From little details that make a big difference, to splashing out to ensure a good night’s sleep, there are plenty of ways to make camping a little more enjoyable. Kate has done the hard work and the uncomfortable sleeping so you don’t have to!


I got into camping the same way everyone does…

My husband went to ALDI one day to help a friend pick up a ‘Special Buys’ washing machine, and came home with a tent, two camping chairs, a foam mattress, a grill and several plastic lanterns.

‘We’re campers now!’

The camping gear enjoyed a lovely holiday under our bed for another two years.

It wasn’t until some friends of ours informed us one day that they had also bought a tent and were keen to hit the road that we enthusiastically retrieved our camp stuff. It was very exciting to evolve from ‘people who own a tent’ to ‘campers’.


Read more: I Tested All of ALDI’s Cheap Hiking Gear Over 100km


Ernie (@lilernesto) is a camper now too.

However, our first camping trip was far from enjoyable. Our mattress was too thin, our lanterns projected light straight into our eyes, rather than the food we were trying to cook, and the enamel plates zapped the warmth out of our food like a reverse laser beam.

Since then we’ve picked up a few things along the way that have made a big difference to our camping experience.


10 Items You Need to Take Your Camping to the Next Level

Kate and friends walking through the trees at Glen Davis. Photo by

1. Queen-Sized Self-Inflating Mattress

I cannot understate what a phenomenal purchase this one was.

Some camping purists will tell you that being a bit uncomfortable on a glorified yoga mat is all part of the camping experience, and to that, I say absolutely not.

You can be a camper, and also wake up the following morning and not feel like you’ve been run over by a steam roller.

Yes, it’s big.

Yes, we had to install roof racks to transport it.

But, I would put this down as our best camping purchase to date.

We let it inflate when we arrive, whack a fitted sheet over the top, pile on blankets and still have plenty of room to spare for our luggage in our four-person pop-up tent.

We use a Wanderer ‘Tourer Extreme 4×4 Queen’ mattress, and she’s worth her weight in gold.

2. Packing Cubes

I swear by packing cubes for all forms of travel, but especially for camping.

When you’re limited on space, having all your clothing organised into smaller, compact bags keeps everything nice and tidy.

Rather than rummaging through your luggage trying to find that clean pair of undies at the bottom of your bag (we all pack underwear first, right?) you just pull out the packing cube you need and voila.

No huge messy piles of clothing in your tent. Mine are from Kathmandu and are made out of recycled plastic bottles.

3. Ecobilly

Growing up we had one of these to make cups of tea on family holidays, and we always called it an ‘echo’ billy.

Now, as an adult, looking at their website, I can pretty much guarantee it’s supposed to be ‘eeko’ billy, as in, eco-friendly.

Personal anecdote aside, the Ecobilly is great for making hot drinks without needing to fire up the gas cooker each time.

There’s space underneath the kettle section to create a small fire, which heats up the water.

It’s such a great, portable kettle for anyone who needs their caffeine hit. Save the gas for cooking food.


Read more: 13 Best Camping Coffee Makers in Australia in 2022

4. Hangdome Lantern

We’ve bought several lanterns for camping over the years, and they all manage to shine harsh light directly into our eyes instead of the thing we’re trying to look at, invoking the ambience of a hospital corridor. 

Then we bought the Hangdome. It shines light down, rather than straight across, making cooking in the dark so much easier.

Then, when we’re done cooking, we hang it in our tent for warm, ambient light that’s perfect for reading.

5. Power Bank

The downside to the Hangdome lantern (and many other camping tech) is that it’s powered by USB. And power can be hard to come by in the middle of a National Park.

As a backup for our lanterns, we take a fully charged power bank with us to keep the light on, so to speak.

We use a Cygnett 20,000 mAh power bank that has 2 USB-A ports, and one USB-C port.


10 Items You Need to Take Your Camping to the Next Level

6. S-hooks

Sometimes the simplest items make the biggest difference. S-hooks are one of those things.

I can’t stress enough how useful it is to have extra hanging spots (especially if you have a gazebo) whether it’s for lanterns, drying tea towels, pots and pans, or just keeping bags of food off the floor.


10 Items You Need to Take Your Camping to the Next Level

7. Good Camp Chairs

This one sounds obvious, but almost everyone we’ve camped with somehow brings the most uncomfortable camp chairs with them.

But if you think about it, you (often) spend quite a lot of time sitting in a camp chair — whether it’s eating meals or simply sitting around the campfire.

If you can, sit in them before you buy them, and look for things like pockets and drink holders.

Ours even have a little wine hook to hold a cheeky glass of camp bubbles. We’ve had ours for so long, and from memory, they were actually ALDI Special Buys.


8. Tent Doormat

‘I love all this dirt and muck in my tent!’ Said nobody, ever, in the history of camping.

To avoid the little dance that occurs when you’re taking your shoes off to get into your tent and don’t want your socks to touch the dirty ground — or dirty shoes to touch the tent floor — we bought some simple cork mats to place outside our tent door.

Not only does it give the tent a homely feel, but we can stand on them without worrying about soggy grass or mud on our feet, or leaving dirt and muck inside our tent.


10 Items You Need to Take Your Camping to the Next Level

9. Bamboo Plates

This might just be a personal preference, but I cannot stand enamel crockery.

It seems lovely in theory; enamel is synonymous with camping, yet in cooler weather, enamel absorbs the cold and then that delicious hot meal you want to devour to keep you warm ends up tepid and lukewarm in about three seconds.

Bamboo is easy to clean, hard to break and won’t break your heart (by making your food cold).

10. Camp Slippers

These were in impulse buy (they were strategically placed near the checkout of Anaconda) but they’ve proven to be a very worthwhile investment.

If you’ve been walking around all day in hiking boots or trail runners, it’s a bit luxurious to be able to take them off and pop your feet into a pair of slippers that won’t get ruined by wearing them outdoors. They’re especially cosy in winter.


10 Items You Need to Take Your Camping to the Next Level



Cover photo by Fin Matson