The desert is calling! If you love adventures like dune bashing and desert safaris, then overnight camping is probably not far behind on your list. The UAE has plenty of locations to choose from – Al Qudra Lakes in Dubai, Longbeach Campground in Ras Al Khaimah, Dibba in Fujairah, and many other such great spots. No matter where you go, don’t forget to take a few basics along.
We touched base with a Dubai-based serial camper and travel blogger in the UAE for some insider tips. Vipin Sumithran, called The Explorer on Instagram, backpacks across the country and shares hidden gems with his followers. According to him, the months of December to February, or till whenever the weather allows, make up the sweet spot for the camping season.
"Dubai's Al Qudra Lakes has a massive ground allocated for camping - you'll see swans, ducks and deer first thing in the mornings. There's Wadi Shawka in Ras Al Khaimah, as well. I think it's the best spot for families because it has public toilets. For other spots, make sure to watch out for no-camping signboards or else, overnight stays can land you with a fine," said Sumithran.
Whether it's an overnight trip or a two-night affair, you'll need essentials to weather the outdoors. Sumithran says for those just starting out, calculate your basic necessities like water, food and power, per your stay duration.
"Keep your cabin lights, travel appliances and entertainment devices powered with a portable battery pack for camping. These are large, all-purpose batteries that don't drain your car's power," advised Sumithran, who adds that overnight lights are important for keeping curious animals at bay.
Bring along an affordable gas stove, a travel-sized spices kit and reusable cutlery to prevent any littering. If a barbecue is on the agenda, then buy a portable grill from our picks of 2023. Read on to shop for the most important things you’ll need when you go camping, according to our expert. Order these items through Amazon Prime delivery and get them delivered to your doorstep!
1. Best Camping Tent: Coleman Instant Tent
If you're a beginner at camping, start with this Coleman tent that assembles in under five minutes, per reviews. The tent is spacious and a perfect fit for four people - choose your capacity for up to 10 persons in the available options. It's made of double-thick Polyguard fabric, making it your go-to tent season after season. The WaterTec system's inverted seams keep you dry even if the ground is damp. You're getting five windows and large dimensions that can fit a queen-sized air bed. Happy campers pick this tent as their best experience yet, tagging it as a long-term solution for years to come. However, do note that it's not suitable in the rainy season.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh58.45 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty.
2. Best Sleeping Bag: Venture 4th Backpacking Sleeping Bag
Sumithran highly recommends resting in a sleeping bag inside the tent. It adds another layer of protection from critters that can crawl into your sleeping quarters. Use this lightweight sleeping bag by Venture 4th to rest up on breaks during your camping adventures. It can be easily compressed and carried around in a small travel pouch, and is ideal for both adults and children up to 180cm in height. The high-grade 210T polyester feels gentle on the skin, and unzips at the feet and the head. It can be used in environments where the temperatures range from 0 to 25 degrees Celsius. Even people who are taller than the stated height say the bag has been comfortable for them. Reviews also highlight how easy it is to repack after use.
3. Best Camping Lights: Etekcity Camping Lantern
- 360-degree coverage
- 30 LED light bulbs
- Military-grade construction
- Comes with AA batteries
- Could be brighter, say reviews
While the starry night sky is a wonderful sight, it’s a good idea to have enough light sources with you on your trip. These lanterns weigh in grams and further collapse into a size small enough for your emergency kit or backpack. Each lantern carries 30 LED bulbs installed at all angles for the full 360-degree illumination. They can withstand harsh weather conditions, thanks to the military-grade ABS material they're made of. You just need three AA-sized batteries to power one, and your pack of four comes with 12 batteries. Reviews say they light up a sizeable area and last through three nights on several hours of use. The handle of the lantern is easily foldable and ideal to carry, to hang on your tent or on a nearby tree branch.
4. Best Camping Battery: Powerology Portable Power Generator, 62500mAh
- Large battery capacity
- Charges multiple devices via USB-A and USB-C ports
- LCD display for battery information
- Easy to carry
- Needs a solar panel for solar charging
Boasting a battery capacity of 62,500mAh, this portable power generator packs enough juice to charge multiple devices. Power your smartphone 10 times over, speakers five times and a mini fridge for three hours. The best part is that it recharges using solar energy when plugged into a solar panel, so it's perfect for outdoor use. There are a variety of input and output ports on the back to accommodate all your devices, from USB-C to carports. Some reviews have also powered their sleep apnea device while camping, using this generator.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent installments and pay Dh70 for 12 months with select banks.
5. Best Camping Backpack: Hap Tim Picnic Backpack for 4
Fit all your camping essentials in this handy backpack. Made of nylon and a polyurethane coating that is durable, the backpack also looks fashionable. There is adequate storage space for clothes, food, and toiletries. It comes with a cutlery set that includes four stainless steel knives, forks, spoons, dinner plates, cotton napkins, a cheese cutter knife, two salt/pepper shakers, and a plastic chopping board. The backpack also has a water-resistant fleece blanket to wrap yourself with on cold desert nights. The backpack comes in four different colours – coffee, blue, grey, and dark grey.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a 185-day warranty.
6. Best Foldable Table and Chair Set: VOL Folding Picnic Table with 4 Chairs
Sumithran suggests a portable table with chairs that fold into a compact carry-on. This four-person setup consists of a sturdy table made from 600D oxford cloth and aluminum alloy, that folds by rolling up, and comes with four chairs. The materials are all rust-resistant, waterproof and lightweight. Once packed into a bag (included), the picnic set can be carried like a suitcase to your camping spot and back. Buyers say set-up takes just three minutes to complete.
7. Best Portable Toilet: Serenelife Outdoor Portable Toilet With Carry Bag
If public toilets are not an option, consider the convenience of a 5.3-gallon travel toilet. It has a detachable tank and includes a sealing slide valve to lock in odours and protect against leakage. Its 3.2-gallon fresh water tank lets you flush over 50 times - you don't need power nor any external water supply. The polyethylene material used in the construction of these toilets makes them compact and lightweight. You can empty the tank as and when it gets full, which won’t be too often, as the tank has a high-volume capacity. Campers in the reviews recommend the portable toilet for its ease of use, cleanup and strong flushing pump. It's also of a comfortable height and doesn't sit too low.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh55.38 for 12 months with select banks.
8. Best Gas Stove: Campingaz Camp Bistro 2
With access to a portable gas stove on your camping trips, you no longer need to survive on protein bars and biscuits, in lieu of wholesome food. Use Campingaz's Camp Bistro 2 gas stove to make meal times a breeze in the great outdoors. It uses the Campingaz CP250 gas cartridge to power the flames via a piezo ignition dial, so no electricity is required. A single one can give you a cooking time of one hour and 15 minutes. Make sure your pans and pots are under 26cm in diameter for the perfect balance. The stove comes with a carry briefcase. Reviewers even mention using it as a backup stove for the home.
9. Best Camping Spice Kit: Bushcraft Camping Spice Kit with Glass Jars
Season your meals as you would at home, by carrying all the basic spices in a portable camping kit. The Bleeker and Rowe water-resistant canvas bag holds six reusable spice jars, and comes with a food-grade silicone funnel to make refills from your kitchen pantry easy. The jars are leak-proof, so you can pour in oils and sauces, as well. You have the option of hanging the bag from a tree branch or your backpack, using the included carabiner. Reviews attest to the no-leak quality, having carried vinegar and oil in the jars. It even makes for a thoughtful gift for a camping enthusiast in your life.
10. Best Mess Kit: REDCAMP Camping Cookware Mess Kit (13 pieces)
This multi-piece cookware set is designed for camping - it's small, lightweight and portable. With a pot, a frying pan, a ladle, bowls and many more items included, it ensures you have everything you need to cook up a nourishing meal outdoors. The cookware is made from high-quality anodised aluminium and is easy to clean. The pieces stack on top of one another and pack into a polyester cloth bag that can be hung from your backpack - the set weighs less than a kilogram. Reviews mention cooking breakfast and dinner in these pots and call it a decent starter mess kit.
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