Camp Cool – our first discoveries

We’re always on the look-out for well-designed camping, cooking and outdoor kit that is genuinely useful and a little bit different. We scour the shops, the shows and the web for interesting things and we’re now sharing our finds in this regular Camp Cool review. We only feature kit that our testers have actually seen, tried out and liked.

If you’ve got a favourite product or a new piece of kit you’d recommend to others, let us know here.



Towel, sarong, beach mat, baby wrap, picnic rug, tablecloth….these Turkish cotton sheets are very versatile. Quick drying, absorbent and in a range of lovely colours and subtle patterns, they pack up small and weigh next to nothing.

We were slightly confused by the ‘I’m pre-washed’ label next to the ‘wash before use’ label, but we did wash and found they went a bit stiff. We’re hoping they’ll soften with use and better fabric conditioner, perhaps.

We’ll be lying on ours on the beach and wearing them as cover-ups between the tent and shower block.

From around £22.



Disposable barbecues are pretty rubbish for decent cooking. The charcoal is so shallow, they’re usually finished before you’ve managed to grill your sausages. EcoGrill is made of hollowed out alder filled with charcoal and lasts for between two and four hours’ cooking time. They sell a grill pan to sit on top of the fire, which is many times better than a rack grill where you’re always dropping food through the gaps.

As well as simply sitting it on the ground, you can use the EcoGrill in a kettle barbecue or fire basket too.

The downside is that they’re one-use only, and some may find the £10 cost a little much for disposable. However, they burn well and smell good and are head and shoulders above the cheap barbecue foil trays. Plus they leave no waste.


Reefer Sails crabbing kit

Reefer Sails is a great company – they turn old sailcloth into new things and every product comes with a unique ID number printed on it so that you can trace where your cloth came from.

We love their crabbing kit in a bag featuring a great crab logo by local graphic artist Ian Dicks.

The bag contains a camouflaged brown net with galvanised metal rings round its perimeter, 5m of knot-resistant line and a robust wooden hand-winder. No hooks…so your crabs can be returned to the water a bit cross but unharmed.

Each kit (£29.75) comes with instructions and bait suggestions written by Nick Fisher, presenter of Channel 4’s Screaming Reels series and co-author of the River Cottage Fish book.

Herb barbecue lighters

What a delicious way to light a barbecue or campfire. These natural lighters are made from soy wax impregnated with rosemary and thyme oil and studded with dried lemon, herbs, spices and pine cones collected from UK forests.

They get the flames going quickly and smell great.

You can find them here

simplehuman canisters

Now these aren’t really made for camping, but they’re so lovely, we know we can find a use for them. They’re fingerprint-proof stainless steel, airtight canisters in a range of sizes with a satisfying-to-open press-button lid. They even have a five-year warranty.

They come in a range of five sizes. The larger ones are great for storing smaller bags of sugar, salt, tea and so on. Or you could put your flour or rice into one to make sure it stays dry and insect-free.

Because there’s a removable inner plastic liner for easy cleaning, we’ve used our test model as a smell-proof compost caddy too.

The medium canister (2.6l) costs around £28. Check out other sizes and prices here.

Really Useful Boxes

Sturdy plastic boxes in all shapes and sizes help make packing a car or campervanner super-easy. The best we’ve found are the Really Useful Box range, which have handles that lock the lid in place. There’s bound to be one that fits your space perfectly.

And things we probably don’t need?

  • A blow-up armchair
  • A reindeer-skin coffee and sugar holder
  • An ice-cream cone shaped ashtray for the beach

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.


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