Camp Cool 2 – great camping kit 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, shows and the web for interesting things and we share our finds in these round-ups. We only feature kit that our testers have actually seen, tried out and liked.

For the VERY best things our team has found and use all the time, have a look at our recommended favourite camping kit.


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’ll be lying on ours on the beach and wearing them as cover-ups between the tent and shower block. From around £22.

PackTowl luxe



If you’re not planning on wearing your towel, a fast-drying microfibre towel may suit you better. Opt for a plush or terry version so that it’s more like the towels you’re used to at home. Cocoon Terry and PackTowl Luxe are the ones we like best.


EcoGrill barbecueDisposable 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. Have a look at our recommended barbecues too, though!

Herb barbecue lightersherb 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.

Simplehuman canisterssimplehuman 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 £30.

Really Useful BoxesReally useful box

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.

Easy-on camping shoes?

There’s a lot of inside-outside, shoes on-and-off when you’re camping or campervanning. Shoes off to keep the inside of your tent, campervan or caravan clean; back on again to nip to the loo or the showers. Slip-ons are great, but indoors we sometimes want something on our feet when it’s chilly.

Could Mahabis be the answer? They’re London-designed felt slippers (cotton version for summer) that have a detachable sole. They come in lots of colourways and also have a heel piece to stop them falling off when you walk.

They’re expensive (from around £70) and they didn’t quite work for us. The heel tended to slip out despite the elastic section (especially true if you’re wearing tights or smooth socks). That might not be a problem if the fit is very snug for you. The main problem, though, was that taking the sole on and off wasn’t as simple as it looks on this little video. Maybe we’re lazy, maybe it would get easier with use. They’re worth a try, though you do have to pay return postage if you want to send them back. See some other options here.

Sharp but safe knives for camping

Titanium paring knife green copyWe’ve used Kuhn Rikon products before, so we were glad to see they’d updated their colourful knives. They’re made from Japanese carbon steel with a titanium coating so they’re super-sharp. But the bit that makes them good for camping and picnics is that they have a safety sheath. No cut fingers when you scrabble in the bag to find it. There are paring knives, chef knives and more. Prices start at around £7.

Joseph Joseph do a more expensive version that has the added bonus of a sharpener built into the sheath. Very useful kit for camping. Have a look at our special feature on excellent camping kitchen kit too.

Excited about a plug?

Folding smartphone and tablet travel plugs, and an international set too. Very neat.

Well, we are showing it off quite a lot. Mu make fold-up USB plugs for phones and tablets. They take up no room in a handbag or backpack and you simply unfold then spin out the prongs. As well as single and double USB versions, there’s a ‘system’ that mean you can use your charger in any of 200 countries (Europe and the States included). Designed by Made in Mind, it’s claimed to be the world’s thinnest international USB plug.

The plugs range from £15 to £35 depending on whether you want smartphone, tablet or international options.

Proporta cable tidyNeat cable tidies

Tiny and terribly useful. That’s the Proporta cable tidy. A simple magnetic clasp that keeps your headphones or charging cable neat and untangled. Around £4 for three. Simple and clever.

Pack-Away bucket

pack-away bucketsFolding silicone things are popping up (literally) everywhere these days. They’re not all as strong and well-designed as they could be though.

We like this Pack-Away bucket from Wacky Practicals because it’s strong and simple and has a comfortable handle. It’s suitable for pets, plants or the washing up, FDA food safe and unaffected by UV rays.

Costs around £15-£20.

If you want a lid (and you do want a lid if you plan to use it as your overnight loo), then go for the cheaper Summit folding bucket.

All-natural insect repellent

We can’t say IncognitIncognito insect repellento repellent is actually cool, but being bitten by mosquitoes is definitely un-cool, so it earns a place in our good design round-up.

It gives total protection against all insects anywhere in the world (that’s a claim we’re gradually proving!), and it doesn’t have any DEET, parabens or SLS. There’s a choice of sprays, roll-ons, moisturisers and even an impregnated pop-up net. And the range starts at around £6.

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 a new product we’ve tested stands up to long use and proves a really practical addition to the camping kit, it wins a place in our favourites. Have a look for a full round-up of great camping and outdoor gear.

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