Camping? Festivals? A few little extras to make life easier

By Naomi Mackay,

When I headed off to Suffolk to test out Vango’s Airbeam tent, I also took a few little extra goodies to try out.

We’re quite keen on recycling in this house, so I always like to take a look at anything that suggests it is ‘eco’. The Eco-Can is an amusing little number. Not only does it look like the sort of can fizzy drinks come in, but it’s actually a useful drinks holder. You screw off the top to hold the liquid – it holds about the same as a can, so won’t last you all day but is handy for a trip out in the car. You drink though a ‘ringpull’ that actually pushes down and then clicks up to seal. (This managed to hold the drink in despite a lot of shaking, and proved a hit with the five-year-old, who isn’t allowed fizzy drinks so enjoyed the novelty of being allowed to have drink out of a ‘can’).

The Eco Can is made from PLA (a kind of corn starch), is BPA-free and non-toxic. Its makers also claim it creates 40% less carbon emissions than its petroleum-based counterparts. It costs £13.99, which is pricey compared with the kind of metal water bottles with the plastic sports tops, but then you are doing your bit for the environment. Plus, if you have a ‘chewer’ for a child, let me tell you, it is really hard to make a dent in!

Camping Gadgets

Another drinks container that found favour with us on holiday was the Brugo. This is a really good-looking version of the ‘travel’ mug that you see so many commuters carrying on the train in the morning. The Brugo not only comes in some fantastic colours (I had to forego the fabulously pink one as I was outvoted by the men in my household!) but also has a little secret.

The top section of the cup is separate – it allows you to tip up your hot drink, have it at a drinkable temperature as you sip, while ensuring the rest of the drink stays hot.

This proved invaluable to us. Our five year old loves hot chocolate, which is always too hot if we buy it when we’re out. He also usually runs out of steam halfway through, especially as hot chocolates only seem to come in ‘massive’ size, and then I have to drink the rest. I’m not a fan of lukewarm ‘hot’ chocolate so the Brugo is the ideal solution for us.

It should also go down well with commuters who like to make their coffee last all the way from home to the office! It holds 350ml and costs £13.99 – see www.brugomug.co.uk for more.

Next up was the Proporta TurboCharger 5000 . We’re very much back-to-basic campers – we don’t do electric hookups or anything, so we always have a bit of an issue when it comes to keeping our phones charged. So this speedy charger was the perfect solution for us – we also managed to use it to get some juice in a DS Lite, which proved vital when small boy found a friend with a DS and they wanted to team up and play together. Bear in mind that if your device has a mini or micro USB port for both charging and data connections, the Proporta cable can only be used for charging input only. It’s a nicely made piece of kit, which comes in a little drawstring bag and with a selection of charging connections. An LED systems shows you how much charge is left. Now, I guess the question is, why would you carry around a second device rather than a spare battery – the answer is that because it can charge a number of devices, you don’t have to include a spare battery for every device you carry. Nor do you have to turn your phone off to change the battery – which can be an issue on some mobiles.

Handy if you’re away for a day or two without any mains access – but whether you want to pay £42.95 for it will be a matter down to your wallet.

Now, normally when we go camping, the heavens open, which is why I took the Proporta BeachBuoy Waterproof Case to try out. As it happened, we were very lucky and barely saw a drop of rain, but I still got to test out the case on the beach and at a theme park on the log flume.

Before you entrust your precious electricals to the case, read the instructions as it tells you to use tissue paper to ensure the seals are watertight. You can then entrust your phone or ‘very’ compact camera to its two seals.

There’s not much to say about a waterproof case, as long as it proves waterproof – it feels like it is really well made, and solid, which is comforting when you’re putting several hundreds of pounds’ worth of gadget inside. The top seals don’t open terribly wide, so make sure your camera fits before buying, but if all is well you’ll be able to operate it through the see-through section of the case.

The case is waterproof up to 16ft (5m) and is just £9.95 – a small price to pay to keep expensive pieces of kit dry.

Last but not least, if like us you take a trailer when you go camping, you should bear in mind that “trailer sway” – a phenomenon where the trailer swings from side to side and compromises vehicle control – can be a cause of accidents for vehicles which are towing. Trailer sway can quickly escalate and can be difficult to counter, potentially leading to serious accidents. (The wheel fell off our trailer on the way home, but that’s another matter!)

Trailer Sway Control continuously monitors the yaw rate of the vehicle and compares this to the steering angle. If swaying is detected without the driver making the necessary adjustments, the vehicle is designed to react accordingly to correct any instability.

Ford this summer announced that the Trailer Sway Control technology that debuted on the Kuga will now be featured on new Focus, C-MAX and Grand C-MAX models, as well as the Ranger pick-up late this year and next-generation Kuga in 2012.