Hatchbag Team

The essential checklist for your next camping trip

Dog and dog owner camping near a lake

With summer in full swing, now’s the perfect time to pitch a tent and spend a few days exploring the outdoors.

Planning a camping trip may not be as relaxing as staring into a flickering campfire but there’s a good reason why you should put some thought into what you pack. With few of the usual creature comforts of home available at campsites, neglecting to bring an important item could turn your much looked-forward-to getaway into a damp squib.

Avoid holiday misery with our handy checklist.

The tent

Obviously, you’ll need a tent (or tents) big enough to accommodate your party. If you already have one, dust it off and check it before you travel as you may have forgotten that tear from your last adventure needs to be patched up. You should also set it up and pour water over it to ensure it’s still weatherproof. If your tent is new, practice pitching it at home first so you know exactly what you’re doing when you arrive at the campsite.

Accessories

Check you have all the poles, mallets, pegs and groundsheets you need to keep your tent upright. Bring spares too.

Bedding

If you want to protect your back and get a comfortable night’s sleep, an airbed or sleeping mat and some comfy pillows are essential. If you don’t want to mess about with pumps, then you may want to invest in self-inflating roll-up mats and pillows. You could also opt for a camp bed if you want to be raised off the ground. Don’t forget sleeping bags too - you can get mummy sleeping bags for ultimate warmth, couples’ bags and ones in junior sizes.

Furniture

If lounging on the ground isn’t your thing, pack portable camping chairs and a table to create an air of civilisation in the great wide open and a perfect spot for socialising and al fresco dining.

Kitchen equipment

If you plan on cooking, you’ll need a stove or a barbecue, gas or charcoal and some matches or a lighter. You’ll also need pots, pans, utensils, crockery, cutlery and water containers. A basin, some bin bags, a coolbox, a tin opener and a bottle opener should also come in useful.

Lights

City dwellers may be surprised by how dark it can get in the countryside. Pack a few lanterns, torches and headlamps to help you stay safe on those night-time trips to the loo and make rooting around for your pj's easy.

Power supplies

If caveman-style camping doesn’t appeal to you, you’ll need power supplies. Whether you plan on Instagramming your trip via your smartphone or you’re hoping to use a handheld GPS for hiking, you’ll need a portable electronics charger to keep your devices topped up with juice. Or if you just can’t live without a morning brew from your instant boil kettle, make sure you have a mobile mains kit to get power from an electric hook up.

Health and safety

To keep you and your family healthy and happy, take all your usual medicines, a first aid kit, insect repellent, sunscreen and after sun. Stay clean with antibacterial hand sanitiser, body wash, wet wipes and toilet roll too.

Waterproof duct tape

Whether you need to mend a rip in your groundsheet or your waterproof fishing trousers, this stuff is bound to come in handy.

Boot liners

Tent poles, fishing gear, golf clubs, bikes and other such equipment can take its toll on the upholstery of your car boot. Protect it with a boot liner so memories of your trip aren’t imprinted on your vehicle forever.

3 tips for protecting your car from the inside out

As a car owner, it’s important that you do what you can to keep the exterior of your car looking its best. However, it’s just as crucial that you look after the interior of your vehicle too. To learn how to protect your car from the inside out, keep reading.

  1. Invest in a boot liner

There’s no denying that the car boot is a convenient place to store items that we want to take from A to B. However, whether it’s your food shopping, a pram, a bike or even your pet dog, getting stuff in and out of your boot on a regular basis can be detrimental to your car’s interior. If you’re not careful, you could potentially damage the inside of your vehicle, leaving it looking tatty and tired more quickly than you’d like.

To avoid ruining your car’s interior, you could invest in a boot liner from Hatchbag. And if you want further protection then why not choose an optional extra such as; a bumper flap to protect your bumper from dogs jumping in, pram wheels or work-tools, or a tailgate cover, to protect the inside of your car boot door. All of these accessories will help to keep your boot clean and protect your upholstery.

  1. Keep it shaded from the sun

We all know the ways in which the sun can affect our health - but did you know it could damage your car too? Not only can the sun’s harsh rays discolour the paint on your vehicle’s exterior, but they can cause the inside of your car to fade too, including the upholstery of your seats, and can even cause the dashboard to warp and crack.

The good news is, there are a number of things you can do to stop the sun from ruining the interior of your car. For example, you could use a windscreen sun shade. This accessory sits on the inside of the window and stops the sun from penetrating through the glass into the car. Usually, these shades are reflective too, helping to keep your vehicle cool in the summer.

You could also try parking your car in the shade, such as under a tree or, better yet, in a garage.

  1. Clean it out regularly

When it comes to keeping your car spick and span, you’ll need to make sure you clean it out regularly, in particularly giving it a good vacuum. Over time, it’s easy for the foot-wells and sections between the seats to become grubby, so make sure to clean up any crumbs, stones and dirt that’s built up.

It also helps to use a suitable surface cleaner to wipe down your dashboard and steering wheel, and you could scrub away any marks on the seats using an appropriate stain remover. For the finishing touch, you could hang a fragrant air freshener from your rear view mirror.

Tricks that every in-the-know cyclist uses

The number of people taking up cycling is on the rise and it’s no surprise why. If you want to boost your fitness levels, build muscle, save money and help the environment, it’s time to get on your bike and join the many cyclists already on the road.

Whether you’re a complete novice or you’ve recently caught the cycling bug, to being a keen cyclist, these tricks should help you to get more from your new hobby.

Dress the part

If you think that Lycra-clad cyclists are just trying to make a fashion statement, think again. If you want to cycle long distances, improve your speed and protect yourself against the elements, tight-fitting, breathable, moisture-wicking clothing that allows for movement is a must. To prevent chafing and reduce shock absorption, make padded cycling shorts your new best friend. To improve your speed, ditch the backpack and get a cycle jersey with pockets in the back for carrying essentials like pumps, inner tubes and energy gels.

Invest in a power meter

If you think power meters are just for the pros, you’re mistaken. In recent years, these training aids have become more affordable, allowing amateurs and casual riders to measure their power output and track their performance effortlessly. These gadgets can motivate you to become a stronger rider and help you to discover your strengths and weaknesses, get the most out of your training and prepare yourself for races. What’s not to love?

Go clipless

If you’re among the uninitiated, you might be confused when experienced cyclists talk about ‘clipping in’. What they’re referring to is the use of clipless pedals, which can improve comfort and boost pedal efficiency. If you find yourself having to re-position your feet as you cycle, clipless pedals can help. They keep your feet in touch with the pedals for the whole revolution, which can improve your handling and help you reach a high cadence without wasting energy.

Use a boot liner

Transporting your bike by car may be convenient but it can result in wear and tear to your upholstery and tough stains, especially if you enjoy off-roading. If you want to chuck your bike in the boot of your car for a cycling weekend away or a journey to a cycling event, use a boot liner. With their wipe-clean surfaces and durable material, they make easy work of removing dirt and can help you to keep your car looking like new for longer.

Work out without your wheels

Every cyclist worth their salt knows that if you want to stay balanced physically, you need to train muscle groups that aren’t used when you’re on the bike. Activities like running, yoga, pilates, resistance training, weightlifting and swimming can help to build strength and flexibility in parts of your body that aren’t being worked by cycling. Cross training exercises like these can also help you to improve fitness, prevent injury and promote recovery.

We hope these tips have inspired you to take your bike out of storage and get on the move. With the summer in full swing, there’s no better time to explore your surroundings on two wheels.

Preparation tips for a road trip with kids

Whether you’re going on a day trip, taking a staycation or driving to the airport for a holiday in the sun, bringing children along for the ride can be a challenge. From cries of ‘are we there yet?’, to requests for snacks, to car sickness, there’s a lot to deal with when you’ve got little ones in the backseat. But you don’t have to dread your next road trip with the kids. Follow our tips for a smoother car journey and happier memories.

Check your car seats

When it comes to kids, safety should always be the first consideration. Remember that until children are 12 years old or 135cm tall, they must be strapped into a car seat. Before you set off, make sure you have an appropriate car seat for each of your children and check that they’re fitted securely. Ensure that seat belts aren’t twisted, harnesses aren’t too loose (you should only be able to fit one or two fingers between the harness and the child’s chest) and if you’re using an Isofix seat, make sure all the points are connected properly.

Pack sensibly

To avoid ransacking your car looking for your toddler’s favourite toy or having to stop the car to get nappies out of the boot, pack in a way that means you’ll have what you need to hand throughout the journey. For example, keep a changing bag (with essentials like nappies, wipes and a change of clothes), a snack box and a busy bag full of toys and activities close by so you can keep your kids comfortable, dish out nibbles and drinks and rotate the sticker books, sorting puzzles and rattles whenever you need to.

Plan breaks

Little kids are likely to get very irritable if they’re made to sit still for too long. To avoid sibling squabbles and fretful tots, plan in some pit stops along your road trip. Allow your children to get some fresh air, stretch their legs and burn some energy by stopping off at playgrounds, parks or other open spaces along the way.

Motion sickness

Unfortunately, car sickness is common in children from the ages of 3 to 12. Taking headrests that will prevent your child’s head from moving too much or putting acupressure bands on their wrists might be a good idea. You should also encourage them to look at a stable object such as the horizon or close their eyes if they’re feeling unwell. Calm music may also help your child to relax. If your children struggle with motion sickness, you may need to give them medication before you set off. Ask a doctor or pharmacist for more advice.

Protect your car

If you’ve been on a long road trip with kids before, you may be familiar with their ability to transform a pristine vehicle into total chaos. While you’re bound to get the odd crumb on the floor, you can do some damage limitation with a few simple tricks. Firstly, always ensure you have a bag for rubbish in the car. You should also take a packet of surface wipes so you can mop up spills and reduce the risk of stains. Lastly, don’t neglect your boot. If you’re transporting prams, bikes, trikes, scooters or roller blades, you’ll want to ensure you have a boot liner that can protect your upholstery and keep your boot clean.