Another very common question we get asked is; “I’ve just bought my first folding camper. What else am I going to need?”
In order to answer that question, we will need to assume that the camper has come with nothing at all, other than its most basic components and soft furnishings, and we will look at each distinct area in sequence, starting with the essentials. Remember; you may not want or need a large proportion of these items, but it’s good to have as extensive a list as possible so that you can narrow it down to the items you actually do want.
Although these are fairy basic requirements for the camper to operate at maximum efficiency, that does not mean they are absolute essentials. Many entry level campers, for example, will not have a mains electric system, or, in some cases, even a 12v one. You don’t have to have electrics to have an enjoyable trip, but they are preferable, if at all possible. Likewise, an external step is not essential, but a lot more convenient.
The basic requirements, once you are ready to kit out your campers are;
- A fresh water container (with submersible pump, if applicable) plus food grade connecting pipe.
- Waste water container and connecting pipe
- If the water containers are not of the Aquaroll style, you may wish to take a small trolley as well, to assist when the containers are full
- External entry step
- Hitch lock or wheel clamp, for use both on site, and in storage
- Levelling ramp(s) for when pitching on uneven sites It is also useful to have a small spirit level to make sure you are level on your pitch. This is particularly important if you have a 3 way fridge on board, as they need to be as level as possible, when in use.
- Electric hookup lead. The type of lead will depend on the individual camper. If it has its own, on board, electrical system, you will just need an EHU lead that plugs into the side of the camper. If it does not, you can buy an EHU lead which has normal domestic sockets on one end, thereby allowing you to plug appliances directly into it.
- Leisure battery. As stated above, this is not essential, but very useful for campers with 12v lighting, sockets or water pumps.
- Gas bottle. Even the most basic of campers will, normally, be fitted with a gas cooker / grill (if not, then they are probably trailer tents, rather than folding campers) and higher spec ones will also have a three way fridge, and, potentially a space / water heater as well. A gas bottle is a pretty vital piece of equipment for most folding campers. You will also need a gas regulator to prevent the gas pressure from damaging the camper’s system. Don’t forget a gas spanner to change the cylinder, if it runs out while you’re away.
- Dining table. Very often, this is an item that is either lost or damaged when buying a second hand camper. Although not absolutely essential, the table will be a key part of the onboard equipment, especially if it is used to make up one of the double beds.
Most of this is pretty obvious, but easy to forget when heading out for the first time, so it never does any harm to have a check list to tick off. Some of the key items include:
- Kettle (gas or electric)
- Saucepans (2)
- Frying pan (2, if you like big breakfasts!)
- Grill pan
- Mugs (melamine might be preferable)
- Glasses (again, plastic might be wise – there are lots of designs available today)
- Crockery (large plate, small plate and bowl for each person – again, melamine is good)
- Cutlery for each person
- Place mats & coasters
- Chopping / kitchen knives
- Serving / mixing spoons
- Fish slice (useful for turning those morning eggs as well)
- Chopping board
- Food storage containers / ziplock bags
- Bottle opener / Tin Opener / cork screw
- Matches or lighter
- Potato peeler
- Potato masher
- Washing up bowl
- Washing up liquid
- Washing up sponge / cloth / mop
- Tea towels / Hand towel
- Hand wash
- Kitchen roll
- Bin bags
- Kitchen foil / cling film
- Ice tray. (Very important for those glasses of the chilled stuff). If your ice box is too small, then buy a cheap plastic ice cube tray, and cut it into two halves. Sorted.
- Bleach or other cleaning spray to keep the table, kitchen area etc clean
- Basic food items. Obviously, most of these will be bought for each individual trip, but there’s no harm in keeping a few staples in the cupboards, like tea, coffee, sugar, salt, pepper, spices, cooking oil and a few tinned goods. If storing these long term, make sure they are in air tight containers.
Hardly essentials, but you may also want to take a few other little luxuries, like an electric toaster, microwave or electric oven (assuming your camper doesn’t have a gas one fitted).
Preferences will vary, in terms of bedding requirements. some will opt for sleeping bags (especially for the kids) whilst others prefer the full duvet experience. I’m in the latter category, especially as the beds can be left made up permanently. Either way, the basic requirements will be:
- Fitted sheets / duvets / other bedding, or sleeping bags. Remember to allow for those cold British nights
- Torch (Useful for those night time excursions to the toilet block)
- Alarm clock (assuming we are not using our phones)
- Night attire
- Dressing gown or similar, again, for those trips to the toilet block
From books to televisions, there’s bound to come a point when we want to sit back and relax in the camper, especially if the weather outside isn’t what we hoped it would be. A few suggestions here include;
- Television. Ideally, this will have a built in DVD player player, and, if you want to be really flash, you can go for a 12v set, which is great for those sites without an electric hookup. Don’t forget the DVDs as well.
- To go with any TV, you will need an aerial and booster. Again, to be flash, you could take a mobile satellite dish as well, but an aerial will be sufficient, as long as you are in a decent signal area.
- A bit of music never goes amiss, whether that’s a radio, Cd player or ipod with external speakers, it’s always nice to have.
- Don’t forget your chargers too. Phones, ipods, Kindles, all need charging at some point.
- Books and / or a Kindle or similar advice, likewise, may also be of use.
- Whether you’re reading or not, a decent reading or similar light will be of use. Often, the standard 12v lighting will not be strong enough for this, so you may wish to get a decent 240v lamp, for when an electric hookup is available.
- Games / playing cards. This will also involve outside games, including football, tennis, cricket etc.
Toiletries, Clothing & Personal Effects
These aren’t really covered in this feature, as they are the things you will take with you each time you go away, rather than being things that will remain in the camper. Just make sure you’re covered for all the usual holiday items, just as you would for any other holiday, including some decent towels for the shower block, and don’t forget the bug spray and sun cream.
There are a number of things that experience has taught us can be useful, for a break away. Their application can be pretty diverse, but they are worth considering:
- Mallet and extra tent pegs (only applicable if you have an awning, toilet tent, etc)
- First aid kit (cos you never know)
- Sewing kit
- Repair kit (Patches for canvas, and windows, in case of unexpected damage)
- Small tool kit
- A gas or electric heater. The latter for when there is an electric hookup, and the former for when there isn’t
- A fan, for when we get those occasional glimpses of sun.
- A solar panel. This can be invaluable if you have a leisure battery. 10w plus will keep a leisure battery ticking over, but for the serious users, 80w plus will be needed to run a full compliment of 12v appliances
- Talking of appliances, there are a vast array of 12v appliances available now, including TVs, microwaves, ovens, hair dryers / straighteners etc.
- Clothes airer
- If you’re lucky enough to have a toilet and wash room in your camper, then don’t forget the water additives for the top and bottom tanks, and, of course, the toilet roll.
- BBQ & accessories
- Fire extinguisher (if not already fitted) and, maybe, a fire blanket, just to be safe
- Spare batteries
- Folding chairs, or similar for sitting outside
- You may wish to purchase a table for use outside / in the awning, but this is not essential if you have the original camper dining table, which can be used either internally or externally
- External lighting. This can be gas or electric. Solar lighting is becoming increasing popular these days.
- In addition to your normal holiday clothing, remember to take a waterproof coat, or, at least, an umbrella. Boots or wellingtons are also advisable. There no worse combination, in a heavy storm, than a full bladder and inadequate rain protection!! Be afraid…..
- A useful piece of kit, on any site without an electric hookup, is an small power inverter. This converts 12v power into 240v, thereby allowing you to use a 12v power source, such as the camper’s leisure battery, or a car cigarette lighter, to run a 240v appliance, which can be anything from a phone charger to a small TV. These can be bought online, or from Halfords, and can be picked up for prices starting from under £20.
- A windbreak is always useful, not only to protect you from the wind, but also for added privacy and to segregate your own pitch.
Finally, don’t forget those little personal touches that make the camper ‘yours’. For a few days or weeks a year, this is your home away from home, so make it feel like it. Cushions, place mats, ornaments, or even a bowl of fruit, all help to make the place feel more homely. Don’t neglect that part of things.
There’s no reason why at least 90% of the above can’t be left in the camper permanently (though you may wish to remove bedding etc if not being used over the Winter) which means your camper is ready to just hitch up and go, whenever you are. All you need is your bag of clothes, toiletries and personal effects, just like any other holiday.