Everything you need to go glamping, from folding beds to makeshift kitchens

Louise Whitbread
Stock up on these essentials to make your next camping trip less Bear Grylls and more like a five-star stay in the wilderness: iStock
Stock up on these essentials to make your next camping trip less Bear Grylls and more like a five-star stay in the wilderness: iStock

Camping has many appeals, from sleeping under the stars to embracing nature. But it also has a few sacrifices some of us may be forced to make in order to enjoy the full experience, including long, hot showers, access to a toilet, a washing machine and a home-cooked dinner.

However, if you’re heading into the wilderness but aren't quite prepared to give up some of your home comforts, opt for glamping instead.

Glamping, aka glamorous camping, combines the luxuries of a hotel with the simplicity of camping.

Think little luxuries such as duvets, melamine crockery and glasses and fairy lights, which can also make quite an Instagrammable weekend.

It’s also a nice way to still feel like you’re on holiday and get some much-needed rest and relaxation, as your summer holidays may look a little different this year.

Whether it’s your first time going or your kit bag needs some new additions, these are our favourite picks for a weekend spent glamping in the great outdoors. And if you're in the market for a new tent, read our guide to the best family size tents here.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Beds, duvets and pillows

While it’s not quite a king-size mattress, this outwell centuple double camp bed (Outdoor World Direct, £214.99) is the next best thing.

Settle in for the night on this comfortable double bed (Outdoor World Direct)
Settle in for the night on this comfortable double bed (Outdoor World Direct)

It has a foam topper and microfibre cover so you can drift off in seconds. If you’re glamping with friends or as a couple, just make sure your tent is big enough to fit this to ensure it stays warm and dry.

Rest your head on this Quechua camping pillow (Decathlon, £5.99) that will keep you comfortable but is compact enough to not take up much space in your bag.

Ditch feeling the hard ground beneath your head, and opt for a cosy pillow instead (Decathlon )
Ditch feeling the hard ground beneath your head, and opt for a cosy pillow instead (Decathlon )

While we’re all for home comforts, the less lugging our bags down the better.

If the weather forecast predicts chilly nights, ditch the sleeping bag in favour of this supremely washable 10.5 tog coverless duvet and pillowcase (Marks & Spencer, from £39.50).

This washable duvet and pillowcase set is easy to clean and folds down into an easily portable carry bag (Marks & Spencer)
This washable duvet and pillowcase set is easy to clean and folds down into an easily portable carry bag (Marks & Spencer)

It folds down into a drawstring bag and comes with a matching pillowcase, making it easy to transport and then roll out when you hit the hay.

Then, on your return home, simply stick it in the washing machine and it’ll be good as new an ready for next time.

Seating

If you’re planning to have endless picnics and dinners al fresco, swap out a thin covering between you and the ground for this luxurious Fortnum & Mason tweedmill polo picnic rug (Fortnum & Mason) that impressed us in our guide to the best picnic blankets.

Splash out on this luxurious picnic blanket for dinner under the stars (Fortnum & Mason)
Splash out on this luxurious picnic blanket for dinner under the stars (Fortnum & Mason)

Lavishly designed in Fortnum's classic spearmint blue with an ivory check patter, it's pricey but totally worth it.

“It’s a good size, at 145 x 183cm, and is made from top quality sheep’s wool that is at once hard-wearing and comfortable for sitting on,” said our reviewer.

It also has a polyester-nylon back which makes it waterproof, and it’s easily portable too, as it can be rolled up to a manageable size for transporting, secured by dark brown leather straps.

However, if a picnic blanket doesn't cut it for you, bring along this Intex inflatable pull out camping chair (Argos, £35) for maximum comfort.

Sit back in style with this inflatable chair (Argos)
Sit back in style with this inflatable chair (Argos)

It pulls out too, creating a makeshift single air mattress and has a drink holder. What more could you need?

Kitchenware

Eating meals out of an aluminium bag is less than appealing so kit yourself out with this mirage deluxe kitchen unit (Go Outdoors, £90).

Cook up a feast with this makeshift kitchen (Go Outdoors)
Cook up a feast with this makeshift kitchen (Go Outdoors)

It includes a food prep surface, washbasin, shelves and a mesh basket for waste that can be packed down to fit into the boot of a car with no hassle.

Serve up your dishes on this Ellenton aluminium foldable camping table (Wayfair, £33.99) that comes with a handle for easy carrying when it’s not in use.

Sit down to eat with this sturdy, portable table (Wayfair)
Sit down to eat with this sturdy, portable table (Wayfair)

Lightweight and quick to set up, you can adjust the height according to your campmates and is sturdy enough for a three-course meal and sharing plates.

Go the extra mile and bring a table cloth for the full al fresco dining experience.

We love this dotty rectangle PVC tablecloth (Dunelm, from £6) that’s easy to wipe clean, is heat resistant and will make a colourful addition to your camping meals.

Set the table as you would at home with a tablecloth (Dunelm)
Set the table as you would at home with a tablecloth (Dunelm)

If you’re planning on bringing bottles of beer and bubbly, cut down on your single-use plastics by ditching the plastic cup containers.

Instead opt for a more robust, reusable alternative such as these Leon bamboo picnic tumbler set of 4 (John Lewis and Partners, £15).

Sip on your prosecco or smoothies in this colourful set of tumblers (John Lewis and Partners)
Sip on your prosecco or smoothies in this colourful set of tumblers (John Lewis and Partners)

Bold, bright and beautiful, you can use them time and time again for wine, prosecco and soft drinks.

Carrying and storing

Rather than be lumped dragging all your things across a muddy field, pick up this hi-gear folding gear buggy (Go Outdoors, £65) that will hold all your things without giving you a backache.

Save yourself the mammoth effort of carrying everything by hand to the campsite and instead wheel it along (Go Outdoors)
Save yourself the mammoth effort of carrying everything by hand to the campsite and instead wheel it along (Go Outdoors)

It’s made from weather-resistant steel with chunky wheels and quick-wicking fabric so if you get caught in a downpour it’ll withstand the elements.

Folding down into a portable carry bag, when it’s empty it won’t take up much room either if you’d prefer to store it inside your tent overnight.

In our guide to the best melamine, we also loved this Made marvo melamine tiffin box (Made, £15), especially if you're conscious of sharing tableware when hygiene is still a priority.

Tuck in with this colourful melamine, foldaway set (Made)
Tuck in with this colourful melamine, foldaway set (Made)

“In four tonal summery shades, and with five nifty compartments, the lidded box easily comes apart and neatly stacks thanks to its sturdy metal handle and clasp,” said our reviewer.

Decoration

If you want to spruce up your campsite, add some outdoor lighting.

We love these solar string lights (Amazon, £17.99) shaped in 100 decorative stars. There are eight different lighting modes to choose from, be it twinkling or steady on and once fully charged it can last for up to 10 hours at night.

String up these LED powered lights around your tent and camping area for a warm glow (Amazon)
String up these LED powered lights around your tent and camping area for a warm glow (Amazon)

They also have intelligent sensing, turning itself off in daylight, and on when it’s dark, so once they’re hung up you won’t need to do anything.

For more camping essentials, read our guide to the best family tents and the cooking essentials for a campsite

Read more

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10 best 4-man tents that are perfect for camping adventures this summe

11 best camping chairs to pack for your next staycation