I have to admit that these day I do prefer the luxuries of a caravan to a tent. There’s nothing wrong with sleeping under canvas of course, it instills a sense of freedom, it’s cheap and it’s fun, but my back doesn’t half give me grief, especially during the cold months.
So I decided to check out this years Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show at the NEC to see what’s trending in the outdoor world for 2015.
Wandering into the camping hall, the first company to get my attention was Cobb-BBQ. I have a Cobb and I use it a lot, not just for the usual BBQ stuff when we’re out and about, but at home too for cooking joints, chickens, and the occasional fry up breakfasts. Matthew was, as usual, very busy, so I didn’t get the opportunity to ask him about the new Ghillie Kettle adaptor. I’ll find out more details when I place my usual order for a couple of boxes of Cobblestones.
Vango caught my eye next with their range tents tents and accessories. Vango sent me one of their Airbeam Velocity 400 tents a few years ago to try out, and I still use it today. It was the first time I’d used an inflatable tent so I wasn’t certain what to expect. I needn’t of been worried, it’s a great tent that only takes minutes to erect and is amazingly water tight and remained upright and taut in horrendous conditions. My only grievance is that when you open the side door, and it’s been raining, water falls inside. However, Vango has solved this issue on their newer designs by adding rain extensions and large porches.
Still on the Vango stand, Karen Lee spotted another USP (Unique Selling Point), to Vango’s new Starwalker sleeping bag. Because you’re able to unzip both arms and legs, Karen Lee reckons that it will save the hassle of getting dressed in the middle of the night for a dash to the loo. You won’t read that in their brochure!
Next door, Karen Lee noticed Coleman’s Cortes Octagon 8 tent. According to its little tag, it won Camping magazines Editor’s Choice Award for Tent of the Year. As the name suggests, it’s octagon shaped and provides a full 360° view of your surroundings. The flysheet can be pitched alone, providing a spacious shelter, or you can just pitch the inner for a bug-proof screen room. The tent comes with a wheeled carry bag for ease of movement on the campsite, while an ingenious hinged door makes entering and leaving the tent quick and simple, or at least that’s what it read on the leaflet.
Outwell were showing off their range of goodies too, which also included inflatable tents. Their sister company, Robens situated across the isle had another range of good looking and study tents. The Klondike in particular, from their Outback range looked like somewhere you could spend a cold winters night, especially with their wood burning stove inside.
Finishing off hall 5 there was a good selection of trailer tents, ranging from a cosy 2 birth to a palace! The one that caught my attention was the Opus camper, it looked practical, well built and well thought out.
I was hoping to see Bill Davies from Tripbuddy. Being totally different from anything else on the market, at last years show Karen Lee fell head over heels for this unique caravan. It isn’t just how it’s built that makes the Tripbuddy unique, its interior is inspired by luxury yachts; practical, strong and designed for all the knocks and rigor it will inevitably receive. Its seats and headliner are leather trimmed, whilst the floor is genuine teak planking that’s normally used in yacht decking. It incorporates a state of the art, audio visual system and all the internal lighting is LED. The Tripbuddy is built to order, so you can pretty much have it how you want it. Anyway, he wasn’t there so I’ll have to catch up with him some other time.
Volvo was on hand again as this years ‘official tow car partner’. On show they had their V40 Cross Country, V60, XC60 and XC70 models. I drove the XC60 last year around the Millbrook testing ground in the heaviest rain that I’ve driven in for a long time, and it performed admirably.
We hovered around the dog agility arena for a bit, then made our way towards the Hall Green Retired Greyhound Trust stand. These dogs are gorgeous and are in need of a loving forever home. Tank, a particularly friendly Greyhound was doing his best to tempt Karen Lee, but our lifestyle doesn’t allow us to adopt a dog, yet.
To be honest, I didn’t actually set foot in a caravan or motorhome, I was much more interested in the smaller companies who were selling their wares, and one such company was Popaloo. www.popaloo.co.uk is, well, a loo that pops up! They are a new British business who have designed and developed a lightweight, compact and easily portable toilet system, a heck of lot more civilised than wandering into the woods with a shovel, and nicer than a portaloo! They also supply a pop up loo tent, and if you click the link and check out their video, you’ll get a better idea of how easy their system is.
Before we headed back home, I wanted to check out the latest Waeco coolers and freezers. Since following a couple of Australian 4×4 forums and magazines I’ve learnt that the CFX range is hard to beat. Waeco also have a range of iceboxes (clicky link), that look practical and tough. We’re looking forward to trying these out in the coming months.
If you’re kicking yourself for missing out on the show, don’t worry because in October there’s the Motorhome and Caravan Show to look forward to, ‘click here‘ for details.