Gizmag's top ten camping gadgets
As summer kicks in for our readers in the northern hemisphere, their thoughts may turn to camping. Where to go... what to do... and what gadgets to take! Well, we kinda like gadgets – and camping – so we looked back through the cream of camping kit covered recently on Gizmag and compiled a list of some of our faves. Here’s what we came up with...
Stunningly-bright LED flashlights are, to put it bluntly, a dime a dozen. Even ones with bendy-legged tripods aren’t exactly a rarity. What makes the Gorillatorch special, however, is the fact that its knobby, flexible legs can grip around things like branches, tent poles, or human heads. Magnetic, rubber-coated feet add to the mounting possibilities. The dimmable lamp can be turned up to 65 lumens, and will provide 20 to 80 hours of light on three AA batteries. It’s available for US$30.
Anyone who’s been camping even once will know what a bother pine needles and sand can be when they’re tracked into the tent. You can put a tarp on the ground, but the CGear Multimat works even better. Its dual-layer design creates a one-way-street for sand, dirt and dust, so particles fall through from above, but don't come back up through the mat. It can double as a sun shade or windbreak, and will reseal if a spark burns a hole through it. Depending on size, it costs from US$92 to $238.
Brunton Flip-N-Drip portable coffee maker
Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you have to live like a caveman - you’ve gotta have your coffee. To use the Flip-N-Drip, you just boil water in the carafe, attach the BPA-free filter and mug, and flip the whole thing over. In about 10 minutes you’ll be sipping your favorite cup of joe. It can brew 16oz (0.5L), which is about two mugs. You can also use it to prepare tea, freeze-dried foods, or hot boozey drinks. Expect to pay about US$45.
VAN BERLO TentLED
We’ve all done it - tripped over a tent’s guy lines in the dark. These clever little lights attach to those lines, to alert clutzy campers to their presence. They automatically adjust their intensity depending on the ambient outdoor light, and shut off when in storage. It’s hard to find any place online that sells TentLEDs, but you could probably rig up something similar using small, inexpensive LEDs such as MEC turtle lights.
What does it do? It delivers power via a solar panel, hand crank, or DC adapter; lights up the dark with an LED flashlight; digitally tunes in radio stations, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather bands... and it plays music from external players, via an audio line in. It’s also got a carabiner-style clip, so you know it’s outdoorsy. The SCORPION is only water-resistant, not waterproof, but you can’t have everything for US$50.
Sea to Summit Kitchen Sink
Not matter how lightly you try to pack, you need a larger-sized pot for washing the dishes - or yourself, for that matter. The Kitchen Sink is a collapsible waterproof container that can hold from 5 to 20 liters of hot, soapy water, depending on which size you get. When you’re done, it just folds up into its carry pouch. The 20-liter size goes for US$25.
JakPak all-in-one jacket, tent and sleeping bag
You probably wouldn’t want to buy this thing instead of a traditional tent or sleeping bag, but it’s great for those long hikes or canoe trips where you never know what might happen. Made from urethane-coated ripstop nylon polyester, the JakPak starts out as a jacket with a hood and collar. Should you need it, however, it transforms into a sleeping bag, and a bugproof swag-style tent. Considering you’re essentially buying three things, US$249.99 is a pretty decent price.
OK, this one is cool. You start by feeding it with burning wood, but it takes the heat energy from that fire and converts it to electricity via a thermoelectric generator. That electricity then powers a fan which pushes oxygen into the stove, creating hotter, cleaner more efficient combustion. It uses 50% less wood than a regular wood stove, creates 95% less smoke, and virtually eliminates carbon buildup. The Biolite won’t be available until next spring, but we couldn’t not mention it.
Victorinox Swiss Army Soldier Knife
Ahh yes, what would a gear review be without a multitool? You fancy lads can keep your Leathermans, though - this is the quintessential outdoors man's device, and has everything a real camper needs. Aaarh! While there are many models of Swiss Army knife to choose from, this particular one is the first knife Victorinox has designed specifically for Swiss soldiers since 1961. They got it first, now it’s available to us civilians. Tools include a serrated blade, Phillips screwdriver, can opener, bottle opener, wire stripper, reamer, tweezers, toothpick, wood saw, and price tag of about US$40. If nothing else, you might want the Soldier Knife as a collector’s item.
The tent is pegged, the fire ablaze, you've downed your canned cheeseburger and it's time to kick back under the stars with a (powdered) beer. Katadyn's offering is not strictly a beer (it's described as a "beer flavored beverage") and it's non-alcoholic, which means you should be refreshed and ready for the trail come sunrise. The company also produces powdered red wine.
So what have we missed? Seen any clever camping innovations lately? What indispensable gear goes with you on your adventures? Let us know in the comments section.