Essential Camping Gear

Ever Increasing Camping Kit

Just when you think you have it ALL, they go & invent something NEW, another must HAVE.

It’ll make camping with the kids so much easier, at least that’s what your saying to he who thinks he should be OBEYED.
But too much stuff adds TOO MUCH WEIGHT.
We all have seen those horrible images of 4wds towing much loved vans and campers rolled-over and their contents strewn all over the road. Having fallen victim to this myself, I now have reduced my load by more than half, I have empty cupboards in the caravan and only 2 storage boxes under the bed
in our camper trailer.

Essential Kit is all I take now, no more “we might need it”, we don’t use it and it comes home untouched. We’ve all done this, but some things we no longer take because the kids have grown up, but back then I would demand that these other essentials came.

We have been bush camping since before we were married, and when our children came along the most important bit of kit with a baby was the PRAM followed by the backpack.
A pram is a bulky item to pack at anytime, but it is essential for baby’s safety. It also acts as a high chair around the campfire, easier to feed them when they aren’t squirming or on the run.
I also added the PORTABLE COT at the crawling stage, yes very bulky, but consider it a safe little prison for those busy times, like dinner
preparation or setting up camp.

But I halt it there, no more baby only stuff. Camping kit that works should work across the age groups and be multi-functional. Bath time was always in a trusty storage box we had for decades that carried the bulky items in the camper. At camp after a good wipe out, everyone uses this to either bathe in or shower in. It can also act as a great water saver/catcher when it rains, strategically placed under the awning, with that side slightly lower it will fill its massive 60 litres in no time, and we then fill the jerrycans from this. Hot water was and always will be essential, as is the gas stove. Car based camping gives everyone the opportunity to take the larger sized gas bottle, running the stove and light off the dual purpose light-pole. We also used a simple canister GAZ light for many years, but with children I prefer LED 12v lights and they are getting very cheap. We still have a couple of the older style 12v fluro lights that draw a small current, but nothing like the super efficient LED lights available now. Also the newer solar panels are much more efficient than our 10yr old ones which makes 12v power an easy option for both tent or trailer camping.


Seriously though as a parent, the most ESSENTIAL bit of kit when camping with a tribe is the old camping trailer.
Don’t get me wrong we camped for years in an old A framed bell-bottom tent, dual skinned and made from very lightweight nylon outer and poly-cotton inner, with a poly tub floor and great waterproofed seams, and she was very expensive in 1985. But you pay for quality, and she withstood many very windy rainy beach camps up and down the coast
including a very wet week on Fraser Island. She’s been dragged around Australia, the lightweight nylon was quick to dry, I even dried it in a caravan park drier once after weeks of constant rain. On LOW and she was fine, didn’t effect her waterproofing in any way.

Tents give you the ability to set up on the other-side of those pesky Nat Park bollards, but as 4wd campers with four legged family members, we rarely encounter these at our chosen spots.

Our first Oztent purchased over 10yrs ago,
initially to give the kids a bit of camping
independence, is great.
Just for ease of setting up and size, we also added the Oztent fly to reduce condensation building up and dripping down on those sleepy heads. We have the zip-on sail channel so it slides directly onto the camper or awning or to our other Oztent,
face to face. Whichever way we chose to set up the
Oztent it is a fabulous bit of camping kit.

However, a camper trailer is the ducks nuts for a happy camping wife. With the awning out and walls to protect us from wind and rain, we had an old bit of carpet as the floor which was appreciated by the ‘ON ALL FOURS’ crowd and a crawling child, a safe warm home away from home.
Eventually our old bit of carpet was updated to some rather expensive ‘costa’ annex matting.

Now this stuff has worked great, and we have used ours for many many years and I love it.
It is heavy and squashes down the long underlying grass down, great for bush camping providing a safe no-trip zone in the kitchen area. We also have a lightweight mat, which unfortunately does kick up and wrinkle, but folds down to nothing, which is the advantage over the costa mat. As all the kids are now young adults and hopefully don’t run around like rabid animals anymore, this stuff works fine under the awning. We still take a couple of bits of the costa mat for under the toilet tent, and under the boys swags or the Oztents as it provides great protection from sharp sticks and makes pack-up cleaner.

The metamorphosis of the camper trailer is proof of the inherent Aussie desire for interaction with our environment. From the humble beginnings of the simple box trailer, with foldout lids becoming the beds/seats, a card table in the center, all covered with army spec green canvas and timber supporting poles; to the very popular Jayco pop-top or the Hard/soft floor fold-over campers, camping is a fast growing recreation.

The size of the Sydney Supershow is testimony to a search for the dream-life, camping, 4wding, boating and fishing, now add hunting and the market is huge. The equipment list is endless, sent to the archive are the old paint-tin billy and cast iron frypan and camp oven.

These days you can get talked into every conceivable gadget, I whiz through this hall at the show, I already have too much stuff. I do think I will buy a collapsible bucket and kettle, as space is at a premium in the kitchen box.

With all this new kit and the luxury of a camper trailer camping life for women is so much more inviting, it gives us women somewhere off the ground to sleep, somewhere to get dressed and somewhere to cook a proper meal. The camper trailer puts camping into the luxury holiday class for me, the ability to have a real mattress with sheets no sleeping bag – heaven no over-heating.
Many would say this isn’t camping, and I would agree, but in the 1990’s with 4 kids under 10yrs, the security of a trailer was paramount. The best part of all the trailers we’ve owned over the years would be the camp kitchen, and the quickest way to calm frayed ‘setting-up’ nerves is with tasty hot food and a cold drink. And the car 12v or 3way fridge is essential.

We took 2 old green Engel fridges and a 40l Coleman Cooler around central Australia in our first Hilux back in 1985, they were unbreakable. The Engels certainly made dinnertime easy; one ran as a fridge, the other a freezer. Although feeding 7 hungry mouths 3 times a day without reverting to the canned food backup was trying. It was all made possible by those fridges, which we re-filled at each town with fresh food. The esky was used to store the bread, and fruit and vegies. Remember, in the 1980’s 4wding was fairly new and camping still quite primitive, and we were traveling via isolated dirt roads, rarely seeing anyone else. We carried all the food supplies in boxes, filling the ute well of the single cab to the gunnels.
Since then we have had several camper trailers with the ubiquitous 3way fridge and I loved them. I only had trouble getting the system to cool once on some very sloping land that required some serious rock building to get it level for the old ammonia system to work properly.

Our Engel fridges have been updated over the years, all lasting more than 10 yrs, and many a tumble out of the back of the troopy. One even survived the rollover tango with B double on the Hume, indestructible.

Now two of the sons have Engels in their 4wds, whilst our daughter has an Ironman4x4 65L fridge freezer combo. It’s huge and lives on an equally huge slide that slides out from under the bed in their camper trailer, all part of their luxury camper kitchen.

Carrying perishable fresh food is always hard on a long drive. These readily available throw away broccoli box from the fruit market is great for carrying the bread, fruit & veg etc as when you’ve eaten it all it’s one less thing to carry home. Unless your like me and fill it with locally grown fruit & veg to take home.

Either way, it’s the fruit and veg that we need to remain well on our trips as it’s all to easy to get bunged up out of your routine and in a strange place….
…… which leads neatly onto the next essential


This is a NO BRAINER. We bought our first camping toilet before
we were married, a folding stand with a toilet seat and hanging plastic bag.

Seriously they still sell these, and people think the $40 is well spent !!

Put the $40 towards a chemical toilet, after you have used one there is NO turning back.

We have had 3 chemical toilets over the years, and always using ‘Environmentally Friendly’ waste digesters. We have never had issues with bad odors or a smelly loo like some campground long drops.

These days disposal is easy with dump points in most towns, and if your too far out, it’s nothing a good deep hole well away from water or people can’t fix.
Feed a tree ! More importantly ALL the children and I have been comfortable, which makes for a good camping trip.
A really ESSENTIAL bit of kit for your camp.
They are so cheap these days, the 20 litre JUST model $145.
Your family shouldn’t go bush camping without one.

When setup for more than just a few days, we have 2 pop-up shower/toilet tents, one for each purpose. That way the floor in the toilet stays dry and the shower can be better located away from camp for better drainage, under a thirsty tree if needs allow. We also use our large tub in our shower to collect the water, and our hand held shower has an on/off switch to conserve water.

#Camping or Glamping #all mod cons
#family of 6

All luxury in the mighty little Getaway, caravan not really a camper but at just 13ft and built into a chequer-plate steel box trailer she is more camper than caravan, the original hybrid.
This en-suite setup works on our other camper just the same. The rollout awning over the top collects any rainwater in a large bucket which in turn feeds the hot water shower pump.

We have used 12v power for lighting in the campers and tents for many years. It makes night time more manageable. Our original fluro area lights were brighter than the gas light and safer too, as my biggest fear was a gaslight fire. The 12v sockets installed inside the camper sleeping area are great for running the lights and DVD/TV player at night when the children were put to bed. Later it ran music or story CD’s so everyone could drift off to sleep rather than hearing the sounds from ‘where the wild things are’.

Ironman 4×4 LED Strip Light

The new LED technology keeps getting better and better. The LED strip lights are so bright, they come with dimmer switches. The current draw is minimal and with the combination plug and AMP meter you can easily keep track of battery usage.

Ironman 4×4 Solar Mat to keep you charged

Solar panels can be hard wired and permanently mounted or portable like the new solar mat. We have permanent panles mounted on our van, camper and the roof of our canopy on our 4wd. All our batteries – auxiliary and starting are fully charged from either the power generated whilst driving via the vehicle’s alternator or when stationary at camp we use the solar to top it up. We also have a small Honda Geni if the weather is overcast.

Ironman 4×4 12v Power Pack

We do a lot of day trips using camp as base, exploring and 4wdriving, so the vehicle is always fully charged, if necessary we can swap out the camper battery to the auxiliary in our 4wd to charge-up whilst driving. If your camping style isn’t trailer or caravan based, one of these 44amp portable power packs could be your answer. Stow it in the back of your car and connect via the cigarette socket whilst out exploring for the day. They’re fully sealed and have ALL the necessary power outlets, and can be charged from multiple sources – AC/DC.
Perfect match to the Solar Mat …. ready …set …power.

Happy Camping

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