New camping gear and outdoor gadgets

Here are some more cool and quirky camping gear finds. From a belt that makes wild swimming safer to a camping light to keep you warmer.

And, of course, for our long-term, tried and tested camping equipment recommendations, swing over to our favourites.

Latest update: April 2020

Petzl’s new rechargeable headtorch

Good old Petzl. We’ve liked their headtorches for years, but were just starting to think there needed to be an easy-to-recharge option, rather than replacing batteries.

But they came up with something even better – a headtorch that’s USB rechargeable but can also take three AAA batteries.

The Actik® Core, around £45, gives a 450-lumen light, a choice of beams and brightness levels, as well as red lighting for night vision when you don’t want to blind those around you.

You have to open the battery compartment to recharge the Core battery pack, or you can take it out completely and swap for batteries. There are accessories so you can fix it to a bike helmet or the bike itself.

Finally, it’s waterproof and weighs only 65g. Oh, and it’ll fit in the lovely little Noctilight lantern adaptor.

Petzl Noctilight

Safe swimming with Restube

I do a lot of wild swimming, but I’m not a strong swimmer. I’ve often wanted to go bit further but not had the confidence. So, a Restube is now in my kit.

It’s an inflatable buoy packed in a tiny bag and weightless in water. I don’t notice it attached to my belt when I’m swimming, but it’s given me the confidence to push on to the other side of the lake or to reach the next cove.

You can trigger it in an emergency with its gas cartridge, and it can also be blown up quickly by mouth. It’s bright to attract attention and there’s whistle too.

My Basic version, ideal for swimming, cost around £60 on Amazon with free postage, which worked out cheaper than direct from Restube in Germany, although you may want to check out the full range there.

Hey, lumberjack! Look what’s in my pocket

If you like a campfire when you’re camping, this is definitely overkill, but who doesn’t want a neat and macho tool attached to their belt?

The Nordic pocket saw is basically a chainsaw chain with handgrips. However, its double cutting teeth mean sawing is effortless in both directions.

It’s made of heat-treated steel and laboratory tests have shown it can withstand a force 20 times stronger than a human can manage.

Next time you can’t get to your campsite because a fallen tree is blocking the road, you’ll wish you had one of these! Around £45

Bahco Laplander folding saw


While we’re on the subject of lumberjacks…we spotted the Laplander folding saw while buying wood at the timber merchants this week and had to give it a try.

The double-cut teeth and non-stick blade saw through branches with ease and it’s small enough to carry in a big pocket or a small backpack.

Great for campfire-building and in the garden, and especially safe for packing because the blade locks closed (and open).

Around £15.

Victorinox Biketool

Simple, neat and very useful. This Victorinox Biketool set is so much better than the weightier tools we’d been carrying.

It’s just 92g and includes a magnetic bit case with wrench and hex, slotted, Philips and Torx bits plus tyre fitter.

Uco candle lanterns

Flames in a tent? Well, Uco lanterns are lovely but only for the careful and the vented!

Lots of people love them for their warmth and natural light, plus the flame is safe behind glass. However, they do get hot, so they’re not for leaving alone in a tent or campervan.

Also, they’ll produce a small amount of carbon monoxide, so should only be used in a ventilated space.

Aluminium Uco with three nine-hour candles for around £35

Sets with candles and bag for around £30.

Or a lovely brass version?

And even a Uco with an added LED light in the base.

You can get white wax, beeswax and citronella candles for them. Do make sure you get Uco replacement candles (not the Relags ones). We’ve heard a few reports that the Relags version don’t burn cleanly and jam the candle mechanism. If they don’t arrive in Uco-branded wrapping, send them back for a refund.

Tentsile tree tents now go on the ground too


They’re stunning, three-cornered tree tents and hammocks, and you don’t get much cooler camping than with a Tentsile.

The Sheffield-based company has hanging tents for one to six people, a range of flatbed hammocks with mosquito nets and a whole range of exciting and enticing accessories. Plus, they plant 20 trees for every tent they sell.

Oh, and they’re about to (literally) launch a tree, ground AND floating tent. Crikey.

The good thing about camping in a tree-tent is that you’re out of the mud, have no problem with uneven ground and you’re away from most creepy-crawlies.

You’re protected by insect mesh and waterproof flysheets, plus the three connection points keep the floor taut and stable..

From around £150 to a lot more.

A car camping backseat bed

For all those car-campers, overnight stops and sleeping children…an inflatable bed that fits onto the backseat of your car. It has two pillars to hold up the side that would otherwise flop into the footwell. Also versions for the boot area. Around £25 to £40.

If this appeals, have a look at our guide to camping in your car, with lots more options for the cheapest, most versatile camping ever!

The Stick Book

How could we resist? The Stick Book: Loads of Things You Can Make or Do with a Stick.

As New York’s National Museum of Play pointed out when they selected a stick for inclusion in their Toy Hall of Fame, a stick can become a wild west horse, a mediaeval knight’s sword, a boat on a stream or a slingshot with a rubber band. Costs around £5.

Have a look at our suggestions for other presents for camping and outdoorsy folk – gifts for adults and kids!

A lighter always at the ready

Did you know you can get lighters that don’t need to be refilled at all? They don’t need gas, but use a beam or arc (like an arc welder). The mechanism for creating the beam means they can be recharged using USB.

The best USB-charged plasma (arc) lighters are ones with long noses so that you can get it into a storm lantern, a campfire or candle. The one shown here is under a tenner.

And if all this seems too high-tech, just get yourself some weatherproof matches or the Uco Firestarter matches for easy lighting in wind or rain.

wrap stove

Cool cooking concepts…that we can’t have!

Sometimes there’s a great idea out there but it doesn’t make it past the design stage. We’ve been waiting years for these three to come to fruition!

The Wrapstove clings to your pots with magnets and uses induction to heat. It switches on only when the end tab is folded and the temperature is set via a touchscreen. It was designed by Wonchul Hwang.

kumzitThe Kumzit social cooker was designed by Boaz David Lazar. It’s heavy, hot and involves lots of kit.


Cook with silver on the Cooka,designed by Maurizio Maiorana. Using the thermal conductivity properties of silver, the cooking plates are claimed to heat up and cool down quickly. It folds up for easy carrying. If you want one, though, you might have to build a little factory for Maurizio.

For stove options you CAN have, we’ve got guides to electric stoves, rocket stoves and wood-burners and the best (and worst) gas camp stoves.

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  1. Thanks, as always, for taking the time and trouble to research and test new products and then write about them. I’m especially interested in the Restube having just bought a stand up paddleboard and already owning a couple of kayaks. Without your efforts I doubt I would have known about this potentially lifesaving bit of kit. Much appreciated.

  2. Forclaz torchI’ve used Petzl head torches and they are very good, but you do pay a premium for the quality (and brand name!). Decathlon also sell a head torch which uses a rechargeable battery or AAA single use batteries (also included in the box) under their own Forclaz brand name.
    Similar features to the Petzl but significantly cheaper at around £30
    Spare rechargeable batteries are also available, again like the Petzl, but for less money. I’ve had My Forclaz for a few months now and have used it enough to confirm their claims for battery life and recharge times, from home usb (phone Charger) or power bank when out and about are fairly accurate. It’s a bright and well-made headtorch. 200 lumens continuous on high power plus a 10 second boost mode at 400 lumens, then it returns to 200 to save battery power). Comfortable to wear for long periods. ED: Great suggestion, Dave.

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