Whether you’re a seasoned Lake District traverser or a camping rookie, the rules and regulations around international travel may mean that a staycation is on the cards for you this summer. But if you’ve ever done Duke of Edinburgh, you’ll know that what should be a picturesque weekend away can become little short of a disaster if not prepared for correctly.
Luckily for you, we’ve spent over the past few months asking outdoorsy people — including artistic adventurers, wild campers, and enthusiastic hikers — for their expert gear recommendations. As we’ve racked up a rather extensive roster of camping guides in the process, here, we’ve compiled the very best of our camping coverage into a one-stop shop. Please bear in mind that for a very specific trip (perhaps you’re the type that enjoys a quick whistle-stop tour of the Arctic tundra), you can read more in depth about specialist categories in our full-length stories, which will be linked below. Otherwise, read on for a breakdown of absolutely everything you’ll need to adventure, camp, and hike, from sleeping bags and hiking boots to status Finnish compasses.
This tent took the top- pot of our expert-recommended roundup after being recommended to us by hiker Joey Holmes, founder of Black Girls Camping Trip, Tianna Johnson, and award-winning travel writer Emily Woodhouse. All three of them specifically mentioned being fans of the tent’s versatility, finding it suitable for backpacking to wild camping. The tent is also ultralightweight (weighing 1.5 kg) and adaptable to a variety of weather conditions. Thanks to its double-porch feature for storing gear, both Holmes and Woodhouse personally found the tent to have ample space for two people, where Woodhouse mentioned it was a prime choice for fellow plus-size sleepers. Read more here.
With an average rating of 4.5 stars from over 1,700 reviews, this three-man option from Coleman was the best-rated overall in our people’s choice tent roundup. Sixty-nine reviewers marvelled at how easy the tent was to erect, and 35 others were advocates of the porch area, which is large enough to sit in during the day. As for adverse weather conditions, the tent is certifiably durable, with one couple reporting that the tent withstood both Storm Ellen and a heavy downpour in the Dordogne. Read more here.
For larger groups, this octagon shaped tent from Coleman is suitable for, fittingly, eight people. With both a sewn-in waterproof groundsheet and a flysheet that’s entirely removable on humid days, the tent is suited to both winter and summer time trips. Whilst designed for large groups, Black Girls Camping Trip’s Johnson says the tent is also great when camping solo as it makes it easier to “delegate space” for areas like “a hygiene corner or a reading corner.”
Best Sleeping Bags
Richard Prideaux, lead instructor at Original Outdoors, selected this Therm-a-Rest as his ultimate sleeping bag pick when we spoke to him for our expert roundup. Suited to handling subzero temperatures, the bag is actually ideal for damp-weather protection, being made up of quick-drying synthetic insulation. Whilst there is no official GSM rating ( the amount of weight per square meter in an insulating material) available for the bag, it is a solid choice for both winter and summer camping. It also has the added bonus of packing away easily — so there’s no need to dread a festive end-of-trip wrestling match with the storage bag. Read more here.
An exceedingly well-rated — and cheap, at less than £30 — option comes in the form of the Trail Outdoor 3 Season sleeping bag. Usually, the higher a GSM rating, the warmer the sleeping bag. The Trail Outdoor bag has a rating of 250 GSM, meaning it’s suited for outings from spring all the way up to early winter (though reviewers do make a point to stress the ‘early’ aspect, noting the bag cannot withstand below-freezing temperatures.) Where over 30 reviewers made a point to stress the bag’s comfort, one reviewer in particular said that the bag’s 190 cm length allowed a good night of sleep for the tallest of campers. Read more here.
If sleeping flat on your back isn’t really your thing, this sleeping bag for side-sleepers could be the perfect choice. With a central zipper that will refrain from impaling your hips as you’re snoozing, the Sidewinder is designed specifically for those that tend to curl up on their sides through the night. With a mix of synthetic and high-loft, water-resistant natural down, as well as keeping you comfortable, the sidewinder will keep you warm and dry, too.
Just as important as a carefully selected sleeping bag in some situations, a sleeping mat offers a solid foundation for a decent night’s sleep whilst camping. Providing a crucial layer of protection between your bag and your groundsheet, a mat can add a layer of warmth and comfort on a good day or protect you from damp leaks on a bad one.
Best Hiking Backpack
One expert, Camping With Style’s Shell Robshaw-Bryan, said that Osprey’s packs guarantee “decades of service.” Another expert, adventurer Holly Budge, stood by the pack after taking it on perhaps the ultimate measure of quality: a successful hike to the summit of Mount Everest. She said the backpack gave “lots of support through the waist strap, making weight more manageable,” and faced “extreme heat, wind, and snow” without letting her down.
Best Kids Camping Items
With room for both a little one and their belongings, the Poco Plus Child Carrier is an ideal choice for parents hoping to adventure out on a hike with a kid. Able to carry toddlers at a weight of up to 18 kg, the carrier is “astonishingly well designed,” according to adventurer Mary-Ann Ochota.
Andes Pichu sleeping bags came recommended for miniature campers. Alex Ion, who runs the Dozy Owl sleep blog, says that the bag is ideal for kids not only because of its size but because of its lightweight design, meaning that they can carry their own gear. At 300 GSM, the bag will keep kids warm across two to three seasons, and there’s also a handy inner pocket for torch storage, perfect for those kids that aren’t quite as comfortable with the dark.
Best Camping Chair
Seasoned wild camper Aoife Kitt is a strong advocate for this lightweight camping chair (it weighs less than a kilo). Taking up the same space as a pair of trainers amongst your kit, the chair is beyond convenient to transport, and its two deep pockets are convenient for popping down a nice brew (or perhaps something stronger) whilst you relax. Importantly, it’s also really rather comfortable, she adds. Read more here.
Best Gear, Gadgets, and Tools
With an mAh (milliamp hours) of 26,800, enough to charge an iPhone 11 eight times over, this Anker Power Bank was hyperenthusiastic reviewers top choice for a portable charger. Reaching full charge in just eight-hours and with the ability to charge up to three devices simultaneously, many reviewers named the item as an absolute essential for campaign trips. One such reviewer claimed that the power bank had been a lifesaver for both herself and her boyfriend, who’s own charger had died hours into their trip, meaning the Anker Power Bank had had to step in to save the day. Read more here.
For a less cumbersome option, Anker also make a slender version of their Power Bank, which sits at a rather respectable average star rating of 4.6 from almost 19,000 reviewers. Roughly the size of a chocolate bar, the device slots easily away in a pocket or a bumbag, meaning hikers can charge their devices on the go with no fuss. And 193 reviewers called the product value for money, with one reviewer even saying that the peace of mind offered by the kit was invaluable.
Outdoors writer Latria Graham recommended this multi-tool to fellow hikers over on our sister site. Packing pliers, a wire cutter, scissors, tweezers, a screwdriver, a nail file, and (essentially) a bottle opener, she says that the tool is so useful, she actually keeps it in her wallet full-time.
For a cheaper and more classical option, arborist Alex Vaught recommended the Victorinox Swiss Army knife. “It’s small and light, it easily fits into a pocket, and it’s unlikely to look intimidating to anyone,” he explains, revealing that no matter what specialist equipment he might require for a job, he’ll always find himself packing his Swiss Army knife.
Meanwhile, contributor Hanna Hanra also recommends the “dinky” six cm version.
One thing no campsite should be without is a fully stocked first-aid kit. But if you’re scratching your head as to what needs to be included, we chatted to experts — including a medical director at St John’s Ambulance — for their advice. In addition to fabric plasters and bandages, they also recommended tweezers, thermometers, and a quality eye wash and eye bath, such as this one from Superdrug. Read more here.
This eNZees Foot Soother provides a “pillowy softness,” according to contributor Aleta Burchyski, who pinches a puff of the yarn to wrap around her angry toes. The eNZees soother is the only thing that’s enabled Aleta to tackle the home stretch of her and her husband’s hikes, and she thanks it heartily for saving her toes from slowly declining into “shredded grapes.”
Expert hiker Maggie Slapein recommended packing a headlamp for longer journeys “just in case something goes wrong, and I’m out longer than I think I should be in the dark,” she explains. She also emphasises the importance of having any torch beyond just a phone, as even with a portable charger, you may not always be able to rely on it as a light source.
Best Coolers, BBQs, and Kitchen Tools for Camping
With an average rating of 4.7 stars from well over 1,500 reviews, the Campingaz Party Grill is a solid choice for those seeking a portable grill. The barbecue is a gas model, but have no fear, reviewers said that the (various) compatible gas canisters were easy to track down online. Twenty-seven reviewers reported that, crucially, the portable barbecue was easy to transport, and over 90 said that cleaning it was also a doddle. Read more here.
The Uten barbecue grill has a similar number of reviews as the Campingaz — over 1,500 — but is a third of the price. Despite the cheaper price point, reviewers (36, to be exact) said that the grill was easy to assemble, and an additional 16 remarked on how little time the straight-forward assembly had taken.
The top-rated option for keeping your drinks chilly came from Thermos. Of the 30-litre cooler’s reviewers, 76 percent awarded the bag five stars. Reviewers reported that whilst the bag was more than capable of keeping drinks chilled — such as a frozen water bottle in 30 degree heat — it was also suitable for snacks and even the entirety of a big shop. Read more here.
When we chatted to experts about statusy water bottles, the PureVis from Larq came out on top. As it uses UV and LED light to purify water, it’s especially useful for hiking — the bottle eradicates 99.9 percent of bacteria. The bottle is available in two forms, PureVis and Movement PureVis; we recommend the latter for campers and hikers — whilst it lacks temperature-regulation capabilities, it is much lighter. Read more here.
For a much (much) cheaper option, the top-rated water bottle of our Amazon roundup was this 720 Degree UberBottle at just £12. An enormous number of people (55,000) have reviewed the bottle, 83 percent of which are five stars: that’s over 40,000 customers awarding the bottle a perfect score. Perhaps this is due to the ease the bottle requires to keep clean, it’s leakproof lid, or the built-in cup for infusing water, which 100 customers praised specifically in their reviews. Read more here.
Best Hiking Gear
If you’re hoping to get a bit of hiking done during your excursion, a well-crafted pair of walking boots are an absolute must. Author Stacey Halls says that this pair from Merrell have accompanied her up moors, down rivers, over cobbled slopes, and through grassy banks.
Hikers will also need a pair of suitable socks to pair with their boots, and these cushioned pairs from Merell come highly recommended by hiker Steven John. He explains that they offer just as much reinforcement found in taller styles that he’s tried, and that the blend of acrylic, wool, nylon, and spandex that comprise the socks make them “perfectly snug yet comfortable.” You can pick them up in packs of three from Amazon.
To keep you fuelled on your expedition, we’ve rounded up a selection of the healthiest snacks available on Amazon. There’s something for salt lovers and sweet tooths alike, from crispy seaweed thins and crunchy coconut bites to this selection box of Nakd bar best sellers. Read more here.
This set has a very respectable rating of 4.6 stars from over 1,600 reviewers, 23 of which commented on the tremendous value for money the game was at just £7. Ideal for campers that like to travel far and wide, reviewers also reported that the game could be played on various terrains, from grass to sand. It also comes with a nifty little carrying case, which makes it a no-fuss addition to your camping gear. Read more here.
We first discovered Molkky in Paris (it’s a cult summer game) but also spied it when we perused lawn games on Amazon (it has an outstanding rating of 4.8 stars). It’s easy to see how the game has gained its reputation, as in addition to commenting on the materials and portability of the game, at least 30 reviewers stated just how addictive the fun game was.
As we can’t guarantee dry weather for your trip, we can guarantee that you won’t regret packing a “just-in-case” raincoat. Tabatha Legett bought this particular anorak from R-Collection — which she calls a Nordic outdoorsy answer to Uniqlo — during her first year living in Finland. With an Aquatx coating making it stain-, water-, and wind-repellent, she says that in addition to being lovely to look at, it is “exceedingly practical.”
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