I guess I’m known as someone who goes camping a lot. I love it and I can’t help myself. Whether it be riverside, in the desert, bush or by the beach I don’t mind. I’d probably prefer the bush because I grew up bush camping and absolutely love and respect reptiles, however, I now live “where the outback meets the sea” so I’ve had to come to love the beach just as much. Almost everyone here I know loves the beach, water sports and especially fishing! So camping for them usually means somewhere they can wet a line. I still don’t know how to fish but it’s on my list of things to learn.
Anyway, as a kid I used my parent’s tents or shared with family or friends, however, this 3-part post is about my own camping set-ups, what I’ve tried and what I still love to use.
Let’s Start From The Beginning
When I moved back here to South Australia I started going camping with my newly-made friends but all I had to use was a cooler bag for my alcohol (had my priorities right I guess 😉 ) a cheap chair and I just slept in my car.
That was starting to get old when my Dad bought me my first swag. How excited I was! Couldn’t wait to try it out. I first tried it on the ground and loved it. It was like my little cubby and it was all mine! Getting changed in it proved a little difficult but luckily I’m fairly small so it wasn’t a huge drama.
The Swag & Stretcher Set-Up
I then discovered the stretcher to set the swag up on which made getting in and out a lot easier! I first bought the stretcher because I was going to camp somewhere I had never camped before and wasn’t sure what the ground would be like. Turned out it was a properly compacted dirt campsite but still set up the stretcher and loved it. Made it seem more like a real bed but with protection from the creepy-crawlies and the elements.
I ended up buying a little sun shelter thing for that trip as well to sit under. So there I was, chillin on my picnic blanket with my cooler bag full of alcohol and left over MacDonalds.
I turned my swag around so I could lay on my belly and look out at the bush. I remember the next morning I woke to see a mumma magpie feed her two young right near the head of my swag. Awesome!
After that trip, my friends knew I was trying to work out a set-up for myself so they lent me their Waeco 12V fridge, battery pack and solar panels to keep it charged. That was awesome and I knew that was the set-up I wanted for refrigeration and power.
A Quick Thank You
I would like to take this opportunity to say a massive THANK YOU to all of my friends who have helped me out with anything camp related and who provided me with food when I couldn’t even bring my own stuff. It’s all so very much appreciated! Xox
My next step was to at least buy an eksy while I saved up for a 12V fridge and also a couple of little gas stoves so that I could cook my own food. I was going to buy a double one but my friend recommended I buy two single ones as most of the time I would only need one at one time. That has been true so I’m glad he changed my mind. I also bought myself a sun lounger chair to fully relax in.
I had bought myself a bucket-style toilet and pop up ensuite tent however after using it over a full weekend and finding out how much it stank I wanted to get a chemical toilet. The bucket-style is ok for a night and I still use it occasionally but make sure you triple-line it with bags! Don’t want any leakages now, do we? You can also buy powder to help with the smell but I still only like to use it for the one night.
I love my chemical toilet! In the waste section (the bottom) you pour the amount it says on the bottle of chemical toilet stuff (I get mine from the camp store where I got the toilet) and mix the amount of water it says with it, in mine I think it’s 250ml to 3L of water but it says on the bottle and then you just fill the top half up with water which is your flush water.
You can also buy chemicals to go in that section to help with smell and cleaning as well but I’ve never bothered. The whole thing becomes quite heavy, especially after a full weekend’s of use but the comfort and convenience make it well worth it! They can be fairly expensive but I definitely recommend one if you’re getting sick of squatting.
Got myself a nice little table from Big W. I didn’t need anything too big and that one is super light which is great.
The Dome Tent
I eventually decided that I would like something bigger to sleep in and get changed in to give myself some more privacy and that’s when I turned to the trusty dome tent. Longer set-up time but like I said more privacy and more room to move.
Swag Vs Tent
That’s the best thing about a swag, the whole bed is in there ready to go. I leave a sleeping bag and pillow in mine and roll it all together so all I’ve got to do is roll it out, peg it down and I’m done but unless you’ve got something like an ensuite tent to get changed in you’ll soon get sick of doing that in the swag. Swags are also pretty heavy and bulky packed up but it’s all-in-one whereas a tent might be small and light packed up, you also need to throw in the mattress, pump, sleeping bag, and pillow (which is all still lighter and more compact than a swag).
As much as I love my Kokomo sun lounger chair it is bulky, heavy, awkward and takes up a lot of room in the car so I got myself another chair. Just like with hiking stuff it’s all trial & error. I still use it occasionally if I know I’m camping out somewhere for a while or will be swimming and want something to lay out on and soak up the sun but other than that I just can’t be bothered with it.
I actually ended up getting a small personal loan for some camping gear as I was planning a road trip that Christmas to visit my family.
Lighting has always been an issue while camping. For portable lighting, I have a baby torch in the glovebox which is handy to keep in your pocket or hang from the ceiling of the tent and I have tried a few different styles of LED lanterns but in my opinion, you can’t beat the good old Dolphin torch. Couldn’t lose it if you tried, throws out plenty of light and it floats. Winning!
That 3-shelf cupboard was one of my more stupid purchases but it was good at the time I guess. Used it a couple of times but that’s it. That was when I was still trying to organise my camp kitchen and pantry so I had everything squashed in a tub so that I then had to get everything out and organise it in that cupboard thing ready for use. Pain in the arse.
Camp Kitchen & Pantry
One of the hardest things to get organised for my camping set-up was the kitchen and pantry stuff. I started out with a small, shallow tub crammed full of everything I thought I needed, then it all went in a big Spotlight bag and then in a giant tub which I thought was handy at the time because I could use that as a table as well but soon got sick of struggling with it in and out of the car and reorganising it every time I pulled something out, everything else would fall to the bottom out of place. Sounds petty but you wouldn’t know the headache unless you’ve been there.
Plus, if you have things sitting on the tub and then need something out of it, you have to put everything on the ground anyway. Like I said that was definitely the most difficult part of my camping set-up to get right for me and figure out something that just worked without hassle.
Doing The Research
During this whole time, I had been researching a more serious style of camping set-up and what some people would consider “glamping” i.e. a trailer with everything I needed in it, an actual camper trailer or a roof-top tent.
What happened? You’ll have to check out Camp Set-ups Part 2.