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Eco Camp UK’s Best Camping Tips and Advice

Best Camping Tips and Advice

I thought I’d update this blog article on the ‘best camping tips and advice’ after receiving lots of feedback over the years. It’s not meant to be the hard and fast ‘rules of camping’ – just a few of the things I’ve learn’t along the way, which you may find useful. I’ve read some really worthwhile articles giving great camping tips and sensible advice on how to avoid many of the camping pitfalls, as well as clever shortcuts and common sense ideas.

Here’s the original article with a few additions:

There was an interesting post placed by a new camper on the UK Camping community page I set up on Google+. A camper due to go camping in the UK for the first time this year was asking for some advice and tips before he headed on his camping adventure.

I’m not necessarily a camping guru, but over the years running Eco Camp UK’s two woodland campsites I’ve learned a few tricks of the camping trade. So I thought about some handy camping tips and advice I had  picked up along the way.

This list is by no means definitive, some of the advice will be obvious to regular campsite visitors and veteran campers,  but here are some of the better camping tips and advice I’ve been given.  I will add some extra posts along the way to expand the Eco Camp Advice and Camping Tips Collection – please feel free to add your own comments at the bottom and I will post your ‘best camping tips” as well.

Eco Camp UK’s Camping Tips and Advise

Here are some of the basics –

  • Tents – personally I’m a big bell tent fan, but if I want shoot off quickly I pack my three man tent and go. My big tip is arrive during daylight if you are putting it up the first time! Take five minutes more setting it up and when the hurricane hits at 3 in the morning you won’t be crawling around getting soaked trying to stop it blowing over. Extra tent pegs are always handy! Always pack your tent back away properly or you may regret it on your next camping trip you! Always dry your tent out – tie it out your flat window, put it in the garden, over your car, but a wet tent will stink next year when you get it out…
  • Camp Box – create a separate camp storage box, packed with your utensils, matches, torches, spare batteries, suncream, insect spray, spare pegs, tomato sauce, coffee, tea bags, cling film, foil, long life food stuff, spices, oil etc etc etc. Then all you need to do is throw it in the car and chuck in the sleeping bags, tent and beds and your are almost done. Stop quickly at a farm shop and you have your dinner. If you take out the hassle and the hours of preparation you will camp more often.
  • Camp Chairs – more important than the tent. Sitting on the ground gets boring very quickly – especially if like me you enjoy watching FireTV and putting the world to rights!
  • Cool Box – get one that works. I’ve had my Aussie made Esky since I turned 21 – so over a quarter of a century and it doubles as a seat. I say get two – one for food and one for drinks. No one wants to remove the eggs and bacon every time Dad grabs another tinnie out!
  • Great Sleeping Bag – in the UK it gets very chilly some nights, so a good quality sleeping bag can make the difference between a great camping experience or a disaster. Also pays to take an extra blanket!
  • Good Camp Bed or Camping Mat. Get off the cold ground and get comfortable. I favour the half foam/half inflating camping mat. They are self inflating and if they do go down you still have a layer of foam left to cushion you from the ground and the cold.
  • Camping Airbeds – I’m not a great fan of cheap camping air-beds, so unless you’ve got a quality one – which can be great and generally then needs an electric pump – be warned you can end up sleeping on the tent floor on some hard pitches. Check if the campsite is off-grid (our two campsite are) if you are going to need to use electricity to pump the bed up. Also pays to put an extra blanket on an airbed and not just a sheet – as the air you are sleeping on can get very cold and transfer that coldness to you!
  • A Great Set of cooking pots – you want them to be lightweight, durable and easy to clean. The higear Basecamp 6 Cookset is a great set – made of hard anodized aluminium, weights less than 2 kg, and all fold up and fits inside each other. You get a frypan, four pots, utensils and accessories. If you bring your own pots and pans, not only will they take up half you car, but you will likely end up ruining them as they as they are not fit for campsite cooking.
  • Lighting. Headlamps, lamps and torches and spare batteries. Sounds obvious but the number of people who rock up to our campsites with one torch and flat batteries is incredible. I’d even recommend including a wind up lantern – as they ensure the flat battery situation will not occur – and they are eco!
  • Footware. Thongs as we Aussies call them – flip flops or waterproof sandals – great for visits to the showers and loos. At night though it can get quite cold camping in the UK, even next to a fire, so some walking boots and thick socks can be very handy.
  • Clothing. Layers is the key to camping. In the UK it can get fairly cold very quickly, so always a good idea to be able to add layers at night or when the sun goes down. Start the morning dressed warmly, then layers off when the sun comes out, you can remove them and catch some vitamin D. Also pack a woollen hat for late nights around the campfire, especially if you are follicly challenged like me.
  • Good Pocket Knife or Multi-Tool. Pretty self-explanatory. There’s always a tin to open, something to cut or a a marshmallow stick to trim. I have a Leatherman and rate them very highly.
  • Matches, lighter and candles. But make sure you don’t leave naked flames alight in your tent.
  • First Aid Kit – always a good idea to take headache/anti inflammatory pills, plasters, antiseptic cream, eyewash etc.
  • Single burner camping gas cooker and little kettle – great for the early morning coffee.

Here are some of my particular camping tips and great camping ideas I’ve picked up along the way;

  • Take lots of plastic bags – especially if it’s wet to pack away your clothes so they stay dry, or separate the dirty ones – good bin liners for rubbish – lots of campsite require you to take your rubbish home and no one wants a boot full of stinky leftovers. Also pays to locate the nearest recycling and waste centre to the campsite to dump your rubbish as soon after you leave the campsite as possible.
  • Wet wipes & talc. Especially for kids or if you don’t fancy the campsite showers!
  • Tin foil – most important if camping with open fires – potatoes, sweet corn, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, (or almost any veggie) can all be cooked on a bbq or the edge of open fire in foil. Some plastic tubs for left overs. I even save the baked potatoes from the night before if uneaten and mix them with eggs and bacon in the morning for a Spanish omelette – my 11 yo loves it.
  • Must take the marshmallows! I’m biased but I only camp at places which allow open fires!
  • Freeze your camping meat – I like to freeze my meat, bacon etc for day 2 & 3 – it acts like an ice block in the cool box as it defrosts, and is fresh and ready to eat a day or two after arriving.
  • Wine in a box or twist top bottles – you can get some decent ones in boxes now days – helps the pack up with no empty bottles to carry or break.  Take a corkscrew and you will always make a friend on a campsite as someone will wonder around at night looking for one guaranteed!
  • Cans instead of bottle of beer or soft drinks. The empties can be crushed and put in a small (or large for some) plastic bag to be recycled.
  • Big umbrella as well – like a golf one – get one of kids or a mate to hold it over you if it’s raining while you are BBQing or cooking on the campfire – never cook inside a tent due to carbon monoxide poisoning – which is serious threat.
  • Daily Contacts Lenses – ever tried changing hard contacts in the wilds of sussex – I’ve had to do it for both my daughter and myself and the dailies are much easier and if you drop them you just pop another one.
  • Insect Repellant. In the UK I never need to use the stuff, but you never know when you will get a mosquito (mossie to an Aussie) infestation. Expect lots little biting insects at different times which home in on some people ahead of others. It’s also been suggested that some incense to keep away the insects at night. It can pay to have a tick remover if roaming or camping through woodland areas or where deer in particular have a presence – you can buy these cheaply online.

If you are a keen camper and have anything to add – keep the conversation alive and add your own comment with your favourite piece of camping advice or camping tip.

Cheers

Hugh

Best camping tips and best camping advice

47 Comments
  1. Loved the list but a small first aid kit could be useful, i always take headache/anti inflammatory pills, plasters, antiseptic cream, eyewash etc.

    A small, single burner gas cooker and little kettle for the early morning coffee

    • Good idea re first aid kit Andy – I will add the first aid kit. Also crucial to have a morning coffee!

  2. Great list of tip Hugh! I think one of the biggest things to put off novice campers is being cold and uncomfortable at night. Took my girlfriend (now wife) 10 years to get over that first horrible experience. So get a warm sleeping bag (she now has a snug 3-4 season down one) and roll up mattresses (we use Outwell Dreamboats).

    Another tip (one which I personally do not follow buy wish I could) is don’t take too much! It can feel like moving home when you’ve got kids – and a bit off putting for just a weekend. So either bring less, or keep it all in the car/garage ready to minimise the fuss!

    Happy camping..!

  3. thank you very helpful tips.
    thinking of taking my grandchild for first time.

  4. Unroll the Andrex and break into convenient lengths depending on your expected throughput! Fold up inside a ziploc bag, keeps it dry and takes up less room.

  5. Layers is the key to camping. It’s always a good idea to be able to add layers at night or when the sun goes down. Start the morning dressed warmly, then layers off when the sun comes out. Also pack a woollen hat for late nights around the campfire, especially if you are follicly challenged.

    • So true

    • Layers – layers – layers. I also pack a woollen beanie – often sleeping in it early in the season. Thanks Solange.

  6. I always take lighting fluid… You never know when you need to start a fire and your trusted matches aren’t up to scratch!

    Happy Camping!

  7. Great tips. Handwarmers are brill if you have kids. Helps them get cosy in their sleeping bag at night.

  8. Great tips thank you … Incense Sticks a good midge and mosquito repellent

    • Thanks Jango – good camping advice – if in the forest a tic remover as well.

    • Brilliant!…who can remember Tiger rings? Is that right?

  9. Great advice. But need more 😉 We are buying an 8 man tent ( first timers) family of 6. !!!! Oh god help me.
    We are in kent.
    What do people cook . A family of 6 is hard enough at home but camping sounds like a nightmare.Money is tight hence the tent situ .. Was thinking blo up beds , but have changed my mind ( wouldn’t bare it on the floor, if the bed decided she’s had enough of playing nice) So camp mats .? Any advice is so helpful Thanks for the advice I shall keep peeled for more !
    Oh forgot to ask.. Portable loos .. A good idea or not
    Duvets or sleeping bags ? Do it have sleeping bags actually don’t have anything lol But that won’t stop us from having our beach holiday in Perrenporth Cornwall this year, even if money is tight !! 😜

    • Hi Sam,

      When it comes to cooking I’m all about the BBQ. I never really camp unless I can have an open fire. Thereafter foil is my failsafe. Jacket potatoes in foil on the fire. Onions wrapped in foil. Large flat mushrooms with butter and garlic on the grill over the file. Corn on the cob in foil – or even better cooked in it’s sheath.
      Here’s a few campfire cooking posts – http://www.ecocampuk.co.uk/2016/01/05/campfire-cooking/ and http://www.ecocampuk.co.uk/2016/01/05/camping-recipes/

      In terms of beds – I like the inflatable mats – bit like this – which you can get a double bed sized one as well. http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/hi-gear-camper-self-inflating-mat-p287155

      If you have room in the car duvets are fine – if you go with a sleeping bag – which I do, make sure to use a good one if it’s going to be cold – or dress in layers for bed.

      Cheers
      Hugh

      • If money is tight, but you want a good warm bag; go for army surplus cold weather bags…….

        • ….or…. the Czech army bedroll/bag for a tenner. Extra blanket is a fiver made for it, and then VERY warm. Removable linen liner comes with it, and can be opened all the way as a blanket(s) and sheet.

          (£10 each, use mine in the summer, army winter bags, £20-£40…

          (neither are really for backpacking though….although I do!)

  10. I take my bedding, pillows, double sheet fitted over inflatable mattress and my duvet! I hate sleeping bags and like to either tuck my feet up or stick a leg out on a warm night. I can roll my duvet up in to a pillow case as its goose/duck down along with a sheet stuffed down the side and away…

  11. We take our duvet, pillows and blankets all put into vacuum bags so don’t take up much room and if using blow up beds use electric pump and this can then be used for vacuum bags to deflate for coming home

  12. We have camped before, but these tips are great! We are thinking of sleeping in our RAV4 and as we are quite short we fit in OK. We are thinking of what to pack in the ‘boot’ area and are thinking of a box like you suggest on one side and on the other chairs, fishing brolly with sides and two ring stove (not tried cooking on a fire before). Thinking we can put sleeping bags mattress rolls etc., shopping bags of clothes and toiletries on the floor or back seat of car, also a tent for when we want to stay somewhere for longer. Silly, but we are so excited to try this out – locally at first ‘just in case’ – looking forward to an adventure, just us two fifty-somethings and our dog 😊!

  13. I agree with this list!
    The most important part of camping is to never forget about the First aid kit.
    You’ll never know what will happen during your trip and it’s nice to be prepared than being sorry at the end.
    Kudos!

  14. This is so helpful. Its my first time to go camping next week. Good thing I came across with your article. Thanks author. Hope you’d continue to share your knowledge

  15. The most important thing for me is to spend 5 minutes before putting the tent up and check for stones and even worse- old tent pegs snapped off. There is nothing like standing on some stupid pebble or stone because it’s always right where you need to stand!

    • Thank Paul – agree – clearing the ground is time well spent!

  16. The pegs supplied with your new tent will be rubbish. Replace them with proper pegs – mine are steel, 10″ long, from Amazon.

    Rubber mallet for the tent pegs.

    I always pack spare guy-lines and gaffer tape. Its amazing how many broken things can be mended with some gaffer tape and a length of guy-line.

    A string of LED lights (battery or solar) to decorate the outside of your tent and help you to find it in the dark. Get the “steady on” type – the ones that flash will drive you nuts very quickly.

    I often take some single solar garden lights – the type that sit on a spike. They are very handy for marking the ends of your guy-lines so that neither you or some passing drunk trips over them.

  17. Thanks for these lovely tips they really came in handy for me when I am a guide helping other people
    Thanks

  18. Great read Hugh..
    I’m an aussie too but never been camping in UK.. Gonna take the kids for their first camping experience..

    • G’day Val,

      Hope you enjoy your camping trip!

      Cheers
      Hugh

  19. Good tips there, very informative. I intend to apply them as soon as I start hiking in my country Kenya.

  20. I would also add that you should never forget antibiotics in your first aid kit. Especially those used specifically for food poisoning and antimalarials. Camping can be exciting but you sometimes get the unexpected.

  21. Great list of things to remember. We’ve just bought our first family tent (2+2kids) and looking forward to heading out in a few weeks time. My wife was initially off the idea but since getting the tent is really buying into it, literally!! Really hoping her and the kids enjoy it – this list will help me make things a little better I hope!

    • Hope it all goes well Wes – possible see you at Beech Estate Campsite sometime!

  22. Hugh, this is a great list!

    I’ve only been camping twice before, 1st experience was horrendous, 2nd was amazing. I’m hoping to take my partner because she has never been camping before and hoping she will have a good time.

    I’m going for 3 nights and have everything sorted, the only thing I am worried about is keeping the food for so long and what meals to make, any suggestions?

    • Hi Shan,

      Some of these suggestions may help – http://www.ecocampuk.co.uk/category/campfire-recipes-campfire-cooking/

      I tend to keep things simple – so aluminium foil is your best friend – flat mushroom is foil with butter and garlic, jacket potatoes (on the edge of the fire), sweet corn are all winners on a fire or fire grill.

      Keeping things cold – I’d suggest freezing your second and third day meat, bacon etc- freeze a small milk and a water bottle or juice – so this keeps things cold as they thaw out. Most veggies keep well.
      It’s also fun to head to a farm shop that nearby for a good circular walk and get some local produce.

      Hope you convert your partner – and perhaps camp with us some time!
      Cheers
      Hugh

  23. Great tips. We also find micro fibre cloths handy in the mornings to mop down condensation and when putting away the tent to dust off the base of the tent and ground sheet.
    My latest find is hammon towels, much nicer than microfibre towels but still a lot less bulky than standard towels.

    • Thanks Louise – great tip. I use micro-fibre towels around the campsites but will look into hammon towels.
      Cheers Hugh

  24. I always hang glow sticks on my guy lines makes them really stand out so less chance of tripping also have lo glow led lights on pegs for guy lines.

    Also the porch poles can make an exceptional washing line. Just remember to mark it out with a light or take it down before dark. ( Some sites do not allow this )

  25. These tips are beneficial and one thing’s for sure in camping is the learning experience you gotta have to share with people. Great post!

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