A good campsite needs at least eight essential items: a tent, sleeping bag, mattress, chair and a light, plus a good braai grid, table and cooler for your camp kitchen. We searched for the best camping gear we could find, at the best possible price, to bring you a quality budget camping kit that will last, all for under R3760.
Also read: 37 of the best campsites in South Africa
1. Oztrail Tasman 3V
Why choose this tent?
The big interior and vestibule mean comfortable sleeping (best for two rather than the advertised three) and room for gear. The mesh inner and large side windows create great airflow. The silver-coated UVP50+ flysheet reflects heat and the tent is easy to set up. Useful extras include rain flaps over the zips, lantern hooks and organiser pouches.
- 3,9kg and 64cm-long (packed)
- 200cm long x 220cm wide (open) and 130cm peak height
- 2000mm waterhead rating
The First Ascent Eclipse Tent is a more technical option with 2000mm flysheet waterproofing (3000mm floor), two vestibules and a sturdier aluminium four-pole construction for better stability in high winds. R2499, firstascent.co.za
Also read: 10 Tents made for adventure
2. Trail Envelope 0-degree adult sleeping bag
Why choose this sleeping bag?
A three-season bag is suitable in South Africa from spring to autumn. The 300gsm hollow fibre insulator won’t absorb water and dries rapidly. The polyester envelope shape has more room and is a bit cheaper than the mummy shape. It’s basic, compact and lightweight.
Sleeping bag specs
- 200cm long and 85cm wide
- O°C rating
Down is the best insulator for winter, but South African climates seldom demand it. The K-Way Chamonix 850 Eco Sleeping Bag is more compact, long (2,2m) and lightweight (850g) mummy-shaped cocoon of warmth filled with earth-friendly insulation. R1199, capeunionmart.co.za
Also read: How to buy the right sleeping bag
3. Intex Classic Downy Double Airbed
Why choose this airbed?
It’s thick and way more comfortable than most foam mattresses or a self-inflating hiking mats (which can cost more than R600). The double is also excellent value for money (a single costs about R199). The flocked surface stops you from sliding off.
- Wave beam construction for uniform sleeping surface
- Wide valve fits larger pump nozzles for fast inflation
For a more technical option, get a canvas-covered fold-up air bed that’s thick (some are only 4cm) like the Natural Instincts 3 Divisional Foam Mattress that’s got 6,5cm-thick padding and is covered with hardy ripstop material. R650, outdoorwarehouse.co.za
4. Trail Boss Explorer Lantern Torch
Why choose this lantern?
It’s both lantern and torch with a powerful lumen count despite its compact size. Great for finding the loos and for general lighting around the camp kitchen. It can be easily hung inside your tent.
- 130 lumens
- Folding legs for compact storage
- Rubber-tipped legs for stability
5. Natural Instincts Standard Oversized Armchair
Why choose this camping chair?
It’s definitely not the cheapest chair out there, but this one will last. A good chair starts at about R300, but what sets this one apart is the sturdy steel frame and thick hardy fabric.
Camping chair specs
- Holds up to 120kg
The Camp Master Classic 200 Chair is cheaper and will do just fine on the annual camping trip. It includes a cup holder and magazine pocket – but it’s not going to last a lifetime and has a shorter back rest. R199, makro.co.za
Also read: Our top 10 camping chairs tested
6. LK’s Namib Collapsible Braai Grid
Why choose this braai grid?
The corrosion-resistant mild steel should last a good decade. A good-sized grid should hold a round of boerie with space to spare (although a slightly raised rim to act as a boerie barrier would make it perfect). It’s a sturdy, durable braai grid with a built-in stand so you can sizzle the chops almost anywhere.
Braai grid specs
- 56cm diameter
- Mild steel
7. Lifetime Versatile 1,2m Folding Table
Why choose this folding table?
It’s stable, and very solid. The plastic stain-proof table top is built to last and it’s lightweight and easy to set up. It’s big enough for a small family to prep and eat at.
Folding table specs
- 122cm long x 61cm wide
- Powder-coated steel legs
- Hardy plastic top
8. Kaufmann Family Cooler Bag
Why choose this cooler bag?
It’s leak-proof when upright and has welded plastic seams. It maintains a stable box shape with a solid durable EVA base to protect soft groceries. This 45-litre cooler bag has enough space for a weekend’s worth of cold food. It’s good-looking, has durable hard-wearing fabric and holds two-litre bottles upright.
Cooler bag specs
- Tow insulated cup holders in the lid
- Straps keep the lid in place when open
- Steel bars to hold up the walls
The hard Coleman has great insulation abilities for the price and it’s a classic for a reason. R799 for the 45-litre cooler box, makro.co.za
Essential kit for the camp kitchen
Ammo boxes are stackable, durable storage boxes that clip securely closed (R179). A cheaper option is the 45-litre Addis Box (R105 from Outdoor Warehouse), but the ammo box is easier to stack, pack and will also hold the following:
- Four basic high-rim bowls. R70, mrphome.co.za
- Four colourful melamine plates to use as a sturdy base for paper plates. R70, mrphome.co.za
- Four stainless steel tumblers. R26 each, campworld.co.za
- Afritrail 3,8-litre Cast Iron Camp Oven. It can double as a kettle to boil water and you can cook eggs or rice in it. R470, seagullindustries.co.za
- A basic 14-litre plastic washing-up tub. R69, plasticland.co.za
- A small portable camping stove is a great addition to any camp kitchen. We tested six camping stoves in our November 2015 issue.
Bring the rest from home
- Pegs and rope for a washing line
- Dishcloths and washing-up kit
- Brush and pan
- Peeler, bottle opener, can opener, spatula and braai tongs
- Knives, forks and spoons
- Coffee mugs and salad bowl
- Chopping board and sharp knife
- Tupperware or Ziplock bags
- Black bags
- Pillows, blankets and sheets
This article was first published in the March 2016 issue of Getaway magazine.
All prices correct at publication, but are subject to change at each supplier’s discretion.