Camping Gear: Seriously Stylish Solar Lighting by Maiori

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Nearly 400 years ago, the streets of Paris were first lit up with the “réverbère” gas lamp. The light brought people to the streets at night, where they could enjoy each other’s company no matter what the time. It’s why Paris is known as the City of Light. What on earth does this have to do with camping you ask? Well, inspired by these traditional gas lamps, Maiori Objects of Design have created a sustainable, eco-friendly, moveable outdoor lamp. I love a bit of lighting to illuminate the blackness around a campfire and add atmosphere to a great camping trip, and these are just super flash.

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Recently launched at the 2014 International Furniture Fair in Singapore, ‘la lampe paris’ is designed to fit both indoors and outdoors: in other words, it’s weatherproof but gorgeous! And there are 26 different combinations (a black or white frame and base, and 13 color fabric shades).

The lamp will work as both a hanging lantern (it comes with a hook); or a standing lamp and the lampshade is fully adjustable. The solar panels detach so you don’t have to move the lamp around to score the best sun spots and they’ll stay lit for three and a half to seven hours depending on which of the three light modes it is set to: low, medium or high intensity. And they turn on automatically at night.maiori solar lamp_5

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They’re €329 and available to order from here. Campfire style at it’s best.

 

 

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Camping Gear: Take a Mikko Bird Feeder Camping

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A little whimsy goes a long way on a Monday …. and my squishy inner outdoor goddess has fallen in love with these divine bird feeders by French design studio Pygmalion. The collection, called Mikko, is made of ceramic and wood and can be secured with tough all-weather elastic, which is gentle on trees and means that they can be moved wherever you like. How nice to take one camping with  you so you can get your twitch on and entice some feathered friends to your campsite ….

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Currently at prototype stage, these are heading into production any day now, so stay tuned and we’ll let you know as soon as you can  buy them.

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Dogs will be happy campers with these Cloud7 travel beds

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I love dogs. But I had children instead. That said, when friends bring their pooches camping, the pups up the campsite happiness levels no end. And that’s for everyone. I mean let’s face it, they are the ultimate outdoor accessory. So dog-free I may be, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t delight in discovering Cloud7, a Berlin-based label which designs super stylish, eco-friendly accessories for dogs and dog lovers. Founder and designer Petra Jungebluth traded in a career in fashion designing for the likes of Strenesse, Tommy Hilfiger and Liz Claiborne to create for canines instead. I guess puppies are nicer than supermodels! Anyway, she thought about what she was missing and came up with these beautiful, playful and oh-so-enticing pieces for pooches.

Travel bed, €99.

Dog sleeping bag, €189.

Images via Cloud7. Visit the website. You’ll be as tempted as I am to get a dog just for the accessories. Well, that and all that happy stuff too.

Camping Gear: Eco-Friendly Fire Starters by LessCandles

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I’m love, love, loving these eco-fire starters! Made by Asta for her Lithuanian-based LessCandles Etsy store. They’re handmade using birch bark, (long favoured by Lithuanians over paper for getting their fires going). Asta also uses pine cones, moss, chestnuts and other natural bits and pieces she forages encased in food-grade paraffin wax with pure cotton wicks. There are two to choose from, one dipped in citronella scented palm wax and the other unscented. They’re great to use when grilling food (you’ve all smelled those hideous toxic ones, right?) and come packaged in paper that can be burned or recycled.

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They’re £7.38 for six. Order them from here and she ships worldwide.

 

 

 

Camping Gear: Tents by Field Candy

fc3I’m starting to get the impression that tent designers are like comedians in real life. That is, not very funny. I mean, I get they have an important job to do. I get it, I do. They’re providing a shelter under which people expect to be about as safe and warm and comfortable as they do in a dodgy boutique hotel. They have to be spacious and fit in the boot of a Fiat Punto. And they need to be light enough to be carried the four miles from car park to pitch, where they have to be erected by a bickering couple and withstand all kinds of weather-related hell if it happens to break loose.  I told you already. I. Get. It.

What I don’t get is why they all have to be quite so darn ugly. It’s the colours. Occasionally (okay, more often than is really necessary), I take an e-tour of the latest tents, and, especially if hot on the heels of online Zara-browsing, I automatically go looking for the other colours it comes in. So far what’s on offer ranges from wimpy khaki mixed with a beigey-taupey-icky kind of colour to seasick blue and day-old oatmeal. I wont’ mention the brown ones. Is that really necessary? Do Outwell and Vango only employ pining ex-military servicemen  in their design departments? Whatever the problem, I suggest everyone quickly heads over to FieldCandy and have a look at just how cute and bright tents can be.

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Fun-yet-serious, FieldCandy tents are high spec from pole to peg and made in the UK. And for a limited time, there’s free worldwide shipping on offer. Check out all the facts, figures and features here. I love them. Great imagery, vibrant colours (they come plain shades too) and they’ll put a smile on everyone’s face. Now these guys are having some fun! Which one would you choose?

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Camping Gear: The Field Camping Chair

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Click on over to Kickstarter and get behind the creation of a camping chair that aspires to comfort, simplicity, durability, functional beauty and the patina of long-loved and handed-down outdoor gear. Designed out of design studio Shape, run by husband and wife designers Karson and Mary Shadley, the Field Chair is their modern update on this prone-to-crapness campground staple.

These two don’t muck about. They’ve served as design consultants for outdoor brands in the past – including camping super heavyweight Snow Peak. Now the pair is focusing on manufacturing and licensing their own creations.

I love the nifty pockets in the back and I hope the Field Chair makes it out of the studio and into the world.

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Camping Gear: Wooden Spoons, Boards & Knives by Ariele Alasko

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Obviously, when it comes to choosing what to take on a camping trip, most of us are seriously tempted by the convenience of employing paper plates, foil platters and plastic cutlery. Pretty understandable really. But I detest eating off paper plates and as for cutting into a delicious steak with a teeny, plastic knife? Hmmmm. As I’ve done more camping over the years and got better at packing less, I’m also getting good at carefully choosing some more weighty cooking kit that is much more of a pleasure to use. Like my favourite enamel platter which can carry a whole BBQ-load of steaks and sausages from campfire to table; or my hefty folding picnic knife. Even a wok-shaped pan which can handle more bacon than you would ever think possible at breakfast time, and then heat enough curry to feed 10 adults at dinner. These things are now packed each and every time we head off camping.

The niceties of taking things that actually work when you’re camping, despite the space they might take up, speak for themselves. What I didn’t realise is that it kind of works in reverse too. When I use those bits of kit at home on a rainy London Monday, my mind wanders off to the time I held on to them while standing next to a crackling campfire knowing I was about to make lots of hungry campers happy. I get a smile on my face every time I pull out the two steel cake cooling racks that enabled me to make the best BBQ’d salmon with crispy skin ever. It’s these kinds of moments that get a girl through Winter. Seriously, they’re needed. And as I build up my collection of kitchen kit and try and invest in smart, long-lasting bits of kitchenware that will work for years, I can even stretch to thinking about how much joy they’ll also bring my boys when they get older, as they too remember all the adventures we had together.

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And that brings me to Ariele Alasko and her ridiculously gorgeous spoons, knives and boards. Alasko is a Brooklyn-based furniture builder and woodworker and she sells her pieces via her online shop. She works with plaster lath, the small strips of wood that come from the old walls of hundred-year-old brownstones in Brooklyn that are constantly being gutted. She collects the materials, cleans it, and uses the wood’s natural coloration and patina to create intricate patterns in her work, without the use of any stains. Every piece is hand carved by her in her little studio.

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So highly prized are her pieces, that when you do visit her online store, you’ll likely find everything has been sold already. But follow her on instagram and read her blog and you’ll know as soon as there is a spoon or a butter knife up for grabs. Or try your luck in one of her numerous, generous giveaways!

These are pieces that will last you a lifetime and land a smile on your face every time you toss a salad or spread some butter on a piece of warm damper fresh off the campfire. And for a long, long time after that too.

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All photographs by Ariel Alasko

 

Camping Gear: Hozuki Lamp by Snow Peak

We’re most definitely hovering in or near the part of the year when the weather makes an ever-so-casual promise that spring is juuuuust around the corner. Yes! If you strain yourself, you can hear and smell it coming. But it’s not. And it doesn’t. And deep down, even when the blossoms and daffodils get hoodwinked right along with us, we know it’s all a cruel lie. Winter is not finished with us yet. And February? Well, February is just mean.

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To survive this I find the best thing to do is forget hibernating. Just start plotting, planning and imagining, how Spring, and then Summer which will be hot on it’s heels, is going to be gorgeous and fun-filled and life is to be lived outdoors again. And this is how I find myself shopping for lanterns and planning camping adventures in February.

To explain though, by planning, I don’t mean the when are where. I really mean how is it all going to look. But that can’t be a surprise.

I’m starting out with a hugely impractical 6m x 3m white gazebo. Possibly not so gorgeous during the day, but at night! Can you just imagine! And it will be all lit up by these gorgeous little Hozuki lanterns by Snow Peak. These are what truly got me started on my February Fantasies today.

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These glorious little globes are designed to capture the beauty and romance of the sacred Hozuki plant and its flowers. So pretty are these, they inspired the original design for the Chinese paper lantern. There are three brightness settings, but the best thing about these Hozuki lamps is the candle mode. Turn it on and the light will respond to sound or wind with glorious flickering. They’re £86 pounds each and you can order them from The Goodhood Store, where many great things are to be found.

So bring it on February. I’m already in June…

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Camping Gear: Barocook

You know how when people start sentences with, “In my day …..”, what they really mean is that we’re all useless wimps. We’d be without a chance of survival in their day, because we simply can’t tough it out through life without all the little gadgets and gizmos that have swept the net (and yes, we require that now too). And I agree! Honestly. These wonderful innovative goodies we all have to have just improve morale, don’t they? I mean life is hard enough, why make it as darn hard as it used to be?! It’s called evolution.

And so to Barocook. Made for those times when all the usual charms of camping and trying to light soggy firewood with frozen fingers have appeared as they really are. When all you want to do is to click two tent pegs together and find yourself back at your local, glass of wine in hand.

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Barocook is a cooking system that doesn’t require well, cooking! Some seriously clever Koreans have come up with a system capable of heating water just shy of boiling. Without fire.baracook-3

A BPA-free plastic exterior houses the interior stainless steel container in which food is cooked. Between these two containers is where the magic happens. Combine water and one of Barocook’s heating packs to start the heat reaction. You’ll have boiling water in between five and 10 minutes—depending on the weather. The heating packs are non-toxic and the cooking is done by steam, so it’s healthy for you and the environment. You can order Barocook from Amazon in the US. Prices start at $US58.

And that’s how it’s done in my day.

Camping Gear: Enamel Camping Cups by TMOD

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It’s been a while since I posted, I know. But I’m swinging back into gear for a great 2014 of camping inspiration for us all so do stay tuned! I decided to kick start the year on campfirestyle with these great camping cups by TMOD. Designed in Australia by Sydney artists Georgie Swift and Milenka Osen, just one look at them made me want to throw the camping stove in the back of the car and head into the wilds of wherever for a cup of tea.

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TMOD stands for Turn Me On Design, as the original idea was to design lighting. But they were soon distracted with plans for interactive stationery and jewellery pieces that have now developed rather a cult following. Before long, there were other lifestyle pieces as well. But I love the idea behind these dual-purpose mugs. Once you’ve polished off your coffee or hot choccy, you can follow the instructions and pop up a teepee, make a daisy chain or whip up some damper.

daisy.conceptcup.daisychain.frontcup.daisychain.backThink about what a great gift they would make for a camping buddy. A mug and everything they need follow the instructions on the sides. Nice.

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There’s also one with a guide to the Southern Cross, another with instructions for tying a reef knot and a great one for spotting a rip off the beach. Possibly things you’d need more on an Aussie camping trip, but hey, they’ll sure make you look like a tough, well-travelled camper wherever you light up your campfire. Check out TMOD for more. The cups are $AUD14.50 each. Love them!