One of the main advantages of camping, especially when you have a young family, is the cost-effectiveness it can offer. Sure, you need to buy some equipment to start you off – but once you’re kitted-out to a level you’re happy with, it can be virtually free.
But what if you enjoy camping AND have a bit of disposable income? How could you take your camping set-up to the next level?
I’ve done some research and gathered together 9 of my favourite “next level camping” items – if anyone wants to buy me any of these, you’d be very welcome! :)
A campfire that charges your devices
If we’re talking camping excess, you shouldn’t look much further than a wood-burning stove that also charges your smartphone. The BioLite CampStove 2 claims to offer a smoke-free fire while also offering much-needed juice for your USB-compatible devices. Their Firepit even offers the ability to control the size of its flame via BlueTooth. The future really is magical!
A bunk-bed camping bed / sofa
I wasn’t sure whether to include this, as it actually makes a lot of sense if you’re camping with more than one child – the Disc-O-Bed doesn’t even take up too much more space than two separate beds. But the price tag probably means it qualifies – just under £300 definitely places it in the ‘luxury’ category for most campers.
Having said that, it can also fold-down into a sofa during the day, so maybe you could offset the price of a couple of camping chairs too – it virtually pays for itself!
An inflatable tent
The current generation of inflatable tents can actually be quite affordable, though it’d be hard to argue that they’re a budget option. But having seen some in action lately, I can definitely attest to how much simpler they can make the first and last day of your camping.
With set-up/inflation in well under 30 minutes and take-down in even less, an inflatable tent is definitely on my wishlist.
They’re not really ideal for your back-pack camper, but if you’re lugging a 4-6 person family tent around, chances are you’re travelling in a car anyway, in which case the inflatable tent is definitely at an advantage.
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An electric camping oven
We’re definitely straying into the territory of “Why don’t you just stay in a building?” here, but a few people I know even take a portable electric oven with them on camping trips. Presumably you can only get away with this if you’re camping on a site with electric hook-ups, but I guess it will make meal times a little easier – if not quite giving the authentic campfire feel!
A camping espresso machine
I’m not a coffee drinker myself, but most of my camp-mates insist on starting their day with a strong coffee – which usually involves the faff of setting up the stove, getting fresh water, slowly boiling the kettle/pan and then making a very disappointing cup of instant coffee.
If you’ve got a few quid to spare, there are a number of portable espresso makers on the market, which could revolutionise your early-morning starts while camping. They tend to cost around £80, and look pretty slick as well.
A wood-burning stove
I’m not sure about the logistics of using one of these inside a tent – I’m guessing it’s probably safer if you have an air vent like a bell tent does – but I can definitely see the appeal of a nice roaring fire, especially in the colder months.
The Frontier Stove (other makes are available) offers a similar experience to a traditional home wood burner, but with the added incentive of amazing views while you stay warm. Let’s be honest, it’s definitely on the luxury side – but could make your ‘glamping’ experience even more luxury.
A really good multi-tool
While you can definitely get much more affordable versions, a really good multi-tool could set you back well over £100 – brands like Victorinox, Gerber and Leatherman offer several really clever multi-tools for the elite camper.
The most comprehensive tools can do everything from stripping wires to chopping down trees – Leatherman even does one particularly clever model (the ‘Tread‘) that doubles as a bracelet. It’s bonkers and I want one.
A portable pizza oven
If you REALLY want to take your campsite cooking to the next level, why not invest in a portable pizza oven? For around £500 you can have a professional-looking pizza oven that runs from the same gas as your usual camping stove – but will have your campsite neighbours green with envy.
It packs away pretty small as well, so there’s absolutely no reason to leave it off your wishlist. Well, unless you don’t like pizza, obviously.
A camping kitchen
I’ve seen quite a few people with these lately, so I probably shouldn’t class them as a luxury – but a portable camping kitchen definitely feels like next-level camping to me. Some of the more comprehensive units genuinely contain as much storage as the kitchen in a small flat – so it certainly saves you having to scrabble around with a chopping board balanced on the arm of your camping chair.
So those are nine of the best options I found. If you’ve got more, or an alternative take on next-level camping, let me know in the comments!