Unless you’re truly hardy, an air bed’s a must if you want to enjoy sleeping beneath canvas. The pain is blowing the bed up. You either have to sweat it out using a pump or almost pass out through pure lung power. Step forward the Windcatcher Airpad 2+, which only requires a few puffs of air. You don’t even have to touch the material. Simply lie the airbed out, make sure the small valve is closed, push the tag down into the Windcatcher, enlarge the opening with both hands and blow into it. The clever Quickstream Inflation technology multiplies your breath, drawing in 10 times as much air, so a few seconds later it’s ready for use. The new version also turns into a nifty chair too.
Once you’ve put your tent up and organised all the equipment, the first thing most people want to do is toast their efforts with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. And it better be chilled. The Peli Elite Cooler ensures just that. Not just for an hour or two, but it promises to keep food and drinks chilled for up to 10 days without the need to replace ice packs. The coolers, which can also serve as tables (along with cup/can holders) are available in four sizes and even have a handy bottle opener. Oh, and they’re bear-proof just in case you wind up next to a grizzly.
Solar chargers are often too small to be of any use, or too cumbersome for a camping trip. But the RAVPower 24W Solar Charger has been brilliantly designed. It’s lightweight and opens out flat so you can drape it over a rucksack to maximise the daylight hours if you’re hiking and when you’re not using it, it simply folds up into a small, flat pouch. There are four panels and three USB ports, each equipped with iSmart technology that automatically detects the optimal charging current for connected devices. A fool-proof way to stay on the grid.
No-one relishes faffing around when it comes to putting their tent up, especially if you’re only going to be away a night or two. It’s why the Cinch, described as the ‘ultimate pop-up tent’, has proven so successful. The new models were launched on Kickstarter in August and were one of the fastest funded ever on the platform. Each of the two, three and four-person tents have two entrances, LED tent pegs and torches that turn into lanterns and a handy mirror. There’s also an optional heat-regulating blackout canopy and a solar power pack that fits on the roof of the tent. This connects to a 13,000 mA-h power bank inside, with two USB ports so two devices can be charged at the same time. It couldn’t be simpler to put up and when it’s time to go home, takes less than a minute to pack away.
Light your way with the Twist+300 R Lantern, which not only helps you see in the dark, but doubles as a charger too. Launched earlier this year, this sturdy lantern’s been tested to ensure it can survive a two metre drop. The rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery offers up to 75-hours run time. There are four modes of light with a beam distance of up to eight metres. The BatteryLock technology ensures you won’t face any battery loss or corrosion as they can be disconnected with a simple twist. The lantern can be charged from a power outlet and in turn will charge a phone or small device while it’s being used so handy overnight or on a grey day when the solar charge is of little use.
If the sun’s disappeared and you’re in desperate need of recharging your phone, the BioLite Camp Stove could come in very handy. It generates electricity from burning wood (foraged twigs and sticks will do) which enables you to charge small devices. Aside from somewhere to warm your hands and feet on chilly nights, you can also use the stove to cook meals and boil water for a cuppa. That’s multi-tasking.
One of the most wonderful things about camping is sitting back on a beautiful clear night and taking in the night sky. The Star Walk app will help you identify stars, planets and constellations. Simply point your phone towards the sky and a whole new world opens up.