First time campers – everything you need to know

Embarking on your first camping trip can be rather overwhelming, particularly if you have the entire family in tow, including children who can be a little unforgiving if their living standards don’t match their expectations.
Don’t fret! You are about to join the world of holiday makers who don’t just see camping as an economical alternative to hotels – who needs four walls anyway? They camp because they enjoy the connection with the outdoors, freedom for children, getting to know neighbours (or spying on their camping equipment) and the flexibility of where to pitch.
Describing camping as being “at one with nature” can sometimes be pushing it, but we’re confident that with the right preparation and equipment you will want to camp again and again.
How should I prepare for a first camping holiday?
Don’t leave your preparation until the last minute! Think about the people who will be on the trip with you, how much room you will need, whether you intend to cook from the tent, or would rather eat out, whether you absolutely cannot do without electricity.
Many of these factors will influence your choice of tent so have a look at our Tent Buyers Guide for more guidance on this. They also influence whether, for example, you take kitchen equipment and table and chairs. Once you have considered carefully what kind of trip it’s going to be, you can start to plan what to take.
Here’s our guide to first time camping requirements.
What essentials will I need for a camping holiday?
Once you have the roof over your head, you need to create a list of what to take, which will depend on what your trip involves. We would suggest the following in order of priority:
  • A mallet
  • Bed and bedding
  • Lighting
  • Gas, fuel and cooking equipment
  • Kitchen accessories
  • Ice boxes and fridges
  • Furniture
Beds and bedding from BCH Camping
To get a good night’s sleep you will need either an airbed, self-inflating mat or camp bed, all of which can be kept as guest beds at home after the trip.

  • The Coleman Comfort Bed Double NP has two separate chambers so it is almost like two beds in one. Each occupant can move around without affecting their neighbour and “roll-together” is reduced. It is easy to transport and pump up using the CampingGaz 4D Quickpump.
  • Inflator mats offer more comfort and have the benefit of being self-inflating by simply removing the valve. A popular choice, the double sized Coleman Camper Inflator Mat is available in 10cm thickness. BCH Camping have a range of self-inflating mats available in different thicknesses of 2.5, 5cm, 7.5cm and 12cm, depending on your preference.
  • For those who prefer to sleep above ground level, a camp bed may be a preferred option. The Kampa Slumber Plus Camp Bed is an extra wide camp bed that is easy to put up and comes with a carry bag for transportation.

Once you have your bed you will need sleeping bags. BCH Camping supply a range of single and double sleeping bags and junior sleeping bags, with different temperature ratings. There are sleeping bags available for all budgets.
Don’t forget the pillow! You may be happy to bring pillows from home, but if not, we’d recommend the Outwell Constellation Pillow which can fold inside itself for more height and firmness.
Why do I need lighting for a camping trip?
Whilst the answer to this may be obvious, if you’re not used to campsites you may not realise that most sites don’t have lighting, so at night time it can be very difficult to see inside and around the tent, and when walking around to use the facilities. There are many guide ropes to fall over and finding your tent can sometimes prove to be very difficult (particularly if the site has a bar)!
  • You will need either hand held or head torches for getting around the site. The Coleman Divide+ 200 LED Torch has a battery lock system which prevents battery power drain. If you’d prefer a head torch, the Coleman CHT+ 100 Batterylock Headtorch weighs just 90g and has three modes – high, low and red – and a pivoting head.
  • For providing light in the tent you can use either gas lanterns or battery powered lights such as tent lights that clip on, eye lights that can be attached to almost anything, and hanging lanterns.
PLEASE NOTE: You should exercise caution when using a gas lantern in your tent, especially with children as they get very hot. Battery powered lights are usually a better option for family holidays.
I want to cook from the tent. What will I need?
Firstly, you need to have some fuel for your stove. BCH Camping stock a range of gas and fuel for stoves, along with spares.
Your cooking equipment of choice should reflect how many people you want to cook for, and what kind of delights you intend to create.
  • You might just want to make hot drinks so a kettle and a single stove burner (with replacement gas cartridge) may be all you need.
  • For basic meals, the Campingaz Camping Chef Folding Stove is a versatile option for any camping kitchen. It has two burners and a grill, and folds down for easy transportation and storage.
  • For the aspiring al fresco chef, an oven may be essential. If so, the Kampa Freedom Gas Cartridge Oven could be the answer. Cartridge operated, it doesn’t need a cylinder or regulator. This 1kw oven has a 30L capacity, providing 180 minutes of cooking time from one cartridge.
What kitchen accessories will I need when camping?
Think about the basics you use in your kitchen and at meal times at home.
You will need all the usual suspects, not limited to:
  • Pots and pans
  • Dishes
  • Cups
  • Cutlery
  • Tin opener
  • Bottle opener
  • Matches
  • Water container
BCH Camping supply a comprehensive range of most of the above items in the Camping Kitchen section of our website. Don’t forget a washing-up bowl for transporting your dishes to the facilities on the site, and doing the washing up. You’ll also need a tea towel, washing up liquid and condiments.
Keeping food and drink cold
This can be tricky when camping. BCH Camping supply many types of cool boxes such as the Campingaz Icetime 26L Coolbox, but you may want to go a step further and invest in an electric ice box. The Outwell ECOcool 24ltr Ice Box offers the latest in energy-saving technology, keeping its contents 20 degrees cooler than the outside temperature.
Camping furniture
If you have room in the car, you may want to take some furniture. BCH Camping supply: Camping furniture is specifically designed to fold away as small as possible whilst still providing comfort and practicality wherever possible, but you should give careful consideration to what you need – space in a tent is very limited.
So, as mentioned above, what you take on your camping trip depends on what your trip entails and who is going to be with you. The needs of a family camping holiday will be far different to that of a festival camper, or backpacker.
The range of items available at BCH Camping extends way beyond the products highlighted above, so please visit our website and browse our pages to find the most suitable products for you.
Whilst we hope that you have found this guide to be useful, please remember that staff at our stores are keen and experienced campers, and happy to offer any advice you need. Please contact us for any further information or visit our stores.