A mixed bag of new camping and outdoor kit this time around – with everything from a clever all-terrain trolley (to help you move the rest of your camping gear) and a magic straw that makes nasty water drinkable to a material that keeps you fresh-smelling. Read on…
So now you’ve got your tent, fridge, sleeping bags, mats, campstove, barbecue and the kitchen sink…how do you get all that camping gear to your pitch? Some of the nicest campsites don’t allow cars in the actual camping area. The HandiMoova is a porter’s trolley that folds down and then opens up in one easy action, locked in place by the wheels.
Those wheels are exciting. They’re made to cope with any terrain, so you can wheel picnics to the beach, barbecues through woods and tents and provisions through muddy festival fields. It weighs only 6kg and can carry up to 60kg (a bit less on very soft ground).
Designed in London, the HandiMoova uses patented Camba technology, hemispherical wheels mounted on separate, inclined floating axles. Great for gardeners, and even works up and down steps! Costs around £75.
This is a range of nicely made stainless steel, vacuum-insulated flasks in a range of size and shapes, with a choice of lids to suit sippers, gluggers or straw-suckers. Claimed to keep things hot for up to 12 hours and cold for up to 24. We’ll report back on whether they live up to that claim.
There are two useful flasks for soups or stews, with wide openings, a couple of ones designed for coffee (better than taking those unrecyclable cups from the coffee shop!) and plenty of options for water. We were sent the Growler to have a look at and one of the coffee flasks, which had a good fully-opening fliptop (so no nose-banging!). The Growler is a giant 1.9l flask designed for carrying your craft beer. There are pint tumblers and smaller versions, plus lids if you need them. Whether you could lift the Growler when it’s full of Hop-Hipster Ale is another question!
Prices range from around £20 to around £60 for the biggest Growler.
The basis is a two-stage filtration system that removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria (>LOG 6 reduction), including E-Coli and 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites (>LOG 3 reduction), including Giardia & Cryptosporidium. And that filtration comes as a ‘straw’ or built in to a range of water bottles. There’s also high-volume option for campsites or group adventures and a family pack.
We tried the LifeStraw Go, a BPA-free plastic drinking bottle (available in five colours – around £40). The filtration lasts for 100 litres (more than three months of continuous use) before it needs changing and new filters cost around £16. Whether we would have got ill without it, who knows? Certainly it could be life-saving in some situations. The LifeStraw Steel (around £50) is specifically designed for backpackers and looks a neat and safe way to drink from rivers and lakes, plus its filter can be changed. The cheapest option at around £20 is the plastic straw, which offers the same 1,000-litre life.
And it all started with research to solve a particular – and deadly – water safety issue in Guinea. The company still works hard to improve health and quality of life for people across the globe.
We’ve been wanting to include something that uses polygiene for a while. This is a clever bit of textile technology designed to make clothes and things like sleeping bags stay clean and odour-free for longer, so you can wash them less.
Sweat is natural and odourless, but clothes create a moist and warm environment that allows smell-causing bacteria to multiply and grow. Polygiene prevents the growth of these bacteria and fungi at the source. It’s in the clothes themselves so doesn’t interfere with natural sweating, and it won’t ever wash out.
We tested the rather nice PackTowl Luxe range – supersoft camping and hiking towels that absorb up to five times their weight in water, dry 30% faster than normal towels and stay fresher for longer. Lots of sizes – from face clothes to bath towels – and lovely colours too. You’ll also find polygiene in ranges from brands such as Rab, Jack Wolfskin, Patagonia, Converse, Berghaus, Lifeventure and many more.
PackTowl Luxe ranges from around £11 to £35.
Petzl make great headtorches and the range is enormous – from ultralight basics through to specialised high-power lights. Most campers will want to choose from the Classic range, which offers a choice of brightness and headstrap. While we loved the simple 200-lumen Zipka, which has a wire-thin retractable strap, we have some snagged hair horror stories to tell. Best for the bare-skulled or over a hat maybe. We now have a 150-lumen Tikkina as part of our standard camping kit.
So, we’re happy that Petzl have launched an affordable little zip pouch that takes any of 14 of their headtorch models from the Classic, Active and Performance range. The Noctilight has a nice hanging cord that wraps around the base and costs around £12. It’s both a protective case and a way of turning the headtorch into a hanging or standard lantern. It’ll be great to use when bivvy hammock camping.
We’re still undecided whether there’s an advantage of having a bag-shaped monkey bucket, but certainly some campers and picnickers will prefer the pastel colours of these. They’re strong plastic bags that you can use to hold food stuff, bits and pieces or even ice to double as a drinks cooler. They’re slightly narrow in the opening, but they’ll hold 24 litres. Cost around £12.
Designed to take odds and ends that would end up in a mess at the bottom of your rucksack or bag, the Add-a-Twist is a drinks flask-shaped tower of three containers that fit together. It’s shockproof, BPA-free and has double-sealed lids for waterproofness. It’s slightly heavy, so you’d have to (literally) weigh up the benefit compared to a set of ziplock bags or mini drybags. Looks neat, though, and we can see it being really useful in a campervan, motorhome or car. Use it for first aid, cables, sewing kits, snacks and lots more. Comes in three colours and costs around £28.
Small and light enough to stow in a backpack or overloaded car, but generous enough to give you comfortable, lazy afternoons. Ticket to the Moon hammocks are made of a strong, ultra-light material (they call it parachute silk, but it’s actually a rot-proof synthetic fabric). Lots of bright colours too.
They come in single, double and kingsize versions in a special pouch that makes storing, carrying and ‘deploying’ (isn’t that what you do with a parachute!) easier. There’s a mosquito net in the range too.
Have a look at our favourite flat-bed hammocks too, for sleeping comfortably under the stars.
After four days at a festival with stinky toilets and pretty disgusting showers (and this was a pretty high-brow festival, by the way!), we now know why we need a waterless wash. Our favourites used to be the Water Wipes because they’re utterly pure. However, we’ve also found Aqua Wipes, which have the advantage of being biodegradable too.
Nilaqua have developed a range of body washes and shampoos that don’t need water. You just rub in and towel-off. Great wash kit for an emergency, but perhaps not for super-sensitive skins. There’s even a pet cleanser.
The shampoo in the Nilaqua range doesn’t need to be rinsed, but it isn’t a dry shampoo, which won’t suit anyone who wants to keep their hairstyle in place. For that, you can’t beat the Klorane dry shampoo – easy-to-use, clean hair and no white dustiness (unless you overdo it).
Looking for a lamp that was a bit smarter than the usual camping torch or lantern, we found Ivation lamps. They’re rechargeable from the sun or USB, have four light settings and can even charge your phone.
It can be used as a torch and then expanded to become a lantern, and has a neat hanging handle.
Around £14 in a choice of yellow or orange.
We haven’t tried these out yet, but they’re a great idea. The GoSun is a fuel-free cooker that uses the sun (day or night!) to bake, boil or fry a meal. They raised half a million dollars for production on Kickstarter (despite a target of only $140,000).
The cookers look like shiny, table-top lidded barbecues, but there’s no charcoal or mess. The US company claims the GoSun can cook a meal in 20 minutes and reaches temperatures of up to 290-degrees C. The evacuated glass tube is a near-perfect insulator and captures the light from a broad range of angles, so the GoSun doesn’t need to be adjusted all the time and can even work in cloud.
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.