What works and what doesn’t for our family camping kit currently. Last minute trip out with friends to camp in Penmaenmawr, North Wales. It’s close by, we could travel there after work and setup with it still being light. We scraped around various pitch finding websites and found a lovely little place called Trwyn Yr Wylfa.
I hadn’t even looked at our camping kit since halfway through 2017 and just bunged whatever I could find into the trailer on the morning before we left. Our gear was total hit and miss and a bit more minimal. Here’s what we took from our first trip out, what worked and what didn’t.
Our Tent JUST about works for us
Our “new” Robens Klondike is improved.
At the end of last year our 2016 suffered a few leaks in bad weather but Robens and Taunton Leisure kindly replaced it. I’ve kind of half written an article on this tent but it’s not quite ready. The jist of it is, that this tent is our favourite tent we’ve used ever. Robens sent us a 2017 model, opposed to the 2016 we had. It’s got a few lovely new design features that have made a big difference.
- The Stove Port / Collar in the roof is now WAY easier to manipulate and peg in. I used to have all sorts of trouble getting it to cover the ventilation gaps. Now it feels like it fits better, easier to manipulate. I think it’s actually been improved again on the 2018 model.
- Robens have added really useful guy line retainers
- Guy lines now have metal locks on them, makes tightening and loosening easier
- Guy lines also now have moveable metal rings that you can peg directly into saving wear of the lines on the actual pegs.
- The A-Frame plastic cap, that we lost INSTANTLY previously, is on a strap retainer, it’s going nowhere!
We really like the Klondike, its quick to put up and pack down, strong but we struggle with the layout and keeping the place tidy / organised. Other than that we’ve fallen back in love with it.
We use the Robens Klondike as our main tent. Whilst there is plenty of space inside for all of us and the dog we could use a little extra space as and when we need it.
There are a few options available to us, tarps, add on canopies, maybe use our event shelter.
When it rains it would be really useful to have a space that we can cook in and store food. We tend to do a big Aldi shop before we leave and take all our food with us. We always over buy too, so have loads and it all takes space.
Shoes get tossed everywhere, flip-flops and sandals discarded by the kids all over the tent. It would be great to keep them dry and outside, not to mention muddy walking boots too.
We’ve got the traditional 5-pole windbreak, garish red and yellow, simple poles banged into the ground. I love them for the beach, lightweight and straightforward. I’d like an option to be used at camp though. We want to explore more campsites and I’d like a bit of privacy and also to help offer some side protection whilst we’re cooking/eating under the tarp outside.
I guess something that fits with the tarp/Klondike colours. Nothing too bright. Simple to setup but strong.
Currently our setup is this. Sarah and Finn tend to share a double size Outwell Dreamcatcher, the 7.5cm deep version. They have been sharing a big Vango sleeping bag but now Finn is finally in a separate single sleeping bag. Erin and I have single Outwell Dreamcatchers (10cm). Erin has an awesome Vango single sleeping bag and I have just bought a lightweight Down mummy sleeping bag from Aldi of all places (sadly it already feels like its falling apart). I previously had a massive double Go Outdoors own brand one but it packed huge and I really needed to get the space down a bit.
This is a lot of stuff, the sleeping bags in particular don’t compress well. The mats I can kind of forgive because they’re really comfortable (though I think the double may have a puncture somewhere so we definitely need to look into it). I’ve seen some newer versions which look amazing from some of the main manufacturers so I’m going to look into them too.
I would really like to look into our sleeping bags better. I really want a rectangular bag, I’m really not a fan of the Mummy bags for family camping and if we’ve got the space to transport/carry then I’d like the space to sleep too. An oversized one would be great too as I really like pulling it up over my head if it gets chilly. I run quite warm when I sleep so getting tangled up in a mummy bag isn’t one of my favourite things. Finn needs a decent bag similar to Erins and Sarah needs a good rectangular bag too.
Our chairs are too big
We were kindly donated two really big moon chairs made by Gelert by friends of ours a few seasons ago. They’re OK, they’re good for snuggling in with the kids and a blanket. They’re not perfect though. They’re kind of awkward to get in and out of. The backs of my legs get a bit stuck on the metal rim and it doesn’t feel comfortable. If you’re sitting by the camp fire you’re kind of sat too far back from it to really benefit from the heat. I always thought you could line them with tin foil and quietly bake yourself (PROTIP GELERT) to solve this. They also pack HUGE! Super difficult getting them into the car (they’re a weird pack shape too).
I’d like a smaller packsize chair, lighter, comfortable, easy to relax on. Heavy duty too and budget friendly. We’ve been through those cheap two for a tenner chairs and whilst I do quite like the size and weight, they’re just not durable. I want a heavier duty version.
Our Kitchen is all over the place
We’ve reverted to a single ring gas cooker again. I had a huge Camping Gaz double ring one but the whole thing combined with a big gas bottle is huge. The single ring one flies through gas though, it feels inefficient.
Our cutlery, plates, cooking utensils are all now from home. They’re not sized right, they don’t pack down properly, they’re all mismatched, we lose more and more of them on every trip.
We’ve got no real way of transporting the kitchen/dining equipment together. It all needs its own compartment for transporting and then all the equipment needs to be stored and usable with ease when we’re setup at camp.
We’re SO messy
I see so many camping setups on various Facebook groups in and around, they’re always meticulously laid out, loads of furniture, wardrobes, vacuum bags etc etc.
We’ve tried lots of different things but we always end up with stuff, clothes, tools, kitchen kit, towels etc everywhere. Maybe it’s too much stuff, maybe we’re just impossibly messy. I think we need to compartmentalise everything and just take less stuff. Being minimal means being tidy, being tidy means we relax more, relax more, means actual restoration. (I think)
I take my weekend kit in my Eastpak day bag. It’s one of the most versatile packs I’ve ever had. The thing is I’ve started carrying my drone mini pack and Fuji XT 2 mini pack in it when we’re out and about. This means I’ve got to empty my clothes somewhere. So, need a new clothes bag. Sarah needs one too. She carries all her stuff in reusable Aldi bags which spill everywhere when I pack (chuck) them in the car. Maybe two small suitcases is simply the answer? Stackable? Maybe a crate?
Worth exploring some options for sure.
Bonus learning points!
- Underfoil blankets are great! We were all noticeably warmer, now permanent kit features.
- Sleeping on a hill is hard. Don’t do it. (Though the view is pretty sweet!)
- There’s no substitute for a real pillow. Pack ’em in the middle seat. Guaranteed better night.