I’ve been excited about putting this together for a while so here it is: my bumper packing list for a successful weekend camping trip! Organisation really is the key to an enjoyable camping trip and however hard you try, if you go without a packing list, you’ll always forget at least three vital things. No joke, we once went to the Lake District and forgot the bloody tent! Luckily my parents did bring a spare, though we’ll never live it down… Luckily, we have got quite a bit better at camping since then but trust me, a list is the way to go. Camping is so much fun when you have all of the stuff and a little thoughtful packing and preparation goes a real long way.
Now I’m definitely not saying I’m a total pro camper. I’ve never camped anywhere particularly wild and I don’t have endless hacks, but I do know what you need to pack for a successful weekend trip — I’ve learnt the hard way after one too many times forgetting the soap/ toothpaste/ cutlery/ airbed pump. So that you have only successes going forward, here’s my ultimate camping packing list to get you on your way.
TENT — there’s hundreds of great tents to choose from. Eurohike have some great value ones, though both of ours are Vango which is my favourite, most trusted brand. If you are buying new, I’d always suggest going slightly bigger than you think you’ll need — i.e. a 3-4 man tent if there’s 2 of you. It’s just nice to have a little extra room.
AIRBED (PLUS PUMP) OR CAMPING MATS — we have an inflatable airbed that we use for guests in our spare room but it also doubles up as our camping bed. Camping mats are more compact though a lot more expensive.
SLEEPING BAGS OR DUVET — sleeping bags are the obvious traditional choice for camping but a duvet is just as good, if not cosier! If you’re doing a duvet, just don’t forget to take a sheet to put on your airbed.
PILLOWS — optional but added comfort!
CAMPING LIGHT — great for evenings reading but also essential for trying to get out in the middle of the night for a wee! We have this great Goal Zero collapsible solar powered lantern.
STOVE — we have a Trangia stove, the very same one my dad has that we used to use as kids on our camping trips, and it’s absolutely brilliant and so compact with all the pans you need for cooking within it. Would also recommend the camping stoves that use gas cylinders — equally easy though you need to remember pans. For both, it goes without saying don’t forget to pack the gas or methylated spirit.
LIGHTER OR MATCHES
INFLATABLE LOUNGER — Now I raised my eyebrows when Ed bought one of these inflatable loungers off Amazon after we’d seen them at Latitude but honesty, it’s hands-down the best purchase of the year. We’ve taken it everywhere! So so good, durable and SO great for comfy camping lounging.
COLLAPSIBLE WATER CARRIER — a cheap buy that makes life a lot easier in a campsite so you don’t have to keep going back and forth from the water tap. A 5L one is plenty.
PLATES AND MUGS — I’d recommend getting enamel plates and mugs as they’re durable and much nicer to eat off than plastic ones. I got mine from Labour and Wait (and I love them so so much) but Falcon Enamel do great straight up plain ones too.
CUTLERY — so easy to forget but a trip without forks and spoons is no fun.
Spatula — a cheap plastic one essential for make flipping eggs in the morning.
PLASTIC WINE GLASSES — well duh!
COOL BOX — some v sophisticated campsites have freezers so you can refreeze your ice blocks and keep your fresh food/drinks cold. Helpful though not essential.
KNIFE + CHOPPING BOARD
WASHING UP LIQUID AND SPONGE — okay, one of the key differences between camping at a festival and going on a nice camping trip is not having to eat off the same dirty plate 3 days running (gross). I’ll always remember as kids taking it in turns to help wash up the dinner stuff in communal campsite kitchens across Europe — a happy little memory I’ll have imprinted on my brain forever. Nevertheless, we have managed to forget the washing up stuff on numerous occasions. Not fun and you don’t really want to borrow someone’s washing up sponge…
HOT DRINK THINGS — teabags, filter coffee, Aeropress or plastic cafetière, sweeteners. I recommend decanting a handful of teabags/coffee and putting them in a Tupperware so you don’t have to take the big box from home but have a dedicated supply.
MILK — UHT or Oat milk (fresh milk will go off)
OIL OR BUTTER FOR COOKING — so easy to forget but makes life so much easier! I’d suggest decanting olive oil into a smaller, more transportable bottle — I got a small swing-top bottle and filled it up at the refillables store.
GARLIC — everything tastes better with garlic!
PLANNED OUT MEALS — before you go make a plan of what meals you need to cater for and pack the ingredients for each meal separately. If you don’t plan and just take a random pack of rice, a tin of tuna and some Babybel you’ll end up with some random disappointing meals — trust me! This isn’t festival camping, this is camping for fun!
SNACKS — biscuits, cookies, dried fruit, jars of olives and crisps for aperitivos. Don’t take anything that relies on being refrigerated or can melt.
TOWELS — camping don’t come with the luxuries of an all-inclusive…
SOLID SHAMPOO BAR — leak-free and plastic-free! I really rate Lush’s solid shampoo bars which we use at home too.
HAND SANITIZER — essential for camping trips way before the days of Coronavirus! Just makes life easier so you don’t need to trot to the communal sinks every 10 minutes.
TOOTHBRUSHES AND TOOTHPASTE
PORTABLE CHARGER(S) — if you’re taking a car you can no doubt charge devices via the USB but we always take a couple of fully-charged battery packs.
EXTRA LAYERS (PLENTY!) — being cold in a tent is miserable so pack plenty of extra layers to allow for cool nights (especially up north!)
RAINCOAT — ditto, getting wet is gross.
TORCH — not as vital now iPhones have torches but could come in handy!
KLEAN KANTEEN — for days out but also keeping in the tent at night if you’re someone who usually needs water by their bedside.
TOTE BAG — for days out, walks, and carrying your toiletries to the communal block.
SANDALS OR FLIP-FLOPS — good for sliding on quickly when you’re bursting for a wee, and also good for wearing in communal showers. I wear Teva sandals religiously.