Earlier this year I headed up to the NEC at Birmingham for the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show, which was five halls full of new season tents, motor homes and caravans of all shapes and sizes. I spent a lot of my visit day dreaming in the 100s of campervans on display, gathering information for my someday-in-the-future bucket list purchase.
But the thing I noticed the most when wandering between the various campervan stands was just how many companies there were selling things to solve problems you never thought you had. Some of them I thought would be incredibly useful to me or someone else, depending on the way you prefer to go camping. Others I thought were probably not worth the price tag, or even the plastic they were made from. By the end of my rounds I’d made quite a list, so here are eleven useful (and not so useful) camping gadgets for 2019. Useful or not… you decide!
Eleven Useful (And Not So Useful) Camping Gadgets
Portable Wood Burning Campstove
The Biolite Campstove 2 is a word burning camp stove that will also charge your phone. The idea is that you no longer need to rely on heavy battery packs, and can instead use twigs and the like from around your campsite to give you juice. Burning only wood, the stove’s fan creates a smokeless fire that can cook meals and boil water in minutes while turning its heat into usable electricity. It generates 5v of power which can be used via the USB port to charge your gadgets, and boils 1 litre of water in 4.5 minutes. It even comes with a USB powered light to illuminate your cook top for a camp kitchen that’s good even when it’s dark. I mean the stats aren’t bad are they? I just wonder if, in practice, it’s actually that good.
I know many regular campers who simply cannot manage without their proper coffee even when slumming it in the wilds. There are all kinds of coffee products out there in the camping gadget world, but this one caught my attention this year. The Zyliss Hot Mug is a single-serve cafetiere and mug with a secure lid to avoid spills. The double-wall construction keeps your drink hot, and it means you can enjoy freshly brewed coffee on the go if that’s your thing. You can even bung it in the dishwasher when you get home to make sure it’s properly clean.
Collapsible Camping Lantern
The Suaoki LED Camping Lantern is a collapsible solar lamp that doubles up as a battery charger and is easy to pack. It is super light (the marketing material says it weighs the same as three eggs…), folds down to pack away easily, and because of the dual-purpose with the battery charger sounds like it’s probably a good little gadget to consider. The battery charges via solar or micro USB and has 800 of the juices which means it will most likely charge your iPhone fully once-and-a-bit. I just wonder what’s wrong with a head torch for lightweight/low bulk camping, and a normal lamp for car camping or motorhome trips?
Water to Go Bottle
If you’re not too sure where you will be able to get fresh drinking water while out and about, there are a number of water bottles with filters built in or attached that will make sure you can always stay hydrated. The Water to Go Bottle is one such product, eliminating 99.9% of microbiological contaminants from any non-salt water source in the world to provide clean, safe water to drink. I do actually own one of these now, but I’m yet to take it out of the box, although I do know a good number of people who swear buy these as their most useful camping gadget for travel. It comes in all the colours and designs you could ever need, including a branded Ordnance Survey one if you fancy joining the orange family!
Toasting marshmallows is a quintessential camping activity, yes? But why hunt around in the undergrowth for a suitable stick when you can whip a specially designed marshmallow fork from your camp kitchen and use that instead?! These forks are even telescopic to a full 32 inches to keep you a good distance away from the fire. Genius. I think.
Collapsible Water Carrier and Bucket
Something I might actually purchase for future camping trips to save the bother of refilling my small water bottle over and over again, this Colapz Water Carrier that doubles as a bucket does appear very useful. Holding up to eight litres of water, it down almost-flat for packing away, has a tap at the bottom to dispense water, and the lid at the top comes off completely so it can be used as a bucket. I guess that means you can use it to store your drinking water and to hold warm soapy water for washing your motorcycle… Also available on amazon.
The Swiss Army Knife to End Swiss Army Knives
Victorinox have been making super useful little pocket knives for a long time, and they’re genuinely a very handy thing to have – I always carry one. Not really sure which tools you need for your camp tool kit though? The Swiss Champ XAVT might be the answer. Costing £450 (!), it has over 80 different tools including a digital clock… I dread to think how much it weighs, it was in a case so I couldn’t get to it!
Sleeping Bag with Arms and Legs
I’ve seen these around quite a bit and have always wondered… are they a genius development of the humble sleeping bag, or are they a slightly ridiculous way of turning the already super functional product into something more fashionable? The Hygger Nanuk is a sleeping bag with arms and legs. I mean, I know that mittens are warmer than gloves, so surely the shape of this is not particularly efficient? And who actually wants to run around in their sleeping bag anyway? Anyone got one?
Camping Laundry Bag
Don’t have access to a washing machine? Don’t have access to a sink or bath? Don’t worry – you can do your laundry in this Scrubba Wash Bag. It is apparently the lightest and most compact washer on the market… basically a bag full little rubber nodules that will (apparently) get your clothes as clean as a regular washing cycle in just three minutes. I guess there are no more excuses when multi-day hiking or road tripping then?! I’m sure the product works, I’m just not convinced it isn’t one of those unnecessary purchases.
Remote Controlled Light
Are you one of those people who can never remember where you parked? Or where in the festival camping field you pitched your green-like-everyone-else’s tent? Maybe you need a tent finder light for your next camping trip. This little piece of gear is basically a remote controlled LED light, which means you can find your tent in amongst others at a festival or even on a very dark site. Useful? Maybe!
Can food be a gadget? No, almost certainly not, but I thought the guys at Idahoan deserved a mention in this post because since I got home I have actually gone ahead and purchased their product ready for my next camping trip. When I walked passed their stand they heard me say, “oh it’s basically Smash”. It seems not! Idahoan Mashed Potato is similar in that it’s a “just add water” product, but the taste, texture and quality of this is far superior to any such potato I’ve eaten before. It might not be a gadget, but it’s gadgetry at work for sure. I now have a couple of packets in my camping stores to base simple meals on. What do you think? Useful? If you want to give it a try you’ll find it in the tinned aisle of your local supermarket.
What do you think do my list of camping gadgets? Which ones to you think are useful, and which ones are useless?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
In the interests of full disclosure, I received a press pass to the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome show so I could spend the day wandering around for free. I have not purchased any of the products listed, and so any recommendations I may or may not have made are purely based on the information provided at the show or on the product website. Some links on this page are affiliate links.