in the cool box. Tinned meat is fine but you can't store it very well once opened.

Tea, coffee, sugar and cartons of UHT milk! You can also usually buy pints of milk on site at most festivals, so consider this also when packing.



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Gazebo

If there is a group of you going, and you have several tents between you, then a gezebo will be a Godsend! It will give you shade from the sun, shelter from the rain, and ensure that no-one puts a tent up in the middle of the little circle you've created with your tents! (If this is your first festival, you will be shocked at how closely people squeeze their tents in).

Just a cheap, plastic framed one will do...

Put it up, and then your tents around the outside of it all facing in to the middle.

You will have this lovely area to "chill" when you are at your camp, and everyone will want to join you!

There need's to be a group of you for this as then the carrying of stuff can be shared between you!

Also folding chairs are great... I will discuss how to carry all this gear a little later on!


Top Tip

Do not bother taking wellies!

The use of wellies at festivals has been a very clever marketing ploy by the people who produce and sell them! They have been tried and tested and are possibly, the worst thing you can have on your feet at a festival!

Let me explain the above statement!

Wellington boots split very easily, and will let the water in! If it is warm, your feet will sweat uncontrollably! If it is muddy, and believe me some festivals can see you ankle deep in places, your wellies will get stuck in the mud and you will be in real trouble! Especially as this is a very funny sight and no-one will be able to help for laughing! If the ground is slippery, you will slip over in wellies!

Clothes and Other Stuff

OK, you really need very little!

Clothes - think layers! One main outfit that is great on a hot day, then layers can be added as it get's cooler in the evening.

One change of clothes in case you get wet! (If you are in England it will rain...)

A hat!

Suncream!

Something warm.. a coat or hoodie.

Footwear - One pair of flip flops or sandals, not to be worn in wet mud!

One pair of decent, watertight, walking boots.

Plenty of socks

Underwear


Other stuff you need:

Obviously hair brush/comb

Try to manage without washing your hair, but if you must, dry shampoo or some festivals have showers!

Soap, flannel and towel

Wet wipes!

Toilet paper

Toothbrush and toothpaste

First aid - plasters and some basic pain relief e.g. paracetamol.

A bag you will carry with you at all times. This does not need to be big, but it is for your valuables, wallet / purse, camera, phone. Also always carry toilet paper and wet wipes! Do not leave any valuables at your tent!


Did I say wet wipes? Yes I did but please... Don't forget the wet wipes! You will thank me for this, even if it's the only advice you take from me...



Now What? How Are We Supposed To Carry All This Stuff?


There is a very easy solution to this, and it is trolleys!

There are many different kinds of trolleys, different shapes and sizes, but arranged well, with tents or rucksacks on your back and a trolley each (that way the trolley's won't be too heavy, otherwise take turns), there is no reason why you can't take all this gear, easily, in one trip!

Bungee cord is also necessary to ensure everything doesn't fall off your trolley!

Some people use wheelbarrows, personally, I find them cumbersome, heavy and they take up too much room in the car!

You want the kind of trolley that folds down, like a sack barrow! It is worth making sure this is good quality, you do not want your wheels falling off half way there! (I've seen it happen), if you buy one expensive thing other than perhaps your tent if you've gone for a good one, then make it your trolley!


Camping in style... we had a pop up marquee, fire pit, chairs, and of course a solar powered sound system for when the festival was quiet!
Camping in style... we had a pop up marquee, fire pit, chairs, and of course a solar powered sound system for when the festival was quiet!

That's It!


Now you have everything you need to enjoy your festival in style, at not too much extra cost!

Of course some of the smaller festivals let you drive directly to your campsite to unload if you are cheeky enough to ask.

That's how I manage to camp like this!

Final Note...


Please, please, do not think it is OK to just leave all your rubbish and belongings in the field at the end of the festival. Some people even leave their tents! Bag up your rubbish (most festivals will provide bin bags and recycling bags) so it is easy for the workers to collect, and take everything else home with you!

The rubbish left at most of the bigger, mainstream festivals is an absolute disgrace, and there really is no need! Have some pride in how tidy your "area" is when you leave, even if the people camping next to you leave a complete mess. Lead by example is my motto, and it works! When people see you picking up your own litter, they tend to feel shamed into doing the same!

Most of all, have fun!


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    • Jennifer Stone profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Stone 5 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      Thank you Sunshine625, I agree completely! My latest festival experience involved not only a proper bed, but a comfy sofa near a bonfire, coffee table and cover from the rain... hehehe... one day I'll work out how to take the kitchen sink :-) Thanks for stopping by, all the best, Jen

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Excellent camping and festival tips Jennifer! You wouldn't catch me in one of those tents. I like A/C and a comfy bed too much! Well done! :)

    • Jennifer Stone profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Stone 5 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      I'm pretty sure they were all running around naked with flowers in their hair at Woodstock? LOL Reality is I hate camping, so had to come up with coping strategies to make sure I had everything I needed when I found myself at a festival. I work at festivals now, so get the luxury of crew camping with my van parked right where I'm camped luckily, this year we're hoping to build a bed in the van... :-) thanks for reading and commenting my friend from across the pond, all the best, Jen

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      You would have faired much better than a few thousand others at Woodstock! Wonderful informative article.