Camping Magazine Awards 2020: Best Accessories and Gear
Once again it’s time for us to reward the best of the best; the new kit that has made the biggest impression on us over the last 12 months and the products we think will make a huge improvement to your camping life this year.
From self-heating sleeping bags to insect-proof boots, we have assessed dozens of new products to find the best new gear.
Choosing between all the great kit out there is always a difficult task, but some products do stand out from the rest. In our quest to find the best we’ve taken into account value for money, innovation, versatility, style and good old-fashioned usefulness.
BEST CAMPING ACCESSORY/GADGET
Robens Leaf Meal Kits
One of our biggest camping kit bugbears is style over substance – the idea that if something looks good it must be right. With outdoor gear the most important thing is that it’s practical and works well, but if it’s stylish as well, that’s an added bonus. And that’s why we just love this neat little dining kit from Robens. Not only does it look really smart but it’s cleverly designed, too. The hexagonal-shaped bowl contains a cup and a spoon and fork, which can be connected and used in three different lengths. The connector also allows you to clip the cutlery onto the side of the bowl. The wooden lid can used as a cutting board and colander and it’s all held together with a smart-looking elasticated band.
Goal Zero Sherpa 100PD power bank
These days most of us want to stay connected when we head out to the campsite. Obviously all those gadgets need a power source and one of the biggest issues you’ll face is keeping all of your technology charged, especially if you don’t have access to an electric hook-up or a shared power point on the campsite. The Goal Zero Sherpa 100PD is a power bank that is sturdy, well-made and delivers a fast charge to your devices using a variety of methods.
Mpowerd Luci Base Camp light
Luci inflatable, solar lanterns have been getting rave reviews for a few years and this new addition to the range is the biggest of them all. The Base Camp is a powerful and reliable light that’s ideal for camping and outdoor adventures, with 300 lumens, four light modes, mobile charging, and a run time of up to 50 hours on a single charge.
BEST SLEEPING BAG/BED
Vango Radiate heated sleeping bag
Keeping warm at night can be the difference between a great camping trip and a miserable holiday. This innovative sleeping bag from Vango is the modern-day camping equivalent of the electric blanket. Taking advantage of the latest technology, this really has the potential to be a game-changing piece of camping equipment. It has a built-in graphene heating element, allows you to top up the heat when connected to a power source. The heat from the panel spreads round the sleeping bag, meaning it’s nice and toasty when it’s time to settle down for the night. Compatible with any power bank, not only is the Radiate a ground-breaking product but it’s an excellent sleeping bag in its own right. It’s a deluxe three-season, 10 tog bag that will add some luxury to your camping kit with its high-quality fabric and fill, and integrated headrest.
Outwell Dreamboat 16 sleeping mat
The luxury Dreamboat from Outwell has to be the Rolls-Royce of self-inflating mats. The new 16cm version is as comfortable as your mattress at home and its groundbreaking design allows you to regulate body heat retention by flipping the mat over to choose between summer and winter use.
Quechua S'Bed MH500
The Quechua S'Bed MH500 is a combined sleeping bag and mattress that rolls up into a small bag. They featured in the Quechua range about five years ago and have been brought back due to public demand. The honeycomb structure of the mattress helps with the comfort and compactness.
Kathmandu Hybrid bag
If you’re going to spend good money on kit, you want to be able to use it as often as possible, and not just on camping jaunts. And that why we love outdoor gear that has multiple uses. Camping luggage is a great example of this – the best bags work for all sorts of trips. The Hybrid is a lightweight trolley bag that quickly converts into a backpack – meaning you can happily use it when flying abroad or for camping trips at home. It’s rugged and durable enough for the baggage carousel or for slinging in the back of the car alongside your tent. The 2020 version – available in 30, 50 and 70-litre models – has undergone something of a makeover, with unnecessary weight being stripped out, comfort-enhancing features added and an updated harness. It’s a great piece of kit.
Berghaus Expedition Mule 40 holdall
Lightweight but sturdy, the Expedition Mule 40 is big enough to carry all the clothes you’ll need for a week’s camping trip, yet manages to pack away into a zipped pocket for storage. The waterproof fabric is tough and the detachable padded shoulder straps allow you to carry it like a rucksack. And with 40 litres of storage space as well as an internal zipped pocket, there’s plenty of room for all your gear.
Craghoppers 40L Hybrid holdall
Use it as a backpack or shoulder bag or as a cabin-friendly suitcase. The zipped compartments include a padded pocket for a tablet or laptop as well as internal organiser pockets. The slash-resistant straps and panels provide security along with the RFID protection. And as an added bonus it’s made using recycled materials.
BEST KITCHEN GEAR
Campingaz Camping Kitchen 2
Sometimes simplicity is best as this new edition of a campsite classic proves. The Camping Kitchen 2 is a simple, manual, two-burner stove with a surface that is easy to clean when you remove the pan supports. It comes in two versions – one fuelled by gas cylinder and one by cartridge, allowing you to choose the type that suits you best. The rings have built-in wind guards designed to prevent the flame being extinguished and the lid also provides protection from the weather.
Vango Sizzle Induction Hob
Cooking inside your tent on a gas stove is generally not recommended, but, unfortunately, the great British weather means cooking outdoors is not always possible. An electric stove like this could be the answer. The Sizzle is an induction cooker that works with any stainless-steel pans, which means the hob is never actually heated up, making it safer around youngsters.
Coleman Performance Wheeled 16QT Cooler
A rounded shape is the most efficient way of keeping things cool, which is why the designers of this new range of Coleman wheeled coolers have sliced the corners off to give a more curved shape. The result is a 26-litre cooler box that will keep ice frozen for two days.
BEST TENT FURNITURE
Outwell Seat and Storage furniture
Outwell designers have excelled at making the most of valuable space with versatile furniture that fulfils more than just one function. Folding flat for packing away, each sturdy, lightweight design opens quickly and has a simple solid lid for stability. Offering secure stool-style seating, each doubles as a convenient home for toys, games, shoes or all those smaller items that get mislaid or are trip hazards in tents and awnings. Plus, they make great bedside tables!
Zempire Eco Kitchen Unit
The Eco kitchen is a PVC sink and worktop that attaches to the side of Zempire’s Eco Fold single or double storage unit and transforms it into a really useful area for either washing up or food prep at your tent.
Vango Hyde DLX chair
The Hyde DLX is a classic steel-frame, high-backed camping chair that features Vango’s new Dura-Lite fabric – an air mesh surface designed to provide the maximum comfort and durability. The steel frame is reassuringly sturdy and it folds flat for storage and transport.
BEST OUTDOOR CLOTHING
Mountain Warehouse Bracken Melange 3-in-1 Jacket
As well as its versatility, what makes this three-in-one jacket a winner is its value for money. High Street chain, Mountain Warehouse, might not have the kudos of the big-name outdoor brands, but when it comes to supplying good quality at affordable prices it’s hard to argue against it. The Bracken comes in at around £120 and boasts the sort of features you’d expect to pay double that for - including IsoDry fabric, taped seams and a detachable inner softshell.
Sprayway Torridon Jacket
In the mid-90s, the Sprayway Torridon was one of the UK’s best-selling Gore-Tex jackets, its popularity based on a simple, functional design with a bright, distinctive colour scheme. Now it’s back, taking inspiration from its 90s predecessor, but with a modern twist – improved fit, a redesigned hood and longer length with recycled PFC-free Gore-Tex fabric.
Quechua Forclaz Trek900 Down Jacket
A top pick for the campsite and the hills is Quechua’s top-of-the-range Forclaz Trek900 down jacket. It’s available in men’s and women’s versions and both come in at a bargain £80. This padded jacket is designed for facing the extreme cold. It’s very warm and made with mountain trekkers in mind, so is water-repellent, durable and lightweight, folding away into its own pocket.
BEST KIDS' GEAR
Mountain Warehouse Cannonball walking shoes
Everyone agrees that kids should be enjoying the great outdoors more and we are firmly of the belief that they are more likely to do so if they have the right kind of gear. When it comes to walking, normal trainers are not really up to the job, while clumpy, technical walking boots and shoes are probably going to be too much, unless they’re going to be doing some serious mountain trekking. We’d recommend something a bit lighter and easier to wear and the Cannonball kids’ walking shoes from Mountain Warehouse fit the bill perfectly. They have a robust suede and textile upper as well as a durable outsole, padded ankle support, a breathable mesh lining, a soft mesh tongue and reinforced heel and toe bumpers. Another bonus is that they have Velcro straps instead of laces, meaning you don’t have to stop every five minutes to tie them!
Kampa Dometic Mini tub chairs
Kids love to have their own dedicated camping kit, and these new mini versions of the popular Tub chair are perfect for little campers. The chairs are available in three colourful designs – unicorns, woodland creatures and animal traffic.
The Kidunk children’s suit has a zip design at the waist that connects the top and trousers, allowing them to be worn separately and interchangeably with other designs. The new ‘All Seasons’ hooded top version of the suit keeps kids warm and dry with excellent all-weather protection.
BEST OUTDOOR FOOTWEAR
Craghoppers Salado Hi
The Salado is the first outdoor boot on the market that features NosiLife anti-insect technology to keep bugs at bay. Hidden in the tongue is the innovative Crawlerguard insect cover, which pulls out to stretch over the top of the boot opening, stopping insects flying or crawling in when at night. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a gimmick – it really works, and even leaving the anti-bug feature aside, these are quality walking boots. The waterproof inner has been constructed using flame lamination rather than traditional glue methods, which is more eco-friendly and uses less glue, aiding breathability. The Vibram outsole and lightweight EVA midsole delivers traction with stability and support.
Hoka One One Sky Toa boots
A distinctive-looking mid-cut boot that is instantly comfortable and an excellent choice for longer distance walking on all sorts of terrain thanks to the thick rubber soles and waterproof lining. Reasonably lightweight but sturdy enough to give plenty of support on rocky ground.
Hanwag Banks SF Extra GTX
Part of a complete model update, the Banks has a new look and a new mid-sole with extra foam padding for greater comfort and shock-absorbency. The SFX Extra has a wider toebox, designed to let toes sit straight for greater comfort, and extra room around the forefoot. The comfortable upper is made from suede, nubuck and fabric and the Vibram Endurance Pro outsole has a tread optimised for hiking.
BEST ECO-FRIENDLY PRODUCT
Vango/National Trust camping collection
This collaboration between Vango and the National Trust is one of the most exciting developments we’ve seen for a few years. Sustainability is on everyone’s mind right now and it’s great to see two major players in the outdoor world come together to try to do something about it. The new eco-friendly camping range features a collection of tents and sleeping bags made out of recycled plastic bottles. It is expected that almost 300,000 plastic bottles salvaged from waterways, streets and landfill will be repurposed in the first year of the collaboration. The tents are made from a specially developed new Vango fabric and each one uses between 69 and 302 plastic bottles. The sleeping bags feature a 100% recycled filling made from used plastic bottles that are reprocessed and turned into a polyester fill. The tents and sleeping bags are patterned with a striking oak leaf print, that reflects the National Trust’s logo. Of course, for all their green credentials these products would be useless if they weren’t up to the job, but rest assured both the tents and sleeping bags fully live up to Vango’s usual standards.
CamelBak REpurpose Pivot backpack
Best-known for its hydration products, US-based CamelBak has launched a new eco-friendly range. The REpurpose collection includes a 20-litre backpack, that is made from 50% recycled materials, including 11 recycled plastic bottles. Lightweight and versatile, the Pivot roll-top pack is ideal for day-to-day use, but is technical enough to take out on the hills.
Kampa Eco-Friendly cleaning fluids
Kampa’s new range of environmentally friendly camping cleaning fluids come in bottles with spray attachments that can be refilled from “eco pouches” when they run out, meaning 80% less packaging and 15% less energy to produce. Nasty chemicals that are harmful to both the environment and to humans have also been removed along with the horrible chemical smells that are so often associated with cleaning liquids.