THE GEAR • July 2020
Thinking of heading out under canvas, but not sure what you really need to take with you? Seasoned wild camper and travel writer Phoebe Smith shares her top kit picks straight from the British Airways Avios eStore. That way, you can boost your balance in time for your next adventure…
When it comes to your portable accommodation, there are literally hundreds of models to choose from but, to ensure it can travel with you, the lighter the better. This Zephyros Compact (£136) from Derbyshire manufacturer Wild Country (available at Cotswolds Outdoor; 4 Avios/£1) is well under 2kg and perfect for a solo outing. But do keep an eye on the brand’s 2-person design coming back in stock. This one offers two entrances so you don’t have to climb over your tent mate, is incredibly easy to put up and made for use in three seasons.
You need a sleeping bag to be warm and cosy – but imagine if it could be environmentally friendly, too? Well, The North Face’s Eco Trail (£115; 5 Avios/£1) is made from fully recycled materials, including a synthetic fill that will still keep you warm even if it gets damp. It has a wrap-around zip perfect for fidgety sleepers who need venting, plus a draft collar to keep you warm, and there’s even a phone pocket – so you can be tickled pink by the nifty features while still remaining assuredly ‘green’.
Did you know that you lose more heat from lying on cold ground than from sleeping in cold air? That’s why investing in a decent camping mat is essential. This sits on your tent’s ground sheet and separates you from the cold or frozen floor. Thermarest (also available at Cotswolds Outdoor; 4 Avios/£1) has been making compact, inflatable models for nearly 50 years and this Trail Pro (£92) not only packs down to the size of a beer can but also has a specially made core to help you retain your body heat, ensuring a toasty warm sleep.
You might be wondering why on earth you need a bag… for a sleeping bag. Liners are great: not only are they more hygienic, but they also delay the ordeal of washing your sleeping bag, which is a real faff. The added bonus is that they can also keep you warmer in cold weather and cooler in hot climes thanks to the moisture control fabric. This one (£40) from Craghoppers (10 Avios/£1) does all this but is also infused with insect repellent, meaning that you can stay clear of mossie bites on your trips, too.
Some campers choose to deprive themselves of the little luxuries, but my motto has always been: ‘enjoy not endure’. So do all you can to have a good night’s sleep and wake up ready to face the next day full of energy. Enter the humble inflatable pillow. This Exped Air Pillow (£22) from Blacks (up to 8 Avios/£1) folds down to the same size as the chocolate bars you’ve (hopefully) packed, yet once inflated is the perfect headrest, being anatomically shaped and super durable. Sweet dreams…
From cooking food to boiling water for safe drinking, a stove should be a key player in your camping arsenal and is vital for enjoying a night under the stars. Jetboil’s MightyMo (£45) is not only small (luggage friendly) but also easy to use – you simply screw on to a gas cylinder (you can grab one of these in all good camping stores) and flip the igniter to get it going. It has a simmer control and can boil water in just three minutes. If you still want a browse, Millets has a great selection. Tea’s up!
If you’re heading into the great outdoors, you’ll definitely want to capture some memories. GoPro’s (5 Avios/£1) latest offering, the Max (£460), is ideal for all camping adventures. It can not only capture high definition videos with incredible stability, but also features six directional microphones to better record sound and has the ability to shoot 270° panoramas thanks to lenses on the front and back. It’s even waterproof down to 5m – so perfect if the weather doesn’t quite play ball.
While I’d love to tell you that your every camping trip will be blessed by sunshine, it’s best to be prepared for a little rain. This new unisex poncho from Rohan (£150; 10 Avios/£1) – waterproof, windproof and breathable – is a great option. It can be pulled on over whatever you’re wearing quickly, including a backpack or camera, without having to fiddle around with a separate jacket and trouser combination. A perfect partner for use when putting up tents in less favourable conditions.