Looking for great ideas for camping equipment? If so, then this article is for you. In this post, I share our top picks for camping gear. The equipment is all something we have used quite a lot since we left Denmark in August 2021.
In my review, there are both cheap camping gear and things that are a bit more expensive. I’ll give our take on the pros and cons and link to the products on Amazon.de and Decathlon.de where you can buy them. I have chosen Germany, as from experience this is the cheapest in terms of shipping.
Amazon vs Decathlon for camping equipment
Amazon has a massive selection of camping equipment and gadgets, so we bought most of them from here. Decathlon later became our go-to store when we needed to purchase new camping equipment on the go. They also have a vast range of camping equipment.
Both of them have a selection of tents in various sizes but not as large a selection for caravans, motorhomes and cars like our VW California. We ended up buying our tent somewhere else.
On our trip, we stayed in apartments through Airbnb and Booking.com and on campsites and outdoors.
Why make a huge guide to the best camping equipment?
Many of our followers have asked, and are still asking, about the things we’ve chosen to bring on our trip. We’ve relied on having the right things with us every place we’ve been. Not too much, as we only have the space in our VW California, but just enough.
That’s why I’ve created this guide, which only shows you the absolute best camping equipment we have.
How to find excellent and cheap camping equipment?
We don’t care about brands. We care about quality, functionality and durability. That’s why I spent a lot of time selecting our gear before leaving Denmark. Subsequently, everything was tested intensively while we travelled around.
Whether you’re travelling for a long time or just going on a single camping trip, you’re sure to find something here you didn’t know you needed!
My wife Rie has said that my list is too long, but I can’t make the ultimate guide to camping gear if I only include some of our camping collection. So you get it all in one go 😂
In addition, you get a table of contents where you can click on the headings to go to the product you want to know more about.
If you have any questions about the products or any experience with camping equipment that you think we should include, please leave a comment at the bottom of the comment box. Happy reading.
Thegimms.com receives a commission from Amazon if you make a purchase through a click from this page.
Table of Contents
Camping equipment for our VW California
There are several camping essentials for the car that is necessary for you to organise it properly and use it as intended.
With our VW California comes a couple of camping chairs and a table, which is very good for picnics. But we had to add a lot of extra stuff since our adventures were more than just picnics.
The best fridge for Camping
We need food and cold beverage. It’s just not possible to live as we do without a fridge. It’s probably the camping equipment we use the most.
From previous experience with coolers, we know that they often have a fan that makes a noise. Or that they can’t be plugged into a fixed power supply.
We ended up buying a Dometic CombiCool RC 1200 EGP, which besides being very spacious, is 100% (I mean 100%) silent.
- 100% silent.
- Capacity for 40L or 12×1.5 litre water bottles (or cold white wine).
- Does actually make ice cubes if you put a small tray on the cooling element itself.
- Connects to 12volt (cigar lighter) or 230volt (fixed current) and actually gas too.
- High power consumption (50 watts). In our VW California, we have a camping battery and it can keep it running for about 6-8 hours when we park. But no problem when the car is running or you are at a campsite.
Our refrigerator stopped working one night after we had it for almost a year. Luckily, I was able to google my way to a slightly odd solution, which did work.
So if you bought this fridge and it happens to you, turn the power off and turn it upside down. Let it sit like that for an hour, put it back in place and turn it back on. Make sure it is levelled.
After that, it has been running ever since.
Self-inflatable mattress for the children’s sleeping area
It was challenging for me to find and decide which camping beds to buy for the girls’ sleeping area in the car.
It had to be wide enough to fit their three sleeping bags and not too long. We ended up with this 130 cm wide Vango Odyssey self-inflating mattress of 7.5 cm. The mattress lies on top of the seats when they are put down.
You unpack it from the bag and turn two valves 180 degrees, and it inflates itself. Inside is a combination of foam and air holes for the air sucked in when the foam extends.
When it comes to packing up, the two valves are turned counter wise, and the air squeezes out as it rolls up. Simply brilliant!
- Inflates, all by itself.
- Comfortable to sleep on.
- Easy to pack up.
- Takes up more space than a normal air mattress.
Handbags behind the front seats
Both of the big girls are being homeschooled by us and have some supplementary tuition online.
They also have a lot of creative stuff, books, Mofibo (e-book reader) that need to be organised. To do this, we bought a couple of bags that can be placed on the back of the front seats.
- Very durable
- Many good compartments
- Can be quickly detached and taken inside.
Mobile phone holder – cheap and durable
Having decided that our car would be a VW California and not a regular motorhome, we were more concerned with the production year and mileage than the equipment bundle.
It also meant that our car didn’t have navigation, Apple Car Play, or fancy equipment.
To complement that, we bought this nifty mobile phone holder, which doesn’t cost much and does its job very well.
This way we had a hands-free phone and GPS and saved 3.000 Euro on the car.
It just attaches to one of the fans in the car. In our case, it’s to the right side of the steering wheel. You will probably notice a lot of customers on Amazon who also finds this little gadget amazing.
Power cables – camping equipment you NEED
Whether you’re travelling in a tent, caravan or staying in your car like us, you need to be able to connect to the power supply at the campsite.
We found that there are differences in how this is done, depending on which country you’re in.
That is why we bought the following equipment for it, which in our case can be stored under the hood of the car. We haven’t used all three parts yet, but we come prepared.
Amazon has a great selection of power cables, but just as far as electricity goes, I went a little more for the quality outdoor brands than usual. This is what we bought.
- 10 meters of cable on a reel from German Schwabe
- CEE Adapter (male) from German Schwabe
- CEE Adapter (female) from German Schwabe
Camping equipment for cooking (and making coffee)
I’ve always liked cooking. So it’s been quite a challenge to say goodbye to all our kitchen equipment in Denmark and hello to the few things we could carry in the car.
The camping equipment we have bought for the journey is prioritized to be able to cook a proper meal for a family of five people.
In addition to the items below, we also brought other necessities. Including our knives, as you rarely find good knives in an Airbnb accommodation.
Bialetti Espresso Coffee Maker
The ultimate coffee maker, period! Make coffee as they do in Italy, with a coffee brewer from Bialetti.
We bought it in 2016 in Milan, Italy, but it’s available in many places. The version we have is the one shown here, except in white.
It can be used for induction, gas and regular stovetop.
Our model is the one for 6 cups (espresso) and typically works with us making 3-4 good cups of americano coffee. We make our coffee with about 1/4 espresso and 3/4 boiling water.
- Easy to use
- Easy to clean
- Incredibly durable! We bought an extra rubber membrane and a filter back then but haven’t had to change them yet.
- None. You might just run out of coffee if you have guests.
Whole bean coffee grinder from Operators
No good coffee without well prepared raw materials. So start by finding the coffee you like (whole beans) and get a good grinder.
We’ve chosen a manual model from Operators as it doesn’t take up much space.
- Doesn’t take up much space
- Grinds beans really well – especially for our Bialetti espresso brewer.
- Adds a little extra exercise to the arms.
- It can’t hold much coffee in the container and needs to be filled twice with beans. The second time we grind, we have to guess how much we need.
Cookware and bowl from Sea to Summit
We have tried to minimise all our equipment and have very consciously gone for equipment that can fulfil a need but does not take up too much space.
That’s also why we bought this camping cooking equipment from Sea to Summit.
One is a bowl that we use to make a salad, and the other is a package consisting of a (tiny) pan, a pot with a lid and a small kettle to boil the water.
The pan is a bit smaller than we expected but otherwise good enough. The pot has a lid with a strainer in it, so you can both use it to rinse salad or boil pasta and strain the water.
We use the little green kettle to boil water for coffee.
The material consists of a base that can withstand fire from camping stoves, and the sides are made of silicone. The whole set takes up less space when folded than a normal dinner plate.
We’ve always carried a sorting pan from Eva Trio, but have just replaced it with a large Pot with Teflon coating, so we can make one-pot pasta for the whole family in ONE pot!
- Takes up no space.
- Practical pot with strainer that can be used for several things.
- The small kettle is great for boiling water for coffee.
Very high quality.
- For a family our size, we can’t cook dinner on the set alone. The pot is big enough for pasta or rice, but you can’t put much on the pan.
- The bowl we bought separately and used for salad isn’t big either. But fine for salad, a bowl of chips or similar.
Campingaz stove, single
When it comes to cooking and frying delicious meals on your camping holiday, you need cookware. We started with this single flame from Campingaz but have since upgraded to a double from Decathlon.
The double from Decathlon isn’t powerful compared to this one, so I wouldn’t recommend it. It does the job, but it takes forever.
This model right here is an Easy-Click model and fits the CV470 gas cylinders. We still use it as a supplement to the double when we need a bit more power.
- There’s a real bang for your buck here. It can heat up pots and pans very quickly.
- This model has no ignition and requires a lighter to light.
- It feels a bit unstable to use with larger pots and pans, as you’re afraid they’ll tip over on the ground.
Blender for smoothies and pancakes
We love smoothies and pancakes and want to be able to make them anywhere. With this blender, it’s possible to make smaller portions, and it runs on our extra battery.
- Not too noisy.
- It is relatively powerful, despite the size.
- Doesn’t take up much space.
- It can be used with our extra battery as it is only 300 watts.
- Only for small quantities.
Wine glasses in plastic
I have to mention our plastic wine glasses too. They are awesome, and by bringing them, we don’t have to drink wine and other good stuff out of a mug.
So if you need a little extra luxury outdoors, wine glasses should also be on your list of camping equipment.
They may not be cheap camping gear, but they are very durable and look great even after six months of (regular) use.
Electronic camping equipment
I’ve always been a gadget freak and love finding the right things for the right purpose. So before we sold all our possessions and started our new life as digital nomads, I spent a lot of time finding the right electronic gear.
Below, you can see the best camping gear we bought and used while travelling around. Things like cameras, GoPro, computers and phones I won’t go into in this post.
Charger for up to 6 USB devices at once
We use this charger every day, 24 hours a day! We only need one power outlet and the USB cable to our phones, iPad and camera to charge them with the box.
It doesn’t take up much space Either. Iphones and Ipad can be organized neatly on it, and it even charges faster than the regular charger.
Perhaps the most indispensable camping gadget we carry.
Extra battery for charging, powering the fridge and kitchen equipment
During our travels, we often sleep in the open. Sometimes by a beach or lake and other times somewhere we could park for a single night. Common to all places was (is) that there was no access to electricity.
We need power for various phones, tablets, fridge and household appliances, even though there is an extra battery on our VW California.
A battery isn’t exactly cheap camping equipment, so the price was a significant factor in our choice.
It should not be too expensive and should still have enough capacity to keep various appliances running for some time.
Our choice fell on a POWEROAK Portable Powerstation, at 500Wh. It can be connected to appliances that run on 300 watts – up to 450 watts during peak periods.
Plenty for phones, tablets, computers, fridge etc.
- Connects to 230 volts (regular outlet), 12 volts (cigar lighter in the car) and USB.
- Has an LED light on the back.
- Can be charged while driving or with permanent power.
- Can be connected and charged with a solar panel
- Reasonable price
- A little too low wattage for some household appliances. For example, we have a toaster that we use a lot, but it runs on 750 watts and therefore can’t be connected to the battery.
- Takes a bit long to recharge.
Ruku stick for streaming
I wouldn’t call us addicts, but we do have a need to stream when we’re on the go, especially when we live in an apartment and have access to TV and wifi.
Our two favourites are Disney+ and Netflix.
What we’ve found in most places is that it’s been hard to watch the shows and movies we wanted to watch.
So we ordered a Roku streaming stick that can be put on the back of any TV with HDMI input when we were on our ski vacation in Bansko.
It’s convenient and comes with a small remote control.
- Easy to use.
- Can stream anything that can be streamed – and more.
- Remote control included. This is one of the reasons why I prefer this over the Chromecast.
- Relatively cheap compared to other devices.
- WiFi has to be set up every time you go somewhere new and doesn’t pair with iPhone (unlike Apple TV).
- There may be restrictions on apps depending on which country you are in. My advice is to install the apps you need before you go.
TP-Link mobile WiFi hotspot
A mobile WiFi hotspot is handy when you’re on the move and have access to nothing else but costly data.
Admittedly, it hasn’t been something we’ve used that much so far.
We’ve been favoured with good internet access at both campsites and the apartments we’ve stayed in. But I am certain we will need it at some point.
You can use it all around the world if only you can buy a data SIM card like the ones that go into your phone. Just buy a data SIM card and plug it in.
Everyone in the family can access it through WiFi, like a hotspot. Very convenient.
We have limited experience with this one, but it is highly praised in various tests. One of the reasons I chose it is that it shows how much data you have used.
Mosquito lamp – our best friend in the tent
With the exception of Rie, we are all extremely plagued by mosquitoes. That’s why a mosquito lamp was a must.
This lamp does its job, although it may sound rather loud when the insects hit it. But they die.
It hangs in the tent when we’re camping, or we put it up under the awning when we’re sleeping out in nature and sitting outside in the evening.
Electronic air pump for car and bike
If your tires have lost some air and you are far away from any mechanic that can help you out, it’s nice to have an air pump that can do the job.
We’ve got this automatic air pump from Chinese brand Xiaomi, who alsomakese lots of other cool stuff like electric scooters and phones.
This air pump works for both cars and bikes, and even footballs.
Very simple to use. Adjust to the air pressure the tire needs and press start.
- Charges with USB cable.
Joby telepod for camera
Even though we take a lot of pictures with our phones, we still decided to bring a proper camera for the “big” shots.
Occasionally we need to take a group photo of the family, and it’s kind of handy to have someone else hold the camera for you. This telepod can do just that.
When I received it by mail, it did surprise me a bit that it wasn’t taller. On the other hand, it doesn’t take up too much space and can fit in the top pocket of my small backpack when we’re sightseeing.
- It can stand by itself with a camera on it.
- It can be used as a selfie stick with the camera.
- High quality.
- It is too low to be placed on the ground and take pictures of us while standing up. It’s missing half a metre.
Both the car and the tent needed to be equipped to work efficiently. It already has sleeping room for five people, so we don’t need any camping beds, but we need some other stuff to get organised. That’s why we bought some different equipment to meet that challenge.
Some were bought from Amazon, but we also found boxes and other accessories from other places. I didn’t include that many in this post, but just the most important ones. They are ideal for camping and work great while driving and staying with Airbnb.
Spacious dresser with three drawers – for the car and tent
Our little dresser is indispensable. It’s placed behind the car’s co-driver seat, and we move it out of the car when camping or staying overnight in an apartment.
It’s made of plastic and doesn’t weigh very much, but it’s pretty stable.
Besides storage, it also serves as a small shelf or table for our charger box, among other things.
Bags as an alternative to suitcases
When we travelled in the past, we always carried suitcases combined with various sports bags. It was highly impractical and difficult to stuff into the car.
Before we left Denmark, we tried to reduce the amount of our clothing to fit in one bag. We almost succeeded.
We needed some handy lightweight bags made of durable material that was easy to stack in the car and move in and out of the various places we’d be staying along the journey.
That’s why we bought these bags in 2 different colours. We use the blue ones for our clothes and the grey ones for extra storage of shoes, rain gear and bedding.
- Practical and durable material and zipper.
- Good size.
- Easy to carry.
- Can be stacked as shown in the photo.
- The small plastic window broke in the stitching on a couple of the bags. But that’s probably mainly due to the quantity of clothes the girls are trying to squeeze into them.
Washing Line, retractable
There is a lot of cheap camping equipment that is absolutely indispensable. A good example is this washing line.
Previously why used to bring a piece of ordinary string when going camping. But it always got tangled. We now use this one, which rolls up nicely.
It also contains 20 small and powerful clips.
Camping equipment for home training
Before we left Denmark, I had some problems with my back. And although we’ve always been a fairly active family, my back problems are a mixture of genetics and too much sedentary work. At least that’s what I was told by a physiotherapist I saw at the beginning of our 45 days in Poland.
Before we left home, I researched what equipment I would need for home exercise. It shouldn’t take up too much space, but at the same time, it should be suitable for training the whole body, especially exercises to strengthen the back.
We needed a mat that could work for both yoga and general exercise. It had to withstand being on the ground outdoors on grass and dirt and be slip-resistant.
This mat does it all. I use it every day, and it has no marks or cracks anywhere.
Push-up plate with handle
My wrists have never enjoyed doing push-ups with a flat hand. Therefore, for many years I have used some handles for this purpose.
However, the ones I already had were worn out, and I had to find some new ones.
I ended up buying this plate with adjustable handles on it. The handles can be moved around in different ways, so you can do a few different exercises. It also comes with a manual.
I haven’t used the manual, but the set works really well, as it ensures you always have a level surface to do push-ups on. I also use the handles together with the rubber bands I bought for different exercises.
Premium Fitness Bands for weight lifting
Some of the most versatile equipment for home training at the campsite or wherever we are, are these elastic straps.
They can be used alone or with other items. For example, a pull-up bar, the handles from my push-up plate or just a tree you find at the campsite.
There is different resistance in each strap. This model is made of a material that feels more like a piece of woven fabric than a rubber band.
Unlike regular training elastics, they are more comfortable to grip – and more durable.
While we have been travelling around, it has not always been possible to order items from Amazon. Only if we’ve stayed in the same place for a while. That’s why our new favourite on the road is Decathlon.
For those of you who don’t know Decathlon, it’s a huge store with everything an outdoor person could want.
I also bought this pull bar here, which takes up no space, doesn’t make marks in the door frame and can be adjusted to fit most doorways.
After driving for many hours, I often get sore around my back and buttocks. My wife doesn’t want to give me a massage every time, so I brought a foam roller.
I use it both for massaging sore spots but also for a few exercises I got from my physiotherapist in Poland.
The one we brought is a bit rough, but there are other versions, depending on how sensitive you are.
During training, it is good to have some water, and in general, while driving or walking, it is good to have a good amount of water with you.
We bought these bottles in five different colours—one for each.
They are very practical and durable. A strap on the bottle makes it easy to wear around your wrist when going for a walk.
The lid can be locked, and it has a click feature that makes them easy to open and close. And they’re pretty.
We bought the ones that are 1 litre, which is fine for us. But they come in several different sizes and many different colours.
Microfiber towels and bathrobes
If you’ve ever packed towels to go in a suitcase, you know how much space they take up. So we decided it wasn’t a good idea to carry five ordinary bath towels on our travels.
Instead, we found these microfiber towels in each of our colours.
Since then, we’ve supplemented with bathrobes in the same material from Decathlon.
They definitely go under the category of essential camping gear, and they don’t take up much space either.
- Takes up no space. When folded, they measure the same as half a litre of cola, without the neck of the bottle.
- Dries very quickly.
- Available in lots of nice colours.
- The bathrobe, in particular, is quite nice to wear.
- Not the same experience as drying yourself with a regular towel, but you can manage.
It’s debatable whether a hammock is necessary camping equipment, but that’s what the kids thought. We found this hammock from Decathlon and have been driving around with it for some time without using it.
However, since we’ve been camping and the weather has turned warm, we’ve been able to set it up in the spots we’ve been. Emma has actually slept one night in it. It’s kind of cosy.
Top 5 camping equipment we can’t do without
It might seem a bit strange to write a Top 5 equipment we can’t do without, as we actually can’t do without any of the above.
Still, some things are more important than others. This is our Top 5.
- Cooler – The best for camping
- USB Charger for 6 devices – We use it 24/7
- Bags for clothing
- Bialetti espresso coffee maker (should be #1)
That was my review of all the best and most indispensable camping gear we carry in the car.
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