Starting out as camping adventurers? This complete camping kit costs less than R5000 and includes everything a couple needs to be comfortable.
The right tent: Coleman three-person instant tent
Footprint: 213 x 213cm
Centre height: 117cm
Packed dimensions: 87 x 34 x 9cm
This happy-yellow, decently waterproofed tent has a preassembled frame that snaps into place, setting up in less than two minutes. It breaks down just as quickly, folding back up into a compact rectangular shape for easy packing. The three-man size means there’s still enough room on either side of a sprawling queen-size mattress to stash your bags. You can’t quite stand up inside but it still feels comfortable, and your head won’t brush against the ceiling when kneeling. Plus there are reflective guy lines so you can catch them in your torch at night before finding them with your feet.
Tip: If you’re on an even tighter budget try the Highlander Up In 2 pop-up tent. It’s designed more for festivals and calm-weather use but is lightweight, folds into a flat disc shape and sleeps two comfortably, but then there’s no room for bags inside. R659, campandclimb.co.za
A decent mattress: Bestway Queen Flocked Mattress
Open size: 203 x 152 x 22cm
Packed dimensions: 33 x 35 x 11cm
This comfortable queen-size airbed works out a little cheaper than buying two single mattresses and takes five minutes to blow up (the compact Bestway Air Hammer Inflation Pump is a good budget buy at R79,95). The flocked surface helps prevent a sleeping bag from slipping off, and a repair patch is included.
Tip: If you’ve got the boot space, invest in a canvas-covered foam mattress such as the Tentco Single Roll-Up Mattress. They’re bulkier but much more durable. R499, campandclimb.co.za
Also read: top camping mattresses tested.
Two all-season sleeping bags: Trail +5 Degree Envelope Sleeping bag
R299 each, mrpsport.com
Open size: 210 x 85cm
Packed dimensions: 40 x 24cm
Longer and wider than most sleeping bags, this roomy option is easy to move around in without twisting you into a koeksister in the middle of the night. The insulation is generous and feels thick to the touch.
Also read: How to sleep outside in total comfort.
A compact cooker: Alva Single Plate Stove
Packed dimensions: 32 x 35 x 11cm
If you don’t already own a big gas bottle, this simple cast aluminium cooker is great for boiling water and frying eggs using pots and pans you already have at home (a hiking stove can be too small). Heat is easily adjusted and the hottest level is decent enough to boil water in five minutes. The 220g butane gas canisters cost just R40. Incidentally, we discovered that the stove’s also popular with foodie photographers, who often use it on shoots. My only gripe is that it comes in a plastic carry case (convenient, yes), which might not stand up to abuse as the locking mechanisms seem flimsy.
A chic kitchen stand: Natural Instincts Stand with Sidetables
Open size: 120 x 40 x 79cm
Packed dimensions: 58 x 82cm
It costs nearly as much as the tent, but the one thing that will keep you camping as a couple is organisation and clean cooking. This sturdy, lightweight kitchen stand is great for storing plates, pots and more, but can also double as a table to eat from because the chair sits at the perfect height. It’s painless to set up and pack away (a black zip-up carry bag is included) and the nifty extras such as hooks and a mesh storage level make this stand incredibly functional. It’s also light enough to carry comfortably.
Two basic chairs: Camp Master Classic 200 Oversize Arm Chair
R189 each, makro.co.za
Packed dimensions: 100 x 16cm
You can’t go wrong with this steel-frame camping chair. It can carry a maximum of 120kg, is light enough to sling over your shoulder and carry down to the beach, easy to set up around the fire, and cheap enough for everyone to have their own. I also love the new range of fun, more brightly coloured options such as this lime and turquoise seat (red/grey and navy/yellow combinations are also available). This chair is often on special, too.
Tip: For something even more compact, try the Kaufmann Bermuda Chair. The seat is triangular, which I found a little small to sit in, but you can’t beat its packed size when folded up (80 x 12cm), and
the fabric is durable and UV-resistant. R339, kaufmannoutdoor.co.za
This story first appeared in the September issue of Getaway.
Our September issue features 11 amazing beach cottages, two ways to see the Klein Karoo, a windswept 4X4 drive in Namibia, our guide to swimming in Greece and much more!