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Basic Equipment needed for family camping

Updated on December 30, 2010

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.

A high quality waterproof tent, with a sewn in groundsheet an absolute must. Try and get one that you can stand up in.

Air beds and good quality sleeping bags that can cope with -6 degrees. We have the mummy type, which keeps your head warm. Don't forget your pillows.

12-volt electric pump to blow up your beds, the type that connects to your car's electricity sockets.

Something to store your water in. Kettle, pots and pans. Plates and cutlery. A washing up bowl.

A bucket ( just in case you get caught short during the night)

Tables and chairs. A gas stove and gas bottles. Always think about safety, when dealing with gas. It really is flammable and explosive.

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 and torches. I got one of these and got ridiculed by my friends. Now they all use them.

A well equipped first aid kit.

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

I am sure that once you have the basics in place, you will have a great time.

Happy camping everyone.

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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    • pe555 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Donnelly 

      7 years ago from UK

      Thanks for the comment Ghost32. Just goes to show that happiness cannot be measured by material things

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Another great thing about LED: The bulbs are almost impossible to break and don't wear out, either. That "cold light" isn't great...but far better than no light at all.

      Pam and I used a bucket toilet for 3 years of off grid living in a small cabin (12' x 16') in Montana (1999-2002) and also here in Arizona near the Mexican border (April 2009 to present). Ran out of money before I could purchase bathroom plumbing supplies for luxuries like flush toilets and showers. Maybe by summer 2011....

      But we're really living high on the hog--in the home I built, we have separate bathrooms...and thus separate bucket toilets. A few inches of water in the bottom, add a dash of scented Pine Sol and a standard toilet seat, and voila! Life is good!


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