Top 5 Father’s Day Ideas


Who doesn’t love a made-up holiday designed to perpetuate gender stereotypes and sell merchandise? It’s that time of year again and Father’s Day is upon us. Still it fun giving you dad something, be it tickets to the ballet, a new CD player or just a hug. And it you’re looking for something for someone technically inclined we have 5 things that just might do the trick.

If your father’s hand is starting to resemble a bear claw and if your old man responds well to vaguely passive agressive gestures he might very well love Klhip, the world’s first (and only) ergonomically correct nail clippers. Klhip features a precision engineered balance of increased leverage, enhanced control and world-class manufacturing using surgical-grade stainless steel.

Out now from The Foundry for £49.99.


Camper Tent
If you Dad has always secretly had a thing for Mother Nature, and yearned for the Summer of Love then why not get his this officially licensed, four-person tent, which is a full-sized replica of the iconic 1965 Volkswagen Camper Van, synonmous with the 1960s counterculture he turned his back on when he married your mother and went into teaching.

Limited Edition VW Flower Power Campervan Tent: £299.99 or try and win one free from Campetition


Philips Avance Grill
Doesn’t your pops love grilled meat but also reside on the British Isles? Chances are he won’t have many chances to get his BBQ on. Fortunately Philips are hoping to change all that with the Philips Avance Grill (HD6360), the first-of-its-kind indoor barbeque with a unique Taste Infuser, enabling you to infuse your food with natural smoky flavours, herbs, or wine, giving your dishes an authentic barbeque taste.

The Avance Grill is available from Amazon for under £120.00


Wanna give the old man a break from hard work and give him a glimpse into the future household maintenance? Then give him Looj – the UK’s first gutter cleaning robot. Able to clear 30 feet in just 5 minutes the Looj is perfect for clogged cutters and automatically senses and adapts to the conditions in your gutter, making sure the dirtier areas get worked on until clean.
But more importantly you can say “hey Dad I got you a robot”.

The iRobot Looj 330 is available now from for £299.


Orbitsound Wireless Soundbar
If your Dad loves great sound and hates cables then he and I should hang out. And while we’re hanging out we’ll be using Orbitsound’s M series wirless soundbar. We loved Orbitsounds T series wired soundbars and were delighted when they made the leap to wireless. The room-filling spatial sound enhances TV audio and had Bluetiith streaming built in. And there’s a wireless subwoofer for some all-important bass.

Orbitsound M9 and M12, £299 and £399 respectively, both available from John Lewis.

Gear yourself up for a summer of camping

If you want to get away from it all, take yourself off in a tent (or a camper or caravan if you prefer).

Whether you’re off with the kids, heading to a music festival or just looking for the cheapest holiday option, there are a few new gadgets designed to make your camping adventure that wee bit more civilized.


First off, to get you to your chosen destination, TomTom has launched the GO LIVE Camper and Caravan sat nav. This nifty introduction offers routes tailored for your vehicle and includes pre-installed points of interest so that you can stop off and find suitable sites and services easily. The software also adjusts routes and arrival times depending on our vehicle’s weight, size and maximum speed. It also includes maps of 45 countries in Europe and a year’s free Live services.

Price: £349.99.


If you’re taking your precious iPad away with you, you won’t want it to get wet will you? And while the sun has managed to break out in the past few days, the sad truth is that you are likely to encounter some water at some stage if you’re camping in the UK, so it’s best to be prepared. The waterproof iPad case has been developed by marine electronics specialist Scanstrut (it was launched at the London Boat show this year, so is really made to keep the water away from our precious device). The iPad case is IP66/IP67 waterproof and shockproof, with models available to fit both the iPad 1 and iPad 2 in a range of bright colours. Full touch screen usability is available at all times, as are volume, on/off and home buttons, and both front and rear camera functionality is provided for the iPad 2.

Price £99


Once you get on site, if you like your home comforts, how about a tent with built-in power?

Camping specialist Eureka! has launched its N!ergy collection of tents, which have their own in-built power. The N!ergy Grand is top of the range but all the tents come with three easy-to-find outlets that glow blue when powered ON – they can even double as night lights.

The living area has seven ‘Clearvu’ windows, and a recreational zone offers enough space for a camping table with chairs and a kitchen area. The tent sleeps four in two rooms, and can be extended to sleep six people in three rooms. It packs into one bag, weighs 28kg, and the makers claim it can be erected in 10 to 15 minutes.

Price: £1,099


If little pests spoil your camping trip – and I’m not talking about other people’s children, but midges and mossies – Craghoppers may have the answer. The outdoor clothing specialists have come up with what they say is the world’s only permanent insect repellant clothing, which it claims give 90% protection against bites from ticks, midges, mosquitoes and so on. The Craghoppers NosiLife leisure suit is designed for men and women and can be used for lounging or as pyjamas. The top is £25 and the bottoms £35, which might seem pricey for a pair PJs, but if you react badly to insect bites we reckon it’s a price worth paying.

Price: From £25


Fed up with carting our camping chair about at festivals, outdoor concerts and picnics? Here’s a chair that folds up to the size of a shoe and weighs just 2lbs (about the same as a bag of sugar).

Dac, the makers of the Helinox Chair, claim it can hold up to 160 times its weight and is the world’s most compact folding chair. It should be a good choice for walkers and cyclists, as it can fit in a rucksack.

Dac are one the leading manufacturers of tent poles.

Price: £69



If you’re brave enough to face the elements, you might want a little extra protection from Vaude, who have the extremely tough yet lightweight Gravit jacket. The wrinkle-proof jacket has a dense fabric construction, which makes it 80% wind proof, breathable and water resistant. It also comes in a range of nice, bright colours and is in Vaude’s Green Shape clothing range so it’s enviromentally friendly to boot.

Out now for £125 from Vaude

If you’re off to a festival, you might want to pack one of Rohan’s Canopy Capes – this cape doubles up as a pitch-able canopy. It is mud, rain and wind resistant (useful for an English summer) and also doubles up as a shelter! It’s useful for walkers as well as festival goers if they get caught out when camping or walking in the wet weather.

In a classic dark green colour, the cape includes adjustable drawstrings, poppers which can be fastened as much or as little as required, and a hood complete with visor for rain or sun protection.

Price: £80

From: Outdoor retailers

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

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!


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 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.

Blown out of all proportion? The Vango Airbeam tent

“An inflatable tent? You’re taking an inflatable tent?”

“What if it blows away?”

“It might spring a leak!”

Just some of the comments I got when I planned to head off to Suffolk with Vango’s latest innovation, the Airbeam tent. Yes, you do get a pump, and yes you do blow it up – but it’s only the ‘airbeams’, which take the place of your usual poles in your average tent.


If you are at all familiar with the ways of those who enjoy holidays under canvas, you will be aware that Vango is one of the top names in outdoors equipment, and true to form, the Airbeam Velocity Tent lived up to the high expectations I had for it.

Exceptionally well made, with extras such as plenty of pockets on the inners, colour coded tabs for fitting the inner ‘bedrooms’, several ‘windows’ and ready to accept tent extensions to increase your space, the tent itself did not disappoint.

The makers claim you can get the tent (even the largest eight-man version) pitched in five minutes. It did take a little longer than that, but nevertheless, I managed to use the included hand pump to pump the beams in 10 minutes and we had the tent pitched in about another 15 minutes. With practice, I reckon you could do it in Vango’s ‘record’ time.


The beams are really solid once pumped, and are made of a really sturdy rubberised material that feels very stable. I had images of the beams getting punctured by a flying toy car or similar, but they are far too well made for that. The other benefit is that it is actually possible to easily put up this tent on your own – a bonus for single parents – or anyone who is taking the kids away on their own. I’ve spoken to several people who would love to take the kids away camping on their own, but are scared that they’ll never manage to get their temporary home pitched – this would take away all the worry.

It’s equally easy to strike camp – simply unscrew the plugs and the air is quickly released. The tent is easily packed away in its own holdall on wheels, and while it’s not exactly lightweight, the fact that you don’t have to include a bag of poles means it does seem less weighty than your average tent – again useful if you’re coping with the tent on your own, or are worried about the extra weight in your car.

We were exceptionally lucky with the weather – I could hardly believe we were in England! So apart from a little light rain I didn’t get a chance to discover how it would perform in howling winds or torrential downpours, but feeling how sturdy it was I have no reason to think it would be any less reliable than any other tent.

The only downside is that the new innovation comes at a price – you’re looking at nearly twice the price of Vango’s ‘traditional’ tents. However, if ease and convenience is worth its weight in gold, it’s probably a price worth paying.

The Vango Airbeam Velocity costs from £230 (for a two-man tent) to £760 for the eight-man version. Tent extensions and inner groundsheets are available separately.

More at Vango

Overboard: Water water everywhere, so keep your gadgets dry

We’ve got not one, not two but three camping trips planned over the summer holidays – and while I keep frantically checking up on the weather, muttering about how wet it’s been recently so surely it’s going to be fine when we’re away, and making sacrifices to the great sun god at the bottom of the garden, the sensible thing would be to be prepared for the heavens to open on us.


And whether you’re planning a camping trip, because you like camping, want a cut-price holiday, or are heading off to a festival this summer, if you’re taking any gizmos or gadgets with you, you really should plan to keep them dry.

Waterproof gear – whether it’s clothes, bags or gadget packs – is not the cheapest, but when you add up how much it would cost you to replace your gadgetry, it’s probably worth spending a bit to keep it safe – a kind of insurance policy if you will

So bearing that in mind, the good-looking backpacks from Overboard don’t seem quite so pricey. The company claims its Pro-Sports Waterproof Backpack is 100 per cent waterproof thanks to (and I quote) “its high frequency electronic construction”. It also has padded shoulder straps lumbar support and a waist strap if you want it – expect to pay £47.50 for the blue or yellow packs and £57.49 for the black or red. They all carry 20l.

Dry Tube Bags from the same company are also waterproof, being made from tarpaulin, and as well as providing waterproof storage, they can be used as an ice bucket, drinks cooler or even as a pillow – a great bit of multitatasking. Prices start at £10.99 for a 5l bag.

Overboard has also come up with a number of custom-designed waterproof packs that allow you to keep your gadgets dry, and still use them at the same time – look out for the iPhone case and waterproof Camera Case at £15.99. a zoom lens camera case at £19.99 and SLR camera bag (£22.49).

Find out more at

Eton Raptor: Taking the ‘ruggedness’ out of camping!

The arrival of summer – even if it has turned slightly sour, at least up north anyway – beckons us into the open air. If you are heading to a music festival , or camping with the kids, or trekking in the Alps, or whatever your outdoor activity is this summer, being able to charge your phone is a present-day necessity of many modern outdoor enthusiasts. Being stuck in the middle of nowhere, with no battery and therefore no contact with the outside world needn’t be a worry, thanks to the Eton Raptor – the rugged, solar-powered radio that also charges your phone, thus providing ‘outdoor freedom’.


Not only can the Eton Raptor be a much needed companion providing you with the usual entertainment, news and music a radio can, as well as charging your phone, without the use of batteries, but it also doubles up as a LED torch, altimeter, barometer, compass, alarm clock and even bottle opener. For anyone who has ever spent a night camping on the face of a mountain or has even been to a music festival, you will realise that the items mentioned above are often as essential items as a tent, particularly the bottle opener!

Not only does this multi-faceted device provide virtually everything you will need in the great outdoors and is an emergency did occur – i.e you can’t find your bottle opener – but it is rugged, waterproof, rubberised and has a IPX4 splash proof rating, which can withstand a direct, constant shower for up to five minutes – An imperative feature of any device meant for the outdoors in a British summer.

Concealed behind a protective rubber flap, owners of the Eton raptor will find a USB output that will enable them to charge gadgets, such as mobiles and a headphone socket and audio output also cunningly hidden, which means users can play music from an iPod or mobile without obtruding the ears of other campers!

In short, for a mere £99.99 you can turn your outdoor camping ventures into a ‘home from home’ experience with the help of the Eton Raptor.

Review: Bright Light Ranger and Eton Scorpion

If you go camping, boating or fishing, or indeed need a light at the bottom of the garden, the low-energy ultra-bright LED Bright Light Ranger lamp has been designed for you.


Now don’t think this a torch that you can slip in your pocket – it’s a bigger piece of kit – around the size of a portable DVD drive – and quite weighty. However, it does send out a decent wide angle beam that can cover a 40-square metre area and offers 12 hours from a single charge.

The lamp boasts 12 Power LEDs, which are brighter than ordinary LEDs, and should the light die at a vital moment you have several choices for charging – you can plug it into the mains to get juice into the rechargeable battery, use a 12V car socket, or in a real emergency, use the wind-up handle, which fits neatly into the side of the body.

Nowadays, we come to expect gear designed for use outdoors to have a rubberised body, which the Bright Light Ranger doesn’t have. It does feel pretty sturdy, but I’m not sure how much hard use it would survive – if you’re outside camping, or in a stables or boating environment, things tend to get a bit of a bashing.

It’s not cheap at £89.99, but it does do a better job than most of the camping lanterns I’ve tried over recent years, and as an emergency power source – you might even keep it to use if there’s a power cut at home, it’s probably worth a punt. Yours from

Also aimed at the outside user is the Eton Scorpion, a solar powered radio, mobile phone charger, LED flashlight and bottle opener! That might give you a clue to the type of user it is aimed at – it would be great for campers and festival goers.


The good-looking gadget fits in the hand, although it’s quite chunky and comes in either black and bright orange or black and vibrant green. Its body is rubberised to withstand knocks and shocks and it has a carabineer clip so that you can hook it to a tent, line or wire.

The radio picked up a decent signal in our village, which from I know doesn’t benefit from the best reception, and the torch is a really useful addition. The charger managed to power up an iPhone, and if you run out of juice you can use the solar panel, DC adaptor or the crank dynamo in an emergency. The only not-so-rugged part of the unit is the rubber cover for the power and headphone ports, which I suspect would easily get pulled off with continued use.

It’s a nifty, good looking and fun piece of kit for the traveller – and you can always do with an extra bottle opener! Priced at £49.99 from