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: December 2019
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.
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; in winter, it’s an easy-to-rinse-down mud barrier outside the tent or campervan.
Prices are not all that cheap (from £30 upwards), but the polypropylene they’re made of is recycled means less into landfill, and that has to be worth a bit extra.
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!
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 individual wraps big enough for large loaves, so this is a super alternative.
There’s a metre x 33cm on a roll and it costs around £15. You can rinse it in cold water and use it over and over.
Vegan version uses plant-based wax. Around £14.
SEE MORE GREEN CAMPING IDEAS IN OUR SPECIAL FEATURE.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lumos 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
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.
It works fantastically well and absolutely saved our cat from starvation. It looks cool too. One of our best buys in a long time. Around £60.
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.