Trying to list off all the essential items you should take in your rig when going on a camping trip is a bit like opening Pandora’s Box, so, we’ll keep this tight. We’ve flicked through our camping gear page and picked out some of the things you definitely shouldn’t leave home without.
Summer is upon us...are you ready?
There’s no better way to see the country than by four-wheel drive (4WD or 4x4). Load up your rig with all your camping gear and hit the road! But if you’re planning a trip in summer, maybe to K’gari (Fraser Island), then there are some essential camping items to make your trip a whole lot more enjoyable. When planning any adventure in the great outdoors, make sure you create a camping checklist to ensure you’ve got the gear you’ll need.
Here at A247 Gear we have a range of camping and general adventure gear to get you out the back of beyond in comfort. In this guide we’ve hand-picked some of the ‘bigger’ things you should definitely have in or on your rig for a summer 4WD adventure.
This article will cover off the basics like awnings (because no one likes spending their day sitting in the sun), tents and swags, fridges (preferably with a battery pack to make your fridge portable), recovery gear and some general accessories to make camping more comfortable.
Awnings – What’s right for you?
This is one of the must-have items for any and every four-wheel driver or caravanner. And that’s because an awning increases the amount of outdoor living space you have and will keep the sun and rain off you. Now, depending on how often you get out and about will influence the type of awning you need and how much you’ll need to budget. Let’s kick off with the types of awnings that are out there.
There are essentially two different styles of awning, and the most common is definitely the side awning. This is basically just a big square of material hung off the side of your 4WD, then there are 270-degree style awnings (sometimes called batwing or foxwings by some brands) that wrap around the side and rear of your vehicle.
So, one of the things you need to think about when buying an awning is the length of time it’ll take to set up. For instance, you don’t want to spend ages setting up a complicated awning on your own when a simple side awning with two poles would have done the trick. Take a look at the quality of the product (here at A247 Gear we only stock the most reputable brands). You want an awning that’s UV resistant with a +50UV rating. That means it’ll keep the sun and heat off and keep you cool underneath. And while most quality awnings are already waterproof, make sure you double-check that the one you’re keen on is actually waterproof.
In terms of the weight of material for your awning, you should only be choosing something with a 300gsm weight; this is strong enough to handle our harsh conditions but light enough not to be a pain in the neck when you’re setting it up. And, while we’re talking about quality, check that the poles and fittings are all stainless steel; it means they’ll last ages and won’t rust. And make sure the poles on the awning you’re looking at are twist-lock. And remember to check the bag on the awning — can the zippers be tucked away and is it easy to get the awning back into the bag when you’re packing up?
Most awnings can be mounted directly to your vehicle’s roof racks but we reckon accessories like the RacksBrax Hitch that allow you to easily mount or remove your awning are a must-have. And even if you don’t need them right away, take a look at the sort of accessories offered for the awning you choose — most brands offer walls and extensions to turn your awning into, essentially, a tent, which brings us to …
Rooftop tent, swags or tents — which one should you choose?
An awning is one of the best ways to increase the amount of outdoor ‘living’ space your rig offers and is great for impromptu stops where you need a bit of shade before continuing to your camping spot. But, once you’ve decided to stop for the day, you’ll need to choose a tent and there are plenty of different styles, but here at A247 Gear, we prefer rugged touring-style tents, both on ground and rooftop. And swags too.
When it comes to choosing a tent, you want to ask yourself a few questions like how often will you be going camping, how many people does it need to sleep and what’s your budget? Here at A247 Gear we’re huge fans of Darche and that’s because they’re 100% waterproof, are easy to set up and will last you a lifetime if looked after. One of the things we like about the Darche range is that they all feature an awning or, as we prefer to call them, a veranda and have optional add-on Annexes.
Speaking of the roof, what about a rooftop tent … the great thing about these is that they’re easy to set up and are ready to be used at a moment’s notice. But they do add weight right up on top of your 4WD which raises the centre of gravity and will impact fuel economy, although some like this Front Runner Roof Top Tent are designed with a lower profile to help with fuel economy.
Most rooftop tents are available in different sizes, but all usually only sleep two adults or two adults and a small child and you’ll need to climb up a ladder to access them. And that means they’re generally considered better at keeping critters out of your tent — although very few creatures in Australia are able to access a zipped-up tent. In terms of accessories, we reckon the Front Runner Quick Release Tent Hitch is a great idea as it allows you to quickly remove your rooftop tent from your rig and store it away when you don’t need it.
So, if you don’t want a full-size tent, a swag is a great idea, especially if you’re a solo traveller. Generally speaking, they come in two different styles, flat and domed, and in single or double size.
Here at A247 Gear we’re big fans of the domed type of swag as it gives you more room to move inside the swag. And with the ones we sell offering zippered mesh and roll-down flaps for all-weather protection, they’re a proper all-season proposition — and a great option if you can’t be bothered assembling a tent. Using a swag in summer means you’ll want one with mesh sides to capture any available breeze and it can be worth considering a stretcher too as this will get you off the ground, improving airflow around the swag and helps keep you cool inside.
Don’t Leave Home Without Recovery Gear
No one wants to think about getting stuck, but you should always be prepared. Far better to carry all the recovery gear you need and not have to use it, than the other way around.
So, what should be in your recovery kit? Well, you definitely want a shovel and whether that’s a one-piece long-handle type shovel, a multi-part long-handle jobbie or even a short, folding trenching type shovel, it doesn’t matter, just make sure you’ve got one in your 4WD. And everyone should have a tyre deflator in their rig to make deflating tyres easy, as well as an air compressor to pump tyres back up after they’ve been deflated. And a tyre repair kit is a good idea too.
Recovery boards are a great idea too, and there’s a range of different types and sizes to choose from, like the compact GoTreads (best for Caravans) through to MAXTRAX. And a general recovery kit is also a good idea, and we stock some great packs like the Saber 8K Recovery Kit which features soft shackles and kinetic recovery ropes, or you could, of course, go down the trusted Factor 55 route (you cant go wrong - especially when using “D” shackles).