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The days of leaving your bargain supermarket tent in the Glastonbury fields are behind you. When you think of optimal packing strategy, it is no longer about creative ways to transport more cans of beer, and filling your platypus with vodka and lemonade certainly doesn’t make you an outdoor gear connoisseur anymore. We’re talking about micro-adventures! There’s no promise of becoming the next Bear Grylls, but innovation has transformed camping equipment so far beyond your childhood nightmares, that it’s never been easier to access the great outdoors.
From inflatable tents to technical trainers, memory foam mattresses to multipurpose tools that Inspector Gadget would be proud to store in his trench coach, here’s how to get underneath the stars for less than a grand.
The Tent - Zempire Aero Lite (£429.99)
The Aero Lite is manufactured by New Zealand based outdoor specialists, Zempire, who are known for the construction of durable camping equipment. Their tents are made to withstand the hottest days and stormiest nights that the Land of the Long White Cloud can inflict. As such, a trip to the Lake District will feel more luxurious than the all-inclusive you’ve had to sacrifice, thanks to this world class accommodation.
It takes just 10 minutes to erect thanks to its inflatable tubes, making it ideal for a novice. At just 18kg and not much bigger than your favourite weekend holdall, size is no issue.
If you’ve watched The Dawn Wall on Netflix and harbour aspirations of a port-a-ledge attached to the face of El Capitan, this isn't the tent for you. However, if you want to get away with a couple of mates, or have a small family, the Zempire Aero Lite ticks all the boxes. It will also make you the envy of the Geordie Shore wannabes that inhabit campsites across the nation and prioritise a hair dryer that will produce a salon-smooth finish, over the quality of their accommodation.
The Bed - Kampa Kip Highrise 15 Self Inflating Mattress (£149.99)
If your air bed experiences consist of something that resembles a lilo and requires a foot pump, be prepared to be blown away. The Kampa Kip Highrise 15 Self Inflating Mattress is 15 centimetres of memory foam bliss that will rival the comfort of any top rated hotel. This mattress does take up a bit of space, but at just 4.65kg, it’s no heavier than carrying your milk home from Tesco. The important thing is, it does what it says on the tin - it is self inflating, which removes a lot of hassle, and it’s not called the ‘kip’ without good reason.
Don’t be deterred by fellow-campers who may look down their noses at you for possessing such a glamorous piece of kit. They will be quick to gush about their pristinely kept tent that they have used since the 90s, but will avoid awkward conversations about why it looks like they would benefit from a shot of morphine to get them to the shower block in the morning.
The Sleeping Bag - Vango Nitestar Alpha 375 Sleeping Bag (£46)
Founded in 1966, Vango is one of the heavyweights of camping gear. With a rich heritage in product innovation, the Nitestar sleeping bag is everything you need and more. The everything is that it’s absolutely perfect for all four British seasons, whilst the more is that it comes in the classic mummy shape, ensuring an authentic camping experience - providing the perfect aesthetic for those carefully curated #sunrise shots on Instagram - looking down the sleeping bag and out of the tent’s open door.
The Shoes - Arc'teryx - Aerios FL GTX (£121)
There’s a famous saying about the ability to judge a man by his shoes and it’s alive and well on campsites across Britain.
The man who wears crocs as he polishes his executive car whilst on staycation with his family, clearly works in sales. Then there’s the lad who has purchased the hype sneakers of the season, in the hope that his next squeeze could be at the site’s cabaret night, forgetting that increased precipitation on higher ground and mud don't mix well with box-fresh kicks.
Don’t fall victim in the pursuit of becoming one with nature, as she will take no prisoners when it comes to how she treats your feet. Get this wrong and it will spoil all your hard work and preparation. That’s why it pays to invest in your footwear and the Arc’teryx Aerios live at the apex of form, function and style.
Gore-tex fabric guarantees the luxury of remaining waterproof and windproof. The vibram megagrip outsole ensures stability on the most testing of surfaces, whilst the Ortholite insole ensures blister-free comfort for miles on end. The minimalist silhouette of these shoes makes them the perfect choice for anybody who cares about that famous saying, so whether you’re tackling a peak, or toasting marshmallows, the Vancouver based brand will have you protected.
The Chair - Helinox Sunset Chair (£130)
You don’t name your product after one of mother nature’s most wonderful gifts without being confident that it can live up to its billing. Luckily, South Korean packable furniture and precision manufacturing specialists, Helinox, has over delivered with the boldly named ‘Sunset’ camping chair.
Made from cutting edge materials, this light and durable seat is not only as comfortable as you’d expect for the price tag, but it will turn heads on any campsite, thanks to its multi-award winning design. It’s low profile positioning hits on the beach chair vibe, whilst the option of an attachment that turns it into a rocking chair elevates this most basic of commodities to another level.
The mere thought of sitting in a Helinox after a day spent outdoors, watching the sunset and enjoying a beer, should be enough to convert anybody to outdoor life.
The Backpack - Osprey Quasar 28 (£70)
Is there a more tangible symbol of freedom than a backpack? The trusty companion of any trip, a good bag will not only provide safe storage for your travel essentials, but the scuffs, stains and what you find in the pockets, will evoke memories of your adventures, forevermore.
Look no further than the Osprey Quasar 28 to be that new friend. The California based luggage experts have been doing nothing but making high quality rucksacks since 1974 and every pocket, zip, strap and clip on this bag exudes 46 years of passion and craftsmanship.
At 28 litres, the capacity is perfect to carry a long weekend’s worth of gear and can be turned into a day bag, once you’ve set up camp. Utilise the bungee ropes on the front and add a carabiner and you’ll be giving the most ardent mountain packhorse a run for its money. Don’t forget to add a good torch and a swiss army knife, as nothing says “I’m in control” more than the ability to navigate in the dark and a multi tool that boasts an axe, bottle opener, pliers and a nail file.
The Coolbox - Igloo BMX 25 (£79)
Looking to avoid food poisoning whilst camping is sage advice, which is why masters of mobile refrigeration solutions, Igloo, can be trusted to keep you fed and watered during your expedition. The BMX 25 has a 25 litre capacity (36 cans or six bottles of wine), which is perfect for storing all your essentials and will keep them cold for four days. The size is perfect for packing and transporting and it can also act as a spare seat, such is its durability. It even has an integrated ruler on the lid to measure your fish...
Just don’t forget to purchase a camping stove and a supply of butane gas, which will cost under £20, to cook it all!