Bookings to campsites over the UK have sky-rocketed in recent weeks. Faced with uncertainty over travelling abroad and with lockdown slowly easing across many areas of the country, the best bet for family holidays this year is booking into one of the thousands of excellent rural campsites the UK has to offer. In fact, camping is something our nation does well, with great variety, excellent facilities and a brilliant choice of locations from mountains, rural farmland, islands and coasts.
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, here’s what you need to know before you pitch up:
Good lighting makes all the difference
One of the nicest things about camping under the stars is the lack of artificial light, but it makes sense to pack some powerful head torches and lanterns you can use to find your gear and your way around the campsite. Once you’ve camped with decent lighting you’ll never go back – which is why it makes sense to pack some torches and lights you can hang up inside your tent, and a few spare batteries, before you head out.
Invest in a comfortable sleep mat
Good equipment can make all the difference to your sleep. A quality mat is just as important as a decent sleeping bag as it works to separate you from the cold, wet ground and insulate you, keeping your temperature up during the night. Ultra lightweight mats are available and it’s worth spending a little bit of time and money getting the right one for you. Some are self-inflating, meaning they’re often packed with a lightweight foam that absorbs the air around you when the valve is open and they’re often the best to go for if you don’t want to lug a pump around with you. Remember – bigger doesn’t always equal better: it may be worth resisting the lure of the air bed which are often less comfortable than a thinner, self-inflating mat.
The right clothing will make your life easier
Quick drying clothing made out of merino wool are a camper’s dream. Not will it keep you warm, it will dry easily should wet weather strike. Speaking of layers, even if it’s a hot sunny day ensure you pack thin layers that can be easily put on top of each other, with a down jacket and a waterproof too once the temperature drops at night. There’s nothing worse than clothes while camping that don’t dry properly and in turn make you cold. Plan ahead and invest in some good-quality outdoor clothing. You can read our guide to the best waterproofs here.
Give yourself plenty of time
Setting up and getting your camp how you want it takes longer than you think. Even if you know your equipment inside-out, plan to take your time with getting your tent set up, your accessories organised and factor in time to choose the right spot. Camping is more comfortable if you leave yourself enough time to make considered decisions and you’ll end up feeling more relaxed and enjoy the experience a whole lot more. It’s tempting to throw a load of gear in the back of the car and just get on with it, but give yourself a few more hours to set up than you think you’ll need.
Pick the right pitch
Choosing a spot to camp is a bit of a fine art, but consider your location and where you actually set up your tent. Always pitch your tent with the ‘head end’ facing uphill, if you’re on a slight slope, and pay close attention to the ground beneath you – you don’t want to be pitching your tent in a boggy or watery area (for one, the mosquitoes will be hard to bear!). Also watch out for low hanging branches or dead trees and don’t pitch directly under these, as if the wind gets up you don’t want to risk any of it coming down.
Don’t forget the little things
It can be easy to forget to pack the small items when you’re going away camping, but they’re often the things that can make or break a trip. Earplugs are a must, spare gas canisters, spare batteries, water carriers and equipment to light fires with are often forgotten, so spend a little bit of time before you leave to make sure you’ve packed all those necessary items that make life in a tent a little easier.