A small, green Zephyros Compact 1 Tent sits on a grassy verge infront of a river

The Essential Spring Camping Kit List

As the sun peeks from behind the clouds and festival season begins, so does our desire to get outside and go camping! Camping is a fantastic way to get yourself, friends, and family out spending time in nature with hikes, bike rides, and campfire stories told over a toasted marshmallow (or two!). With the lovely cool spring weather and warm sunshine, we're spoilt for where to adventure this season, with an array of fantastic UK campsites to get out and visit.


If you’re planning a camping trip with friends or family this spring, the one thing it pays to be is ready and prepared. Variable spring weather and cool evening temperatures alongside the Scottish spring-time midge season are all things that could put a real dampener on your camping plans should you turn up unprepared to face the elements. That’s why here at Cotswold Outdoor, we’ve put together our essential camping packing list - to make loading your car with all the essentials that little bit less stressful. From all the equipment and kit you need to those little bits of extra luxury that will help make your tent feel that little bit more like home, here at Cotswold Outdoor, we have all the kit you need for a fantastic camping season.


The centre-point of any camping equipment list, your camping tent is your home away from home and should be viewed as an investment for your comfort, safety, and enjoyment when staying outdoors. Whether you're looking for a one-person tent for backpacking adventures, a two-person tent for festivals, or a large event shelter for holidays away, make sure you're able to offer a roomy, secure space for everyone with our fantastic selection of wild camping tents, three-person tents, four-person tents, and large family tents - offering sanctuary and a safe, comfortable place to rest your head. With plenty of options from top brands like VangoMSRTerra NovaOutwell, and Easy Camp - a night spent sleeping under the stars has never looked so appealing.

Vango - Cairngorm 300 Tent

Vango Cairngorm 300 Tent - Expert Review

Vango Cairngorm 300 Tent - In Depth Pitch, Pack & Tips

Named the 2023 Tent Brand of the Year, Vango has been at the heart of the outdoors for the last 55 years. Lightweight, roomy, budget-friendly, and endlessly versatile. The Cairngorm 300 can be pitched and erected quickly and easily thanks to a single-hooped structure and is at home at the family campsite as it is strapped to your pack for a multi-day trekking adventure. Perfect for those that want it all without the bulk, the 2kg weight allows you to - quite literally - do it all while offering a plethora of comfortable extras that make any outdoor trip all the more convenient.


Providing a larger internal volume without the hefty weight of similar styles, the Cairngorm 300 is packed with features to make every day end in unparalleled comfort. Vango’s unique TBS II Tension Band System and Yunan Eco Alloy Poles give the tent extra stability and strength in windy hillside conditions. Line-Lok locking guy line runners with multiple reflective pegging points make it easy to pitch no matter how late you rock up to your plot. With additional quality-of-life features such as twin flysheet doors for easier access and luggage space, walking pole attachments to keep muddy and wet equipment out of the inner bedroom area, plenty of stash pockets, and a fast-pack tent bag for easy early-morning dismantling for the ride back home – it’s the tent any outdoor enthusiast needs in their arsenal.

Wild Country by Terra Nova - Zephyros Compact 1 Tent

Wild Country Zephyros Compact 1 Tent - Expert Review

Wild Country Zephyros Compact 1 - In Depth Pitch, Pack & Tips

Designed by the same UK team as Terra NovaWild Country Tents produces shelters that combine reliability and simplicity with fantastic value for tents that will stand the test of time. No matter what adventure you take them on.


The Zephyros Compact 1 is what it says on the tin – an extremely packable, lightweight, versatile, 30 x 18cm 1-person shelter that can take you from the rugged hillside to a spring festival with friends without breaking a sweat. Crowned winner of Trail Magazine’s Best Value Award 2021 for its “superb price, weatherproofing, tried and tested design, and sturdy construction”. The Zephyros is the perfect tent for those wanting their own space without the want to carry an endless list of kit.


The Zephyros Compact 1 is easy to pitch thanks to its single-hooped tapering tunnel design, external pole system and reflective guy lines - meaning less time reading the instruction manual and more time setting up the campfire for tea. Mesh panelling in the flysheet door ensures warmth stays in and morning condensation stays out. Meanwhile, the low profile, fully seam-sealed, waterproof design provides exceptional wind and water resistance in poor conditions. And when you’re all done, the oversized tarp-style bag gives you a quick, simple packing solution for those wanting to hit the road fast.

Sleeping Bags and Mats

Once your shelter is up and running, the next port-of-call is where you’ll be resting your head. Luckily, here at Cotswold Outdoor, we stock a range of sleeping bags, sleeping mats, and camp beds to suit all tastes and budgets that are ideal for every season, especially given the transitional UK weather. Whether you were looking for something packable and small like a camp mat for backpacking or a large double sleeping bag to keep you toasty warm after a day spent out in nature, we're sure to have exactly what you’re looking for with our fantastic range of men's and women's sleeping bags and base pads from some of the leading outdoor and camping brands:

Rab - Ascent 700 Sleeping Bag

Rab Ascent 700 Sleeping Bag - Expert Review

A mainstay of Rab’s camping range, the Ascent 700 is the warm, robust, 650-fill power-down sleeping bag designed to use on UK family campsites just as much as adventures off in the mountains. Constructed from a fully recycled, wind-resistant Pertex Quantum and available in both a men’s and women’s fit – it’s the ideal sleeping bag for eco-conscious, first-time campers looking for that bit of extra warmth on those chillier spring evenings.


The comfortable, wide, mummy-shaped fit with a wider lower foot box gives you plenty of space inside without feeling constricted, with room for additional layers when and where you need it. Trapezoid-shaped, box wall baffles hand-filled in the UK with hydrophobic duck down ensure no cold spots and maintained loft and warmth, while the close-fitting neck baffle with ¾ length zipper and adjustable hood keeps the heat in and the drafts out when the temperature starts to drop. But that’s not all, as this sleeping bag is filled to the brim with additional campsite features you can’t help but love. Such as an internal zippered stash pocket for a phone or headlamp, a compression sack for easy pack-away in the car and even a zipper that can link up with a right or left-handed zippered version to create a double sleeping bag. All in all, it’s a UK adventurer’s ideal all-rounder.

Mountain Equipment - Helium 3.8 Warm Zone Sleeping Mat

Mountain Equipment Helium 3.8 Warm Zone - Expert Review

For those that want a little luxury, a sleeping mat can unquestionably enhance your average camping set-up, providing an additional insulated layer between you and the ground for some much-needed warmth and comfort.


Combining an ultra-packable design with lightweight construction, Mountain Equipment’s Helium 3.8 comes in both a men’s and women’s fit and is ideal for year-round camping adventures. With a soft polyester top, bilateral foam cushioning, and a non-slip reinforced base, this self-inflating mat provides a reliable 3.8cm base layer for you and your sleeping bag that promises no aggravating deflation halfway through the night. The simple oversized push-in valve provides efficient inflation and deflation while you’re off sorting out a camp or pitching up the tent. And with a lightweight stuff sack to compress it all down, it’s a handy piece of kit that won’t be lugging you down on the trails or the van any time soon. Simple, comfortable and coming in at a great price – this is a little piece of luxury you more than deserve this camping season.

Head Torches

The essential accessory for your camping kit list, head torches not only aid in late-night camping set-ups and midnight dashes to the toilets but can also become vital safety equipment to keep you and your group safe should an emergency arise. With an array of head torch and headlamp styles avaliable with practical safety and lighting functions, rechargeable batteries and fully adjustable headbands, browse our illuminating selection of headlamps to find the perfect light source for your next adventure:

Petzl - Swift RL 1100L Head Torch

Petzl Swift RL 900L Headtorch - Expert Review

For the tech heads looking for something top-of-the-range that will stand the test of time, look no further than the multisport Petzl Swift RL 1100L. The Swift RL is your trusted companion, ensuring optimal illumination and ease of use for all your outdoor pursuits, giving you 1100 lumens of brightness for an astonishingly small weight of only 100g.


Utilizing innovative Reactive Lighting technology, this headlamp features a built-in sensor that intelligently assesses the ambient light conditions and automatically adjusts its brightness to suit your specific needs – fantastic when trying to find your way to the toilets in the middle of the night. Additionally, the headband is thoughtfully designed with reflective elements, ensuring you remain visible even when exploring in the cover of night.


The split two-part, fully waterproof construction provides exceptional stability for all sorts of dynamic activities like mountaineering, trail running, skiing, and snowboarding, all while the single easy-control button gives you complete control of all lamp functions without the fuss. Coming with a burn time of between 10 - 70 hours with Reactive lighting and 100 hours with the standard t brightness setting, alongside a fully rechargeable battery that is back up to full charge in 6 hours - this is the campsite partner for casual campers and pioneers alike.

Petzl - e+Lite 40L Head Torch

Petzl e+Lite 250L Headtorch - Expert Review

When out in nature, staying safe is essential, and as anyone will tell you, the easiest way to do so is to remain seen. Welcome, Petzl’s e+Lite 40L Headtorch. The basic lighting solution for emergencies while out and about in nature.


Incredibly compact, waterproof, and weighing only 26g, the e+Lite easily stuffs away into a first aid or camping kit and can be stored for up to 10 years. Handy for those who want a camp kit that’s always ready to go. Stretchy and fully adjustable, the elasticated headband sits firmly on the head to keep you visible, allowing you to see what’s in front of you at all times up to a distance of 15m. Four lighting modes give you a plethora of options depending on the situation, including a white and red strobe and constant white light, with the addition of an emergency whistle on the headband for complete peace of mind. Be cautious and sensible. Don’t get caught in the dark.


Once you’ve got basics sorted, you want to start planning those little accessory pieces that make a campsite feel more like home. After all, what’s fun is a holiday spent outdoors without the parts that make life that bit easier? From ideas to keep pesky insects away from you and your tent to an extra bottle to stop those midnight trips to the water pipe to fill up, here are some ideas for those extra bits of kit that will help get your campsite up and running that bit smoother.

Smidge - Insect repellent

Smidge Insect Repellent - Expert Review

Made in Scotland by the people in the know, Smidge is the essential bit of camping kit to keep the nasties out of your vacation. Spring is the peak time for midge season up in the highlands; Aggravating, itchy and downright annoying – midges can quickly turn your camping experience into a nightmare. Throw the little devils off your group’s scent with our range of Smidge products that actively work to repel midges, mosquitoes, horse flies, sand flies, fleas, and even ticks.


A great alternative to DEET, Smidge’s insect repellent smells fantastic and, thanks to a water and sweat-resistant formula that blocks the antennal receptors of biting insects, keeps them away from you and your campsite for up to 8 hours. Available in both a large 75ml you can keep in the tent and a pocket size 18ml you can throw in your pocket for hikes – this is the efficient, cheap way to keep you smiling throughout bug-bite season. There’s even a portable hair net to throw on top of a hat to keep the little critters off your face. Safe for the whole family including pregnant individuals and children two years and up, don’t be caught without this essential accessory this UK camping season.

Buff - Original EcoStretch Neckwear

Buff Original EcoStretch Neckwear - Expert Review

Whether mountain biking on trails, hiking in the hills, or simply chilling by the campfire making the afternoon coffee, life’s just easier with a Buff. Cool, breathable, stretchy, moisture-wicking, and versatile – the list never stops for the Buff. It’s the every-season, everyday accessory just made for time spent outdoors. It even doubles as a handy pillow case over a fleece when you realise you left the camping pillow back at home!


Here at Cotswold Outdoor, we stock a wide range of Buffs from the traditional tubular neckwear to headbands that keep errant hairs from getting in your eyes while pitching up camp. Perhaps the most loved of our collection is the Buff Original EcoStretch. Made from recycled plastic bottles with a hint of elastane for stretch, the Original EcoStretch Buff is one of the mainstay accessories of our Our Planet range and offers UPF 50+ Sun protection recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.


And for those who want a little extra protection from pesky midges and mosquitoes, we also have the Coolnet UV Insect Shield. Offering all the technical details of the EcoStretch with the bonus of Coolnet UV fabric for a cooling feel on warm spring days and Insect Shield technology and repellent treatment to the fabric to keep insects at bay.

Nalgene - Wide Mouth Sustain 1L Water Bottle

Nalgene Tritan Wide Mouth Bottle 1L - Expert Review

Whatever you get up to in the outdoors, staying hydrated is essential. If you’re looking for a bottle that can keep up with your thirst, then the 1L Wide Mouth Sustain Water Bottle from Nalgene is the flask for you.


Made from 50% recycled, BPA and BPS-Free ultra-durable Tritan Renew plastic,  Nalgene works to offset the use of fossil fuels and lower greenhouse gas emissions when creating their eco-conscious drinkware while also creating a durable product that can stand the test of time. Ideal to use as an additional source of water back at camp, the wide mouth is perfect for adding ice cubes or a water-purification tablet when needed and comes with a leak-proof guarantee that ensures it won’t get your tent soggy at night should it get knocked over. There's even a 1.5L Silo version for when you're extra-thirsty! Out in the wilderness, one thing is certain. It pays to stay prepared.

Around the Campfire

Nothing pays off more than being ready for any and all weather when camping, and though spring can give us some glorious sunny days here in the UK, it pays to have that extra layer for that nippy morning breakfast run and cool evening sat out under the stars. Here at Cotswold Outdoor, we specialise in all the kit to make your time outdoors the best it can be, and our wide range of clothing is no exception. Whether you’re looking for something cheaper, something made using recycled and planet-friendly practices, or just that versatile piece that will last you season after season. Here are our picks for both men and women of the best layering choices for your spring camping holidays:


The North Face - Nervia Fleece Jacket

The North Face Nervia Fleece - 1

The North Face Nervia Fleece - Expert Review

Ideal for dog walks, trekking, hiking, and those cool campsite nights. The women's Nervia Fleece Jacket from The North Face is a cosy high-pile fleece perfect for layering up and adding warmth, whatever the weather. Outfitted with a full-length front zipper for easy layering and venting on warmer spring afternoons should you want to adjust to your surroundings and with a double-layer collar for comfort and warmth next to skin, this lightweight fleece is ideal for every day adventures with family and friends. 

Patagonia - Retro Pile Fleece

Patagonia Retro Pile Fleece - 1

Patagonia Retro Pile Fleece - Expert Review

A fantastic choice for both women and men, Patagonia's Retro Pile Fleece is the perfect everyday accessory and a must-have when spending nights under the stars. A warm, cozy, easy-wearing double-sided shearling fleece, this exceptionally soft mid-layer is made from fully recycled polyester and gives a surprising amount of warmth for the weight - perfect for nights around the campfire. Quick to dry when hung on a tent guy-line after a spring shower and with a chest and hand pockets for cold digits and all your accessories, this is the perfect fleece for those that never tire of being outdoors.


Patagonia - Better Sweater ¼ Zip Fleece

Patagonia Better Sweater ¼ Zip - Expert Review

If being eco-conscious is your priority when picking your gear, then you’re in luck with this next option. The perfect everyday partner ideal for light hikes and cool campsite nights, the Better Sweater is for the men looking for the fleece that will see them from the workday commute to that holiday down by the lakes. A Patagonia classic, this versatile, cosy quarter zip fleece for both men and women is made from fully recycled polyester with a low-impact dyeing process to conserve energy and water usage and is fully bluesign-approved and Fairtrade certified sewn. It features a fitted hem and cuffs to keep in the warmth, a Napoleon pocket for your phones and keys, and a quarter-neck zipper that allows you to dump out heat and regulate your temperature when needed. The flat-seam construction reduces bulk and abrasion for comfortable all-day wear and raglan sleeves help deliver astounding freedom of movement – perfect for light hikes with a backpack or those chill late-night tent-pitching endeavours!  

Fjӓllrӓven - Övik Twill Shirt

Fjallraven Ovik Twill Shirt - 1

Fjӓllrӓven Övik Twill Shirt - Expert Review

Made for everyday outdoor adventures - the Övik Twill Shirt from Fjӓllrӓven is crafted for a robust brushed organic cotton twill, making it comfortable and durable for days spent out in nature. Stylish and sustainable, this warm, cozy flannel shirt has a relaxed fit for easy layering under jackets and over t-shirts. Equipped with two generous bellowed, button-flap chest pockets and a pen hole, the Övik Twill Shirt is packed with handy storage solutions for all your devices and accessories - perfect for that early morning crossword with your Hydroflask of coffee while waiting for friends to get out of bed! Destined to become your new everyday favourite, don't hesitate in making the Men's Övik Twill Shirt part of your camping wardrobe. In addition, there's the Övik Air Stretch Shirt - the ideal short-sleeved version crafted from G1000 Air Stretch for warmer temperatures and climates.

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