Bright ideas – smart camping gear and outdoor gadgets

There are some very clever inventors out there, designing truly innovative camping equipment and outdoor gear. 

We’ve been keeping an eye on the crowdfunding networks like Indiegogo and Kickstarter and tracking down interesting gadgets and smart ideas. 

We’ll be adding to this page, so do follow us to get updates.


Latest update: June 2020

 Green Decore outdoor rugs

We loved the look of these outdoor rugs when we saw them online. Plus they looked super-practical for camping and picnics.

outdoor rug

We tested a 120x180cm size, which is perfect for a couple to lie on or a family to sit and picnic on.

It looked great, though felt a bit more plasticky than we’d expected. Definitely practical and it’s become one of our must-pack items.

In summer, the rug is great for lying on. n winter, it’s an easy-to-rinse-down mud barrier outside the tent or campervan. Use it on the patio or lawn at home too.

Prices from £30.

Colapz camping shower

We’ve just tried this portable electric shower on a wild camp in the Lakes and on Mull. Great pressure and a neat kit to carry. Recharges via USB. We filled the Colapz 2-in-1 bucket from the river and topped up with a kettle of hot water.

The Colapz 2-in-1 bucket is great in its own right. Use it for washing up, and it also has a tap for using with water.

The bucket is around £30 and the shower £40.

Splash Maps

No more soggy and torn maps. SplashMaps are the brainchild of UK-based engineer, David Overton. They’re printed onto fabric that’s durable and washable.

They’re based on Ordnance Survey data and other open data sources.  From around £15 for a small area to £30. There are 120 for the UK, plus 60 for other places in the world, skiing and nautical. Also bespoke maps for a present or event.

Don’t forget that Ordnance Survey also offers free digital maps whenever you buy a real map. They have a great standalone app too and maps made into picnic rugs, towels and more!

Plastic-free wrap on a roll

You’ll probably have already come across cotton and beeswax (or vegan wax) wraps? Well, we’ve just found this fantastic plastic-free wrap on a roll.

Cut the size you need for wrapping sandwiches, using to seal bowls or for wrapping around loaves to keep them fresher. We struggled to find wrap big enough for large loaves, so this is a super alternative. 

There’s 1.2m x 33cm on a roll and it costs around £14. You can rinse it in cold water and use it over and over.

Vegan wraps, by the way, use plant-based wax.


Wacaco Nanopresso coffee makers

Perfect espressos and Americanos at your fingertips. To be honest, we thought this was a daft and unnecessary idea. Boy, have we changed our minds! The Nanopresso gives you better coffee than most coffeeshops, is economical to use and great for camping. 

Put coffee in the little basket, tamp with the tamper, fill the base with hot water and press the button a few times. Easy, neat and delicious.

The basic Nanopresso (not that there’s anything basic about it, to be honest) costs around £65. There’s a double shot ‘barista’ attachment that gives you a larger water tank and larger coffee holder, a coffee pod adaptor and some funky colours too. Look at the crema we got! And look what it did to Andrew’s moustache.

Clever carabiners

A simple idea, but with lots of uses. This is the Heroclip or Qliplet. It’s a super-strong carabiner and hook combination for hanging a backpack, a lantern, even a bike (holds up to 22kg) Lots of sizes and colours. Around £20.

Luminaid lights

Inflatable solar lights used in emergency situations around the world but also great for camping. 

There’s a light-only Luminaid for around £20, and a Luminaid 2-in-1 phone charger option (more expensive at £40), but very versatile. 

Lightweight and portable, yet gives out more than 150 lumens of LED light on turbo mode and can recharge your smartphone or tablet with a 2.1 amp output port and built-in 2000 mAh lithium-ion battery.

Around 50 hours of light on Low mode when the battery is fully charged (solar or USB), and five brightness settings depending on the hours of light and brightness needed.

Luci Lights

We quite liked the original inflatable Luci light, but this bigger Luci Base Lamp is really good. Three brightness settings, no weight, waterproof, charge lasts for ages and you can even charge your phone with it.

The best thing, though, is that it’s both bright enough to read by or illuminate outside eating areas and can be dimmed for a soft background light.

The Livall Smart Helmet

Is there anything this helmet doesn’t do? 

There are LED lights and indicators, Bluetooth speakers and microphone and a walkie-talkie feature for cycling with friends. It’s operated from a handlebar mount. Oh, and it even has an SOS trigger to alert emergency contacts.

The Livall bike helmet is around £70. Two sizes and a range of colours.

The Lumos bike helmet

Lumos bike helmetLumos is a sleek-looking helmet with integrated indicators and hard brake lights as well as bright front lights. It all works from a handlebar-mounted wireless remote, and it works well. It’s waterproof and the batteries are rechargeable via a USB connection. There’s a Lite version and a Lumos standard.

Phil, who’s completed the John O’Groats to Land’s End cycle route, 

says: “There are a few cycle helmets on the market with integrated lights, but none like this one. The Lumos helmet will really get you noticed by other road users.The lights front and rear are not there to light up the road but to get you noticed by motorists. The most unique feature is the built-in accelerometer, which means that when you brake at a junction, lights on the back of the helmet go red just like a car brake light. The batteries should last around three hours between charges.

From around £90 to £140

SureFlap cat feeder

Sureflap feeder 2 A lifesaver…literally. This smart cat-feeder is designed for households with a number of animals, and where one of them isn’t getting its fair share. In our case, it was one cat and a greedy interloper. When we go camping, someone visits the cat every day to feed, stroke and play with him, but – unknown to us – most of his food was being snaffled by next door’s cat.

The high-tech Sureflap only opens for one cat, who wears a transmitter on his collar. If your cat is microchipped, then that will work instead of the collar device. There’s a training mode to get your pet used to the opening and closing and you can set the lid closure delay to suit your cat’s needs.Sureflap automatic cat feeder

It works fantastically well and absolutely saved our cat from starvation. It looks cool too. One of our best buys. Models start at around £75, which was quite good enough for us, but there are hub connect versions too.

Viviva paints

Bring out the inner-artist to your outdoor self! We love these neat, wafer-thin booklets of vibrant watercolour. 


Slip the book in a pocket, take along the reservoir brush (or a brush and water) and paint away.

Sixteen vibrant dyes (equivalent to a half-pan size of traditional watercolour).

From £15 for the simple book of colour sheets to £40 for a gift set with personalised wooden flip case. 

They can be hard to find, however. Try Peerless Watercolours if you’re keen to get them immediately.

Wonderbooms waterproof speaker

The Wonderbooms 2 is marvellous. Rugged and waterproof (even floats), connect two for true stereo for use at home, tiny form, big sound…what more do you need?

Oh. and the battery lasts 13 hours. If that’s not enough, you can choose your colour too. Around £60

Rite in the Rain notebooks

Brilliant and HUGE range of notebooks and journals that you can write on even when they’re wet. Hard and soft covers, all sizes, even printing paper. Affordable and recyclable too. Now you can write your novel while camping in the rain.

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  1. OK for a second guess (as it was so close) it protects the hand from smudges for a left handed writer/artist? ED: And the prize goes to Gary!! Well done.

  2. ? For people writing left handed so not smudging the paper
    (It’s on the left so it’s my best guess 😉ED: So very. very close!!

  3. angus davidson

    using a stylus/pen on a tablet screen, so your wrist does not ‘activate’ the screen! ED: So, so close. Think about which hand the glove is on!!!

  4. Irene Addison

    Is it to prevent smudging on artwork ??

  5. lynda J. turk

    She wee cover?

  6. Paul Hegarty

    For folks who like a smear free tablet screen?
    Ed: Clever! And strangely/tangentially on the right lines!!

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