Camping furniture need to be selected with care because there are a lot of things to take into consideration.

The trick is to find something that is good value for money. In other words, irrespective of what you pay for an item, you need to be able to get some years of life out of it - see it as cost per year because many of it will need replacement every few years. An item purchased at double the cost may last more than double the time, if selected carefully.

Space is an important consideration and most often, families will have to compromise on the function or comfort of some items because they value the comfort of other items more. Consider packing and unpacking of items, e.g. pulling an item out of a bag and getting it all back again. Make sure that whatever you select is something that works easy enough so that all the family members can help with erecting and breaking up. You will be surprised how complex some fold-up devices can get.


Spider chairs are probably the most popular choice for chairs these days, since they fold up in a long thin package that is more convenient and more compact than most other camping chairs. However, spider chairs often do not last very well. Because of the many pipe ends, the canvas shave through on rough roads and it is hard to get more than five years of life out of a set of spider chairs. In my experience better quality chairs do last better than the cheap ones, so you might want to consider spending a bit more.

There are many other types of camping chairs that last better than spider chairs, but they usually take considerably more space and cost more. 

Sleeping Bags

There are many types of sleeping bags on the market. We settled for synthetic fibre bags in 2006 and still use the same sleeping bags today. They are also washable with ordinary laundry soap.

Down filled bags, are lighter, warmer and packs in a smaller space than synthetic sleeping bags but they are also expensive and need special care when washing. These bags are, however, ideal if you do regular multi-day hiking trails as part of your holiday.

Mummy type sleeping bags - most down filled bags are in this category - are wide at the shoulders and narrows down to the feet.  While it might be comfortable and warm for some, select ordinary rectangular sleeping bags that can zip together, to make the most of your partner's body heat.

If you want good service for a good price and no special care, stick to plain rectangular sleeping bags with synthetic fibre. Most brands kept by well known outdoor shops will last well.

Sleeping bags all have a rating on them. If a bag for example says 0⁰C, it means that you body will be able to maintain body temperature at 0⁰C. However, don't think that means that the inside of your sleeping bag will be 37⁰C. You will still feel cold with no other padding if you are in your bag at the minimum rating with a t-shirt on.

For general summer, autumn and spring holidays, a -5⁰C rated sleeping bag works fine, but you will need something extra like warmer clothes or an extra blanket for cold Free State winter holidays.

Inflatable Mattresses

Inflatable mattresses have only one advantage and that is small size when packed. We used inflatable mattresses for that reason for five years, but found them to be a huge frustration because of leaks as a result of minor punctures, or at the valves. Finding those leaks is not easy and repairs are often not very successful. Generally, they are cheap, rubbish and a frustration only worth living with if you really don't have space. Steer away unless you are prepared to replace one or more after each holiday.

That said, Campworld sells a heavy duty inflatable mattress which does last much better, but they are about the price of a good stretcher.

Self Inflating Mattresses

Although a couple of times the price than ordinary inflatable mattresses, self-inflating mattresses cannot get punctures. It is a type of foam that has the ability to thicken a bit by absorbing air. When rolled up, it is still considerably bigger than an ordinary inflatable mattress, but at least it is smaller than a high density foam mattress. They give a reasonably comfortable sleep when on the ground and is good on a stretcher.

Spider beds with Inflatable Mattress

Apart from the added comfort afforded by spider beds, the raised mattress definitely helps to prevent leaks. That said, a double inflatable mattress needs to be pumped very hard and weight difference between sleeping partners makes the light partner roll to the heavier one. We used one for five years, but find the replacement more comfortable.


We now use stretchers in two configurations. The children have Ozytent stretchers with a built in lining that provides some softness and they find it comfortable.

Mom and dad have stretchers with a solid canvas sheet and 25mm high density foam mattresses on top. This is absolutely lovely and I dare say, as comfortable as my fancy memory foam mattress at home.

Stretchers do, however, take a lot of space, so make sure you have it before buying.

Camping Tables

There are many versions available of which some fold up and pack in a long bag. With tables you can play around and either buy something specific or make up something that is or can be fixed to your trailer or vehicle.

With our trailer, we have have some space and I simply take our green plastic garden table. The legs removes easily and we have a reasonably thin thing that just slides in and out. There are some fold up Aluminium varieties too, but take care as many of them are flimsy.