Camping has become popular in Ireland, north and south, especially with local travel restrictions in recent years.
When looking into your first camping trip in Ireland, you might need loads of fancy and expensive equipment. I am here to dispel that myth and show you that camping for beginners in Ireland is possible without spending a small fortune on your first trip.
Camping has always enabled us to have a holiday on a budget and a great outdoor adventure exploring our National Parks and countryside.
We will look at a few camping tips, tricks and hacks to start your outdoor adventure; there is also a checklist at the bottom of the page with essential camping gear and equipment you’ll need for your first camping trip.
Hanging out in my Vango Banshee tent
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Which tent is for your first camping trip?
Like most, when planning your first camping trip, we all think of buying a tent. You can choose from numerous options (I have four tents but always have tent envy at campsites from time to time!)
From compact one-person expedition tents for our solo wild camping adventures to our giant 8-man tents that felt roomier than the downstairs of our old house, you are spoilt for choice.
Here are a couple of things to consider when looking:
- How many people will be sleeping in your tent?
- Will everyone sleep in the same compartment? (Thinking kids here)
- How many days total will you spend in your tent?
- Is there space to keep all your personal belongings and camping equipment?
- Is there somewhere to shelter (don’t count the sleeping compartment) if/when it rains?
For a family camping trip in Ireland, you may need more space than a camping trip with your friends, so I recommend going a size larger than the minimum, as families always take up more room than you first thought (not just when camping). Or you could borrow a tent from friends or family to see how you get on.
What size tent?
So how many people will stay in your tent? 1-person tent, 2-person tent, 3-person tent or more. This is the number of people that “can” sleep in a tent. It does NOT factor in your equipment or belongings.
Many years ago, my first tent was a 2-person tent (similar to the Coleman Darwin – pictured above). This allowed enough room for me and a mate to sleep, plus my rucksack with a mini porch area to put mud-covered boots and other gear.
I’ve since upgraded to a slightly larger tent, the Vango Tempest Pro, a 3-person (but really only 2) tent for my own adventures. But this tent feels bigger in some respect because you have a lot more storage space.
Can I Hire a Tent and Equipment?
So when we first started to go camping, the two options were to borrow a tent from family or friends or buy one. One of the reasons you are here is that you are looking for advice on which tent to use and are possibly apprehensive about splashing the cash on a piece of expensive equipment you don’t know you’ll need.
Nowadays, through our friends at Explore 54, you can hire all the equipment you need….they can even come set it up for you!
Glamping in Ireland – Camping Pods, Yurts and Bubbles
So you’re going camping, and as previously mentioned above, don’t want to spend money on equipment immediately, then glamping is for you and means you don’t have to buy a tent!
Suppose you want to give sleeping out under the stars a try. In that case, a fantastic alternative is to try camping or glamping (Glamourous-Camping) pods, yurts and other unique places to sleep under the stars now available at some campsites in Ireland.
Glamping now ranges from full-on luxury to back-to-nature eco wilderness huts.
Pods range from pod-like those at Kilbane Glamping in Clare with a double bed, shower and sofa to some moderate luxury at Aran Island Glamping with sofa beds, light and heater, and a more basic yurt with a roof over your head at Cong Glamping.
There are some great camping pods in the midlands, or you could try a Mongolian Yurt in Slane.
Beginner’s Camping Gear – Sleeping Bags
Camping Sleeping Bags
Your most basic sleeping set-up is simply a sleeping bag for camping and a camping mat, possibly a pillow if you have space and fancy some extra luxury. Not the thing to take on a wild camping trip!
Your sleeping bag should be suitable for most Irish weather conditions.
Generally, in Ireland, a 2 or 3-season sleeping bag is more than suitable for most camping trips unless you’re camping in winter! But I don’t suggest you try this for your first taste of camping.
- Take some Velcro or Ratchet Straps to wrap your sleeping bag; it’ll make it much easier to fit it into the bag, which is almost always too small!
Beginner’s Camping Gear – Camping Mats
Camping Mats or Sleeping Mats come in all shapes and sizes. These thin foam mats add an extra layer between you and the cold ground. They range from lightweight wild camping mats with a bit of padding to fully inflatable mattresses with built-in electric pumps!
The most common foam-style mats are usually used on outdoor expeditions, and you’ll see them attached to the bottom of rucksacks, for example, on the DofE challenge!
I love my Berghaus Self Inflating Mat; it rolls up small and is lightweight, too; the super lightweight ones can be costly, so for your first trip, select something practical that doesn’t cost the earth!
It could be a simple foam mat like the one my wife uses now for pilates.
Beginner’s Camping Gear – Cooking Equipment
You’ll want some essential cooking equipment to get you fed on your first camping trip in Ireland. Yes, there are some super fancy camping stoves with giant gas bottles that charge your phone, but all you need is a gas stove, a gas bottle and some cooking gear such as a saucepan, frying pan and some cooking utensils).
On wild camping trips, I take a small gas canister and my Vango Atom attachment (and cook kit), which is easy to use, compact and lightweight. However, when we stay on a campsite in Ireland with the family, we will also take our Campingaz camping stove/BBQ, which is fantastic. The combination allows me to cook delicious meals, BBQ and boil the kettle simultaneously.
A Few Culinary Considerations:
- Breakfast Camping – save on cooking and take food that’s easy to prep and eats, such as fruit or cereal (or ignore that and go for an (Ulster) fry!)
- A kettle is nice, but a pan with a lid is just as good for heating water, and you can use it for cooking as long as you wash it first. I use my Vango cooking kit, tbh.
- Dinner Camping: Unless you have to or can BBQ, find a local pub/cafe/restaurant and enjoy it. It is camping, not prison! No, it is not cheating.
- Camping snacks don’t need cooking, so stock up and enjoy.
Beginner’s Camping Gear – Kitchen Utensils
Remember your kitchen utensils, such as cutlery, bowls, plates and mugs. Why not use those old plastic cups from home instead of buying new ones. A couple of water bottles will be invaluable too.
All campsites in Ireland will have somewhere to top up your bottles with water, saving you money and helping the environment!
For doing your campsite washing-up, you can invest in a collapsible bowl, but for your first time, you could take the washing-up bowl from home, but don’t forget the eco-friendly washing-up liquid + sponge too!
Ever wanted to try wild camping in Ireland? Read more about it here
Irish Wild camping essentials guide
Beginner’s Camping Gear – a few other camping essentials (or not!)
Technology and camping combined!
Most of these things you will already have, so hopefully no extra costs, but if not, they are helpful to have anyway!
Of course, you’ll see loads of folk with those fancy camping chairs; I prefer a picnic blanket to chill out on instead and much easier to pack in your car. In my car, there are always a few blankets. These are great for wrapping around you in the evening around the campfire or as an extra layer to keep you warm at night.
On your first Irish camping trip, you might want a technology detox, but if not, a power bank is an excellent way of keeping your phone and any other devices charged.
Are you all ready for your beginner’s camping trip in Ireland now? Or do you have any more camping questions for me?
Ask me anything about camping in the comments below or on social media.