The pandemic caused some people to bake bread, cut their hair at home, or spend their days playing in the home nursery. Us pandemic mobilized to explore Poland, and to make it even more interesting we decided to go tenting! You can read about our first night in a tent together, and what turned out to be essential and what was unnecessary while camping in this post.
A book could be written about what to take in a tent…. and there are probably quite a few of those already out there, but there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all list of which items are useful and which are essential. There are too many variables here to risk preparing such a list. A lot depends on your needs, your method of travel, choice of campsite (or maybe you are camping in the wild), financial capabilities, logistics, etc.
However, if you are looking for a complete list to pack not only for a tent then we recommend our post
What to take on vacation?
where you’ll find more details on how and what to pack. In addition, you can download there a free packing list template for yourself and/or the whole family.
Table of contents
What to take with you to the tent? We found it useful!
Let’s start with the basics, i.e., the tent, because without it you can’t move. You have a whole range of tents to choose from, but before you decide to buy a tent it is worth answering a few questions:
- How many people are traveling?
- Whether people are to sleep together or separately (both in the context of choosing a tent with several bedrooms or simply several tents).
- How many nights will we be pitching a tent (if more than one, you can take one that takes longer to set up)?
- How much space will we need?
- How much time will we spend in the tent?
- Under what conditions will you sleep in a tent, where and at what time of year?
- What height is the tallest person traveling? ;)
It is worth simply considering how we will use the tent and how much money we are able to spend on it. The more you plan to go tenting, the better the cushioning of the more expensive ;)
If you’re not sure or convinced of what you need, it’s worth borrowing a tent from someone to start with, or go to a store and see the tents set up. We especially recommend the first option – borrow, go for one night to some campsite, see what you need, what is missing. By the way, at the campground you can look up different tents and chat with their owners.
We trusted Decathlon and our choice was the Quechua Air Second 4.1 Fresh&Black tent. This is an inflatable model with one 4-person bedroom and a huge vestibule. How did this particular model perform? Super! It is a very spacious tent, which could easily sleep an additional adult or two children ;) What worked great for us was the large vestibule, which we hadn’t thought of before. Initially we just wanted one where we would throw things in, but in practice we found that a larger vestibule means more room to play when it gets colder or rains. In this particular model, we were able to quietly insert a table and chairs and dine under the roof when it rained outside. We will only add here that a person who measures 185 cm can stand practically upright inside.
In addition, this model uses Fresh&Black technology, thanks to which the tent does not heat up inside and is definitely darker – this allows you to sleep a little longer. And believe us, the children did not wake up at the first rays of the sun, in fact, they slept until 8 am!
We were most concerned about setting up the tent itself. This is not a model that disassembles in flight, but breaking it down went quite smoothly anyway. Certainly, a big part of this is due to the inflatable frame, which is expressly pumped with a pump, and the pre-folded bedroom and tropic. We believe it will get better and faster each time.
The tent has many vents, windows and pockets making it even more enjoyable to use.
Mattress or mattress pad
What to sleep on? There are many options to choose from: an inflatable mattress, a mat, a carrimat and even a field bed.
Again, a lot depends on your preferences, logistical capabilities and finances ;) If you have little space, or travel only with a backpack then there is no chance to take an inflatable mattress (although technological advances can amaze!). Then there remains a carrimat or a mat (take a look at the self-inflating ones) – but here we will not advise, because we are not one of those who pack only in a backpack (anymore/yet!).
We took with us two mattresses, each 1.4 meters wide. We pumped it with the same pump as the tent, so again it went pretty quickly and efficiently. We had one from Decathlon’s Quechua Air Comfort and one old one from the blizzard of student days. They fit perfectly in the bedroom, but the downside was that one was higher and the other lower. Fortunately, none of them rustled, and there was not much noise when moving.
As for comfort, we slept one night on one and swapped the other with the kids to compare which is more comfortable. While for children it didn’t matter, for adults the one from Decathlon was definitely more comfortable ;)
If you are facing the choice of a mattress, first of all, pay attention to its dimensions – the most important thing is that it fits into the tent! Then what matters is convenience, ease of pumping, dimensions when folded, etc.
One might think why a sleeping bag in the summer, when it can be up to 20 degrees at night in Poland…. Error! A sleeping bag is necessary, because all you have to do is camp in the woods and the perceived temperature is already much lower. We experienced this first-hand, as despite sleeping bags for lower temperatures we were chilly in the middle of summer. It was enough to go out of the forest and it was getting hot, but between the trees it was definitely colder.
We had four sleeping bags, a separate one for each, although in practice it turned out that at night there was a castling ;) If you are facing the choice of a sleeping bag, note that there are models that can be combined with each other or can be used as a quilt. Maybe this solution will suit you better.
It is important that the sleeping bag should fit the person – both in terms of height and width. The sleeping bag must not be too big (the body then has to generate more heat to warm the empty spaces). For children, you can find sleeping bags that are adjustable in length to help save some heat.
One of the parameters you should pay attention to is the comfort and limit temperature. Here a lot depends on how and where you will travel. We chose sleeping bags with a comfort temperature of 10 degrees and this was optimal for a summer night in the woods (and we’re freezers!).
One of the most important accessories you need to take on a camping trip is lighting whether in the form of a flashlight or a lamp. It will come in handy both in the tent itself and during the evening walk to the bathroom ;)
We took with us one large flashlight and two universal lights. They are very practical, as they can be placed on a table, on the floor, or you can easily hang them.
It is also worth taking a supply of batteries.
Table and chairs
Many campgrounds have public shelters where you can, for example, eat a meal, but you never know how many guests there will be or whether they will be free and available.
Meals can also be eaten on a picnic blanket, but eating at the table is always a little better comfort :)
Anyway, we ourselves wondered until the end whether we would take them this time, because the car is not made of rubber, but somehow we managed and on the spot we were glad to have the kit with us. The shelters were still occupied, and we were able to eat our meal in peace right next to the tent.
So if you have the space it’s worth bringing a folding table and chairs. The table we had holds four folding stools when folded – practical and space-saving.
Such a table is also useful to put it inside the tent, in the vestibule, to put things away there.
Cooking and meals
While we’re on the subject of meals, it’s a good idea to plan well what we’re going to eat locally and how to prepare our meals. Our backup plan was to buy meals at a nearby guesthouse, but in the end we managed to make the meals ourselves.
It is crucial to know what will be at our disposal on site. Often campgrounds provide a kitchen with a refrigerator, sink, stove, etc. Of course, this is not the rule.
We knew exactly what awaited us at the site, we knew there was no stove, so we took with us a tourist electric kettle and a hob with two heaters. Such things we had in stock and also knew that there would be electricity on site without a problem.
The second solution would be to take a gas stove, which we considered for a long time, but decided that we will make this kind of investment when we like cooking in the field :)
We took a travel refrigerator (Quechua Compact Fresh) on the trip, in which we stocked up on food, so we didn’t really go shopping once. We took with us bread, pates, yogurts, meals ready to be heated on the stove, cake, snacks. We recommend considering such a refrigerator, as food can spoil after a day in the car. We have started using her more in general, even for day trips.
Of course, you can’t forget cups, bowls, plates, cutlery, cloth – we took light plastic and metal ones. Nothing breakable or heavy!
We also recommend taking a thermos, because hot drinks cool down quite quickly in the air ;)
Various smaller accessories
This point can probably be dissected ad infinitum, but we’ll just list what we think are a few other useful things to bring with you to your tent:
- trash bags,
- pocket knife,
What have we forgotten but would be very useful?
After the first trip, we know that a few things, however, we have forgotten…. So we will definitely add them to the list on our next trip.
Sweep and dustpan
We completely didn’t think about it, yet needed both to clean the vestibule and the tent from the outside. Even more so when you hit the rain, it can get really dirty in the tent.
It’s also a good idea to clean the tent thoroughly both inside and out before putting it together.
Admittedly, we had lighting with us, but still, a headlamp would have been very useful. Especially on the way to the bathroom, when you have your hands busy with other objects, or bushwhacking around the tent in the dark.
Some need to sleep and some don’t…. We didn’t take them on purpose, because we ran out of space, yet it would have been more comfortable to sleep with pillows. We saved ourselves with a rolled up blanket under our heads. Because such an inflatable airplane did not work in our case.
Dishwasher and dish liquid
Two days we managed, but with a longer trip, however, dishwasher and dishwashing liquid turns out to be essential, especially in the era of pandemics, so that everyone uses their things to wash dishes :)
Unnecessary things for a tent
Yes, there are things that turned out to be completely unnecessary and we did not use them throughout our stay.
Toys for kids
Seriously! After a weekend stay in a tent, we find that toys are completely unnecessary ;)
The only things that came in handy were some rakes and a shovel to dig through the soil and cones, and books to read in the evening, in the tent. In addition, the children were not at all interested in the toys they have at home. They ran around the tent, collected what they found, and met other children. So much for happiness :)
To sum up…
A camping trip is an unforgettable adventure! For both parents and children. Spending time outdoors, preparing meals together, hiking in the evenings with a flashlight, sleeping in a sleeping bag – all of this makes it a trip unlike any other.
We consider our first trip a complete success :) Despite numerous fears and doubts everything worked out, we had a place to sleep, it was quite comfortable and pleasant. Until now, we rather preferred a hotel, breakfast in the restaurant and a bathroom in the room…. from now on it doesn’t matter so much to us anymore.
We definitely need to do it again and we are repeating it soon! :)
- Our advice on where to go on vacation in Poland?
- Ideas for day trips in central Poland – Lodz area
- Wroclaw – 3 suggestions for a family weekend
- Torun for the weekend – what is worth seeing?
- 13 castles of Lodz province – do you know them all?
- Tri-City and its surroundings – 10 places to see in one weekend
- Lower Silesia – not only castles and palaces
- Elbląg Canal
- Attractions for children in Mazovia
- Masuria – what to do in Masuria actively and with children?
The entry was created in cooperation with Decathlon.