Born to camp

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That's one stacked campsite! : credit: © Alisdair Cusick
Editor Patrick takes an up-close and personal look at five Land Rovers that have been seriously kitted-out for camping

Though Spring may seem a long way off, it'll soon be time to check our tents for mould and serviceability, wash the dusty sleeping bags, order gas for your camping cooker and then book some campsites for the summer holidays or a sneaky weekend away. Sounds simple enough, eh?

Land Rovers were originally made for farmers and soldiers but soon they became tools for exploration. Sir Ran Fiennes, Kingsley Holgate and desert survival expert Tom Shepperd have all used Land Rovers to explore some of the more challenging parts of our planet.

Not everyone uses a Land Rover like they do, but there is nothing like packing the Landy for a camping holiday to Norfolk, Cornwall or even the Outer Hebrides. They have long been popular vehicles for the everyday explorer and adventurer like you and I. They are also great for those who need a little more comfort and so they are often used to tow a kit-laden trailer or a gadget-filled caravan.

We recently got five Land Rovers and their owners together to take a little look at their camping set-ups. Here's what they had to say...

 

Patrick Cruywagen, LRM Editor, Bedfordshire
1998 Defender 110 2.8i with Tentbox Cargo Hard-shell

The Cargo is the slimmest in the TentBox range and with it's hard-shell, it sets up fast​​​​​​

My Land Rover story: My first ever Land Rover experience was covering the African leg of the inaugural Land Rover G4 Challenge in 2003. They put us up in a five-star hotel for the first night and then we camped for the next five nights while eating boil-in-the-bag meals. I was hooked and wanted more.

Ibex Overland’s kindling maker is a winner

Why I like camping: It probably began in my army days; a tent now seems like luxury after sleeping in a water-filled trench with your sleeping bag floating next to you.

My camping set-up: I like to keep it simple: cold beers, a fire to sit around and cook meat on, not too fussed about the sleeping arrangements. During my wild single days, I had a Defender 90 with a Hannibal roof tent and awning. It was more than adequate. Now that I have a son and girlfriend, I need more space and the 110 CSW gives me that in heaps.   

I love the flexibility of my Slimline II Front Runner roof rack; I can quickly change it according to the type of trip. In the winter months the rooftop tent comes off as I normally sleep in the back of the 110 as I have an Autoterm UK diesel heater. What a piece of kit that is. Then I am able to quickly add special mounting brackets for my axe, recovery tracks, bicycle or canoe. 

My Defender is also my daily driver and I like it still looking like a regular CSW when not in use so everything is able to quickly come off.

I currently have the hard shell TentBox Cargo on test and this is the first time I have had not had a soft-shell rooftop tent. I know it takes up a lot of rack space but it only takes me one minute to set it all up. You literally just open two latches and it pops up, ready to use. Plus, you can leave your bedding in there when closing it all up. Obviously it is more expensive than a soft-shell tent but they are becoming more and more popular. The rooftop tent market has exploded since Covid came calling.

The Front Runner drawer system in action

Favourite bits of camping gear:
• Dometic CFX3 35 portable fridge and the Dometic PLB40 portable lithium power bank. My fridge can easily run for a whole weekend off it.
• Alu-Cab 270 Shadow awning. Can put it up on my own in seconds. Great for shelter from the rain and able to withstand strong winds. Covers over a pretty large area.
• Front Runner Drawer system. All my extra lights, food, cutlery and crockery plus other bits and bobs are neatly stowed away and out of sight.
• Pursuit Worldwide Ultimate Fire Bowl and Grill. Not the cheapest BBQ option but a sturdy BBQ and fire pit that will last a lifetime.
• Ibex Overland’s Kindling Maker. A heavy bit of kit, but oh boy does mine get a workout. I call the fire my bush TV, kindling will help the most stubborn of fires burn brightly.

Roof tents provide a room with a view

Never leave home without: A very good book, just in case you need to wait for the yellow AA recovery truck or have time to kill at a border post.

Future improvements: ARB has just launched a new drawer system that pulls out into an L-shape and it has a cooker and kitchen sink.

 

Linda van Lieshout (LR parts trader and driver), Albert Jones (Charge Nurse) and daughter, Kim Morgan, Carmarthen, Wales
2004 Discovery 2 Td5 with 
Tuff Trek Overland Series Mk2 hard-shell tent

Perfect set-up for the summer show season

My Land Rover story: Linda: I was about four-years old when Dad, who was in the military at the time, introduced our family to Land Rovers.  I never really looked back from there. I was so bad that when my previous partner bought me a new Mercedes I swapped it for a Series III. Today Albert and I own three Td5 Discovery 2s. If you look after them properly, they are reliable and pretty powerful.

More about Linda’s Landy: This Disco has had a Stage 2 remap from Td5 Inside, plus a bigger intercooler, LOF upgraded clutch and now produces around 200bhp. Incredibly we bought it as a scrapper and only wanted the chassis. The previous owner said it had an electrical fault that no one else could sort out, we fixed it by changing the cluster. It was way too good to be a donor vehicle. It used to be a commercial vehicle but now it has a full leather interior. It also now has an electronic centre diff-lock. Everything has been replaced on this D2, we are so happy with it.

A family of very happy campers

Why I like camping: Albert: Camping is a lifestyle for our family. We like to arrive somewhere but still have all our home comforts with us. We camp at the shows and while overlanding. We hope to go abroad and further afield next year.

My camping set-up: Linda: We have Direct 4x4 shower/toilet tent, the Tuff Trek Overland Series Mk2 hard-shell tent and their Speed Wing awning. Those form the backbone of our camping set-up. We also have a Halfords 45-litre fridge (£80 at a sale) in the back which runs off an Eco Flow Pro 600W plus power pack. Plus, goods are stored in various Wolf boxes. We are big Tuff Trek fans.

Linda loves the shower/toilet tent

Favourite bits of camping gear:
• Number one has to be our Tuff Trek Overland Series Mk2 rooftop tent. We just love it for many positive reasons.
• Kim is a little shy so the toilet tent was a must. In it we have a collapsible toilet that takes chemical liquids.
• Outwell cutlery set: compact, contains everything you might need.
• We like things that can pack flat, such as our BBQ – our aim is that all future purchases should do the same.

Power pack plus Halfords fridge​​​​​​

• We have a leisure battery system to run some of the lights but we still have the Eco Flow Pro 600W plus power pack.
• Snoring zone: we have the sides for our Tuff Trek Speed Wing awning and this creates a second sheltered sleeping area.
• Trasheroo: keeps all the dirty stuff, rubbish and unpleasant smells out of the car.
• Kamper Hot Water System which provides hot water for showering and washing. Works off gas and is an absolute treat.

Never leave home without: Our Nanocom diagnostics tool, so we can fix it while on the road. That is pretty standard for anyone who goes overlanding in a Td5.

Future improvements: Linda: We’ve ordered a drawer system from Direct 4x4. It has a cooker and fridge slide and it will revolutionise the back of my Disco.  Every time we go away, we think of new ways to improve our set-ups. We’d like a transportable diesel heater in the future.

 

  
Paul Butland, Railways maintenance worker, Wiltshire
2012 Freelander 2 Td4 with Tent Teepee

Howling Moon awning gives good shelter​​​​​​

My Land Rover story: I started trialling when I was 17 in a Suzuki SJ. I wanted to own a Land Rover and needed more space so I purchased a Freelander 1 which I used for camping and fishing. My parents bought a Freelander 2 from new and I always said that I would have it off them when they sell it, and that is exactly what has happened. So it has stayed in the family.

My current Land Rover: When I got it from my folks it was pretty much standard and over time I have added the bits that I wanted and needed for family camping and greenlaning trips. I have had it for six years now and it has done 85,000 miles, about half of those are mine. My folks were sad when I took it
off-roading and it got a few scratches, but they purchased a new Discovery Sport. Myself and the family love going greenlaning on Salisbury Plains and Dartmoor in our Freelander 2. The only downside to owning a Freelander is that it does not have low-range.

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The Tent Teepee sleeps up to seven

Why I like camping: I was a Scout when I was younger and today I am a Scout leader. Both my kids (Zoe and Alfie) are now in the Scout movement. Growing up camping was very much part of my life. Today my Freelander helps me continue that lifestyle. We also have a family caravan which we use for longer stay holidays while the Tent Tepee is for weekends and shows.

My camping set-up: The Tent Teepee is a little different but it offers us flexibility. It is easy to put up, it sleeps up to seven and so our family of four have more than enough space. After stopping at a campsite, it probably takes us about an hour to set it all up. That includes beds ready and a functioning kitchen. The tent is the quick part, it is the getting all the other bits out that takes lots of time.

Waeco 50-litre dominates the boot space

Favourite bits of camping gear:
• Our Tent Teepee has to be number one. It is our home from home and the family love it.
• Our 2.1 metre Howling Moon awning offers us protection from the sun, wind and rain. We would like to get sides for it in the future plus a shower/toilet cubicle.
• The Front Runner Slimline roof rack is great for carrying gear because, as you can imagine, a family of four has quite a bit of kit. Even when fully laden we still get 35mpg.
• Waeco 50-litre fridge is a must-have as it gives the kids cold drinks and keeps our food fresh.
• Coleman petrol stove is for cooking food for the family.
• The Jetboil gives us quick access to boiling water for teas. Every Land Rover should have one.
• 90-Watt solar panel. We have had this for four years and it is great for keeping the leisure battery charged up when staying at one place for several days.

Time for a bigger tent, Paul?

The true story of the Teddy Bears: It all began with buying one at a Land Rover show. Now we purchase every Land Rover bear that comes out as a Christmas or holiday treat. We call them our adventure bears and they go on all our trips with us. The kids love them.

Paul’s F2 is the perfect family camper

Never leave home without: The fridge – kids always want a cold drink plus it helps to keep the food fresh. A must-have, especially in the summer.

Improvements: I would like a split-charge dual battery system in the future. So that will be my next installation.

 

  
Stan Scrooby, Aircon Technician, Bedfordshire
2000 Defender 90 Td5 with Front Runner soft-shell rooftop tent

Stan’s dream camping set-up  

My Land Rover story:  I grew up in South Africa and one of my early bosses, Gareth Reeves, had a One Ten V8. I used it to go and recover broken down vehicles in Zululand. At the time I was a plant engineer and we would rebuild engines. I loved it and knew back then that I wanted to one day own a Defender.

Several years after moving to the UK, I purchased a Defender 90 300Tdi which I spent a few quid on converting into a rock crawler. After my daughter Maya came along, I sold it for way more than I paid for it. I had loads of fun off-roading it.

Stan knows exactly where everything is

Why I like camping: I used to have a Nissan Navara and a Halfords tent and went camping in it at Henley-on-Thames where I met a guy called Landy Andy who literally changed my life. He had one of the nicest Defenders in the UK, with more accessories than the Starship Enterprise. I wanted to be like Andy and so the search began for my next Land Rover, an Epsom Green Defender 90 van, which I eventually purchased off a farmer in northern Yorkshire. It was pretty much standard with rusty iron wheels. The first job was to properly tidy it up. Note from Ed: Stan is a bit of a perfectionist.

The perfect set-up? We assume so

Soft-shell tent takes minutes to erect​​​​​

My camping set-up: In 2017 I went to the Adventure Overland show and so began a lifelong love affair with Front Runner gear and constant purchasing from Mavericks 4x4, one of their top UK distributors. The mainstays of my current set-up are my new Slimline II Front Runner roof rack, the Front Runner 2-metre awning, the Front Runner shower cubicle and then the latest version of the Front Runner soft-shell rooftop tent. I’ve put in a thicker mattress and also added a protective layer on the base to keep the cold out.

Pleased with the Kampa hot water system

Favourite bits of camping gear:
• Top of the pile is my 90-litre National Luna fridge. It has a separate freezer compartment which can run at a different temperature to the rest of the fridge.
• I have a Range Rover TdV8 battery for starting the 90 and a new 110-amp secondary battery that is kept topped up by a 150-Watt solar panel – it also obviously charges while I am driving thanks to the split-charging system. Like He-Man, I have the power.
• My latest toy is the Kampa Geyser system. I have tried several systems in the past but the Kampa is compact and gives me instant hot water with minimum fuss, the way camping should be.
• Love my Weber Go Anywhere (charcoal) BBQ. Don’t skimp. Spend good money on stuff that will last a long time. My Weber, charcoal and BBQ stuff all fit into one Front Runner Wolf box.
• Get a Chinese diesel heater so that you can still go camping in the winter. There are some reliable and affordable ones out there. I have rigged mine up in a Front Runner Wolf box so it is portable.

Never leave home without:  A fridge full of beers and meat.

 

  
Rob Tasker, Gentleman of leisure, Hampshire
2011 Defender 110 double cab with 
Bushcamp Pro Camp Expedition trailer

Rob knows how to travel in style

My Land Rover story: I grew up on a farm and we all know that a 4x4 is a must for farming. My first Land Rover was a 2002 Defender 90 Td5 which I am happy to say my brother still owns today. I also have a 1983 Series III called Little Blue while my wife has a 2007 Defender 110 double-cab Hi-cap.   

Why I like camping: I just love being outside as it offers one an escape from reality really. My wife Brenda and I just love travelling, it is a massive part of who we are.   

My camping set-up: I also have a Robens Bell tent with a log burner in which is great for short getaways, but for this feature we decided to go with my Bushcamp Pro Camp Expedition trailer. Brenda and I will be using it to go travelling in. I recently sold my business and want to travel northern Europe with this trailer. I have given myself a few years off to do just that.

Kitchen fit for a queen

Favourite bits of camping gear:
• Leatherman: I always carry one with me on trips. It comes in handy.
• The trailer’s bed is like something you will sleep in at home. In fact, the interior of the trailer is like a mini Premier Inn room complete with decent memory foam mattress, thick duvet, fluffy pillows and an entertainment system.
• The trailer has two enclosed awnings which are great if the weather turns foul.
• Roorkhee chairs: these Melvill and Moon chairs are comfy and go well with a good book or cigar.
• The back of the trailer houses a quality and comprehensive kitchen plus a fridge. This is where the cooking magic happens on our trips.

Never leave home without: Jet boil: Coffee is important to me so my Jetboil guarantees quality coffee in minutes.

Next new bit of kit: We need a small 2kg washing machine as we plan on being on the road for weeks at a time. I don’t have enough pairs of underpants, hence the washing machine. Before heading off I want to put some air suspension on the trailer and change the wheels and tyres so they are interchangeable with my Defender’s.

Camping tip: We are here for the blink of an eye. I can go back and work when I am 70 if I have to. The time to travel and camp is now.

 

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