It’s no secret that we love our outdoor time, and find it hard to resist any shop packed with rucksacks and rainwear.

So, we were thrilled to get an email from Outdoor Camping Direct – an online store specialising in outdoor and camping products – introducing themselves and asking if we’d care to take a look at their site. “Choose something you’d like”, they said, “And we’ll send it to you to review.”

Checking out the store

There’s certainly no shortage of purchase options on-site. Arrive at the attractive Outdoor Camping Direct homepage and you’ve got all the key categories – tents, sleeping, rucksacks, clothing, and the like – lined up across the horizontal, dropdown menu.

Alternatively, you can browse by brand, including outdoor staples like Craghoppers, Regatta and Garmin. If all else fails you can also search the entire store, filtering the results by category, though the additional brand and colour filters only seem to work when browsing rather than searching.

Thinking about what we’d like to review, however, we found ourselves drawn to the ‘Festival’ section, where you can pick up all you need to keep snug, safe and visible as you camp in a muddy field somewhere in the south of England.

So, there are whole sections (wisely) dedicated to waterproofs and wellies, plus a collection of ‘Festival Essentials’ including everything else you might need. Tents in every colour and size you could possibly think of? Sorted! Solar showers for washing all the mud off? No problem! Glowing LED tent pegs? Yes, apparently such a thing really exists, helping you (and others) avoid tripping over those pesky guy ropes as you return to your tent after one too many ciders.

All the festival essentials you need

What really caught our eye, though, was Outdoor Camping Direct’s range of ‘Festival Packs’. These pull together all the festival essentials that you need into one package – handy if, like us, you aren’t quite sure what you need in the first place – while saving you a decent amount on the cost of buying everything separately.

There are Basic, Standard and Deluxe options, so we opted for the middle one – the Standard Festival Pack – which costs £49.99, but includes stuff worth £79.99 if you purchased all the bits individually. Almost everything in the pack is from the trusted Yellowstone camping brand, which you can find in a number of different online stores and out-of-down outdoor shops, though Outdoor Camping Direct’s price match promise ensures that they’ll beat UK competitors’ prices (in the unlikely event that theirs isn’t cheaper already).

Everything ordered from Outdoor Camping Direct includes free standard delivery (for delivery within 3-5 days, when you order by 2pm), though we opted for the £8.50 ‘expedited’ (i.e. next working day) delivery, which duly arrived by DPD the day after we placed the order. For those of you in the London area, the ‘collect from warehouse’ option may be particularly handy – order by 2pm and you can pick up your stuff later the same day from Outdoor Camping Direct’s HQ in Edgware.

Mat, mallet and more

So, what did we get in our pack then?

Most important, arguably, is the roomy two-person Milestone tent – in a fetching orange shade – which features a sewn-in groundsheet and carry bag, and has a footprint of 120 x 200cm when erected. We haven’t tried to construct it ourselves yet (we’ll explain why in a minute), but, as tent novices, we were impressed with quite how light and small it is when packed away, making it just as handy for walking holidays as for festivals.

Meanwhile, the rubber mallet in the festival pack is designed for extracting your tent pegs as well as hammering them in, in the unlikely event that the ground at your festival is hard, dry and unforgiving!

Like the tent, the Yellowstone sleeping bag included in the pack is also compact and lightweight, but be aware that it is only a single-person bag (which, to be fair, isn’t 100% clear from the website) – so you’d need to buy an extra one (or be very cosy indeed) if you were planning on making optimum use of that two-person tent.

Everything else in the pack is designed to make your camping or festival excursion as comfortable as possible. There’s an insulated foam camping mat, for extra in-field cushioning, plus a handy tripod stool if, like us, your legs are a bit too old for all that standing around. There’s also a small but powerful rubber flashlight, and a telescopic lantern which, admittedly, we couldn’t figure out how to use. It seems to involve some twisting and pulling, but rather than risk breaking it we’ve just discreetly popped it back in the box.

Finally, you’ve got the ‘Essential Festival Pack’, a box including a few more handy bits and pieces – a glow stick, flask, hand sanitiser, large white flag with fabric pen, ear protectors, and the all-important emergency poncho for when the heavens open.

Overall then, it’s hard to find fault with this package – there’s a lot to it, it’s good value, and it’s plausible to imagine carrying it all on the train as you head off for a weekend of music at Glastonbury or a walking holiday in Wales. You might not need the ear protectors for the latter, mind. 

Read the full blog here

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