What’s new in camping gear and outdoor equipment? We’ve been searching, chatting to designers and testing on your behalf. Here’s our round-up of interesting camping kit.
Don’t forget to look at our personal recommendations for camping gear – stoves, tables, tents and all those lovely camping equipment extras!
A camping microwave – yes, really
Wavytech’s The Adventurer is the first portable microwave. It’s a handheld potential marvel that means you can heat food and drinks anywhere. We say “potential” because it’s yet to become available.
Meanwhile, though, it MIGHT be 12” high and take up to 500ml of food or drink. It can be charged on mains, in a car or using your portable solar panel. A full charge gives you around 30 minutes of cooking, equivalent to around six meals.
We’ll report back when we know if it works or not – and when we know the price (around £90 was mentioned). You’ll also find some other options in our feature on electric cooking when camping.
Tenacious tape fixes torn camping kit
If your tent’s sprung a leak or your jacket’s got a hole, you can fix them easily and add a bit of interest. Simply peel and stick a Tenacious Tape™ Gear Patch to repair or personalise coats, rucksacks and other camping. No sewing, ironing or heating needed.
The company claims the special adhesive keeps the patches in place whatever the weather and even after washing in the machine. We have heard differently from a couple of readers, but they’re cheap enough (around £8) for it not to matter if you do ever need to replace one.
They also do a very good Gore-Tex® repair patch too.
Brilliant camping light – that packs flat
The Luci lantern is a solar-powered camping and outdoor light that squishes down to a flatpack. A great idea indeed. It’s waterproof and very lightweight. We prefer the frosted one as the transparent can be a bit too bright.
Set it in direct sunlight for seven hours and it should last up to 12 hours on a single charge. Ten powerful white LEDs and three settings – bright, superbright and flashing. There are top and bottom straps for clipping onto backpacks or hanging in a tent or campervan. Costs around £25.
If you’d prefer USB-charging and something rather lovely…we’d recommend this folding lamp. Three light settings and nice-looking enough for home as well as camping. Folds flat and can the light can be directed to just where you need it. Around £10.
Airbed pumps to take your breath away?
It has to be said that there’s little to get excited about in the world of airbed pumping-up! No-one seems to be designing anything very attractive or innovative. So, we’re doing a quick round-up here of the best in their class – and if we do ever come across one that takes our breath away, we’ll let you know.
One of the two best mains and 12V air pump sets we’ve found comes with plenty of nozzles and costs less than £20. Plug it into the mains or use from the car socket and it’ll fit and work with all low-pressure inflatables, such as airbeds, inflatable chairs, paddling pools and toys. It deflates things too. But it’s not pretty, is it
We actually prefer the Coleman rechargeable airbed pump (dual powered) because you’re not always close to a car when you need to inflate your airbed. It is nearly double the price, though. Coleman also do a very similar-looking battery-powered pump, but the reviews of this aren’t so glowing.
Electric pumps do tend to be noisy, so the best non-electric option is the Intex hand pump, which has a double (up and down) inflation mechanism. It still takes a while to pump up an airbed, though, because the pump itself is quite small. Very cheap (around £5), so maybe worth a try.
Another neat option is the pump sack. Thermarest and Exped make these (to go with their own sleeping mats) because it’s not a good idea to fill a mat with warm, moist breath. These sacks are as simple and versatile as can because they can be stuffed with clothes to make a pillow too.
The Thermarest Neo seems to work with mats other than Thermarest’s own, but it all depends on the type of fittings you have. At around £22 it could be worth a go and either return it or simply use it as a stuff sack. The Exped Schnozzel is around £25 and nicely designed, but may not fit other than Exped.
Survival kits for wild adventures
If you’re a serious adventurer, have a look at the around-£100 Bug Out Bags, which have everything you need (shelter, food, warmth, first aid and so on) to survive for 72 hours. And if you ever have to use one, we want to hear about it!
A hammock for two – without the roll-together
Tentsile have come up with a hammock that two can share without getting in each other’s comfort zones. The T-mini stretches between three points to create two separate flat areas for relaxing. The only problem is finding three trees, of course! Oh, and the fact that it costs around £170. There are cheaper and better options, we feel.
Have a read of our article on camping in trees for more hammock and bivvy possibilities.
Warm up with a wacky firewall
Made in Canada from laser-cut stainless steel, this contraption creates a wall of logs that (it’s promised) burns cleaner and brighter. The parts are easily portable, but this Firewaall-003 does need some serious ground preparation to avoid setting your camping area on fire. It certainly wouldn’t go down well in many national parks, campsites or picnic areas. One for the ice-fishing crowd maybe!
Maybe more your size? This mini camping stove can be fuelled with sticks, dried leaves, coal and solid fuel tablets or take a spirit burner. It folds completely flat and costs less than £12. You’ll see them under a couple of different brand names but they’re identical, by the way. There’s also a slightly heftier version that’ll take bigger pots.
Have a look at our complete guide to the options for woodburning camping stoves for warmth and cooking outdoors.