Tents, bags, caravans and stoves. Whatever your chosen style of camping you’re not going to get far without the right gear. But what’s right for you isn’t necessarily what’s right for the person, tent or caravan next door.
Why spend a fortune on kit that’ll beat a Himalayan blizzard or a polar winter if the closest you’ll come to either is a blustery downpour on an August night in the South of England? Why worry about super-light materials if the furthest you’re going to carrying anything is from the boot of the family MPV to your pitch?
On the other hand, if you don’t want to pack up and run every time the wind rustles the leaves in the trees or there’s a forecast for light showers, you may decide that kit that’s been tested in extremes is just the sort of gear you do want. If it’s good enough when the going gets really tough, it ought to keep you warm and dry whatever local conditions throw at you.
For some, it will be just as important to consider the shape and size of a tent’s footprint as how it’s built. Get this wrong and it could substantially limit where you can camp and how much it will cost. If the footprint’s too big you may end up paying for extra pitches or simply being refused a place at all - and don’t forget, the guy ropes often spread the footprint farther. You can kid yourself that you’re never going to use all the guy ropes and so needn’t worry - but, if you do, be prepared to see your pride and joy flex and squash hideously out of shape if the wind gets up!
Think too about how many people your tent needs to sleep and how much privacy you want. With many parks licensed by the number of tents they can accommodate, one four-person or six-person tent is often going to work out cheaper than two or three two-person tents. Depending on how long you’re staying it may even be cheaper to buy a new bigger tent than use two or more existing tents. You may think that’s just an argument to get you to buy new kit, but do the maths yourself! It won’t be cheaper in all situations or on all camp sites. But in some cases you’ll buy a new tent and still have saved-cash left over!
Of course if you want added privacy, for whatever reason(!), then an extra tent may be worth it...on the other hand you may find a pod tent or other forms of internal compartment give you just as much privacy as an extra tent. But, don’t forget, the bigger the pods and the more of them you have, the bigger the foot print!
And what about frame tents? Ever wondered why they’re still so popular when there are all these lovely new lightweight pods and domes about? Are they cool? Are they trendy? Well, no, not really. No more than a pipe and slippers. But they are built to last, which helps explain why there are so many around. They also make really good use of space. Not in a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy kind of way, but in the same way that you don’t build a house with curved walls unless you’re an Eskimo.
Not only that, but on parks that have marked pitches, especially those with electric hook-ups, you won’t often find a round, hexagonal or octagonal pitch. Sometimes a rectangular peg in a rectangular hole has a certain logic.
Frame tents also offer the benefit of allowing you to stand up and live a comparatively normal life. A few days of stoop and crawl isn’t so bad for the short and the young, but others may tire of it more rapidly - especially the cook.
In short the gear you choose is very much a case of horses for courses. Think about what you need your kit to do and how long you need it to last before you buy. It’s going to be a second home -and you wouldn’t rush into a purchase like that!
In short the gear you choose is very much a case of horses for courses. Think about what you need your kit to do and how long you need it to last before you buy.s..."