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Basic Equipment Needed for Family Camping

Updated on January 30, 2023

Our Introduction to Camping

I had not been camping since I was a kid. Back then all we needed was a cheap tent and a campfire. It would only be for one night in the local woods with a few other lads, our first taste of independence from our parents. How times have changed. Children nowadays want it all. Electric hook up, lots of space and a fast food takeaway close by.

A couple of years ago, some friends of ours invited us to go camping with them. So what did we do? ebay of course. We looked at the tents and they all looked great. We ordered a massive eight man dome tent that looked fantastic in the photos. There were three of us and a dog. A very cute Bichon Frise, who just loves all home comforts. So one pod for me and my fiancée and Benji the dog, one for my twelve-year-old daughter and one pod to store our clothes and stuff.

We bought sleeping bags, a gas stove and a gas lantern, oh yes and inflatable beds. Well, what else would we need? We went on spring bank holiday to Windermere in the Lake District. The site was owned by the camping and caravan club, we even subscribed to them.

We signed in and were taken to our pitch by a very friendly man who was expecting us. Our friends were already there. Tents already pitched, sat outside, soaking up the sunshine. We got our tent out of the car and had it up in less than half an hour. The groundsheet didn't look too clever. (It didn't quite fit and didn't reach the edges of the tent). The walls of the tent didn't quite reach the floor and we had gaps of about six inches in places. The others laughed and called it a telly tubby tent.

It was going dark and we were starving so off we went to the on site chippy. It had closed at 8:30pm but the restaurant was open and they let us have fish & chips to takeaway. At restaurant prices. It cost £18, double the chippy price. Never mind, lets have some fun.

Now, one thing about the countryside is that when it goes dark, it goes really dark so it’s an early bedtime. On with the lantern and everybody into the sleeping bags. That's a struggle in it's self but at last we were all settled in. That is when Benji started. One thing about tents is that you can hear everything and I mean everything. Benji shot upright then started barking. We tried to calm him but he wasn't having any of it. Then suddenly he was off. Under the wall and off into the night, barking his head off at every tent he passed.

We eventually caught him after a long chase and got him back to our tent. He was kept on the lead after that but he wouldn't stop barking.

The next two days were great fun filled days, all the kids off playing rounders or just scouting in the woods. At one point, just as dusk was falling, they came running back all looking scared. Screaming that there was something in the woods, it turned out to be deer. There are lots of them but they are very timid.

That night it rained and rained and rained. We were soaked through. I awoke to find water running down my face and dripping off my nose. Everything was soaked even Benji. Luckily for us, we were leaving that morning anyway so we packed up and left.

Apart from the soggy ending, it had been a very enjoyable weekend and we booked another site to visit on the next bank holiday. We made a decision that if we were going to camp, then we will need to be properly equipped so the following weekend we went shopping.

Benji and the telly tubby tent
Benji and the telly tubby tent

Buying Equipment

You need to decide on which type of camping. There is no point going out and buying a load of gear for a tent, then three months later, decide to buy a caravan. It's a whole different ball game if you are thinking of a caravan. Don't forget about trailer tents, they can be quite impressive. With these last two options, you will need space to park them when you get home.

We decided to stick to tents. We can just chuck everything in the shed and forget about it.

When it comes to camping, the old adage "You get what you pay for" certainly rings true. Everything has to be portable, light and sturdy. Take a table, for instance. Manufacturers have come up with ingenious designs on how to assemble and pack away quickly, a simple table. Inflatable chairs are another great idea. Built very strongly and are almost impossible to puncture unless you use a knife. Don't forget that you have to carry everything that you take. We had to buy a bigger car.

Just for basic camping. You will need.

  1. Tent: A tent is essential for providing shelter and protection from the elements. Be sure to choose a tent that is large enough to accommodate your family and any gear you plan to bring. Look for a tent with a good ventilation system, a durable rain fly and a sturdy frame. Also, consider if you want a single or a multiple room tent to separate living and sleeping spaces. A sewn in groundsheet is an absolute must. Try and get one that you can stand up in.
  2. Sleeping bags and camping pads: Sleeping bags and camping pads are used to provide a comfortable sleeping surface, which is especially important for a good night's sleep. Sleeping bags come in different temperature ratings, so be sure to choose one that is appropriate for the weather conditions you'll be camping in. Camping pads, on the other hand, provide insulation and cushioning from the hard ground. We have the mummy type, which keeps your head warm. Don't forget your pillows.
  3. A 12-volt electric pump to blow up your beds, the type that connects to your car's electricity sockets.
  4. A cooler is useful for keeping food and drinks cool and fresh. Look for a cooler with a high insulation factor and a sturdy construction. A good size for a family is usually around 20-30 Litre.
  5. A flashlight (torch) or headlamp is important for providing light at night and for navigating around the campsite. Look for one with a bright LED light and a long battery life. Headlamps are especially useful as they leave your hands free to do other things.
  6. A first aid kit is essential for handling any minor injuries or illnesses that may occur while camping. Look for a kit that includes bandages, gauze, antibiotic ointment, pain relievers, and other basic first aid items. Also, consider adding some personal items like personal medication, or an inhaler.
  7. Water bottles or hydration system: Staying hydrated is important while camping, so be sure to bring enough water bottles or hydration system for everyone. Look for bottles that are durable, leak-proof, and easy to clean. Hydration systems allow you to carry water on your back and drink through a straw or a bite valve.
  8. Camp chairs and/or camping hammock: Camp chairs or camping hammocks are a comfortable way to sit and relax around the campsite. Look for a chair that is lightweight, durable, and easy to set up. Camping hammocks are great for lounging and relaxing, but make sure to bring straps and carabiners to hang them.
  9. Bug spray and sunscreen: Bug spray and sunscreen are essential to protect yourself from mosquitoes and sunburns. Look for a bug spray that contains DEET or Picaridin, and a sunscreen with a high SPF and broad-spectrum protection.
  10. Extra clothes, rain gear and sturdy hiking boots: Make sure to pack extra clothes, rain gear and sturdy hiking boots, as the weather can be unpredictable while camping. Look for clothes that are made of quick-drying, moisture-wicking materials. Rain gear should be waterproof and breathable. Sturdy hiking boots are important for protecting your feet and providing good traction on the trail.
  11. A bucket (just in case you get caught short during the night)
  12. Lanterns, either gas or battery powered. If you choose battery powered, then I would recommend LED because they use less power and give off a great light. You might consider wind up lanterns. I got one of these and got ridiculed by my friends. Now they all use them.

Most sites have facilities for washing dishes, showering and toilets.

As with any camping trip, it's always a good idea to check the weather forecast and pack accordingly. This list is a good starting point for a successful and comfortable camping experience with your family. Remember to also bring along any personal items such as toiletries, medications, and any other special needs. Don't forget to also bring a good attitude and a sense of adventure! With the right equipment and a little planning, you'll be able to create lasting memories with your family in the great outdoors. Happy camping!

Dinner with the kids
Dinner with the kids


Ashes Lane Staveley:
Ashes Ln, Nether Staveley, Cumbria LA8 9, UK

get directions

Windermere Camping And Caravanning Club Site.


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