Camping A-Z


If you're new, or have returned to camping, have a read of these terms to get yourself up to speed with some common camping terms.



Campers face 3 main options for the poles that support tents, all with pros and cons. Here's a brief overview:

  • Fibreglass - the most common for today's family tents.  These are light, collapsible, flexible and strong
  • Air Beam - a fairly new revolution to camping is air-beam tents.  As the name suggests the tent is supported by large beams of air; picture huge bicycle tubes!  Air beams are quick to erect, and remarkably resilient.
  • Steel - Whilst being quite heavy, steel poles are the strongest option, and if you expect to camp in variable or stormy weather, they could be a wide choice. 



Exactly what you'd think!  A tent carpet is a carpet that goes in your tent, giving that extra bit of luxury.  The serious side to the luxury is the extra insulation from the cold ground, especially at night.



Many campsites offer 2 types of pitch; with or without 'electric hookup'.  EHU is a outdoor plug that means you can run a power supply to your tent, giving you the ability to have things like a heater, electric cooker etc.  



A footprint is a waterproof (often tarpaulin) sheet that goes under your tent, and we recommend them! They have many benefits:

  • Makes tent pitching easier, as you lay out exactly where you’re going to put your tent before you start to pitch it

  • Helps prevents the underside of your (more expensive) tent from being damaged by rocks etc

  • Helps keep your tent warm by providing extra insulation from the ground

  • Helps keep the bottom of your tent, which you’re going to roll up later, clean

A footprint should be very slightly smaller than than your tent, and completely covered by it, so that if it rains the water goes into the ground, and doesn’t run between the footprint & under your tent.



One of the most important considerations when buying a tent is it's HH rating or "Hydrostatic Head".  Basically it is how waterproof your tent is (technically, it's how tall a column of water the fabric can hold before water starts to seep through the weave; a HH of 3000mm means that a tent fabric could hold a column of water that is 3000mm tall).

At Kids Camping Store we would not recommend a tent with a HH of less than 3,000mm.  A HH is also a good indication of the quality of a tent. 



Sleeping bags generally come in two main shapes:

  • Mummy shape - is narrowed around the feet and shoulders, and roomy around the middle (think an elongated oval).  This closeness to the body gives superior insulation and temperature regulation
  • Envelope Shape - the traditional rectangle shape.  Whilst this does not  insulate and regulate temperature as well as a mummy shape, it does provide a more roomy sleeping experience 



Most modern tents are polyester, but if you want to invest in Rolls-Royce quality tents, there are also polycotton Tents.  These cost roughly twice as much as a polyester tent, and are a lot heavier.  However they are a fantastic quality material, warmer and more breathable than a polyester tent.

Polycotton tents are not normally an investment for the beginner camper!



As the name suggests, a Self-Inflating Mattress (or “SIM”) is like an air bed, but you don’t blow it up, it self-inflates! SIMs are a LOT thinner than an airbed, normally ranging from 2.5cm to 10cm thick, and feel more like a thick matt.

Most people prefer a SIM to an air bed due to its superior quality; they don’t deflate in the night, and a SIM offers superior insulation from the floor.  However the more complex manufacturing makes them more expensive.

Kids can have SIMs too! Our “CleverBeds” are a 2.5cm SIM with a duvet zipped on top.



The ground sheet is the base of your tent.  Ground sheets are attached to tents in one of a number of ways:

  • Sown In (sown / attached to the tent)
  • Zipped 
  • Toggled



Many larger tents have sleeping pods, which are a room(s) within your tent for sleeping; effectively "a tent in your tent".

Some companies have blackout sleeping pods which are dark, and which are therefore great for children getting to & staying asleep.

If you have a ten that doesn’t have blackout sleeping pods, look at #12 of our top tips here.


Still wondering?  You can request an addition to our A-Z via the form below!