Another new arrival – the Kozi Kidz Koster Rain Jacket, in the blue / rainbow stripe up for review this week.
It arrived not too long ago, and despite the fact that we are in the middle of ‘summer’, it is prime festival time, or prime rainy time, too. We love and adore the outdoor life, but for the youngest amongst us, a wet weekend camping can be a pretty miserable experience.
Enter the Koster. This jacket is totally, utterly weatherproof. The seams are welded, the zips are waterproofs, and the hood and sleeves seem designed to keep out any weather you can throw at it. The company is Swedish, although based in Yorkshire, and obviously have a lot of experience with keeping kids dry in the great outdoors There are a few different items in the range, from unlined jackets to waterproof all in ones.
This version is definitely an outer layer – this jacket is not designed for warmth, but the sizing is generous, and with a t shirt and fleece underneath, its 3 year old tester stayed as warm as toast outdoors in the evening when the temperature dropped as well as dry.
There are reflective stripes on the sleeves, and 3 dots of reflective material at the back, which are highly visible in any light, and the colourful striped design is very eye catching. The pink is quite girlie, but this little tomboy loved the blue version, and its rainbow stripes definitely make it unisex. This would be brilliant for young festival goers, and is perfect for littlies to splash about in their favourite muddy puddles whilst keeping dry and warm.
The only minor quibble for me is that they come in height sizes, rather than by age, which actually is quite useful if you are ordering online, but for those of us who (shamefully) don’t know the height of their own child, meant getting the tape measure out…
Actually, this is less of a comparison review, and more a mention of two similar products which we have recently been sent. I initially thought we would run a comparison review, based on the fact that both items are Bluetooth enabled speakers, but in fact, they do in fact have quite different specs.
First up is the QBOPZ Compact, a cute little rubberised Bluetooth speaker with a suction cup foot. My version is a pale baby pink, although it does come in a variety of colours. A little bigger than a golf ball, with volume and call answer / hang up buttons, this is a nifty little gadget.
I linked it to an iPhone, which was really easy, and set it up on the dash. The speaker quality is not too bad at all, given the size of the unit. Not too tinny, with clear sound at top volume. You couldn’t host a party with it, but more than ample in a small tent or car. It’s durable, and the foot holds it well to any slick surface, which is excellent from a convenience perspective. You can also use the suction cup to affix the speaker to the back of your phone, tablet or mp3 player, which in turn means it is useful as a stand. The manufacturer says the range is around 10m, which is pretty accurate, although we did see some loss off connection at about 8m – still, for the size of the unit, this still seems excellent.
The speaker also acts as a hands free kit, which is very useful for those with motorhomes, or even older cars without built in Bluetooth. There is a small mic, and an easy answer button, and the sound is again very clear when the tiny mic input is pointed towards you. Much easier to link than some hands free kits I have tried, and easy to charge via the cigarette lighter (adapter not included, but it is a micro USB connector which fits the micro USB adapter I already have) for charging on the go. Battery life is around 6 or 7 hours. For £29.99 (suggested RRP), I thought this a good value little toy, good for outdoor living, compact and hardy enough to chuck in a rucksack and good for use on the road.
The second version was the SuperTooth Disco 2, which is a larger but still portable wireless stereo speaker. The device is portable with every Bluetooth device you can think of, and again was incredibly easy to connect to an iPhone or laptop. The design is really sleek – mine came in the lime green colour way, which looks really sharp, standing at around 7” high, and the footprint is small despite its size due to its tapered base. This is not for use whilst travelling in the same vein as the QBOPZ, but would be a brilliant addition to any caravan or camping holiday, as it really does take up minimal space, can be paired with several devices (no fighting over playlists) and packs away in its bag for ease of transportation.
The unit arrived with a microfiber bag for transportation, and a 3.5mm audio cable. It has buttons on the top – stop, play, standby, forward and backward and volume, which are lit when pressed and feel solid, with a satisfying response. Audio in and power in are based at the bottom of the unit along with a bluetooth status indicator. The Disco 2 was fully charged on arrival, and true to the blurb on the box, lasted out almost 4 hours on high volume, and later testing suggests 10 hours on a more medium volume setting meaning you truly can take this anywhere.
Connectivity is apparently up to 10m. I haven’t tested the unit this far, but a range of perhaps 6 results in perfect sound with none of the cut outs I’ve experienced on prior Bluetooth speakers, and for caravan and camping holidays, this should be ample.
Sound wise, actually, I’m quite impressed. The speaker is 16w, and is more than capable of filling a caravan or room at home; at full volume it is actually too much in a small space. This means it holds its own beautifully outdoors, meaning it would be great for camping barbecues, out in the garden or round the pool. I’ve used it in the garden primarily so far, and the sound was more than ample over the sound of a dozen gossiping guests.
The design is mono, as opposed to stereo, but actually, there is no hiss or scratch, the sound is rich and the bass is decent, with no real rattle until you start to hit top whack.
I really like this bit of kit. Its portability and style mean it is useful around the house, perfect to take away, and it isn’t exactly going to break the bank at an RRP of around £80.
Both the QBOPZ and the Disco 2 function well as Bluetooth speakers, and both have their place in the kit of any caravanner who enjoys a bit of music. I love the Disco 2 and can’t remember how I managed before it arrived, which is high praise, but the little QBOPZ is also a clever, useful gadget which seems hard wearing and looks nice. Different, but both very much fit for purpose.
With the summer months approaching, caravanners will be thinking about planning their upcoming caravan holidays. They should also be considering their caravan insurance, as premiums can be high, but ensuring you have the best product available is key.
We’ve received some info from UK insurance provider, LV= about their new specialised caravan insurance which we thought we’d share.
According to internal LV= claims data, an average caravan insurance claim is for £1500 meaning those who don’t take out insurance could see themselves seriously out of pocket.
The new policy, which aims to cater for the growing UK caravan market, covers caravan equipment and awnings as standard, rather than as an add-on. This means that customers are covered for items such as beds, generators and bottled gas equipment as standard.
The policy includes cover for accidental damage or theft of the caravan anywhere in the British Isles and for up to 60 days in Europe. It also covers the cost of hiring another caravan if the customer’s is not usable and cover for loaning the caravan to family and friends, as standard.
Selwyn Fernandes, Managing Director of LV= Insurance said: “The market for caravan holidays seems to be increasing every year and we wanted to offer a product to this audience. We are always looking for areas that we can expand our product range into and as we already had the caravan add-on available, the launch of this standalone caravan policy was the next step for us.”
- New for old caravan replacement – for caravans up to five years old
- Cover for accidental damage and theft
- Fixtures and fittings including awnings are covered as standard
- Optional cover available for personal belongings and furnishings
In the latest of our caravan and camping review series, we were fortunate enough to have been sent an AeroBed Active Dual Zone airbed for review – and very pleased we are with it, too!
Out of the pack:
The bed is a neutral, mushroom beige colour, covered in a soft, warm, flocked coating. The kit comes with detachable pump, and a heavy duty travel bag. The bag is roomy, leaving plenty of space for the pump, and unlike so many of these carry cases, not a nightmare to repack when you have deflated and folded the bed – ample space to pack it in without the usual cursing…
The bed itself is heavy duty, and puncture resistant – my impression on a couple of uses is that it is robust, and will be unlikely to let you down by gently sagging in the night – it certainly stayed firm on the occasions we used it.
The Dual Zones means that the bed is separated into 2 chambers, a really innovative touch which means that two people can sleep side by side, without each movement creating an ‘air wallow’ for the other sleeper!
Inflation is fast, and super easy with the pump provided. The bed was up and firm in around a minute, the connections are simple and easy to use, and the whole was done with a minimum of fuss. The velvet effect covering means in a push you could dispense with sheeting, and actually, the bed felt considerably warmer than some we have tried.
There is a raised pillow area, and the Dual Chamber system really works, making sharing this double airbed a much more comfortable experience than those without.
The charger included with pump can be charged from a cigarette lighter port (12v), and runs for around 3 full inflations – although it does take 12 hours (!) to fully recharge.
Repacked, I wouldn’t say the airbed is the lightest I’ve come across, but this kind of product is obviously for those looking for maximum comfort, and it really doesn’t take up that much room when you consider the benefit of a good nights sleep. Overall, we rate this product – just remember to charge up the pump and carry your charger with you!
Mould is a real issue for caravan owners. It can creep in and damage non removable soft furnishings such as fixed cushions and pelmets, leaves a nasty, musty smell, and make your caravan generally unpleasant. In severe cases it also causes a health risk. The nature of some caravans is such that they are rarely properly airtight, and moisture is the biggest culprit, providing the right environment for allowing fungus to grow.
Preventing mould is primarily a storage issue. Storage tends to provide mould with it’s perfect growing habitat – cold, damp and dark. If you are storing your caravan in covered, warm store, then you should avoid any major problems. With cold / outdoor storage, you have a different issue.
Removing any soft furnishings which might get damaged by mould is a good start. Clean surfaces down well with an antibacterial agent, and vacuum well. Don’t leave the cleaned surfaces damp.
Drain the water systems in the caravan prior to storage to remove any possible leakage issues.
Try to air your caravan, even when it is in storage, on a regular basis, and when it is in use, ventilate well, particularly after a shower or when cooking.
Check regularly for any leaks which might be allowing moisture / bacteria into the caravan. Products such as crystals can be left to absorb excess atmospheric moisture, or a good cat litter, which can be left in open containers, will also help.
Use water tarps – salt or a good, commercial product.
Use protective clothing if using strong chemicals, and try not to breathe in any dust thrown up by removing the mould. Use a proprietary bleach based mould remover, or if working on delicate surfaces which might be stained or otherwise affected, you can try a mix of soapy water and white vinegar. Milton fluid should remove and kills the spores to prevent mould returning.