Expert Advice: Cool Camping Tips For The Summer

James Warner Smith, author of guidebook Cool Camping Britain on what to do and take for camping fun...

Couple Camping

by Rachel Loos |

Toasted marshmallows, crackling campfires, the great outdoors – there's nothing like a good old camping trip. With campsites said to open in the first week of July, we thought now would be a good time to brush up on our knowledge of holidaying outdoors, including what to pack.

Travel writer and author of guidebook Cool Camping Britain, James Warner Smith, shares with us his best tips and advice for a successful camping trip. Plus, we've complied 14 of the best tent-friendly items to pack for your adventure.

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Camping Tips For The Summer

Size up
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Wondering what size tent to buy? Tents are generally sized by the number of occupants they can fit but this doesn't include extras like bags and belongings. If in doubt, it's often best to buy a size up to allow you some extra space. If you're a couple going camping, for example, buy a three-person tent so that you can keep your bags inside with you – especially if it might rain. It's always best to visit a shop first; seeing a tent in person gives a much better sense of space than reading measurements online.

Practise first
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If you have a garden, try pitching your tent at home. The initial attempt can take a long time, so it will make the process quicker when you get to the campsite (particularly if you arrive in the evening and it's getting dark). If you're borrowing a tent from a friend, a trial run at home also lets you check that all the parts are there and the tent's in good condition.

Talk to the expert
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Skip Tripadvisor and talk to the campsite manager. Most campsites in the UK are small, family-run businesses and the owners have often lived there for years. Plan to visit a pub? Not sure whether you'll need to book a table? Want to find a quieter beach away from the crowds? These guys are local experts and, by asking, you might just find you'll be offered a lift or, even better, collection later in the evening.

Get cooking
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Pre-cook a couple of meals at home that will be easy to heat up on the campsite, such as bolognaise or curry. It saves bringing heaps of ingredients with you and removes hassle from your holiday. Better yet, freeze these meals in Tupperware and add them to your cool box – they'll work like cool-blocks while they defrost, keeping the rest of your food cold.

Take a pillow
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It's easy to think that camping is a 'minimalist' activity where lightweight equipment is key. But, if you're travelling by car, there's no need to skimp on comforts. A pillow is a million times more comfortable than resting your head on folded clothes and taking something to sit on is a must. Never, ever sleep directly on the floor: The cold comes from the ground underneath you, so a decent air bed or foam mattress is important and, if you're cold in the night, try adding layers beneath you rather than just over the top.

Ditch the devices
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Camping is about breaking routine, slowing down the pace of life and appreciating nature and good company. Forget searching for campsites with WiFi and phone charging and look instead for campsites that allow campfires and have an interesting feature nearby – a river, a lake or mountains. Being away from your emails is what a holiday is all about and, with camping, you have the perfect excuse: Most campsites have terrible phone signal anyway!

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SHOP: Everything You Might Need For Your Camping Trip

BORNN, Enamel Plate, £15
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These enamel plates are light to carry and won't ever smash – it's a win-win.

Boutique Camping, Luna Bell Tent, £319
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Who said tents have to be boring? This bohemian styled tent is fits 4+ adults comfortably (on airbeds) with space for luggage, furniture or a walkway.

VANGO, Nitestar 250S Sleeping Bag, £47
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Lightweight and extra warm to keep you cosy at night.

Lafuma Mobilier, Camping Armchair, £49.50
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Take this chair anywhere: the beach, the countryside, camping or simply in the garden.

Nordic Nest, Carrie lamp, £120
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This build-in LED lamp also holds an internal battery that is charged via a USB cable. Easy-peasy.

Buy John Lewis & Partners, Bamboo Tumbler, Set of 4, Multi Online at johnlewis.com Buy John Lewis & Partners Bamboo Tumbler, Set of 4, Multi Online at johnlewis.com Buy John Lewis & Partners Bamboo Tumbler, Set of 4, Multi Online at johnlewis.com Buy John Lewis & Partners Bamboo Tumbler, Set of 4, Multi Online at johnlewis.com Buy John Lewis & Partners Bamboo Tumbler, Set of 4, Multi Online at johnlewis.com Buy John Lewis & Partners Bamboo Tumbler, Set of 4, Multi Online at johnlewis.com John Lewis & Partners Bamboo Tumbler, Set of 4, £12
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These hardwearing tumblers are made from a combination of bamboo fibre, corn powder and resin. They're ideal for outdoor or casual dining.

BORNN, Enamel Mug, £13
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Enamel crockery is really the way forward when camping, but they can be stylish too.

Mini Moderns, Moordale Enamelware Kettle, £45
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This enamelware kettle has a solid beech, heat resistant handle, and is suitable for use on gas, induction and electric hobs.

Aeropress, Hand Camping Filter Coffee Maker Brewer, £32
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Designed to be the ideal camping filter coffee maker, it just requires hot water to brew fresh filter coffee.

Wood & Meadow, Primus Onja Stove, £139
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Every portable stove should be as compact as this one.

Wood & Meadow, Primus Campfire Cooking Set, £65
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This set consists of two different sized pots, two lids with integrated colanders and a frying pan.

Gentlemen's Hardware, Camping Cutlery Tool, £16
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The only tool you'll probably ever need by the campfire!

Kelty, Low Loveseat, £90
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Perfect for a cuddle by the campfire.

Kelty, Tru.Comfort Doublewide Sleeping Bag, £155
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Think your partner will steal the covers? No worries, there are two separate built-in blankets in this sleeping bag. And foot vents!

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