It’s important to travel light when camping (my van struggles to average 25MPG when empty and cruising at 55MPH, let alone when it’s fully laden with camping equiment!), but a few well chosen accessories can make life easier and more comfortable. Over the last year we’ve refined our list of essential accessories that we won’t leave home without, so here in no particular order, are our top 5 must-have camping accessories…

1. Low wattage electric kettle

It’s pouring with rain, the camping field has turned to mud and the awning has just blown over… but everything will be alright after a nice cup of tea. When we first started camping we bought a stove-top whistling kettle – the type that your grandma probably used to have at home. It looked the part but it took about 3 hours to boil which is why we now have a low-wattage electric kettle to run off our electric hookup. The low-wattage bit is important to ensure that you don’t trip the fuse on your hookup by drawing too much current. A travel kettle like this one will use about one quarter of the power compared to the one you have at home. Put in just the right amount of water for your tea and while it won’t boil as quickly as your kettle at home, it’s a heck of a lot quicker than a stove-top kettle.

2. Sharp, safe knife

A good knife is essential, and this range of knives by Kuhn are perfect for camping. Each knife comes with a protective sheath so you can safely throw it into a bag or drawer and not worry about slicing your fingers when hunting around in the dark for a teaspoon or corkscrew. Both serrated and non-serrated versions are available, and if you get them in different colours, you’ll always know at a glance which is which. We like these knives so much that we have a couple in the kitchen drawer at home and another one that lives in the van.

3. Bucket barbecue

Nothing beats barbecued food on a hot summer afternoon. I don’t mean charred blackened cremated food, but properly cooked food with the smokey flavour of the barbeue. Disposable barbecues are convenient but they never last long enough and they’re very wasteful. Plus if you’re going away for a week, then a reusable barbecue and a small bag of charcoal will probably take up less space than a pile of disposable ones anyway. One of these small bucket style barbecues are perfect for camping because they come with a storage bag so when you’re done you can seal it all away and throw it back in the van without covering everything else in grease and charcoal dust – also ideal slinging over your shoulder and carrying down to the beach. Another handy feature are the small foldaway legs so you don’t need to worry about finding something suitable to protect the ground.

4. Portable gas stove

Our van has a 2-burner hob built into the conversion but it doesn’t see much use because cooking in the van can be a bit cramped and on a nice warm summer evening I’d rather be cooking outisde with a beer in hand than crouching over the hob in the van and missing out on the conversation. Sadly even I have to admit that not everything can be cooked on a barbecue, so a portable stove like this one is a must have camping accessory. It runs off a small gas cartridge which only cost a couple of pounds each from garden/diy stores and they last for a surprisingly long time – we only used a couple of cartridges during the whole of last year.

5. Wind-up head torch

When we first started camping, some seasoned camping friends told us that we needed to get a head torch and I’m glad I listened to their advice. The problem with torches is that when you really need one, the chances are that the batteries will be flat, which is why it’s a good idea to have at least one wind-up torch. A head-torchh is a great idea because when you’re trying to convert the rock-n-roll bed in the dark after one too many vinos, you’ll be greatful to have both hands free without having to resort to holding the torch between your teeth!

What are your essential camping accessories? Do you agree or disagree with mine. Let us know in the comments below…

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