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Camping Accessories: Are They Worth the Money?

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 23 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Camping Accessories Basic Money

The term ‘camping accessories’ covers a multitude of items. It could be something as essential as a sleeping bag or the very latest in camping stoves, with all the bells and whistles you can imagine. Some you need and others you don’t, but sorting the wheat from the chaff can sometimes prove to be a difficult task.

The Vital Items

With a little thought, and the willingness to rough it slightly, you can really pare down the number of camping accessories you need to carry with you. If you’re going on a hiking and camping holiday this is a necessity, as you’ll be hauling everything around on your back, so the less you have to carry, the more your body will thank you.

Within the tent, a sleep bag and a mat are essential. Unless you’re going camping in a blazing hot spell of weather you’ll need that sleeping bag to remain warm and the mat keeps it off the tent’s groundsheet, or off the earth, making for a more comfortable rest. A lantern of some kind is useful, but not absolutely vital.

Outside The Tent

Beyond toilet items and a first aid kit, what else do you really need outside the tent? You need a pot to cook in, but with some planning you can easily make single pot meals whilst enjoying the great outdoors. Although camping stoves make everything much easier, it’s perfectly possible to make do with a campfire, not only for cooking, but also for light and heat. Bear in mind though, that many official campsites do not allow campfires.

Apart from that you should have a torch and if you're wild camping, a shovel that can fold, to allow you to dig latrines. With the items above you can get by, although it might be a Spartan camping trip.

Value For Money

Some camping accessories are luxuries, while others do give good value for money, in-as-much as they make the camping experience more comfortable. A basic camping stove easily fits into this category. It makes cooking much easier and expands the range of dishes you can make. There’s no need to go overboard and buy something fancy; basic is perfectly adequate. Adding a second pan of a different size so you have, say, a frying pan and a saucepan, makes life simpler and you can use the latter to boil water for cups of tea.

Similarly, a lantern will give you light in the tent for reading and other activities, so you won’t be blundering around in the dark. A torch will work, but a lantern is so much better.

If you’re camping and have a bad back, an air mattress can mean the difference between waking up refreshed and rising aching and stiff. By having that soft cushion off the ground you’ll enjoy a better night’s sleep than you would on a mat. Even those in the best of health will feel more relaxed on an air mattress. Again, it’s not a necessity but definitely worth the money for what it offers when you’re sleeping in a tent.

Luxuries

As camping has grown into a multi million pound industry, so the camping items available have expanded until a trip into the wilds can be every bit as luxurious as a stay in a hotel. That’s probably fine for some people, but it does seem to negate the whole idea of roughing it and getting close to nature.

Things like head torches, mosquito nets and portable toilets are hardly vital and take up room in a car or space in a backpack while generally serving no real purpose. Do you need to take a thermos flask along with you? Would you actually use it when camping? Luminous or reflective guy ropes might stop some accidents in the dark, but man has survived perfectly well for centuries without them.

You can say much the same for a tent heater; it hardly compares to a campfire. True campers would have no use at all for a travel kettle, as they wouldn’t be somewhere with electricity.

Things like freeze-dried food can be convenient, but they still fall in the luxury category. They’re expensive when compared to tins or fresh food and certainly not necessary – there are plenty of other meals you can prepare. They might take more time, but they’ll generally be tastier and more satisfying.

Conclusion

A number of camping accessories really are worth the money you spend on them; in fact, you’d have an unpleasant trip without them. Others might be less vital, but still make camping more comfortable. Beyond that fairly small range, though, it’s simply indulgence and not worthy what you spend to purchase them.

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Thanks for the useful advice. One point I would make, however, is that head torches are invaluable when camping as they allow you to work with both hands and they are focussed directly where you are looking - useful when pitching a tent in twilight.. The newer torches are powerful, lightweight and have a reasonable battery life (although always carry a spare set). I would generally favour a head torch over a lantern if I was forced to just pick one. The other thing that I would add is that talking to experienced campers can really help you, but all have different basic requirements, so borrow equipment if you can before you buy. Buying things over a period of time and out of season help funds to go much further.
DNH - 23-Oct-12 @ 4:06 PM
A lot depends on what you define as a luxury. Freeze-dried food can seem like a luxury, but what it saves in weight and space means it's not exactly a luxury, more something very useful. And a lantern is so much more effective in a tent than a torch as the light spreads wider.
Jonny - 31-May-12 @ 10:47 AM
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