There are many exciting festivals to visit this summer. Should you wish to continue attending festivals now you have little ones, you will need to get kitted out with a new tent or campervan. Knowing what kit to buy might seem daunting, so we have helped you out by doing the research ourselves.
London’s Laleham Camping Club has been celebrating the great outdoors for over 40 years, so they seemed the perfect people to approach for advice. I spoke with long-term member Sylvia Spavins, who told me the first thing you need is a tent! Tents come in all shapes and sizes, and one suitable for summer-long use can cost as much as £1,000. Of course, nothing so grand is needed for festival camping, and easy to assemble ‘pop-up’ tents are particularly practical for such occasions. Most pop-up tents are too small for young families, but I did find one reasonably-priced model suitable for our readers. The Gelert Quick Pitch DS 4 costs around the £65 mark. A lightweight disc carried by shoulder strap, it pops up into a spacious, rainproof tent in seconds.
Also by Gelert, the Tornado 5 is a conventional dome tent ideal for festivals and weekends away. It can be purchased for approximately £5 cheaper than its ‘pop-up’ cousin.
The Vango Juno Tepee is described as something for those who want to stand out from the festival crowd, and is very reasonable in price. Expect to pay as little as £29.99 for the three-man size and £39.99 for the five-man model.
If you have a larger family, or can’t resist a touch of luxury, the Coleman Fremont 6 might be for you. This 6 man tunnel tent will set you back £450, but you get a lot of space, and a separate living compartment ideal for children to play in during rainy days.
Sylvia says, “Remind readers to make sure they pack pegs with their poles, and poles with their pegs.” She said we’d be surprised by how many campers forget to bring everything when they go away. As somebody who has made that mistake myself, I probably wouldn’t!
Bedding is also necessary, although big, bulky airbeds may not make the best mattresses for festivals. Camping mats roll up small and only cost about £6; however they are not very comfortable for young children, so self-inflating mattresses like that made by Gelert make a better option. Expect to pay approximately £30.
There are many different sleeping bags on the market, but a Vaude Charlie Baby Toddlers Bag is an interesting option. At approximately £45 it isn’t cheap, but it’s very flexible and can be fully opened out to use as either a changing mat or play blanket. It can even be used as a buggy cosy.
The Deuter Little Starlight may provide value for those who plan to camp out over a number of years, as it ‘grows’ with your child. Costing £50, this sleeping bag expands in size from a cosy 100cm to a total of 130cm in length.
There are far cheaper options of course. For example, the Sprayway Challenger 350 Midi is suitable for toddlers to five-year-olds and costs only £21. From just £12, Gelert has a range of basic two-season sleeping bags for children up to 110cm tall, and these are fine for summer use. Mums and dads can expect to pay from approximately £15 upwards for their bags, depending on quality and warmth.
You’ll want to bring re-useable plastic plates, bowls and cups, and a cold box to keep bread, milk and the all-important bacon fresh overnight. This is a parenting magazine, so I didn’t mention dad’s lagers or mum’s white wine. Whoops, I just did! A 24-litre cold box costs around £15, and £5 for a pack of three freeze packs to keep it cool.
Camping Gaz stoves are an ideal way to cook in the great outdoors. They are very cheap, lightweight, safe and easy to use. The stove itself (which is really no more than a burner to attach to a gas cylinder) costs approximately £13, whilst each replacement cylinder is just £1.50. Those clever chaps at Gelert can help out those wanting something more sophisticated. For £30, readers can purchase a compact double burner and grill. For £45, a quick erect kitchen cupboard provides a place where hot stoves, pans and kettles can be kept out of the reach of little hands.
As an enthusiast, Sylvia says, “Everybody should give camping a go. If you turn up and get beautiful weather, you’ll be hooked.”
Richard O’Rourke from Southampton firm Kit List agrees. To those doubters amongst you, he says, “Give it a go and try it. You might not like camping, but most people do and it’s a great way for families to spend time together. A campsite is a real family environment, and great for family bonding.”
So great in fact, that Richard and son John have set up Kit List, which hires out camping equipment in Hampshire. This idea is aimed at people who haven’t camped before, and involves delivering a kit including tent, sleeping bags and whatever accessories the customer wants.
The basic family kit consists of a six-berth tent, double airbed and sleeping bag, two single airbeds and sleeping bags, two eco-friendly wind-up lanterns and an electric pump. Five day hire costs just £100, which is perfect if you aren’t sure you will camp again.
Richard explains, “There is a huge selection of tents on the market and it can be confusing for those not sure of layouts, how to put them up, etc. Hire, try it out and if it’s not what you like, you haven’t lost as much as you would by buying outright. If you do like it, you can keep your kit at the end of the weekend and we’ll work out a price for you.”
Contented Camping are based in Redhill, Surrey. A mother herself, and having worked for eight years with the Caravan Club, proprietor Emma Cosby knows all about this wonderful past-time. Hiring a six-berth family tent for up to four days costs just £42, plus a £20 nationwide delivery/collection charge. Readers living in the Redhill/Reigate areas get a reduced charge of just £6. With the tent in question costing £220 to buy outright, the benefits of hiring are obvious to those unlikely to go camping again. Unfortunately, they do not currently hire equipment other than tents.
If you’re still not convinced by camping, hiring a motorhome may be for you. Chichester-based Landcruise offer a range of vehicles, although with very little difference in price. For example, a compact three-berth (but with room for a travel cot) six-metre-long Flash Four costs £800 per week to hire in high season, compared to £950 per week in high season for a luxury five-berth seven-metre-long Flash Eleven.
As Landcruise only began trading last year, all motorhomes are brand new. The very oldest was purchased in March 2010, so expect high standards of cleanliness and comfort inside and out. However, if you wish to hire a vehicle for one of the big summer festivals, book early.
Lorraine Dunabin from Landcruise says, “Our first booking for this Glastonbury was taken back in November! By the 2nd week in April, all our vans were booked for Glastonbury, Reading and the Isle of Wight.”
As festival hire is so sought after, premium prices are charged. Please contact the firm direct for next year’s rates.
During my research for this article, I found that a lot of motorhome hire firms in our region have recently shut. Southampton-based dealership Viscount Motorhomes have been hiring out vehicles for 12 months to help replace the firms that have disappeared.
Justine Marsh-Brown says they wanted to give customers a chance to see if buying a motorhome is what they really want. She points out, “Owning a motorhome is expensive, so unless you’re thinking of using it throughout the year, it is more economical to hire them.”
Peak hire of six-berth vehicles throughout July and August cost £845 per week. Outside these two months, a minimum three-day hire is available at £120 per day. Again, it is necessary to book early for the big summer festivals.
Justine says that any reader wishing to buy a motorhome should expect to pay at least £16,000 for a reliable coachbuilt motorhome. “A small panel van like a classic VW will be too small for a family, so it’s better to buy a coachbuilt vehicle five to eight metres in length. Otherwise, if it’s raining, and you find yourself on top of each other, and then find there isn’t much to do on the campsite, it won’t be much fun.”
She describes the appeal of owning a motorhome as the flexibility of going where you please, and the knowledge it is your home from home. However, because of the expense involved, she suggests trying before you buy, and hiring if you aren’t going to use it a lot.
Laleham Camping Club
Laleham Camping Club
Kit List Camping
Coal Park Lane