We spent a fair amount of time in the campervan in 2010, and at the end of the season had got packing down to a fine art. Over the winter, however we took out some of the kit to stop it getting damp and also when the the van went in for major repairs, and so we’ve now got our camping kit spread between the van, the house and the garage. With the camping season about to start and the first camping trips booked, we thought it would be a good idea to try to remember what we needed.

Here’s the list that we made of our camping essentials which includes things that are actually essential, such as bedding, and also those things that we just wouldn’t want to live without. Let us know if you think we’ve missed anything off the list or if there’s something that you wouldn’t leave home without.

Basic stuff:

  • Awning – useful for storing stuff in, drinking tea with your friends in, and marking your pitch if you go out for the day. The optional inner tent in ours is also useful for putting up friends. Don’t forget the figure of eight attachments to fasten it to the van.
  • Rock pegs – never needed them yet but surely they’ll come in useful one day
  • Mallet
  • Fold out canvas table – we use ours with the table top from the van for a sturdy surface. Ideal for preparing food, putting your pint on or for a quick game of Palmer

    Happy Campervanners

  • Seat-back organiser – for keeping the small things safe. Ours contains microfibre cloths, stretchy washing line and pegs, wine glass holders that stick in the ground, anti-bacterial hand gel, playing cards, binoculars, bungee cord (you never know when you might need one), fluorescent jacket  – useful if you’re going to France, or for roadside breakdowns.
  • First-aid kit
  • Torch – we’ve found a head torch to be particularly useful, especially when walking home from the pub down dark country roads
  • Lighting – we have a collapsible, rechargeable lantern and a solar powered sun jar
  • Collapsible storage – for use when travelling in the van and in the awning when you’ve set up camp
  • Something to put your food shopping in when you pop to the farm shop/supermarket
  • Rain coats and waterproof shoes – you’re bound to need them at some point. We have shoe bags too to store the muddy shoes in.
  • Towels – ours are microfibre so are small, light and dry really quickly (although they don’t actually get you dry quite as quickly as a regular towel)
  • Something to transport all your gear to the shower in
  • Flip flops – good for walking to the shower in and wearing in the shower if you don’t like the look of the floor

For when you’re feeling peckish:

  • Portable gas hob – useful for cooking outdoors when you don’t want your morning fry-up to stink out your van or cover it in grease
  • Gas
  • Pots & pans
  • Plates, bowls, mugs, glasses and cutlery – ours come in a handy picnic set for storage
  • Tin opener, bottle opener, sharp knives (preferably with covers for the blade), wooden spoon, tongs for BBQ
  • Tea towel, washing up sponge, scourer if you like a clean BBQ grill
  • Selection of basic foodstuffs – could include salt, pepper, ketchup, stock cubes, oil for frying, pasta, rice, tins of tomatoes and other things, tea, coffee etc

    Campsite Cooking

  • Bucket BBQ – ideally with legs to raise it off the ground and a case for storing after you’ve used it.
  • Charcoal for said BBQ
  • Picnic blanket/beach mat
  • Folding chairs – preferably small enough to be stored beneath the fold out bed
  • Folding stool – small enough to sit on in the van while you’re cooking so you don’t bang your head
  • Fire extinguisher – better safe than sorry
  • Water carriers x 2 – one for clean water, one for dirty
  • Kettle – either of the whistling variety for use on the gas or electric for use with the hookup (both if you’re like my mum and you wouldn’t like to be without the ability to make tea)
  • Camping toaster – a bizarre contraption for use on the gas hob
  • Anti-bacterial kitchen spray and soap/washing up liquid in travel sized bottles (buy the empty bottles from the chemist)
  • Collapsible washing up bowl
  • Plastic tubs/bags/bottles – for storing leftover BBQ sausages for breakfast or for your picnic

Sleeping essentials:

  • Sleeping bags – we prefer sleeping bags to a quilt as they are much smaller and easier to pack away during the day
  • Pillows – ours double as cushions
  • Blankets – to keep out the chill and keep you cosy round the camp fire
  • Warm pyjamas – something you won’t mind walking to the toilet block in when you have to go in the middle of the night
  • Windscreen and front window covers – for privacy at night and to insulate. We made ours ourselves from a roll of that stuff that goes behind your radiators to reflect heat (available from all good DIY stores) and some sucker-cups from ebay

The not-so-essentials:

  • Pico projector (that means small) – loaded with your favourite shows
  • Projector screen – ours is made of blackout curtain and hangs from a net curtain wire attached to the sides of the van behind the front seats
  • Electric hook-up cable – nice and long with accompanying luxuries such as low voltage travel kettle, hair-dryer and straighteners, and mobile phone chargers. We also have a handy tester plug for the hook-up which lights up to tell you that the power is connected correctly and safely earthed
  • Handpresso coffee maker and unbreakable espresso cups
  • Frisbee, Boules, Kite

Because you’ve got a Bongo/ageing VW and not a brand new T5 model:

  • Jump start cables
  • Mini socket set
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Tracey · April 25, 2011 at 19:59

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We used this list to pack for our first camping trip of the year and realised that there’s nothing to light the stove or the BBQ with on the list, which is quite important. Fortunately we remembered to pack the refillable gas lighter. Matches would also have worked.

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Jan · May 13, 2011 at 22:20

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I always take a can of insect spray to clear the van of mozzies before going to bed (vacate and return after the deed is done so you don’t suffocate!) and a couple of rubbish bags.

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admin · May 15, 2011 at 20:37

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Good tip for the mozzies. We’ve been bitten already this year! And a few carrier bags will always come in useful.

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View Site · October 13, 2011 at 17:07

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Great post, I really like taking my family camping.

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Enjoy camping with top quality camping supplies. Find camping equipment for every outdoor occassion · April 24, 2013 at 13:54

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Enjoy camping with top quality camping supplies. Find camping equipment for every outdoor occassion…

[…]Our list of camping essentials « Happy Campervanning[…]…

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