How to camp like a pro with Ben Phillips, Nikwax Product Feedback Executive

Since the boom in sales of camping gear in 2020, people are continuing to plan holidays and time away ‘under canvas’, with the Camping and Caravanning Club reporting that Easter 2022 bookings are up 33% on Easter 2019*. If you are thinking of getting away from it all, take a leaf out of Ben’s book and be as prepared as possible. Here, he shares his top camping preparation tips…

With spring in the air and the days getting longer, what better time to dig your tent out of its winter hibernation? I need to do that again after a busy 2021 enjoying several camping trips with my children, and I’ll be glad I did. There’s always something that needs fixing or replacing, and making sure the rest of the family are comfortable when we arrive at our destination is, of course, more relaxing for me! We’re off to the Gower in Wales this July, with several other adventures away planned between June and September.

Size can be everything…
Making sure your tent is suitable for your needs can make or break your holiday. For family campers, being sure you have enough space for all the gear you want to take away, as well as some space for the little ones to play in if it’s cold or wet, is essential. We all hope for great weather but, as we know here in the UK, we’re not always lucky! For those travelling light, ensuring there is sufficient space for you (and any friends) plus packs, will ensure a worry-free night’s sleep. I’ve heard stories of campers who have purchased a compact, lightweight tent, only to find there’s not enough room in it to keep their backpacks and footwear safe and dry.

Always check your tent before heading off…
It sounds obvious, but, if the tent is new, practise putting it up! If it has been used before, check for any areas that are mouldy or have been damaged by wet/dirt that may have been trapped when it was last packed away. Treating your tent in advance with Nikwax products suitable for synthetic or cotton materials will not only ensure your tent is fresh and clean when you reach your destination, they will also provide added protection against both wet weather and higher levels of UV rays.

  • Tent & Gear SolarWash® cleans synthetic and canvas tents, removing all the dirt that masks durable water repellency. It prepares tents for re-proofing and has the added benefit of providing UV protection.
  • Tent & Gear SolarProof® is the reliable way to add water repellency to synthetic tents (even from new). It increases the tear strength by protecting the fabric from harmful UV rays and doubles the useable lifetime of your gear.
  • Cotton Proof waterproofs canvas tents and equipment, improving the fabric tear strength and extending the useable lifetime of gear.

Other things to check include…

  • Tent pegs – are there still enough, are any damaged, are they adequate for the conditions or environment you’ll be camping in?
  • Poles – are any damaged or bent? Poles can split or show signs of wear after time, so regular checks are important (if you have an air tent, check for leaks in advance!).
  • Tent floor – check for any small holes or tears that you can repair before you leave.

When you’re there…
If you have room to take one, laying down a tarpaulin or ground sheet first is a great way to add extra protection to your tent floor, plus it acts as a clean storage area for any part of the tent that doesn’t have flooring. It’s also a good idea to pitch your tent on a gentle slope, if possible – just a couple of degrees can help prevent water from building up inside it during wet conditions. Its sensible to avoid setting up camp directly underneath trees, which can be risky in windy weather.

For extra comfort, pack a pillow (or a small storage bag that can double as one) and make sure your sleeping bags will be warm enough for your destination. Remember too that the ventilation points on your tents are not there for decoration – use them to prevent moisture build up but bear the weather conditions in mind.

Finally…

  • Even for the most lightweight of camping trips, take a pack of cards!
  • Pre-prepare some meals – spaghetti Bolognese, tortilla wraps, and even custard can be warmed through in a pan and will make your life a lot easier.
  • Twist any tape-type guy lines a few times as this stops them from ‘clapping’ together in the wind and keeping you awake.
  • The famous five: tea bags, tea towel, clothes pegs, biodegradable wet wipes and a torch are all little things that make a BIG difference when camping.
  • Leave no trace. Always take a bin bag so you can dispose of your rubbish responsibly or take it home and remember to thoroughly check the camp site before you leave to ensure you’ve left nothing behind.
  • Even if you only camp once a year, make a checklist of everything you need and keep it safe for reference next time. You can always add any items you’ve forgotten so you don’t forget them again.

Happy camping!

*Zoe Wood, The Guardian online 22.02.22