Campsite terms


Car camping

This used to mean going camping in a car rather than backpacking where you carry everything on your back.

But these days it generally means being able to park your car next to your tent.

Some campsites may ask you to park in a designated campsite in order to protect their grass, maintain tranquility or to avoid accidents.


Pop up campsite

This is a new to camping vocabulary!

A pop up campsite is a temporary campsite that can open without planning permission, usually for the peak summer season or for a specific event.

These sites are also known as ’28 day’ sites as they can only open for a maximum of 28 days.

Pop up campsites will not have the same facilities such as toilet and shower blocks as a year round campsite.

In 2021, many pop up campsites in are attracting weekend campers by providing live music and beer tents and several stately homes in the U.K are opening pop up campsites on their estates to capitalise on the current boom in camping.

For example, Newby Hall in Yorkshire accepts campers on selected holiday dates or check out the pre-erected bell tents at the Graythwaite Estate in the Lake District.


Certificated Site (CS)

These are small, privately owned sites that are certified and approved by the Camping and Caravanning Club for exclusive use by their members.

Certified Sites take a maximum of five vans and ten tents.


Wild camping

This is what it sounds, pitching your tent anywhere in ‘the wild.’

Technically, this is illegal in England and Wales apart from designated areas on Dartmoor but is allowed on most unenclosed land in Scotland.


Nearly wild camping

Nearly wild campsites offer somewhere to pitch your tent and not much else though sometimes there may be a portaloo and water available.

Due to the lack of facilities, these sites tend to be quieter and cheaper but they also offer darker skies and more privacy in spectacular rural settings.

There are currently over 100 nearly wild camping sites in the U.K. Read our guide on how to find campsites in the U.K here.



Camping words you will see on a campsite



If you don’t know what EHU means you are not alone. ‘What does ehu mean?’ is a widely searched term on Google!

EHU means electric hook up, also known as a ‘hook up.’

This is when your pitch contains a standing, static plug socket that allows you to run an electric cable into your tent (bring your own cable).

Campers use an EHU to run an electric fridge, lights, cooler, cooker or to charge devices or to even run a television.

Campsite pitches with EHU are more expensive than those without EHU (non EHU).


Grass pitch

As it sounds, a camping pitch on grass rather than hardstanding or gravel.  It is always best to try to find a level grass pitch with natural shelter but not under a tree.


Compost toilet/drop toilet

A non flushing toilet that composts human waste. This is usually a basic toilet over a hole in the ground (hence the term ‘drop toilet’) and are only found on very wild campsites.

The majority of campsites in the U.K have flushing toilets, hand basins and hot showers.


Chemical disposal point

A designated location on a campsite for safely emptying waste and chemicals from campervan and tent toilets. Nothing else should be emptied here.


Potable water

Taps marked as potable water means drinking water.

Campsites have free standing taps dotted around the site for filling water butts and will be marked as potable if the water if safe for drinking. If in doubt, ask.


Self contained

If you are a self contained camper you have your own toilet.

Many campervans and motorhomes are self contained and, due to Covid, many campers are also bringing their own toilets.

Some campsites without a toilet block will only allow self contained campers and to freedom camp in Australia or New Zealand you must be self contained.



Camping terms for tents


A frame

An ‘A frame’ tent (or ridge tent) is an old style tent that looks like the shape of the letter ‘A’ when you look at the tent from the front.

These tents usually only have one door at the front of the tent. Think Army or Scouts tents…


Air tent

These are modern tents that do not use poles.

Instead, the tubes where the poles would ordinarily go are inflated using a pump. These tents are quick and easy to erect and can be erected by one person.

Air tents are durable and reliable in bad weather (no broken poles or punctured tent fabric) but tend to be heavier and more expensive than tents with poles.


Bell tent

Festival style circular tents that have one room with a high central point and central pole; like an inverted cone rather than a bell.

Bell tents are spacious tents with plenty of head height but lack private, compartmentalised space.


Dome tent

A low rounded, circular tent shaped like a dome or upside down cup. These tents are quick and easy to erect using a cross over pole design but do not have standing room height.


Double skin tent

Most family tents are double skin tents which mean they have a separate bedroom section that you ‘hang’ inside the tent.

This allows you the option to have a separate bedroom or to utilise the tent as one large open space.


Tunnel Tent

A long, wide tent with several hoops one after the other.

Tunnel tents have living areas and inner bedroom sections and are a great option if you need good head height.

looking into a large green ten with yellow ropes on a green field
Outwell Montana without the inner bedroom section


Our Outwell Montana 6 family-sized tent is a tunnel tent with a side porch.


Pod tent

A tent with a central living area with separate sleeping ‘pod’ sections leading off the central section.



Camping terminology for inside a tent



How many people the tent sleeps.

I’d always take berth number with a pinch of salt and try to see the tent erected to get an accurate idea of sleeping space!



Many campsites want to know the footprint of your tent when you book a pitch. The footprint is basically the size and dimensions of your tent when it is erected and can be found on your tent instructions or on the manufacturer’s website.



Acronym for self-inflating mattress which is a mattress that self inflates using a valve.

Simply open the valve to inflate the mattress and close the valve once the mattress has been inflated. To pack away, open the valve and squeeze the air out and close the valve when the air has gone to stop the mattress reinflating again.

SIM mattresses are lightweight when deflated, inflate in minutes and are available in a variety of thicknesses.

After using both airbeds and SIM’s, we only use SIM’s now.


Air bed

A mattress that has to be inflated using a pump. They are comfortable and raised off the ground but can be bulky items inside a tent.


Mummy Bag

No, it’s not a handbag, it’s a tapered sleeping bag shaped like an Egyptian mummy rather than a traditional rectangle sleeping bag.

Mummy bags are compact and easy to pack away and the headpiece of the bag gives extra warmth.

The downside is that some people feel restricted when sleeping in a mummy bag.

Sleeping bags are rated as ‘seasons’ so a two-season bag is suitable for Spring and Summer use whereas a four-season bag can be used year-round.



A separate entrance/exit vestibule that is an integral part of your tent design (ie. not like an extension or awning that you add to your tent to make it bigger).

Porches are useful for keeping dirty boots, sandy toys and wet clothes out of the main tent.


Rain fly

This is the exterior layer of the tent that either fully or partially covers the tent in order to stop rain entering the tent.

The rain fly is integral in most tents but you can buy tents with a detachable rain fly.


Guy ropes

Exterior ropes on your tent that attach to the ground with metal or plastic pegs to give the tent stability and support.

Tents with bright or reflective guy ropes are easier to see in the dark!


Seam tape/taped seams

A taped seam is when a tape is sewn or stuck over the stitched tent seam to give extra waterproof protection and it is well worth investing in a tent with taped seams.

Tents, coats, waterproof trousers etc can all have taped seams.


Ground sheet

The groundsheet is the floor of the tent.

Some tents have a ‘bathtub groundsheet’ which is detachable from the main tent so you can use it when or if you want to. Bathtub groundsheets have gaps around the edges so they tend to make the tent cooler (or colder) depending on when you are camping.

A ‘sewn-in groundsheet’ is fully attached to your tent and makes your tent warmer and more waterproof.

Our new Outwell Cloud 5 Plus tent has a mixture of both.

It has a sewn-in groundsheet for the bedroom section and an optional bathtub groundsheet for the living area.


Shock cord

The shock cord is the elastic cord that runs through your tent poles.


Tent canopy

A tent canopy is an extra layer that can be erected over your existing tent to add extra protection from the rain.

This is a good option if you camp frequently in bad weather or if your current tent is no longer waterproof but is otherwise usable.



Plastic ‘c’ shaped clips that attach the outer flysheet to the tent poles.


So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to camping words! If you think of any that need to be added to the list, get in touch.

Happy camping!