I struggled with what to call this post. Sleeping Bag Information Post? Camping Essentials For Sleeping With Some Comfort In A Bony Field?
Check out my Festival Tent Shopping Guide Here for lots of tent options.
You probably already have a sleeping bag tucked away in a cupboard, but just in case yours (like mine) ended up with four chocolate bars in the bottom stashed in the airing cupboard for a year, here's a guide to some of the best sleeping bags and other extras you can buy at every price range to give your weekend a little bit of extra comfort.
Worst case scenario, we once had a short notice opportunity come up to camp at a festival that we thought we were only going to for the day, although we had a tent we didn't bring anything to sleep on. Here is an actually photo of my trying to sleep on this occasion using our other supplies as a makeshift nest - the neck pain was real.
I don't recommend this set-up.
First things first, do not underestimate the chill of a summer morning in the UK. You WILL need a sleeping bag and something to lay underneath it so the chill in the ground doesn't give you a cold.
1. Trespass Seista (click here for reviews, info and to purchase) - £24.74
This is the sleeping bags that we have currently. They are super lightweight and pack down into a tiny bag the size of your hand but I've never been cold whilst inside mine!
2. MultiWare 3/4 Season Sleeping Bag - £9.59
When buying a sleeping bag, you'll often see how many seasons it's suitable for out of 4. This bag is thicker than the Trespass one but rolls up quite a lot bigger. My son has one of these for his school trips and it's pretty effective, the best thing about it is that you can open the whole thing out flat like a blanket or if you felt so inclined you could also zip two of them together to make a double.
3. Mountain Warehouse Apex 250 Sleeping Sack - £15.99
Suitable for two seasons, which I kind of assume are Spring and Summer although that isn't immediately clear. It's useful to have a distinctive pattern so when you come to pack away you don't pick up the wrong bag - this also packs down into a tiny little sack so it's ideal for longer walks to your campsite.
A sleeping bag alone won't give you a huge amount of support for your back. If you are anything like me (by which I mean, if you are over 25 and have ever hurt your back) you'll know that sleeping on freezing cold, rock hard ground isn't the best. I'd strongly recommend some kind of airbed or 'lino' type mat to prevent cold transfer and give you a little bit of extra comfort. Most of the mats around now are significantly better than those awful blue airbeds that your Mum used to have for sleepovers. We tried to take one of those once and it got popped within about an hour. We dragged it out the tent and used it as a sort of communal picnic blanket but it ended up abandoned in the field, soaked in wine and regret.
1. Trail Extra Thick Self Inflating Camping Mat - £24.99
Self-inflating camping mats are the future. You simply unroll, undo the valve, put your tent up and then your mat should be full inflated although you may need to blow a few breathes into it the first few times to inflate the cells properly. It's a clever vacuum system that means you don't need to carry and heavy air pump and the relevant batteries around with you. This extra-thick one looks cosy, we have the Vango version (below) but if I had seen this I would have gone for it.
2. Hikenture Inflatable Sleeping Mat with Pillow - £30.88
This looks amazingly comfortable, I can just imagine flooping down on it after a hard night dancing and it's a self-inflater too. Buying a mat with a built in pillow means you don't have to bring one from home, although I always do as I like to sit on something soft when I'm sitting around camp.
3. Vango Self-Inflating Camping Mat - £28.10
This is the mats that we have and they have lasted 12 festivals so far and haven't succumbed to cigarette burns or punctures. They roll up and come with bags but they are slightly heavier than the sleeping bags, yet I always forget that they need to be factored into the weight of our belongings when we are loading up cars and trolleys. Definitely worth a buy, I've recommended them to so many people.
Once your essentials are sorted, see if your budget stretches to a few extra bits to make your campsite comfortable and welcoming. Here are some other bits and pieces that we have either used or really want to add to our kit this year.
1. Sunncamp Inflatable Chair - £11.95
What a bargain! Although you probably need a pump to inflate it, this style of inflatable chair has been my favourite the last few years and I'm chuffed to have scored this for our kit. I've usually found that someone else on the campsite will be happy to lend a pump if one is needed so I'm crossing my fingers and taking this along.
2. Chill Out Wedge - £14.99
I can't wait to bust this out! We got this as a gift last Christmas and it literally looks like a dream for lounging around camp getting ready for the night ahead. One of the main issues I have with camping is there is never anything to lean against to relax #firstworldproblems
3. iRegro Inflatable Sofa - £24.65
I have a love/hate relationship with these things. They look great, you sink into them like you are floating on a giant cloud and they are weirdly easy to inflate, you just wave the opening about like you are trying to put on a duvet cover. But they are thin and they seem to be the thing I see abandoned most after tents at the end of a festival so I get the impression they pop quite easily. Keep away from cigarettes and sharp sequins!
I hope this has helped! Please do comment below with any links to your own essential camping kit :)