Don't get us wrong: we love a spontaneous adventure, throwing a stove and a blanket in the back of the car and driving until we find a spot that takes our fancy. But when there are bank holiday crowds to deal with and the possibility of three days of uninterrupted sunshine, we like to be prepared: getting all your camping kit sorted before the weekend means you can get on with the business of looking forward to a long, slow weekend outdoors.
There's something exciting about the ritual of preparing for adventure: planning the food you'll cook, stockpiling blankets and sleeping bags for chilly nights, and then knowing that when the weekend starts, you can hit the waves or sit back with a beer and wait for the weekend to unfold.
Whether you're wild camping, staying on a campsite or just pitching up in your back garden, here's our list of the camping essentials we pack to ensure a successful weekend. Read through, check them off and enjoy the sunshine.
❏ Prepare for rain: waterproofs and wellies are essential even if it's supposed to be sunny. If you bring them, it won't rain!
❏ An awning, tarp or gazebo if you're going to be sitting outside: it'll save you from having to crush inside a tent if it starts raining, and you can even fit your stove flue through it like we've done in the picture above.
❏ A good canvas tent. Although they're more expensive than polyester tents, they last forever and are huge inside. We recommend Bell Tent UK.
❏ A portable woodburner. It'll keep your tent toasty and dry, there's lots of room on top to cook and you can even BBQ on it. There's nothing like waking up in the morning, lighting the stove and making the morning coffee over the flames...
❏ A grid or grill, so you can BBQ meat, fish or veggies over the open flames with no smoke.
❏ Coffee or tea making equipment: mugs, tea/coffee, milk and a good kettle.
❏ Double-duty ingredients: with eggs, flour, milk and some packets of yeast you can make all kinds of bread, pancakes or pizza
❏ A big plastic mixing bowl for making bread, pancakes or salad; it can double up as a washing up bowl.
❏ Lots of blankets, sleeping bags and throws. Spread on the grass when it's sunny and over the floor of your tent when you go to bed; they'll help insulate you against the ground.
❏ Battery-powered fairy lights. String them around your campsite or up in your tent: they provide a surprising amount of light.
❏ Games and books to keep the kids (and the adults) busy if it rains.
❏ A rounders bat and ball, frisbee or football to help you work up an appetite for all the tasty outdoor cooking you're going to be doing!
And last of all...
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