We are camping novices. We’ve been camping about a year but have researched it and acquired all the essential gear we think we will need to be able to camp in comfort while we travel. I thought I’d do a quick blog on our camping preparations and go though the kit we have, it might help you when you are similarly preparing for a journey like ours.
We’ve had probably 6 camping experiences, so we’re very new. Each experience has taught us a few lessons and we’ve applied them to the next trip, which taught us some new lessons and so on. This is a current accumulated knowledge we have.
Woodford Folk Festival 2016 was our first camping experience, we were in Tent City on the Woodfordia site. This was the tent we stayed in.
It was a professional canvas tent, good size with an awning. We borrowed a Cool Box and we also had a battery powered fan with a light. We brought bed covers and pillows with us and rucksacks or bags for our clothes.
What did we learn?
- The tent was a good size but the bed took up much of the space.
- Our clothes ended up all over the floor.
- The duvet and bed clothes were very bulky, took up a lot of room.
- We didn’t bring anything we could cook on so had to eat food from the vendors
- We had to buy ice every day
- The awning gave us little protection from the sun, we needed to hang towels from the awning to give us some protection.
- We had nothing to clip the towels to the awning to provide any shade.
- The small battery fan was not able to give us any respite from the heat
- We had no power available
- We loved the camping experience.
The next camping trip we planned was to Coolum Beach. For this we would need our own camping gear. At a minimum we needed a tent and blow up bed. We listed some criteria we would like in a tent based upon the lessons learned from Woodford.
We wanted two rooms, one to sleep and one we could sit in or work in away from the sun. We also needed this room to be big enough to take our clothes and store our food. The tent had to be light enough and small enough to fit in the boot of the Mazda 3 car. After a bit of research we settled on an inexpensive Spinifex Huon from Anaconda. It was good quality, on sale, filled the brief and it wasn’t very expensive so if it was a mistake it didn’t hurt too much.
To sleep on we bought the Wanderer Comfort Rest Double High Queen Airbed from BCF. It boasts an inflatable headboard, and is extremely comfortable. One of the best buys we’ve made.
To replace the double duvet and sheet set we brought from home we bought a double sleeping bag. It is made of soft cotton and not shiny sweaty nylon. Works a treat.
And then it rained. It was torrential and lasted a whole day. Whilst the outer part of the tent protected us well there was some leaks at the seams. So we bought some seam sealer but research informed us that prevention is better than cure and that covering your tent with a tarp to keep the rain from even getting near the tent is a better waterproofing method. It also has the added benefit of providing some shade and keeping the interior cool.
We now have a very large tarp with silver heat resisting coating that goes over the entire tent. We needed 6 extensible poles, assorted guy ropes and tent pegs to secure it.
We have a tarp that goes under the tent to protect the groundsheet and we have a couple of other small ones we use for shade as well. They are extremely versatile and useful.
Inside the tent can be a mess, clothes all over the floor, pots and pans everywhere. Our solution was to purchase a 4 drawer cabinet with a worktop that folds down flat. It’s a great system and we keep all of our kitchen gear and food in it. It also has a mesh zip door to keep the insects off the food.
We need power, lots of power, all the time. For lights, laptops, fans, wifi hotspots, charging phones, all sorts of things. I had researched solar panels, inverters and batteries but one night browsing I saw this 300w pure sine wave inverter and solar panel charging pack for a bargain price. A few clicks later it was mine. We tested this at Woodford this year and kept all our lights on and our fans running and it recharged itself every day from the solar panels. All in all a great buy.
We used to have an old cool box which worked a treat keeping food fresh and beer cold. But it wasn’t very efficient either in size or in managing heat loss so we got a high tech super cool box normally used for fishing. We did consider a 12v fridge but it was too big for the space in our car. The cool box works a treat, it kept our food fresh and beer cold for days on one bag of ice..
In case you didn’t know Australia can get hot, and in a tent there’s no air conditioning. So we got ourselves a great big fan. It can run off the mains or off the solar generator and it has built in batteries it can run of for 3-4 hours. Wouldn’t leave home without one.
Eating in restaurants or take aways is evpensive, and usually unhealthy so we prefer to cook our own meals. This meant we needed a stove. To conserve space we got this and never have been happier. It’s a single burner attachment that screws directly onto the as bottle. Doesn’t come much smaller…oh wait. We also have this that folds down into a matchbox sized box. We will use for boiling a kettle and when hiking.
We have a few other items such as folding table and some lights but they are pretty standard items. With all of these we can comfortably stay in any cam site pretty much indefinitely if we chose, the key words there being very comfortably.
We will be using all of these on out big trip around Australia, we may need to swap or upgrade or remove some of these items as we learn new experiences and if we do I’ll update this blog and let everyone know.