Saturday, 27 August 2011

Our Favourite Camping Gadgets for VW Owners

Having spent much of the summer on the VW show circuit, sleeping in various campervans and awnings, we have had the opportunity to try out some of the latest camping gadgets on the market. Because we’re VDub people, the type of camping gadgets that we’re really interested in are not survival tools, or sort of equipment you would find in Bear Grylls’ rucksack, but rather the sort of accessories and gadgets that will improve and enhance your camping experience, and generally make camping easier and more enjoyable, and if they cause a little bit of gadget envy amongst your camping buddies, then all the better! Of course space saving is a hugely important factor when stocking your campervan or awning, to allow space for the maximum amount of gadgets and home comforts, which is the reason why the first of our gadgets has made it onto the list:
Wacky Practicals Collapsible Kettle:

When our friends Stu and Julie turned up at Camper Jam with one of these kettles, we were pretty impressed by the whole concept of a collapsible kettle, but even more impressed by how well it actually worked. With storage space in your campervan always at a premium, an awkwardly shaped, rigid kettle can take up more than it’s fair share of cupboard space, so we loved this innovative, space-saving design, which collapses to almost completely flat when not in use, but transforms back into a kettle in seconds and still makes a cracking brew! Collapsible washing-up bowls, buckets and full picnic sets are also available.

A similar product is also for sale at .
Coleman Event Shelter

We have been using a Coleman Event Shelter when camping for the last two seasons, and now couldn’t imagine being without one!  Judging by how quickly they have sold out during the last two summers, we’re not the only ones who like them! These shelters are waterproof, fairly wind proof due to their domed shape, and Ideal if you’re camping with a group of people and want a dry, sheltered place to sit and cook, or a communal area to relax in. We tend to park up with four campers with awnings on each side of the shelter, and that gives us a ready-made, sheltered, social area in the middle of our camping plot.  Zip in sides with windows or doors are also available if you want a bit more shelter or privacy. If we have a trade stand at a show, we use three of these shelters together, to make an interesting and more flexible alternative to a marquee.

Bog in a Bag:

I think most people would agree that one of the least enjoyable parts of the whole camping experience is that horrible feeling of waking up in the middle of the night (usually after a few beers) and realising that you desperately need a wee, and then remembering that the nearest toilet is a five minute walk away, across a cold, dark field, littered with guy ropes and other obstacles. OK, so if you’re a boy, you probably won’t see this as a big problem since the whole world is your urinal, but for the girlies, a solution to the problem of the night time camping wee is long overdue! This product solves the problem very simply and neatly, and takes away the need to store a bulky chemical toilet, not to mention the hassle of trying to empty the toilet on an ill equipped camp site. Bog in a Bag is basically a small, folding stool with a hole in the middle. You cover the seat with a plastic bag containing absorbent crystals and then go for a wee, and when you’re finished you can just fold up the plastic bag and throw it in the bin with no liquid waste and no mess. I would suggest that setting it up somewhere discreet in your awning or tent is a good idea, or perhaps in the space where your awning attaches to your van, but the good news is, it’s so easy to set up and pack away, that you don’t need to leave it out all the time, just set it up when you need it, or just before you go to bed. There is even a top cover for the stool, so that it can be used as a normal seat as well, and it all folds neatly away into a small carry bag which can easily be stored in your vehicle or awning, or even in a rucksack. And if you’re a bloke, don’t be thinking that this gadget is of no benefit to you, as don’t forget that it also gets you out of walking-your-girlfriend-to-the-toilet-in-the-middle-of-the-night duties, and/or emptying the chemical toilet duties, which I’m quite sure many of you get roped into… that has to be a bonus, huh?!

For more information, check out their website at

Coleman LED Quad lantern:
Wow, it’s such a simple concept, but so ingenious! Ideal for group camping, you can hang this LED lantern up in your awning, or your event shelter whilst you’re cooking, eating or socialising, but when someone needs to wander off to find the toilets, the bar, or their bed, they can take one of the four torches, and the rest of the party doesn’t have to sit in darkness. Simple but brilliant!

Gorilla Pod Torch:
Another ingenious lighting solution. We love the Gorilla Pod Camera tripod, and this torch works in just the same way. You can attach it to almost anything, which is ideal in a camping situation where there are rarely any flat surfaces and the most convenient place for a lantern is usually a tent pole or a tree branch.

Coleman Coffee Maker:

Here at Dubtricks, we love coffee. We love it almost as much as we love Vdubs, and without it all those late nights and early mornings would not be possible, so imagine our delight when we discovered that Coleman make a camping coffee maker. Now the fact that you’re sleeping under the stars does not mean that you have to compromise on your morning brew. Sadly, despite being widely available in the states for years, these still seem to be a little hard to come by and over priced in the UK, but we’re on the lookout for suppliers. This model is the best priced in the range and is also easy to use as it simply sits on top of your gas stove.
There are also some alternatives, which although higher priced, offer the useful feature of being self contained and running off their own gas canister.

Blauphunk Wireless Stereo:

OK, this one is a little bit of shameless self promotion! If, like us, you love music but have always had issues with fitting a modern stereo system into your classic VW, you have probably been on the look out for an alternative. We have been working on building innovative alternatives to modern stereos for a while, and our latest solution also doubles as an awesome camping gadget.
Contained in a retro style suitcase, our totally wireless stereo system will play music from your phone of mp3 player via Bluetooth, but it also has a built in battery, meaning that when you arrive at your destination, you can simply pick the suitcase up and put it in your awning, or next to your campfire and get the party started.
Stereo units are built to order. Please contact us for more details.
No Rinse Shampoo and Conditioner:

There are an increasing number of solar powered and 12v showers appearing on the market at the moment, and brilliant as the idea sounds, unfortunately in the UK there is rarely enough sun to heat the water for a proper shower, and although we’re working on it, I am yet to see a 12v shower attachment in a campervan that can be conveniently used.  The end result is that unless your campsite has a shower block, you will be left feeling grubby and unwashed for the duration of your stay. I still maintain that baby wipes are the next best thing to an actual shower when you’re camping, but if only I was able to wash my hair as well, then I would actually feel clean and refreshed. This is where the no rinse shampoo and conditioner come in. Simply massage into hair as you would with a normal shampoo, towel dry, and go about the rest of your day feeling clean and well groomed!
Cobb BBQ Set:
We haven’t tried one of these yet, because, well, frankly we can’t afford one, but it’s definitely going to be on my Christmas list as I would love to have one for next summer!

As featured on BBC2's "The Hairy Bikers Cookbook" and Channel 5's "Gadget Show", the Cobb is not only used for barbequing, but can also be used for roasting, frying, baking and smoking as well , and you can cook more or less anything you like on it, from whole roast chickens to pizzas. The Cobb produces no smoke so you can sit around it (under your event shelter) and keep warm whilst you cook without choking on fumes. Apparently it runs on just a handful of charcoal briquettes as well, so is more environmentally friendly than most barbeques out there.
They are also now for sale from Just Kampers:

If you prefer a cheaper and faster option, we also like the Coleman Fold N Go Propane Stove:

You may disagree with our choices, but these are gadgets that have particularly caught the eye of the Dubtricks team this summer. If you have any alternative suggestions, please feel free to comment and we will be only too pleased to test them out ready for an updated gadget list next spring.

1 comment:

  1. Well done Jeremy & Louise - first time I have looked at your blog page & I have to say I is mighty impressed. Some very useful information in there :-)