I know we said we wouldn’t look at more music players, but I have one last offering for you, the Klipsch KMC 3, which to my mind, is a bit like the Rolls Royce of the bunch. A fantastic barbecue, summer holiday or weekend in the caravan will never be complete for me without some music in the background, so actually, this is pretty apt.
The KMC 3 is in a totally different class to the previous models we have reviewed. Much bigger and chunkier, this device is portable, but would be a heft for me to wander around with for any amount of time at just under 8 pounds. On the other hand, it’s ability to run on power from standard D sized batteries makes it infinitely more transportable than the other models, all of which are chargeable but will need AC access to be recharged. Klipsch say the unit will run at full whack for 8 hours on battery power, which I didn’t get a chance to test, but I see no reason why they’d claim this if it didn’t. The unit is sleek itself and good looking, although far from pocket size, and it comes with touch sensitive controls and a remote control.
This is marketed as a festival in a box, and I can see why. When it arrived in the office, I carefully unpacked the unit, quickly hooked it up to my iPhone and hit play, to the immediate shrieks of my colleagues who weren’t expecting to be blown from their seats at 9am. Klipsch say that maximum acoustic output is 105 db. I’m not sound technician, but I can fully believe it. The amp gives out a meaty 65 Watts (or 135W total peak), and the subwoofer is a good 35W. It pairs as easily with a variety of smart phones, PCs and more, not relying on Apple software like some of its competitors.
As with most Bluetooth speakers, pairing is really quick and simple, and in our tests was reliable to a fair distance with no loss of sound quality. Clarity and bass are immense, truly remarkable from a unit of this size, and I have no doubt this would work for a good sized party, indoors or out. The sound is on a par with really high end home music systems, but is perfect for a more mobile lifestyle. For the muso’s amongst you, this would be a perfect fit for a caravan. It isn’t cheap, (at £349.99 RRP) but then I wouldn’t expect
Well, 6 months on from my acquisition of a shiny new Kindle 5 , Kobo have sent us another offering to have a look at, the Kobo Aura HD, launched in April this year. This is very similar to the Kobo Glo that we looked at last year – a great offering which is a direct rival to its more famous counterpart, the Kindle Paperwhite.
The Aura is very much about reading – unlike the Kindle Fire, Kobo Arc or other tablet style eReaders, the Aura is solely about books. There is a function for news and magazines, but as yet this doesn’t work in the UK. This isn’t about apps or browsing, although there is a browser and a variety of simple games on offer. this is not technically a camping or caravanning gadget, but like the other eReaders we have looked at, actually they are virtually essential travel items, especially if, like me, you have a tendency to cart 10 heavy books away on holiday! These save space and weight in any holiday packing, and as I think #i have said before, mean you always have a book on hand if you end up camoping in typical (not this year!) UK weather without having to lug half your library around.
The reader itself is light, and handsized, with the same size screen as the Kindle and Glo models. The back is a chiselled, ergonomic design for ease of holding, which gently slopes to a flat panel which gently mimics holding a books with your fingers resting on the spine. I really liked this design, as it is light but feels much like holding a book, which is a bonus for those who enjoy the tactile nature of the hard copy.
The display is eInk, 6.8 inches with a resolution of 1440 x 1080, which means it seems to be the highest resolution eReader on the UK market. Certainly the text is crisp at every size; sharp and very comfortable to read. Like the Glo, you can change the number of times you page turn before refreshing, and I thought 6 was perfectly reasonable before shadows were left. It is a mono screen, which is perfectly fine for reading, although I can’t help but wonder if the high spec resolution is a little wasted on a purely black and white experience.
The Aura is a full touch screen, which is certainly a welcome change for iPhone users with a Kindle – it is responsive and intuitive, and the matt screen seems fairly impervious to fingerprints too.
Kobo have the Reading Life statistics, which can be quite good fun – you can see how many hours you have spent reading, average time per session, page turns and so on. It is also handy for encouraging the reluctant reader, as there is an award system, in the sense of earning ‘awards’ for how many books you have bought and read. You can then publish this in Facebook, should you feel the need.
The main difference for me here is the back light. The glow is eye friendly, doesn’t seem to use up much battery, and makes this absolutely ideal for reading on the go. In a car, tent or caravan, you won’t keep anyone else awake with a glare, but the screen is ample enough to read comfortably and avoid eye strain. The light is brighter and less blue than that on the Glo, making for a more comfortable read. This can be completely turned off, which does minimise battery use, and is not a feature of the Paperwhite.
The Kobo Aura is Wi – Fi, and stores its info on the Kobo cloud, meaning bookmarks, notes and fata is accessible anyway via Wi – Fi. It is compatible with the PC and is simple to add books / download direct from the Kobo store, which as noted previously is fast catching up with something like 3.2 million books available – still not at Amazon’s level, but impressive nonetheless.
No wall charger is included, but the USB cable is neatly fabric covered, which I hope will avoid the neck of the cord breaking, a problem I have long had with many products of a, ahem, fruity nature. The USB can of course be plugged into a USB plug charger, so it is easy to use on the go – it also charges fine in a cigarette lighter adapter for charging on the move (not included) should you be using it away from home.
Kobo say the battery will last 2 months – we haven’t used it that long, but a days fiddling used about 10%, with heavy usage, so the claim seems fair to us. Overall, this is an impressive eReader. It is slightly pricier than some similar offerings, but both design and reading comfort are excellent here, it has 2gb more capacity than the Glo, and the improvement on the screen is very noticeable. Like it, a lot.
Whether you are camping or caravanning this summer, make sure you pack a good first aid kit. Outdoor life is fantastic fun, but accidents can and do happen, and its vital to be prepared for whatever outcome. Of course, ringing for professional medical attention should be your first response, but a well stocked first aid kit is a must have.
If you are hiking or in a small caravan, a compact kit is essential, and Lifesystems Camping Kit seems to us to fit the bill pretty well. A small, durable, bright case with several pockets, this kit is small enough to tuck into a rucksack, bright and easy to find and very clearly marked. It zips up with small zip pulls, which seem sturdy but might be a bit fumble happy in cold / difficult conditions.
Inside, you get:
Small scissors, tweezers and safety pins
- Wound closure strips
- Fabric dressing strip, micro pore tape and zinc oxide tape
- Assorted sizes of plaster
- Melolin dressing
- Burn gel
- Crepe, open weave and pad bandages
- Gauze swabs
- Cleaning wipes
- Eyepad and eyewash
The sections are transparent so you can find what you are looking for quickly in an emergency, and they are labelled, bleeding, medication, breaks and sprains for further ease. There is a very wide range of products in here, and to be honest, as someone who is not a qualified first aider, I wouldn’t be 100% sure on the different uses between types of tape for example. This isn’t a complaint; if anything a comment on how well stocked this kit is for its size. The products inside are all of good quality, so they won’t let you down at a vital moment.
RRP seems to be around £20, which I think is a reasonable price for a first aid kit of this size, it contains all the basics and a bit more besides, and is accessible, compact and easy to use. Lifesystems have a few different kits on the market, and I like the fact that they are geared toward specific activities, so it was a pleasure to see a properly constructed kit meant for camping use instead of something cobbled together from separate elements.
The Asolo Tribe GV is a 3 season walking boot, very kindly sent in for review. This is the first of its type we have seen as a review product, and I was quite excited to receive a replacement for my trusty, but old and well used Karimoor boots which have been around the world with me but are starting to look rather sorry for themselves.
The Tribe boots came in a funky Grape colour, much brighter and bolder than the miserable greys and browns you usually see. According to the blurb, they have developed an outsole with aggressive heel cleats and an Aso-brake system. What this means is that as well as brilliant grip, the boot has a braking system to help increase stability and provide security on steeper climbs and descents.
Fit wise, my size was a snug but comfortable fit, with no rubbing or sore spots. Ankle support is excellent, but not restrictive which I did sometimes find with my Karimoor pair. The lining is GORE-TEX, meaning the boots are waterproof and breathable, and actually, this was the most impressive aspect for me – despite being tested in vile weather conditions, my feet stayed snug and dry, even though those I was trekking with had feet like prunes after a couple of hours. They were warm when the weather cleared up, but their breathable fabric meant this wasn’t unbearable at all.
The Tribes are relatively lightweight, which is a blessing on a long hike – they aren’t bulky or too inflexible, and didn’t feel heavy. The lacing extends down rather far on the mid line towards the toe, which looks a little unusual but I think is a comfort factor with these boots.
I tested mine on fairly easy terrain, but have since put them through a more rigorous hike, and they have held up really well. The rigid sole provides excellent traction and comfort, and the extra ankle support is great.
Last but not least, these practical boots come in a couple of interesting colour ways; and while practical matters are obviously at the forefront of any decision about hiking kit, what a nice change to pick an attractive pair of boots rather than the usual sludge colours available. The Grape is not too bright, but pleasant and they cleaned up well after a muddy walk, so no need to aim for old fashioned ‘dirt’ colours to hide the mess.
Following on from our recent reviews of the QBOPZ and the Disco 2 Supertooth, we have been sent a third contender for the title, although to be honest, this one is in a totally different league. The design comes from a Danish company, whose AirPlay wireless speakers are a tall, fabric coloured cylinder which work with a technology called PlayDirect, which allow you to link the speaker to your source with it’s own built in Wi-Fi, rather than but a Bluetooth link. What this essentially gives you is the much greater range and reliability of Wi-Fi, without needing an outside source.
Out of the box: The Zipp is a tall, hefty cylinder, which comes covered in a tough and durable, 100% wool sleeve, which, aptly, you can remove by undoing its zip. Our model came with a selection of coloured cases, and a cursory look at the website shows there are some very cool designs available. There is a strong leather wrist starp for portability, but to be fair, the weight of this unit is such that I wouldn’t want to be walking around with it too much. Like the Disco 2, the device has a small footprint for it’s power ( a total of 60w), making it highly suited to caravans with limited space, or perhaps use while boating. Linking the device was very simple, as you’d expect. You press the PlayDirect button, and then join the network when it appears on your device. It works well, and both range and reliability are incredible.
Where this model truly shines is in it’s range. It’s cylindrical design combined with the power of the speaker means that the Zipp really is capable of filling a room; a large one, with no difficulty. The sound is rich, and true, without distortion even as we headed into top volume, which believe me, is loud. This would work outdoors, on a boat, for a small party or barbecue, just as well as it would at home. Its minimalist design is both stylish and funky, putting it ahead of many of the more clunky looking options currently on the market.
Superior technology and an Apple affiliation offers a variety of tweaks. Linked with an iPhone, you can use the app to optimize the audio output both for location and music style, so you can work with Floor, Outside, Shelf or Neutral; and in Easy Listening et al. The Zipp can also join your home Wi-Fi network, again at the touch of a button, and has the ability to play music from tethered devices via aux in or USB.
Libratone suggest the battery will last for around 8 hours while tethered, or 4 over AirPlay. We didn’t run our test model continuously for that much time, but what we did use ties in with this. At an RRP of around £370, this is a fair investment, but it’s a well designed, clever bit of kit, which would work well as a main audio device at home as well as a brilliant outdoor / caravan accessory, and for those who truly appreciate their sounds, I think it is a definite win. I’ll be sad to send this one back. For more info, visit Apple or
Cargo homewares have always been one of my favourite stores. Full of beautiful, practical things for your home and garden, and for other parts of al fresco life, too, from barbecues to luxurious outdoor furniture. They have lots of accessories suitable for kitting out a caravan, and quite a bit of camping style things, too.
This seasons range has a lot of outdoor dining accessories, plates, bowls, chip and dip bowls and more. We have the KitchenCraft set of 4 melamine coloured tumblers, which a bright, chunky and virtually indestructible. They come in a turquoise blue, pink, lime green and purple. They have been well used after the fabulous summer we have been having, and have stayed immaculate despite being used rather enthusiastically by the kids (and sometimes the adults, too!) in the garden.