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. 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 cool spring weather and warm sunshine, here in the UK, we have a wealth of fantastic local campsites ideal for all the family to get everyone out spending a night under the stars.


If you’re planning a camping trip with friends or family this year, the one thing it pays to be is 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 we’ve put together this season’s essential camping packing list, to make loading your car up with kit that little bit less stressful. From all the essentials to those little bits of 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 to make your time in nature that little bit more comfortable.


The centre-point of any camping pack list, the tent is your home away from home and should be viewed as a major investment piece for your comfort, safety, and enjoyment of the outdoors. Whether it’s a private space for yourself or a large shelter for your whole family, make sure you're able to offer a roomy, secure space for everyone with our fantastic selection of one-person, two-person, and family-sized tents - offering sanctuary and a safe, comfortable place to rest your head. With plenty of options from top brands like Vango, MSR, Terra Nova, Outwell, 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

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.


Check out our video to see just how easy it is to pitch the Vango Cairngorm 300:


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

Wild Country by Terra Nova - Zephyros Compact 1 Tent

Wild Country Zephyros Compact 1 Tent - Expert Review

Designed by the same UK team as Terra Nova, Wild Country Tents produce tents that combine reliability and simplicity with fantastic value for shelters 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 the winner of Trail Magazine’s Best Value Award 2021 for its “superb price, weatherproofing, tried and tested design, and sturdy construction”, it’s perfect for those that want to have their own space without having 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 the warmth is kept in and morning condensation is out. While the low profile, fully seam-sealed, waterproof design provides exceptional wind and watershed in poor conditions. And when you’re all done, the oversized tarp-style bag provided with the Zephyros gives you a quick, simple packing solution for those that want to hit the road fast.


Check out our video to see just how easy it is to pitch the Wild Country Zephyros Compact 1 Tent:


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

Sleeping Bags and Mats

Once your shelter is up and running, the next port-of-call is where you’ll be resting your head for the night. Luckily, here at Cotswold Outdoor, we stock a range of sleeping bags and mats to suit any and all tastes and budgets that are ideal for every season, especially in the transitional British spring weather. Whether you were looking for something packable and small, or something to keep you toasty warm after a day spent out in nature, we are sure to have exactly what you’re looking for with our fantastic range of 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.

Robens - Serac 600 Sleeping Bag

Robens Serac 600 Down Sleeping Bag - Expert Review

The ideal choice for all outdoor pursuits, Robens' Serac 600 sleeping bag provides an exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio with a highly compressible design - making it the best choice for camping with friends and family, and across multi-day trekking extravaganzas.


Robens are all about pure outdoor passion, and these values reflect in the design and practicality of this versatile bedspread. For those that toss and turn in the night, the comfortable mummy shape of the Serac 600 gives it incredible freedom of movement, along with an anti-snag, full-length insulated zip baffle that makes getting in and out a breeze. The PFC-Free durable water repellent (DWR) coating means this sleeping bag stays dry no matter the British weather, all without the help of nasty chemicals. An inner lining transports unnecessary moisture for comfort, and the loft expander system and shark fin foot box increase the 600FP responsible-sourced duck-down insulation in the top and bottom of the bag when and where you need it – for unrivalled late-night warmth.


What sets the Serac 600 sleeping bag apart from its competitors is its practicality, with an easy-to-locate wide hood drawcord adjuster toggle attached to a redefined neck baffle position and profile that work to minimise draughts and heat loss should the temperature plummet in the night, but that's not all, as all of this compresses right down into a lightweight, tiny 30 x 21cm stuff sack that's easy to transport in bags, cars and all across campsites for minimum fuss.

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 torches 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 900L Head Torch

Petzl Swift RL 900L Head Torch - 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 Petzl Swift RL 900L. Compact, powerful, and rechargeable, the Swift RL is the most powerful of Petzl's Compact range, giving you 900 lumens of brightness for an astonishingly small weight of only 100g.


The iconic Petzl Reactive Lighting sensor auto-adjusts the brightness level to suit your surroundings, saving you battery life and the need to constantly take off and re-adjust – fantastic when trying to find your way to the toilets in the middle of the night. The two-part, fully waterproof construction provides exceptional stability for all sorts of dynamic activities like mountaineering, skiing, and snowboarding, all while the single easy-control button gives you complete control of all lamp functions without the fuss. Coming with a minimum burn time of 5 hours with Reactive lighting on the standard function and 100 hours with the lowest 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 thinking about those little accessory pieces that make a campsite feel that little bit more like home. After all, what’s 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:


Ayacucho - Peniche Quilted Jacket

Ayacucho Peniche Quilted Jacket - Expert Review

Perfect for dog walks, pub trips, and those cool campsite nights. This water-repellent coat from Ayacucho is ideal layered underneath a waterproof jacket or worn alone as a casual campfire companion. Created using a synthetic, ecological, plant-based alternative to down the dupont sorona insulation keeps you toasty warm on those cool summer evenings and chilly spring morning breakfast wake-ups – and the cheaper £75 price point is a definite plus. Additional features of the Peniche Quilted Jacket include an extra-large kangaroo pocket with zippered sides for cold hands and smore making essentials, a large adjustable hood, hem and cuffs for the perfect fit, and a deep venting quarter zipper to dump heat as and when you need it.

Fjӓllrӓven - Vardag Fleece Jacket

Fjӓllrӓven Vardag Fleece Jacket - Expert Review

Warm, comfortable and oh-so-soft – Fjӓllrӓven’s relaxed-fitting Women’s Vardag Fleece Jacket was made for those transitional months and chilly spring nights playing cards by lantern light. Made with an incredibly quick-drying, double-layered recycled polyester teddy fleece outer and smooth face jersey inner with a dense weave for wind resistance, it’s ideal for those in-between months when you need an additional layer over a t-shirt for a bit of extra warmth. Durable and fully zippered, there really isn’t a lot this versatile fleece can’t do. Finishing features include an inner fleeced, high collar for a bit of extra warmth, an elasticated hem and cuffs to keep in the heat, and two larger zippered pockets big enough for a phone and cold hands.


Patagonia - Better Sweater ¼ Zip

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 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 - Vardag Pile Fleece Jacket

Fjӓllrӓven Vardag Pile Fleece - Expert Review

Just as cosy and warm as its female counterpart, the Men’s Vardag teddy pile-fleeced Jacket from Fjӓllrӓven is ideal for those cold, crisp spring mornings walking along the beach or seeking out the festival toilets. Fully zippered for ease of wear and able to dump and regulate heat as the day begins to heat up, it’s the perfect transitional piece to take you from spring into summer. Made with an incredibly quick-drying, double-layered recycled polyester teddy fleece outer and smooth face jersey inner with a dense weave for wind resistance, it even comes with an iconic Fjӓllrӓven G-1000 Eco material front popper chest pocket to keep keys or a phone safe from erratic spring showers. Versatile and dependable, it’s the ideal partner for those days spent entirely outdoors with the kids. It comes complete with two large zippered hand pockets and Fjallraven’s classic retro 1970s logo and Swedish flag to the hem for that subtle hint of nature-loving style.

Why not check out our full camping range and get your pack list sorted all in one place:

Related Articles

Let us know you agree to cookies

We use marketing, analytical and functional cookies as well as similar technologies to give you the best experience. Third parties, including social media platforms, often place tracking cookies on our site to show you personalised adverts outside of our website.


We store your cookie preferences for two years and you can edit your preferences via ‘manage cookies’ or through the cookie policy at the bottom of every page. For more information, please see our cookie policy.