Clever marketing, beautiful aesthetics or smart branding? I’m always curious about how products designed for the extremes of this planet whether cold, hot or humid, actually perform in the environments they were intended for. I’ve tested tonnes of kit and equipment over the years but I was recently more excited than usual….. I was asked to test some exciting and pioneering products on a recent Jordon expedition- the products in question were the LifeStraw personal water filter, Water-to-Go water bottle and a 3 season sleeping bag from Snugpak called ‘The Sleeping Bag’ (obvious name I thought!).
The Lifestraw is one of the products which you become instantly impressed with even before you’ve tested it. Just the very thought of drinking dirty, smelly and unclean water with out any worry sets off all sorts of thoughts. How does it work, is it expensive, where can i get one, who invented it, what does it look like. ON the face of it, it’s a clever and very simple solution to purifying water. Simply using it like a giant straw it automatically filters dirty water taking out pathogens and dirt. By no means does it make the water taste better (fruits of the forest flavour would be my ideal choice), but it did give me piece of mind when drinking from small, unclean pools in the Jordon desert. Simple, compact, easy to use- I’d highly recommend this to anyone as a back up hydration solution.
A similar type of product was the Water-to-Go water bottle. Almost identical in principle as the LifeStraw, this had the added benefit of allowing you to take the water away- vital if you’re in a desert environment (or on the move) or you’re trying to run far away from your wife! Again, it didn’t make the water taste all that good but the water was ‘clean’ and the bottle itself is the same size as any other bottles which made it wasy to fit into pockets.
The Snugpak sleeping bag (3 season) is a synthetic bag which I used while sleeping under the starlit desert sky in Jordon. Nestled near our fire, this sleeping bag has a comfort range of -2C. Now, as many people will know deserts can be hot during the day and can be bitterly cold at night and although I was sleeping near the fire, i did find it a little chilly at night even though the temperature hovered around 5C or so. If you have a choice, I’d certainly recommend using this bag when camping in British summer climates or for refuge and hostel use but in the desert I’d go for something a little warmer. Oh, and don’t ask me about the floral mattress I’m lying on!
Lastly, here are a few of my tips to consider when buying outdoor products. Work out what environment you are going into before buying a product (min and max temperatures/ dry or arid/ humid or wet?). Second tip- research and compare products- it will pay dividends in the long run. Lastly, take your time buying a product- if you buy the right product you won’t have to buy another which will save you time and money! For all these products and more visit www.traveloutdoors.co.uk.