Gear: Nine unusual outdoor thingamabobs
These are not the sort of gadgets that we would describe as mandatory on an overland adventure or camping trip. However, sometimes a little bit of frivolity is called for – so we bring to your attention the Star Wars Lightsaber Braai Tongs, along with other strange and (possibly) useful contraptions.
1. MAN APRON
The Man Apron, or ‘Mapron’ as we like to call it, has been described as ‘the alfresco chef’s answer to Batman’s utility belt’. Perhaps it’s not quite as kickass as that, but with pockets for your phone, matches, tomato sauce, mustard and most importantly, a beer, it does trump your regular braai attire. A spatula, tongs and a lappie can hang around your middle, on the braai tool rail, and it even sports a bottle opener. Lastly, there is a detachable hood so that you can keep your head dry in the event of drizzle.
2. VW CAMPER VAN KIDS’ TENT
We have to admit that the full-sized adult version is way cooler, but to the best of our knowledge, there are no more adult VW camper tents in stock locally (you can order directly from Amazon though). Still there’s no reason that the little folk need to miss out on the coolest retro tent around. Imagine arriving at a campsite in your new generation six, two-tone Caravelle or an original T2 Kombi and pitching the kiddies’ tent next to it.
The Selk’bag is an ingenious if not somewhat unusual invention, created in Chile. The design has won numerous awards and despite looking a bit daft, it is all about keeping warm and being comfortable at the same time – who wouldn’t want that? When camping in the cold there’s no need to climb out of your toasty sleeping bag. You can sit at the campfire or move around wherever you like and your blankie stays on you.
It’s a giant, puffy adult ‘onesie’ for the outdoors, or even for those chilly nights at home. The ‘bag’ is named after a hardy bunch of indigenous tribesmen known as the Selk’nam people, who inhabited the southern tip the South American continent.
The Selk’bag is made from high-quality insulated polyester shell and has nylon reinforcements in the soles to protect the bottom part when you’re walking about.
Price Adult Selk’bag R1 499, Kid’s Selk’bag R1 199. (Free delivery to your closest post office. R350 delivery fee per bag, door to door.)
4. GRIFFIN SURVIVOR TACTICAL COVER FOR APPLE WATCH
Not everyone agrees that it is great to switch off completely when you’re out in the wild. For those who can’t go without smart devices, the need arises to protect things like your pretty Apple Watch. The Griffin Survivor Tactical cover should do the trick when you’re out hiking or throwing a ball around the campsite. The co-moulded Thermoplastic elastomers and polycarbonate will deflect and absorb impacts, while the integrated screen shield protects the Retina Display without interfering with Force Touch.
Apple Watch’s all-important Digital Crown is protected but remains fully functional, too. Unsurprisingly, because it fits snugly on to your Apple Watch it features an automatic Samsung Galaxy Gear repellent. (Okay, so the previous sentence is untrue, but we imagine that if there were no civilised boundaries in Apple/Samsung rivalry, it would do).
5. POWERVAULT POWER BANK/JUMP-STARTER
This power bank is more than just a phone or laptop charger, you can jump-start car engines with it, too. At 191x84x37mm it’s highly compact and the 16 500mAh Powervault unit has a jump-start indicator to show whether it can start a particular vehicle. It also has a LED light with multiple modes, as well as built-in overcharging and short circuit protection.
This power bank can power up 12V petrol and diesel cars, motorcycles and boats. (Powervault is going to be bringing out a 30 000mAh Powervault Dual that will start both 12V and 24V vehicles. You can pre-order this online.)
Price R2 200
6. BUM BAG DRINKS COOLER
Even in winter, beers have to be kept cool. Disguise your beer as one belonging to a regular ‘bergie’ and make sure that no one else nabs your Windhoek, Heineken or specially made craft brew. This reusable foil-lined drinks cooler is designed to look and feel like a brown paper bag, but is actually made from water-resistant and tear-proof Tyvek. Whatever next?
7. LUCI LUX INFLATABLE SOLAR LANTERN
This lantern (of sorts) is ultra-lightweight, waterproof and best of all, it’s solar-powered. If you’re hiking, you can tie it to your backpack to power up while you walk, or tie it to the outside of your tent during the day.
It has 10 LED lights inside and three modes: bright, low and strobe. On the brightest setting you can expect 12 hours of light at 65 lumens. It has a handle to hang it like a regular lantern from the inside of your tent or, if you’re brave enough, take it along for a skinny dip and float it in a pool or river.
8. STAR WARS LIGHTSABER BRAAI TONGS
Create a bit of comedy in the bundu by whipping out your Star Wars lightsabre braai tongs from a red sheath and amuse your fellow campers. If that isn’t enough, you can generate the classic lightsabre ‘vwww-ing’ sound as you flip your boerie on the braai. Turn your meat over to the dark side; well, not completely, unless you like chargrilled, and barbecue like a Jedi to be the undisputed Lord of the Braai (and hopefully not of the flies).
9. BRAAI BRANDING IRON
Psst! You can really have some fun with this one. Offer to take care of the braai and then let rip with your branding iron. Arrange the letters, lock them in place and shove the iron in the braai to heat up. Then zap the steak, burgers or chicken with a clever one liner (or two).
This atypical branding iron has two lines for text and a whole heap of letters, so the possibilities abound: Go Bokke, Happy Birthday, Roadkill, Crime Scene, Hot Stuff, Nice Rump and those are just a few of the clean ones. Set your inner cowboy free and let your imagination run wild.