1 July 2014

FEATURE: Festival Survival

Time to get muddy

It's that time of year again! Whether you're trekking out to Glastonbury, Knebworth, Leeds, Galtres or any of the other summer music celebrations, you're bound to need some survival kit to take along. That is why we've put together a few absolute essential festival camping items that are available from our chums at Cotswold Outdoors... and a few more call backs from previous reviews.

Rock on you crazy people.

Vango Pop 200 Tent

Starting with the most essential item for anyone staying over at a festival, we've selected a very cool tent from outdoor experts Vango. The Pop 200 is, as the name suggests, a pop-up tent, meaning it doesn't use fiddly poles to get erect (tee hee). Let's face it; poles are a pain in the bum, especially if you're putting up your tent after already sampling some of the festival's fine hostilities.

Getting the Vango Pop 200 up (tee hee - sorry, we'll stop now) couldn't be easier. Once out of the carry bag - which very handily comes with shoulder and back straps - you simply toss the thing about and it literally pops up. After that you use the included eight pegs to secure the ground sheet, and you're done - no guide ropes, no messy interlocking poles.

The Pop 200 is a two birth tent (although we got three people in there quite comfortably) that features three air-vent ports which did a great job of reducing water vapour coalescing on the inside, and also to keep it cool in the hot sun. There are reflective bits on the peg points, making them easy to find by the light of a torch, a lantern hanging loop inside and also toggles to keep the door flap open and wide for those 'hey, come on in to my tent, baby' moments.

Packing the Vango Pop 200 does take a bit of practice (like most pop up tents and huts tend to) so we do recommend you have a go in the garden before shooting off to the festival. Once folded up it slides back into the circular bag, which is a little wider than most tent bags. But, bearing in mind that after the festival you'll probably only have a short walk back to the car, bus or train station, this isn't an issue.
So an extremely quick and convenient home away from home, the Vango Pop 200 is our festival tent of choice.


Visit www.cotswoldoutdoor.com

Vango Stratos 300 Sleeping Bag

Once the tent is up and the music is over for the night, you're going to need something to keep you snug until the party starts again in the morning. We chose a sleeping bag that matches the tent, the Stratos 300 Square Sleeping Bag from Vango. No popping up with this little beauty, instead you get a cosy waterproof bag that rolls up surprisingly small and tight.

With a lower comfort limit of -4 degrees Celsius, the Stratos 300 is the perfect summer sleeping bag, ideal even for those weird nights in July when the temperature suddenly plummets. The shell is 100% polyester, the filling silconised single-hole hollowfibre, and the lining is a soft brushed polyester with fleece at the base. Basically, dead comfy.

You get a small internal pocket which is great for your phone (and the alarm app you have to set to get up in time to see that band you love), non-snag zips (because calling for help over the clashing sounds of Metallica is futile) and also a compression-stuff carry bag which keeps the rolled up sleeping bag as small as possible. A draw string will close up face gap remarkably well meaning that once you're in the Vango Stratos 300 you really won't want to come back out.


Visit www.cotswoldoutdoor.com

Solio Bolt Solar Charger

You might be hearing the latest music while at the festival, but how will you keep up with the latest news and chat (and awesome reviews from your favourite gadget site) if your phone runs flat? There are a lot of portable power chargers out there, like this one and this one, but what happens when their juice goes dry?

As this is the summer there is one other resource we can use (other than, say, breaking into a local house and plugging your phone into their laptop) and fortunately there is plenty of it about right now. The Solio Bolt Solar Charger is a lifesaving bit of kit that can not only directly charge your device from the light of the sun, but also from the onboard battery.

Simply twist open the Solio Bolt and angle both panels toward our nearest star. To help you get the correct angel the Solio includes a free pencil (YES - A FREE PENCIL!!!) as a low-tech answer to the problem of propping up gadgets. It slides into the hole running through the Bolt and allows you get the best possible degree to soak up all that glorious sunshine. Then, after the sun goes down, slide the pencil out and use it to write a postcard to your mum. She misses you.

It also includes a USB-to-Micro USB cable to which you can attached your various gadgets. To charge up the built-in battery completely requires about 8 hours of direct sun, but the solar panel will generate some energy just from being in bright daylight. Our advice would be to pick a sunny spot to pitch your tent, free from trees and buildings, then strap it to your tent roof to either charge the battery or your gadget directly by leaving it plugged in. Watch out for cheeky thieves though!

Obviously the battery can be wall-charged prior to leaving home, so you know that even if it pours down with rain all festival long and the clouds never shift from a dark grey, you'll have some power to tweet with.


Visit www.cotswoldoutdoor.com

Blue Mountain Single Flock Airbed

We can't speak for you, but we've never been to a festival that was held in a field of duvets and marshmallows. We usually seem to pitch our tents either on top of a pile of boulders or on a tectonic fault line - neither are very comfortable to sleep on.

And so if you value your spine as much as you do your right to party, may we recommend one little addition to take with you this summer? The Single Flock Airbed from Blue Mountain is nice and cheap, light to carry about, and darn-tooting comfortable to kip on (when inflated).

The great thing about this airbed is that because of its compact size you'll have a soft mattress to sleep on in just a few minutes of blowing - allowing you to save your breath for shouting 'encore!'


Visit www.cotswoldoutdoor.com

BONUS: Some extra treats, perfect for festivals, that we've already reviewed

BOGS Linen Rainboots
Because mud mud mud mud mud. Read our review: http://www.thetestpit.com/2014/06/feature-great-outdoors-3.html

This wonder substance is amazing at fixing things like broken gadgets and for repairing shoes and boots. Read our review: http://www.thetestpit.com/2014/05/review-sugru.html

Garmin Virb Elite Action Cam
It might have been designed to strap on to a snowboarder's helmet, but this waterproof, shock-proof HD camera is great to whip out whenever you need to capture a special moment. Read out review: http://www.thetestpit.com/2014/04/review-garmin-virb-elite-action-cam.html

Beach Bag Plus
Built for the beach, but that soft inflatable cushion and cool bag feature make this an all-summer winner. Read our review: http://www.thetestpit.com/2014/05/review-beach-bag-plus.html

Jam Splash Bluetooth Speaker
Keep the party going all night with this waterproof speaker. Read our review: http://www.thetestpit.com/2014/02/review-hmdx-jam-splash-bluetooth-speaker.html
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