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Gearing up

High season is over and the Motorhome and Caravan Show is just around the corner, which can only mean one thing: Now is a great time to update worn out kit.

Whether your boots are wearing out on the soles or your tent is starting to leak, now is the time to kit yourself out for the new season.

The practicalities

There’s so much to think about when you’re buying your new equipment. The market is full of products that offer different benefits for different prices. Tents, for example, can seem a minefield. From small, ‘instant’ tents designed for festival use to family sized options that will last out many holidays, the multitude of choices can be somewhat overwhelming.  A show is the perfect opportunity to talk to the experts and see tents properly pitched; you can get an idea of their ground area and how much headroom they provide as well as finding out details such as each model’s Hydrostatic Head (HH) – in layman’s terms, how waterproof it is.

You may also want to consider weight and, for want of a better word, ‘packability’. Camping trips invariably take a lot of organisation and there isn’t often the space to have items that can’t be put away neatly. Luckily, the 21st century has blessed us with a variety of companies that sell fold-up, squash-down, easily packed products, from the traditional folding chairs to collapsible cooking pots. Often it’s a compromise between items will go the distance and those that can be stored or carried comfortably. If you’re looking at long term use, it’s best to go for quality products made from durable materials that can stand up to a little wear and tear. If you’re only getting the kit out twice a year and look after it well, it’s worth going for convenience.


There’s nothing worse than getting sore feet an hour into a 10 mile walk or bedding down for the night only to find your sleeping bad isn’t up to the task of keeping you warm. There’s a lot to be said for comfort on a camping trip – it’s the difference between a mediocre holiday and a great one. Think about when and where you will be using your kit. If you only plan to camp in the south of France in summer, you won’t need a robust sleeping bag made to cope with temperatures of below zero. If UK camping in low season is more your thing, you’ll need to choose an appropriately graded bag.

Choosing new walking boots is largely a matter of fit, but it’s essential to take things like waterproofing into account. Leather is traditional, but fabric boots are ever more popular due to their breathable nature. If you opt for these, make sure they’re suitably lined with Gore-Tex® or some other such material – no-one likes ending up with wet feet!

Tried and tested

When you’re researching what kit to buy, it’s always good to look at reviews to get an idea of how reliable the product you’re about to purchase is. The worst thing is spending a lot of money on something that ultimately doesn’t last, so it’s worth taking some time to see what others say about an item. The internet is the best place for this – you can look up expert reviews in online magazines as well as find out what other recreational campers think. If you’re buying on the net, products will often have a star rating and customer comments included in the description to help you make an informed decision.

The Motorhome and Caravan Show at the NEC in Birmingham is a great place to pick up some new kit for the coming season. The show runs from 15-20 October and tickets start from £7.