Camping Gear (what makes it easy for us to get away)

The joys of camping

I’ve always had a deep love for nature but rewind 15 years, and I wouldn’t have necessarily called myself a huge outdoorsy type. Similar story with my husband: although he enjoys a lot of things that come with an outdoor lifestyle, he’s not one of those incredibly handy sort of people (like my Dad) that has the ability to make setting up a tent look effortless.  So it’s interesting how we’ve discovered the camping path together, and how integral it is now to our family life (I’m sometimes surprised that we can pull it off with four kids in tow!).    

As a family, we find ourselves increasingly keen to live more outdoors, because it’s where we all slow down and relax…and a natural consequence of that is connection.  Another good thing about camping is once you are set up, it’s (really) cheap!  If you have more than two children (and especially more than three) it starts to become even more expensive to go anywhere, plus in our experience, many places won’t cater for a family of 6 or more. 

I’m a huge advocate for camping and caravanning in general because, although it takes work and an element of perseverance, the continued benefits to our family are amazing. I guess the important point I want to make here is this: if a couple like us can become huge camping fans (and make it work) then it’s achievable for almost anyone who wants to do it.  In light of that, I’m sharing some tips about what we’ve learned along the way, especially in regards to the items we have in two main dedicated boxes to make it easy for us to get away with minimal preparation.

5 Tips for Beginners

1. Tent in the backyard or with someone who is experienced first

2. Start at a camping spot with a lot of facilities like a BBQ, water, power & toilets.

3. Build your kit bit by bit, and customise it to your own requirements

4. Keep it simple. Keep everything simple. If you don’t really (really) need to bring it, don’t.  For example, I don’t take sheets for my kids; they have a camping mat with a sleeping bag and pillow. Comfy and simple.

5. Ask others campers for tips.

Our Camping Box

We keep two dedicated boxes all ready to go whenever we go camping.  We have a general camping box and a kitchen box for plates, cups and kitchen items.  This means I don’t have to try and pull things out of the house when we decide to go camping; it’s all there ready to go which makes packing quicker and easier.

1. General Camping Box

This is what we have in it:

Food/Cooking staples
Zip lock & Garbage bags
Dustpan & Broom
Sun cream
Paper Towel & Tissues
Hot water bottles
Batteries
Light / Torches
Housekeeping items
Insect protection
Cleaning items 

A dedicated camping box

It all fits inside this Stanley 55L sturdy container.

camping box

camping box

Inside the camping box I have more boxes:

Batteries

Variety of sizes (for whatever we have, like torches etc.)w

camping - batteries Tips

  • I keep a variety of batteries we need in small clear sistema boxes (labled on the front with a permanent marker)

Cleaning

Spray disinfectant
Dish washing liquid
Hand sanitizer 
Laundry liquid

camping - cleaningTips

  • Look for more envionmentally friendly cleaning options.
  • Keep dishwashing and washing detergent in a zip lock bag to make sure any spillage doesn’t spread everywhere.  I don’t tend to replace these because they are a safe guard only (and to minimse waste).

Food/Cooking Staples

Jam
Sauce
Mustard
Salt
Pepper
Vegemite
Peanut Butter
Coffee
Tea
Foil
Oil

camping - food and cooking staples Tips

  • Most of these items are non-perishables.  For perishable items, I put them in the fridge and pull them out or replace the next time we camp.
  • It’s great to have this in a separate small box so it can be pulled out in one go when it comes to eating and cooking.
  • I find spray oil better because the spill factor is very low.

Housekeeping

Dish Brush
Pegs
Tea Towel x 2
Wipe Cloths x 2

camping - housekeepingTips

  • Straight plastic pegs (as shown above) are great because they are not affected by weather and rust and they are slim line so easy to pack.
  • When you’re home from camping, wash tea towels and clothes and once dry, put straight back into the camping box so you don’t have to think about it next time you camp. It’s already done. 

2. Kitchen Box

We keep another box for our kitchen items. Keep it simple. This is all we need for our family of six.

Laundry Tub
Kettle
Plastic Serving Platter
Utensils
Cutlery
Plates
Bowls
Cups
Mugs
Egg Carton
Spare container
Knife
Board
Cast iron Saucepan (we pack this separately because it’s really heavy!) 

camping -- kitchen boxTips

  • Don’t keep bananas in an esky with other food as they can affect the taste of items like bread
  • Buy a sharp knife with a cover
  • If you keep food cold with ice, don’t put a cardboard egg carton in (it will go soft and the eggs will break). Keep eggs in a plastic camping carton you can purchase from camping places like Anaconda

3. Toiletries

Band-Aids
Medication
Toothbrushes
Toothpaste
Shampoo & Conditioner
Soap
Deodorant
Hair bands & brush
Case

camping toiletriesTips

  • Zip lock bags or small pasltic containers are great for sectioning and keeping things organised in the toiletry bag.
  • I keep soap in a small Sistema container. The seal lid makes for minimal spillage and because it’s clear, you can see how much soap is left.

4. Camping Gear

All that’s left is the tent and gear.  We are fairly extensively set up now so we can go anywhere (with or without power).  You don’t need what we have below to get started with camping (we started with a tent, bbq and esky). 

Camping Gear

camping in tent as a family of six

camping food

This is a camping meal favourite: One Pot Beef Nachos

Camping Gear

This is what we have:

Tent – we own a Black Wolf – Turbo Plus 300 Tent – sleeps 6-8 (purchased in 2011 on a fabulous speical)
Tarp (for under the tent)
Large Tarp and fly kit (for outdoor living space)
Mattress (We use self-inflating mats rather than air mattress)
Sleeping Bag (I don’t do sheets for the kids, they have their mat and a sleeping bag for the top with a pillow)
Camping chairs
Esky (for food)
Ice Box (as a fridge)
Gas burner
Camp cupboard (we have one like this)
2 x fold out tables (You can find these at Officeworks, Bunnings, Kmart and camping speciality stores)
Small 2 burner protable BBQ
LED strip lights (you can never have too much light!)
Foxwing awning (for the car) 
Cheetah roof rack
MSA 4 x 4 roof rack bag

5. Other Items

  • Always take a bath mat. I tend to use one just inside the tent
  • A flexi tub is awesome for shoes outside the tent
  • Old towels
  • Picnic Mat
  • Large water container (drinking water)
  • A Rubber Mat for outside the tent helps to minimise walk through mess
  • First Aid Kit – we keep ours in the car.
  • Toys and games – Frisbee, tennis ball, soccer, rugby ball, board games (keep dice in a container like this: Travel Dice).

6. Transporting it all

We have a 4-wheel-drive and a small trailer that fits most of our camping gear. The trailer is almost solely used for camping, so again, it’s easy to get away because it’s already packed.

Camping trailer

(I put the boogie board bag there to show the size of the trailer).

Camping trailer

The Foxwing is great (it’s essentially an awning for the car).  We leave it on the car and can put it up in 5 minutes.  It’s especially great for pitching out on the beach. You can see it in action here.

Fox Swing Car

 We also have a Cheetah roof rack and a MSA 4 x 4 roof rack bag that we can use if we need it. 

Roof Rack

I looked through these pictures from our most recent camping trip…and it captualates the freedom and joy that it brings. 

camping

camping

camping

camping

motherhood x

Camping hair rocks. Just saying.

Other Camping Related Posts

Sometimes I think we are crazy

My family hasn’t turned out like I thought it would

Travel Dice

A Car Box

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Comments

  1. says

    This is a FAB post!
    We want to get back into camping again now that we are not spending every waking hour renovating, but it has been a few years and another child since we have been so we need to restock and reorganise and this is so helpful~

  2. Katie says

    LOVED this post… We are heading out this Easter for first camping trip… We have a 2 & 3 year old and I can’t wait! This post has given me so many tips! Xx

  3. says

    I LOVE camping too Kelly, although our family is a little hardcore & we go ‘bush’ so to speak (so we BYO showers, toilets etc). But when we started this is EXACTLY what our kit looked like, we’ve collected our camping gear over YEARS, lots of Christmas & Birthday gifts from lots of family members. It really is as difficult or as easy as you want to make it, we have different gear for different conditions & on how long our stay is, so even though we have a camper trailer I’m forever repacking it….lol…

    For anyone starting out, MY HOT TIP is to seriously check out ebay & gumtree for good deals on basic camping kits, you’d be surprised what you can save :) Some people are selling an entire kit (tent, mattresses, tarps EVERYTHING) from a few hundred dollars, a cheap way to get started, then you can upgrade if you want something more tailored!

  4. says

    Great article. I love camping and went as kids with Mum, how she packed everything into a tiny trailer and then 5 kids in the car was amazing! Our daughters get to camp in the bush and by the beach, usually free camping. Summer always involves sleep overs in the tent with friends in the garden.
    We recently bought a 21 year old ‘Dingo’ camper. Looks like the flying nun when set up and is on a 6×4 trailer. Sleeps 2 each side. It’s as ‘posh’ as we get and love it. I always pack the little black plastic solar showers too, great for a quick rinse off. Well done on your articles, always a good read! Cheers.

  5. Heather says

    Good tips Kelly! Back in my youth I was an avid backpacker/rough camper. As I have aged (suffered back injuries) and married I like a few more luxuries, but still quite rough compared to this. Now we have 2 kids…1 1/2 and 3 1/2. Husband and I have been talking about how we would like to start taking the kids camping once the little one is fully toilet trained / night time trained (in process now , so maybe next summer). These are really great tips for family camping. A lot I have already put into use in years past like having prepacked gear, which definitely makes it quick and easy to get going quickly. I will for sure be saving this list as reference to get us going on our first family trip. :-)

  6. Thash says

    Thank you so much for this – going camping with my two young kids and hubby for the FIRST time ever (I have never been camping before – hubby has) and this post has helped so much. We’re going along with experienced campers and only away for 2 nights but sooo excited and looking forward to it – thanks for this awesome post :)

  7. Kylie says

    Oh my goodness Kelly, I just made your taco recipe and honestly it is amazing! I was a little worried my kids wouldn’t eat it but nope, all 4 had seconds! Amazing! I made tortilla wraps in the Thermomix and together they were a hit! This is going to be a regular in our house!
    Thank you so so much
    Kylie

  8. Kellie says

    I am OCD and probably more of a ‘glamper’ than camper. Like my friend Kelly, camping was not on our radar. The not so handy husband (love you darling), the OCD wife and to add to this 3 bed wetters, simple did not look good for us, but we are now 6, so holidays are costly, except for camping ones. Three of us are busy boys plus the big boy, it just made sense. So we followed Kelly’s list of ‘to do’s’, went shopping and set ourselves up (with a few borrowed things, thanks friend’s and family ?), packed (lots) and set off. Our first solo trip. We are headed to an unpowered site by a creek for 5 nights. Yes there are toilets and hot showers. Yes town is close by, but a holiday for us means stopping. So with 6 days worth of ‘all we need’ (I hope), this is it, our first camping trip. YIPEE!

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