Look what we’ve found now! More cool, interesting and useful camping kit. Plus one dud!
We loved the look of these outdoor rugs when we saw them online. Plus they looked super-practical for camping and picnics.
Dipali Gupta runs the company, which also makes outdoor cushions, recycled sari rugs and more. He wanted to find rugs that were environmentally friendly, good quality and good to look at.
Prices are not all that cheap, but the fact that the polypropylene they’re made of is recycled means less into landfill, and that has to be worth a bit extra.
We tested the 120x180cm size, which is perfect for a couple to lie on or a family to sit and picnic on. Cost? Around £55.
It looked great, though felt a bit more plasticky than we’d expected. The three elastic straps all broke on first use, but string will do the trick to keep it rolled. Definitely practical and we’ll be using it as a good alternative to a beach mat or picnic rug.
We’ve been on a mission to replace our trusty Thermos flask with something gorgeous. Our old one worked well (with a bit of a dribble), but was starting to smell of old ashtrays.
We tried the swanky Thermos Ultimate MKII, but it made a strange rattle as though liquid (or something?) was caught between the layers. We were worried that liquid could somehow get through, which sounded nasty. Our replacement was perfect, but we were a little sceptical about its pushbutton top (though lots of people love it in reviews). It looks quite space age and has a nice silicone grip, plus removeable antislip base. Plus it comes with a five-year guarantee.
Next up was the cheap-to-buy Isosteel 0.9l in stainless steel (five-year guarantee too). It’s as minimal as you can get. Just a stainless flask with a screw top and a small cup.
We tested both thoroughly. We pre-warmed them with boiling water, emptied that out and refilled with boiling water. After six hours, the water was still hot enough to make a cup of tea. After 18 hours, drinks were still enjoyable. 24 hours later (and with the flask now nearly empty and having been opened four times), the contents were tepid but still just about drinkable. Nothing to choose between them in terms of keeping the heat in, so it’s a toss-up between swank and minimalism!
Exped Ergo Hammock
The company says they’re “revolutionary”, and they actually are heading in that direction! The problem with sleeping in most hammocks is that you end up cocooned and uncomfortable. With the Ergo, you slot your inflated mat into a sleeve on the base and this creates a flattish bed as well as insulation from below. Above you is a zipped and removeable mosquito net.
The 2015 model is longer and wider and has a higher canopy so that you can sit up without mashing your face into the net.
As with the Exped mats, the hammock is fabulously made and well-thought out. For true bivvying in bad weather, you’ll need to put a tarp up above you, of course. There is an Ergo Combi that comes with a tarp too. Exped even offer some tips, such as…”If the tarp is wet after teardown, store it in the stuffsack with the wet cords and place the hammock separately in your pack to keep it dry.” It shows they actually think about how people use their kit. We like them!
We’ve got a whole article with more flat-bed hammock reviews, by the way.
The wonder is that it’s taken us this long to actually try a Kelly Kettle. They’re an institution in backpacking and bushcraft and a fantastic piece of kit.
Basically, it’s an easily packable and carryable wood-fired kettle that needs just a handful of fuel (sticks, pine cones, birch bark, dry grass) to boil water in just three to five minutes. There’s a range of sizes and lots of accessories to turn the kettle base into a mini cooker.
We loved the simplicity and the fun of using the kettle, but weren’t so bowled over by the cooking kits. That’s perhaps because these are really aimed at adventurers and wilderness campers rather than anyone wanting to cook a full meal.
If you’d prefer to use gas, have a look at our round-up of camping kettles.
Things we didn’t like…
A bit of a thumbs-down for the Magicup. Supposed to be an insulated, spill-proof travel mug. Tasted of plastic, a bit unpleasant to drink out of and we did get some spillage (well, to be fair, more of a drip). Some people like them.