First-time camper? Here are 5 essential items you’ll need to get started

Couple camping in their motorhome, e-bikes and outdoor furniture from That Leisure Shop in Hewish, North Somerset

That Leisure Shop in Hewish offers a range of handy items for all of your camping and staycation needs. - Credit: © Madeleine Rose Photography

With an over-saturated market of camping gear and hundreds of unnecessary products being sold, we’ve whittled it down to the top five must-have items for any camper. 

Matt Sims, managing director of the Motorhome Holiday Company and That Leisure Shop in Hewish, offers his expert advice on camping gear and reveals how you can get your hands on a gas cylinder while we’re in a supply shortage. 

1. Gas 

Yes, it may seem an obvious one, but gas is an essential item to pack for any leisure vehicle. And with rising energy/petrol prices, a shortage of steel to make the bottles and a shift towards local staycations instead of holidaying abroad, gas is becoming much harder to get hold of. If you’re planning on having some summer BBQs with family and friends this year, you’ll need to add this to your list. 

“We are the only company in North Somerset to receive regular deliveries of gas,” Matt explains. “One woman even drove to us from Plymouth just to get her hands on some for her family's holiday - it’s crazy,” he tells us.

Calor gas bottles available at That Leisure Shop store in Hewish, North Somerset

That Leisure Shop have plenty of gas and empty gas bottles available at their store in Hewish to keep you stocked up on your travels. - Credit: That Leisure Shop

Matt explains that Calor (a major gas supplier) have stopped providing new bottle agreements. “For regular campers, this isn’t a problem as they already have an empty bottle to exchange. But for new campers, this makes it incredibly hard to get your hands on an empty bottle to exchange for a new, full one.” 

That Leisure Shop have been buying in empty bottles from eBay and Gumtree, so if you're looking to begin your camping journey, there’s plenty available in store.

Woman reading a book on an outdoor camping chair and table from That Leisure Shop in Hewish, North Somerset

Investing in quality outdoor furniture means you can relax in both style and comfort, wherever you are on your travels. - Credit: © Madeleine Rose Photography

2. Outdoor furniture 

Camping furniture is becoming harder to source, as well as rising in price, as more people are choosing to stay closer to home. “We took huge deliveries in November, so we have lots of remaining stock at last year’s prices for our customers to enjoy,” Matt says. “They’re perfectly suited for home living but are also ideal for folding up and bringing on holiday with you. Camping furniture is becoming more like ‘glamping’ furniture now, offering stylish, luxurious pieces.” 

That Leisure Shop’s chairs are made with improved, water-resistant fibres, ensuring that the furniture doesn’t stay wet after it’s rained.

Outdoor furniture camping chair available from That Leisure Shop in Hewish, North Somerset

Cheaper prices without compromising on quality - That Leisure Shop still have lots of last year's remaining stock available at a reduced price. - Credit: That Leisure Shop

“We have over 50 options of outdoor chairs, including small, foldable and flat styles for campervans as well as large loungers that are light and still easy to transport. Our prices begin from £12 right through to £250, so we can accommodate any kind of budget,” he adds. 

Matt explains that they also offer a variety of tables and windbreaks, as well as a festival package for merrymakers, with a trolley that includes a tent and lots of essentials for those heading out to music events this year.

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3. E-bikes

Whether it’s nipping to the nearest town to pick up supplies, or travelling to the beach for the day, it’s far easier and more efficient when you’re on a bike. “We specialise in a range of electric bikes (E-bikes) as well as a variety of mountain bikes too. Many of our bikes can fold in half, so they’re ideal for bringing with you in the caravan or motorhome,” says Matt.

Foldable, lightweight and compact e-bikes available at That Leisure Shop in Hewish, North Somerset

E-bikes are an easy, lightweight and compact method of travel to fold up and bring with you on your holiday. - Credit: That Leisure Shop

That Leisure Shop’s E-bikes come with a removable battery which, once charged, will power your cycle rides wherever you go. You can easily charge it at any location with a power source, from your desk at work to an electrical socket in your vehicle, so it’s easy to maintain. "Some are slightly heavier, but the Axon range is incredibly light - we have all kinds of styles to suit the budget and requirements of each individual,” Matt tells us. 

The batteries can be adjusted and tailored to the amount of power you want for your bike ride. “It makes riding a bike a much greater pleasure for those who aren’t experienced cyclists,” he says.

Couple on staycation at the beach with e-bikes from That Leisure Shop in Hewish, North Somerset

E-bikes are a great alternative to a normal bike if you aren't an avid cyclist - they require less effort, are easier to ride and are perfect to get you to the beach or into the village in no time. - Credit: © Madeleine Rose Photography

4. Chemicals for your outdoor living essentials

“Chemicals are something many first-campers won’t know about, but they're really important,” Matt says. Each toilet in a motorhome or caravan will have a cassette, where you place the chemical in to dissolve everything into water, which you can dispose of down the sewer.  

“Many campsites use a septic tank which is not connected to the main sewage system, and therefore requires a specialist version of the chemical (which is green and not blue like the normal one),” he explains. This product doesn’t affect the biological balance of the tank and ensures it’s environmentally friendly. “Many of these products are being discontinued and the newer ones are going up in price,” Matt tells us. 

Matt explains that there is a wide range of choices, from fresh water and sewage water chemicals to kitchen and bathroom cleaners, and some may contain bleach which will stain the plastics. He advises seeking an expert opinion, so you can be sure you’re buying the right products for your vehicle.

Security products like hitch locks from That Leisure Shop in Hewish will protect motorhomes and caravans from theft

Investing in security products like a hitch lock or wheel clamp will help to keep your vehicle and assets safe, protecting them from theft and damage. - Credit: That Leisure Shop

5. Security for your motorhome or caravan

Unfortunately, theft of leisure vehicles is going up due to an increased demand and a shortage in supply because of the Covid-19 pandemic. As the value of these vehicles soars, it’s worth securing your assets, now more than ever, to make sure they are as safe as possible. 

“We have a large stock of wheel clamps, hitch locks for your tow-bars, steering wheel locks and even covers for your motorhome which may help to deter a thief,” Matt says. “It’s so important to take security seriously and carry out the necessary precautions in keeping your vehicle as safe as possible.” 

To browse the wide range of products and items available to complete your camping checklist, visit For further enquiries, contact or 0117 290 9000.