Back To Basics Camping – It’s better than you might think

February 14, 2020

Back to basics camping can often be the best camping trip. You don’t always need campsites with lots of facilities, you just need a little preparation.

Back to Basics Camping

When we started camping, many (many) years ago, we tried to find campsites with good facilities: toilets, showers, etc.

We just didn’t think that you could go camping with kids without these ‘essentials’. How wrong we were.

Now don’t get me wrong. I like a nice loo and shower. They are just not essential for great camping.

Problems with too many facilities

The problem is generally not with the facilities, but that nearly everybody wants to stay at a campsite with great facilities.

Unfortunately not everyone treats the campsite’s facilities well

Campsites with lots of facilities get very busy, and can get overwhelmed.  Let’s face it, not everyone treats the facilities well, and during a busy holiday period, a campsite can find it difficult to keep up with the cleaning.

We even stayed at one campsite that had a bath in the facilities. Unfortunately, one camper had decided to use it as a loo for number twos! 🙁

So, you hunt for a site that has great reviews and great facilities, only to find the site packed, facilities overrun, no campfires or BBQs allowed due to how many tents they have on-site, and not enough space between tents to even peg out the guy lines correctly! So what’s the alternative?

(Now there are some campsites that have great camping and great facilities, such as Fforest Fields and Nantcol to name a few).

Back to Basics Camping

On a back to basics campsite, you may just have a field, drinking water that you may have to walk some distance for, a toilet (a single flushing or composting toilets), and possibly a shower (but don’t count on it). No electric hook up – so leave your TV and microwave at home.

That may sound like a nightmare, but actually it’s getting back to real camping. Here are some of the benefits.

  • Plenty of space to pitch your tent, and enough space to spread out
  • Very unlikely you pay more for large tents and neither extra charges for awnings and rain shelters you put up
  • You will typically be allowed your own campfire
  • Fewer cars and plenty of space for the kids to explore and play
  • Very unlikely that you have to pack up and leave by 10 am the next morning and be faced with another 24 hours pitching fee if you don’t
  • Often a lot quieter at night
  • Typically in remote spots within beautiful countryside

How do you keep clean?

This is easy.

  • You need a water carrier, suitable for drinking water. One with a tap is ideal.
  • A bowl. Two even better.
  • A kettle to heat water.

You need a way of getting the fresh drinking water from the tap to your tent.

Obviously the larger the carrier the fewer trips you make, but large carriers are heavier when full. You can get carriers with wheels but are larger to transport.

To save storage space you can get carriers that collapse. However, we have a solid carrier as carriers that fold can sometimes leak at the joints after repeated use and are a little more difficult to clean.

After collecting all that water you don’t want to waste it.

We use two cheap washing up bowls. One under the tap collects water for washing hands. The other we use for the washing up.

You can get folding washing bowls to save space.

Watch our video below to see our setup.

What about a shower?

You can keep yourself clean without a shower for a day or two.

If staying longer, we find a local leisure centre and use the showers there. This not only keeps everyone clean, but the kids always enjoy swimming.

No Microwave? How do you cook?

Cooking on a campfire

Cooking on a campfire

Easy. Campfire, BBQ, or Gas Stove.

Don’t try and make camping exactly like home; you’re camping. Part of the fun that your kids will enjoy is cooking on a campfire.

If you’re not sure where to start or what to cook with your kids, then head over to our section on cooking at camp.

If you don’t know what gas camping stove to get then read our guide.

We still use just a very basic gas camping stove, mainly to boil water with our whistling kettle. Everything else we cook over the campfire or BBQ (or in a Dutch Oven).

Campfire Stir Fry

Campfire Stir Fry

Campfire or BBQ cooking doesn’t mean you’re limited to just eating burnt burgers. We cook all sorts, from the stuff you would typically expect, to bread, cakes, and even a Chinese-style stir fry.

What about the toilets?

Just as with any other campsite, how clean the toilets depend on how considerate the other campers are.

You may just have a single toilet and you may have to trek up to a farmhouse, a porta-loo (personally, I find these the worst), or a composting toilet.

Many back to basics campsites have composting toilets for a couple of reasons:

  • They don’t need fresh and water plumbing. Composting toilets can be placed in remote spots that would be too expensive for flushing toilets.
  • They are more eco-friendly.

If you want to know what a composting toilet is like then watch our video below.

Finding Back To Basics Campsites

We have all types of campsites listed on this website, including a great many back-to-basics campsites.

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Gav Grayston
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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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