Best camping gadgets for the great outdoors
It's the final week of the school summer holidays. And, with the weather predicting to warm up (and, more importantly, dry-up) over the coming days, what better time than to pack up the car, chuck the kids in the back and motor off to a campsite to make the most of the great British countryside?
But what gadgets and toys should you take with you to make your camping experience that much better?
Here's a quick run-down of some of the camping-based kit that's caught our eye this summer.
Oregon Scientific Meteo Weather Forecast Watch
When you go camping you're going to need to keep an eye on the weather forecast. And, as it will be difficult to tune into Michael Fish and the gang when you're sat in a field in the middle of nowhere, this weather watch might be just the ticket.
Waterproof to 30m (you never know how much it might rain), the timepiece gives you a weather forecast using four different weather icons: sunny, partly cloudy, cloudy and rainy. Whilst that's not exactly the sort of high-level detail you'd get from the met office - it does give you an idea of what to expect.
Grab yourself one from Amazon for £44.
Griffin Travel Speaker
The Griffin Travel speaker takes away the hassle of having to remember additional batteries with an iPod travel dock, because the speaker is powered directly from your iPod using the 30-pin connector.
The sound quality is great for a travel-speaker and it's also very compact. You could slip this dock into your rucksack and it would hardly take up any space. Plus, the hard-plastic it's made from makes it quite robust - so it can take a bit of a bashing on-route.
Expect to pay around £30 for this portable speaker system.
The Briefcase BBQ is a handy little cooking station that folds up nice and compact, and comes with its own carry-bag .
And, unlike those disposable BBQs that you can pick up cheap in the supermarket, you'll be able to cook for a good couple of hours on this badboy, and then simply fire it up again in the morning for breakfast.
Available from I Want One Of Those, you're looking at £9.99, £14.99 or £29.99 depending on what size you want.
You want a good cuppa tea when you go camping and you aren't going to get it any faster than using a Jetboil Flash.
Nothing to do with Adobe, the Jetboil Flash is described by the makers as a "Personal Cooking System that combines a burner and pot all in one unit".
In reality it's a mug with a burner that has been supercharged to boil water or whatever you've put in it incredibly quickly. You'll know when it's boiled and ready to go because the insulating cozy has a colour changing heat indicator that signals when contents are hot.
While your camping friends are still faffing with their stove, you'll be sipping your cuppa.
The only catch, is that prices start at around £65.
Driving to a campsite, spending time on the campsite, then driving home is one way to spend some time camping.
The other is to actually use your camping trip as a chance to explore some of the beautiful countryside around you. In steps ViewRanger GPS available in the iPhone, Android and Nokia Ovi app stores that is an outdoor GPS app that lets you download topographic maps, route trails, and allows you to track yourself.
Those maps aren't just road maps, but actually supplied by National Geographic, Ordnance Survey, and others and you can record your GPS track, plot and plan points of interest and route trails, download routes from the route library, or import via GPX.
There is also something the app calls BuddyBeacon tracking, that as the name suggests lets you share your location to friends' handsets and via the web.
Better still it works in the UK, US, and Europe. It's £14.99 from the relevant app store.
Energizer Extreme Headlight
Headlights aren't just for cave-explorers you know, they're the must have campsite fashion accessory for 2010.
Okay, so that's not entirely true, but they are bloomin' useful. Trouble is, most of them are so poor that you'll still end up walking into a tree when you go for that 3am piddle in the woods.
But not with the Energizer Extreme Headlight. Its spotlight is so bright that it can see into space.
Again, not entirely true, but it is incredibly bright. There's also a red spotlight night-vision light on board as well, which may come in handy when you've partially blinded your fellow campers with the white spotlight.
Out now, this LED-based headset will cost you around £25.
Diablo Sandwich Toaster
Sure, bangers are the traditional campsite food but wouldn't it be nice to give your guts a rest for a day or so by steering clear of slightly undercooked meat? (Although you've got no excuses for not cooking your sausages properly with the BBQ Briefcase).
The Diablo Sandwich Toaster lets you create circular toasties straight from the BBQ. Simply squash some bread, cheese and any other leftovers you've got laying around into its titanium coated reservoir and prepare yourself for a snack that will take you back to the 1980s.
At just £19.99, you'll be the toast of the campsite (see what we did there?)
Portable Kitchen Sink
There's an obvious cliché here about bringing this piece of kit along, but we're gonna rise above it and give it a miss. We wouldn't sink to that level.
Capable of holding up to 5 litres of water, this fold out sink has reinforced handles so it won't break on the way back from the tap and it has a steel rim to keep it upright when it's in place and you're ready to do the dishes.
Plus, as well as being a useful washing-up aid it would also make a superb hot-tub should the Borrowers turn up.
It's yours for less than £10.
These are obviously just a few of the hundreds of outdoorsy type kit that's out there. But be sure to give us a shout to let us know what your essential camping kit includes.