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Hi! I'm Amy, and I've been into camping since I was a teenager.
⛺ The tent ⛺
I've never had a good experience in a single-skin tent. They leak, they're cold, and even if you don't wake up soaking wet, you'll still get that clammy, wrapped-in-clingfilm sensation. I would advise a double-skin tent for anything more serious than a summer sleepout in your garden.
A sewn-in groundsheet has its disadvantages (it doesn't allow your tent to 'breathe' as much as its loose counterpart), but IMO its anti-bug, anti-leak, anti-hassle advantages far outweigh its downsides.
You'll read a lot about hydrostatic heads – this is to do with how much water pressure a tent can take before it leaks, which is especially good to know if you're facing British downpours. I'll save you a search by saying you shouldn't settle for anything less than 3,000mm!
Oh, and one last thing – you'll almost always regret choosing a tent without a front porch (because frankly, you do not need to share an enclosed space with your post-hike boots).
😴 The sleeping setup: 😴
I've spent too many restless, freezing nights in tents to compromise on my sleeping setup these days (PSA – it's never worth it to cheap out on a sleeping bag). I look for cloth-lined options to prevent that sticky, clammy feeling you get from plastic ones – I haven't looked back since making the change.
I also refuse to settle for thin foam mats nowadays. If you're going the foam route, look for an extra-thick one – but if you ask me, all the best options are inflatable (there's no better cushion than air).
Aside from that, you'll want to block out as much natural light as possible if you want to sleep past 5 A.M. in the summer. Eye masks are my go-to, but make sure to look for contoured options – the regular kinds always let a couple of rays in IMO.
🍳 Creature comforts: 🍳
I do a lot of almost-wild camping (meaning there's often only a loo and maybe some showers to work with), but that doesn't mean I don't love my tech – what's the point of all that trekking if you can't at least post about it? I swear by extra EXTRA-powerful charging banks (at least 10,000 mAh for a couple of days away) – I'm always surprised at how long my 26,800mAh one lasts.
You'll find a million uses for a good torch too, though I've never needed to be super-fussy about their stats – anything with a decent battery life has been perfect for my late-night wanders and reading sessions.
When it comes to heating and eating food, you've got a few options – you can get portable gas hobs that fit into briefcase-like holders, but I'm a huge fan of the mini collapsible kind. I wish I could say it's because I'm deeply practical and love their space-saving function (which I do), but mostly I just find them really neat (a stove!! Basically in a matchbox!! Am I McGuiver?? Maybe!!).
🚿 Personal care: 🚿
Camping can get really gross really quickly, so it's good to know what your options are when it comes to keeping clean and looking – well – like you haven't spent the last three days in a tent. Where possible, I like to keep my personal care items biodegradable and eco-safe. Most campsites are in or near the wilderness, so you definitely don't want to risk exposing any critters to harsh chemicals or ruining the soil for next year's blackberries (I know this isn't how it really works, but the horrific thought of a soapy crumble has helped me to save multiple ecosystems from unsuitable shower gel suds).
You'll need to keep yourself safe, too – first-aid kits and good sunscreens are non-negotiables. I like to keep SPF50 products on me everywhere I go!