In Part 2 of our series Sick and Tired of the Space Struggle, we take a look at our favourite space-saving camping equipment items.
We've taken a number of the problem items that are classically bulky & heavy and usually difficult to pack:
- the camping chair
- the long handled shovel
- the wine glass
- backup power for the car
- buckets & tubs
- camping cookware
- camping tables
and given you our favourites solutions.
If you go camping...we want to know your favourites, so don't be shy - make your mark and comment at the end of the post.
Problem item #1: The Camping Chair
Our Favourite: Helinox Sunset Chair
Heralded as one of the lightest & most compact chairs on the planet, these guys have combined great design with the great materials BUT they are actually comfortable! Helinox products are made from this wonder material called TH72M, which makes them extremely strong but light - if you think of the same material that hiking/walking poles are made out of then you are on the right track.
They have a number of designs to choose from, but our favourite for camping is the Sunset Chair which has a high back which makes it comfy to sit around the campfire. May seem pricey (AUD $174 RRP) but in our opinions is well worth it because of how light and compact it is.
Problem item #2: The Long Handled Shovel
Our Favourite: Ironman 4x4 3 piece Shovel
One of the essential pieces of equipment you can take camping is a long handled shovel. It will not only help you round your campfire, but be your major piece of recovery equipment if you get bogged. But let's face it, they have to be one of the hardest pieces of equipment to pack - they are bulky, heavy but they have to be accessible.
One way is to mount one on your roof top, which we did for many years.
However, The Combo Shovel by Ironman 4x4 takes away the hassle of trying to carry a long handled shovel inside or outside your 4WD. Designed in Australia, it's actually 2 products in one: a long handled shovel as well as a spade! It packs away in it's own bag, when you need to protect your vehicle from sharp edges and dirt. Pretty well priced at $129.
Ironman 4x4 3 piece Shovel
- Long Shovel length: approx 145cm
- D shovel length: approx 101cm
- Packed dimensions: 81cm (length) x 20 cm (width)
- Check Price
Problem item #3: The Wine Glass
Our Favourites: Silicon Collapsibles, Primus Tritan Drinkware
Anyone that knows me, understands that I love a nice wine (or few!) around the campfire. One of the annoying things to pack over the years, has been the wine glasses because of it's odd shape. We now have settled on stemless wineglasses and as a bonus they tend not to fall over like traditional wineglasses with stems.
The new range of Primus Tritan drinkware has the look & feel of glass without the fragility. Made from Tritan copolyester - a new material that redefines toughness they are unbreakable, impact & shatter resistant. They are also suitable for hot drinks, so can double up for coffee or hot chocolate mugs. They come in white wine, red wine and champagne shapes as well.
The other option is to go for Silicon Collapsibles - super light, super squashable, and can hold hot/cold beverages.
However, a couple of concerns: they aren't as stable as a rigid vessel, you can't grasp them very tightly and I'm always concerned about getting a hole in one of these! The result being you would lose your drink! But certainly worth having for the price & space saving ticks.
Primus Tritan Drinkware
- Weight = 50g
- Packed dimensions:
110-145mm (length) x 55-75mm (widest diameter)
- Price $7.99 - $10.99 ( Available from Anaconda)
Collapsible Silicon Wineglass
- Weight = very little
- Packed dimensions: depends on how tight your jeans are?
- Price $2-4 each ( just google on eBay)
Problem item #4: Backup Power for Car
Our Favourite solution: DBPOWER DJS30-50 Portable Car Jump Starter
A couple of years ago during a very hot summer on the Nullarbor coast of South Australia, we discovered we had lost all power in our 200 Series Landcruiser. Camped by ourselves out in the middle of nowhere - we would have been stuffed without one of these items. The DBPower Portable Car Jump Starter DJS50 virtually does away with jumper cables and fits in your glovebox. It can also charge all your other stuff like phones and laptops. There are quite a few different brands of these now on the market since then, with varying capacity. This one we have is 600A peak current & 18000 mAh battery capacity which is is enough to start a 6.5l petrol or 5.2l diesel vehicle up to 30 times before charging.
- DBPower Charger DJS30-50
- Weight = 0.6kg
- Packed dimensions:
24cm (length) x 10cm (height) x 13 cm ( width)
- Price USD $118 Check price ( Available on Ebay)
Problem item #5: Buckets and Tubs
Our Favourite: Collapsible Silicon Gear
Well buckets and tubs have to one of the most awkward things to pack. These days the collapsible, silicon variety are not only more compact to carry but withstand a range of temperatures -40C - 220C. There are many brands on the market now; I've picked out the Companion bucket and the Campfire Washing Tub/Kitchen Sink. Both of these have a reasonable 10 litre capacity, folding down to a thickness of about 3 cm. We carry at least 2 of each on our camping trips.
Problem item #6: Camping Cookware
Our Favourites: Bugaboo Camper Cook System, Magma Induction Kit
Recently we switched our camping stove to a single, portable induction unit, rather than having gas or a fuel type stove. This is used when we don't BBQ over an open fire with the Boomerang BBQ. It's been difficult to find something suitable for induction cooking in the camping world, although cast iron pans will work I have found them too heavy to pack until I found the Magma.
The Magma Kit comes in 7 or 10 piece, and nests completely into one unit, secured by a bungee cord. It does this by having removable handles and a neatly designed lid that fits all the pans. As well as being induction friendly, it has a remarkable in-destructable non-stick surface so it won't need replacing and has represented a great investment for us. It may seem pricey but I now use it at home as well as camping and if you also have a boat it would also be very handy. The thing to remember is that these saucepans actually double as mixing or serving bowls for hot or cold food, because they have a removable handle.
The cheapest price I found in Australia was through an Ebay store otherwise some of the boating specialists you maybe able to source it through.
For those people not requiring induction friendly cookware, I really don't think you could go past the Bugaboo Camper Cook System. This nifty little system, not only has nesting saucepans, frypans with lids, but has your plates, bowls/mugs inside it as well. The lids also act as a strainer. It's certainly lighter and slightly more compact than the Magma but it's non-stick coating is not indestructible. There is also a 2 person Bugaboo system available, that includes only saucepans & frypan, which could be considered if you are after a saucepan set & frypan kit.
No matter which one you pick between Bugaboo or Magma - you are getting quality products and both are reasonable sized cooking vessels, unlike the backpacking kits, that are offering you a compact, versatile solution.
Magma Induction Kit
- Weight = 5.3kg
- Packed dimensions:
28cm (diameter) x 21cm (height)
- Approx Price USD $211 plus freight
Bugaboo Camper Cook Systems
- Weight = 1-1.63kg
- Packed dimensions:
23cm (diameter) x 15cm (height)
- Approx Price $ 159-234
Problem item #7: Camping Tables
Our Favourites: Lifetime 4ft bi-fold Table, GSI Outdoors Microtable
Over the last 25 years, I think we have tried just about every combination & type of camping table on the market. Like with most things it usually boils down to personal preference, but I am a bit partial to the tables that have inbuilt seating. My philosophy used to be that if you were going to carry a great big table on your journey, then it may as well have seating as well, for not much extra weight and space.
However, over the years after buying many of these types, they have broken or bent easily, and then you are stuck with a great piece of junk, and nothing to sit on or use as a table.
So now my advice is keep it simple. Things that are handy to look out for include adjustable height legs, and a solid tabletop.
One of the best ( and cheapest) tables on the market is the Lifetime Lifetime 4 foot Bi-fold Table (avail at Officeworks). Although one downside is the weight 6.8kgs - it makes up for that in other areas: height adjustable 55-73cm, it's sturdy and quite packable because of its size. We can easily fit 2-3 of these tables behind a passenger/driver chair in the car, otherwise they fit quite neatly into roofbox on top of our 4WD. They can also be grouped together as a square or one long rectangle shape, depending on your needs at camp.
The other type of camping table that is handy to have in a number of ways is a micro table. These double as utility tables to help put things on next to your fire/bbq, as well as being just great side tables for snacks etc. They also double as a foot rest.
GSI Outdoors Micro Table is our favourite as it is made from aluminium, so it's great to place hot items on from the fire, as well as being a sturdy table top. It's easy to find the space for 2 or 3 of these tables because of their versatility.
- Lifetime 4ft bi-fold table ($37, Officeworks)
Dimensions: Folded 61x61x7cm
- GSI Outdoors micro table ( $74, Wildearth)
Dimensions: Folded 40x10x8cm
So there you have it, we've shared some of our favourite items of camping equipment to save space, and hope even just one item might make a difference to your next trip.
What are your favourites you use?
About Wendy Donovan
Wendy Donovan is co-founder of Boomerang BBQ Products and editor of the Boomerang BBQ Blog. Most of the time she is a happy camper, mum-of-two, full-time marketing nerd balancing it all with going to the gym. She loves exploring new camping locations, lives and breathes outdoor cooking, and just loves any new gadget. Peek behind the curtain on Facebook