We’re not hardened campers – apart from camping holidays mainly being a distant memory of my childhood, we’ve only done a couple of family camping trips with our three boys and one of those was glamping at a Featherdown Farm in North Wales, so hardly ‘roughing it’.
Last time we did real family camping with a tent that we put up ourselves, we borrowed all the kit we could possibly need from our generous friends. This time, we were heading out with a brand new family sized tent, courtesy of Skandika. Their Kairo Tent is a tunnel style design for six people, so ideal for us as a family of five.
We decided not to head too far from home (being cautious Brits, just in case.. you know) and travelled about forty minutes to Delamere Forest Camping & Caravanning Club Site, near Chester. The site is right next to Delamere Forest so a great setting – very well maintained with clean and warm showers and loos, well laid out and super helpful staff.
Because we only booked a couple of nights we aimed to ‘travel light’ deciding we wouldn’t be cooking al fresco – instead opting for a pub meal and breakfast out too (I know, cheats!). But even without a fridge and cooking equipment, our seven seater car was pretty much packed to the rafters. We need to improve on this! I’m sure as we get more experienced, we’ll know what to take, what to leave out and how to pack smarter.
The tent doesn’t look huge in its bag, but it still takes up a chunk of the car boot. Add chairs, cool box, clothes, towels etc etc… you get the picture.
The grass at the camp was too saturated for us to pitch our tent on at this time of year. So putting it up on hardstanding, we just hadn’t thought about getting some sturdier pegs than the ones that came with our tent, meant for grass. Good to know for next time! Fortunately we were able to borrow some from the campsite staff, as well as a heavy duty claw hammer to bang them into the ground.
The tunnel shape of the tent is pretty great design in that you assemble the poles by running them through the fabric tunnels to form the curved roof. Tethering everything down was the slightly trickier part, but not too bad. We were set up and inside enjoying a cup of tea in about an hour or so, which for newbies didn’t seem too bad. Inside the tent is very roomy. It has a built in ground sheet, a front canopy, windows and a door:The ground sheet is very tough since it withstood the hard stone chippings we laid it down onto. In the evening we added the two bedroom compartments which were very easy to assemble – you simply hang the partitions up, attaching them via the hooks you can see in the photo above. You can then choose to zip up the front of the compartments to close or leave them open. You can opt to remove the dividing sheet too and have one larger bedroom. Six people can lie within this overall sleeping section.
As we got busy having fun, I forgot to take an image of the bedroom set up – oops, blogging fail! So here is one of the Kairo tent from the Skandika website instead:
We brought some camping chairs and a tent light to hang in the centre of the roof, as well as a camping extension lead with several plug sockets, since we were hooked up to the electricity. We had also borrowed blow up mattresses which were great and very necessary.
Also we were well prepared with our our warm fleece onesies for bedtime and snuggly warm sleeping bags – or so we thought. Hmm. We totally underestimated how cold the tent would be at night time without an electric fan heater. It was F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G and we didn’t sleep well consequently! Basic beginners error. If you are camping at any time other than summer, definitely take a fan heater – it would have made all the difference to our comfort and prevented the condensation that we found had formed on the inside of the tent overnight. By midday however the sun was well and truly up and the tent was really toasty inside – so much so, we needed the door and windows open.
So these would be our recommendations as camping essentials for beginners:
A well designed tent that’s manageable (ease of putting up/down and transporting) such as the Kairo Tent by Skandika
Plenty of spare socks and warm clothes
Sleeping bags – with a hood preferably
Blow up mattresses and pump (electric pumps make this job a doddle and pillows are a nice optional extra – our beds had air pillows, but real ones are more of a treat if you have the room to bring them)
Also things like a can opener, bottle opener, matches, kitchen roll, oil, seasoning, ketchup, mustard etc.
I’ve left off personal items like towels, shampoo etc. but if there’s some vital piece of camping kit I’ve missed here, please add suggestions in the comments!
We also found our indoor/outdoor rug (from Wayfair) was great for stepping inside and removing outdoor shoes whilst keeping the rest of the tent floor relatively clean. It is very lightweight and portable (you could use it on a beach too).
Eating out all the time is not cost effective and you definitely miss out on the whole camping experience if you don’t at least cook a bit of bacon and egg on a little gas stove so that’s why, although we didn’t bring any this time, cooking equipment features on our list of essentials.
We’re looking forward to some more camping adventures when the weather gets warmer and hopefully we’ll become much better at the whole ‘camping out’ thing. Tent-wise, the Kairo was perfect; just the right size for our family and car which means we will definitely be able to get away as a family more often, since it’s a much cheaper option to holiday in one of these than put up five people in a hotel or apartment – plus it’s an excuse for a quick weekend getaway, plus kids love the whole outdoor adventure thing, don’t they? Don’t get me wrong, I love a luxury hotel as much as anyone, but a bit of ‘back to nature’ time now and again is definitely good for the soul.
Thank you to Skandika for providing a free Kairo tent for the purpose of our review