Here are some more cool and quirky camping kit finds. From a thingy that turns a car backseat into a bed to gasless lighters and space-age tents. And if you’ve got a favourite product or a new piece of kit you’d recommend to others, leave a comment below.
What a great idea. A collapsible water bottle that takes up no space when it’s empty, and is as light as light can be. The Platypus soft Duolock bottle is BPA-, BPS- and phthalate-free and can stand up when empty or full (unlike some flexible water pouches). BPA, by the way, has now been officially recognised as BAD for us, so we were right all along to avoid those nasty plastic bottles.
There’s a range of sizes, designs and colours to choose from. They all have secure flip-top lids and a handy carabiner clasp. A bit noisy to drink out of, but that’s a teeny, tiny thing!
Soft, squashable and packable drybags are always useful…and even more useful when you can see what’s in them. Sealine View bags come in a range of sizes and with a choice of fully see-through (Discovery View) or window-view (Bulkhead View).
The PurgeAir™ valve quickly vents trapped air for easy closing and packing and the oval bottom stops the pack rolling around.
Costs from around £20.
Is it a rocket…or is it a camping stove? This futuristic butane-fuelled stove was a successful competitor on Dragons’ Den – partly for its good looks and partly because it uses special technology to get around the not-so-great qualities of butane. It’s one of the cheapest and most widely available fuels for camping stoves, but not great at burning.
Its other features are that electrical energy is created while you cook, so you can charge mobile phones, tablets and GPS equipment. Charging can be done at anytime; you don’t need to have the stove opened up and lit to charge gadgets. But if you do want to charge when you’re cooking, a USB port is located away from any open flame so you don’t scorch your device.
It’s very stable and the top pan holders hinge outwards to give you a larger, and more even, cooking surface. We found the mechanisms for the legs and top a little stiff, but they’ll no doubt ease up with use.
It’s rather heavy, so won’t suit many backpackers, but it wins out for us over the Biolite because it doesn’t have a noisy fan. Mind you, the Biolite uses even more readily available twigs for fuel. Have a look at our guide to the best (and worst) gas camping stoves.
Costs around £90
Cool cooking concepts…that we can’t have!
Sometimes there’s a great idea out there but it doesn’t make it past the design stage. We’ve been waiting years for these three to come to fruition!
The Wrapstove clings to your pots with magnets and uses induction to heat. It switches on only when the end tab is folded and the temperature is set via a touchscreen. It was designed by Wonchul Hwang.
The Kumzit social cooker was designed by Boaz David Lazar. It’s heavy, hot and involves lots of kit.
Cook with silver on the Cooka, designed by Maurizio Maiorana. Using the thermal conductivity properties of silver, the cooking plates are claimed to heat up and cool down quickly. It folds up for easy carrying. If you want one, though, you might have to build a little factory for Maurizio.
We used to like the Summit Jet Flame lighter for its adjustable flame, but the button was hard to press and the fliptop lid got in the way of lighting some things. Same goes for the Coney lighters. The Coneys, though, are very affordable and pretty reliable..so you can just snap off the lid if needs be. Avoid the Turboflame, despite its removeable lid. Looks sturdy, but breaks easily.
The best refillable, though, is the Jetlighter with its swivelling ‘nose’ for lighting at any angle, plus three powerful flames.
BUT, do you know you can get lighters that don’t need to be refilled at all? These use a beam or arc (like an arc welder) and the mechanism for creating the beam means they can be recharged using USB. Tesla make a Coil lighter, but it has the lid-in-the-way problem again. Still, if Tesla are on the case, it’s something to aspire to maybe!
The best USB-charged storm lighter so far are the Flux ones (long-nosed ones and ones more lighter-shaped). It’s not absolutely reliable, so we’re still on the hunt for a durable arc lighter. Let us know if you find one!
And if all this seems too high-tech, choose the Lifesystems weatherproof matches for easy lighting in wind or rain.
How could we resist? The Stick Book: Loads of Things You Can Make or Do with a Stick.
As New York’s National Museum of Play pointed out when they selected a stick for inclusion in their Toy Hall of Fame, a stick can become a wild west horse, a mediaeval knight’s sword, a boat on a stream or a slingshot with a rubber band. Costs around £7.
For all those car-campers, overnight stops and sleeping children. “This product is designed for the interior inflatable structure, inflatable few minutes to complete.” Or, without the Google translation…an inflatable bed that fits onto the backseat of your car. It has two pillars to hold up the side that would otherwise flop into the footwell.
We can’t vouch for their comfort or durability, but the concept’s interesting. Around £25 to £70.
Guaranteed to get you a second look on any campsite, Heimplanet’s range of inflatable tents look like no other. They’re wickedly expensive, but promise super-stability and minimum weight.
The Fistral, for example, is a one- to two-person tent that weighs just 2.5kg. It has multiple air chambers as a back-up in case of puncture, but can be inflated using a single pump. Two entrances and a geodesic shape.
If you’ve got a favourite item of camping or outdoors kit that manages to be both well-designed and interesting, or if you’ve come across a really ridiculous piece of kit, let us know. Either leave a comment below, or drop us a line.