Sometimes, you just get sick of the city. Noise, bustle, blaring of horns…and the greyness.
I know! Let’s go and listen to some cows mooing instead! Let’s find some greenery.
Is it that simple? Well, it can be – camping is generally fairly wallet friendly, it can be pretty impromptu, and there are lots of places you can go.
But there are still a few things to think about before you set off…and from experience we’ve come up with a few must-do’s. There was the time pre-kids, for instance, where some friends and I turned up to a festival with an ancient ridge tent with no instructions, an air bed (but no pump), completely lacking a mallet – note that shoes DO NOT work well as mallets – and also, no consideration of the fact that we probably shouldn’t attempt our tent pitching on a hill.
The result was a very uncomfortable nights sleep culminating in rolling out of the tent (no built in ground sheet in an old fashioned tent, it turns out) which then promptly went pretty crooked and fell over.
1/ Try out your tent before you go away. Not just the first time, but every time – check that all the pieces are there, that nothing is ripped or broken. Practicing pitching the tent can also give you some time to study the instructions at your leisure, without being pressured for time and also with electricity on hand to allow quick troubleshooting internet style from the comfort of your own home.
(Lesson also learnt from the time we turned up at 10.30pm in a field we didn’t know, with a tent we’d not used for a while…it ended up being more than a little bit wonky).
2. Some bit of kit are more essential than others. A mallet, for example, is pretty much a given if you want your tent to stay up, and in one place. Something to sleep on, something to sleep in, and something to sleep under.
Everything but the mallet is helpfully contained in one handy kit bag if you go for the a camping set like the Aventura Four Person Tent Pack – sleeping bags, roll mats and a two room tent all handily held together in a big zip up sack. In theory, this should make it easy to pack up and set off…I’ll let you know how it works in practice in a week or two! (we do have a mallet, too…).
And talking of tents, that brings me to my next lesson learnt:
Not, for example, an ancient tent with no instructions, that only sleeps two people when you have more than two people wanting to use it.
There is something to be said for retro tents – they have a certain charm to them – but equally they tend to be heavy, have hard to replace bits, and no inner tent with built in groundsheet to ensure you stay extra warm and dry. They also don’t tend to have more than one room. Or any separate chill space away from the sleep space.
Modern tents offer lots of options –
- The addition of extra inner tents
- Inclusion of living space, porch space, dump all your stuff space…
- Dual skin for extra insulation
- Built in ground sheets for added waterproofness and warmth
and so on, as you can see demonstrated by our somewhat ridiculously large tent above.
4. Pitch it perfectly.
As in, not on a hill, for starters.
Or somewhere like this, either (I had learnt by this point that places where water is likely to pool is a really, really bad idea):
As it turns out, all this advice and more is contained in the handy Halfords Camping Guide, which sets out some ideas of places to stay, some suggestions for helping the kids be happy campers, and a lot of great tips about choosing your tent, essential bits of kit…even some campfire cooking concepts!
Sadly the Halfords Camping Guide was not around when I first went off festivalling. But it is now, and we are off to try it out.
Check back soon and find out how we got on!
Disclosure: this post was written in collaboration with Halfords, who sent us a copy of their camping guide, and an Aventura 4 man tent pack to try. However, all words, opinions and unfortunate previous experiences are my own 🙂