Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Ideal Frying Pan For Any Amdro Camper Conversion Cooker Or Motorhome

For any campervan/motorhome owners, campers, or in my case Amdro Boot Jump enthusiast, you will no doubt be cooking your early morning bacon butties on a cooker similar to the ones shown in the photos opposite. And like myself you were probably using a traditional round frying pan.

This of course is fine, we have all done it for years, but it has always provided a few little problems, that you may not even be aware of or just doesn't bother you.

But when you see the alternative that is available, you may want to change the way you normally cook your breakfast on future camping trips.

Let me start by highlighting a few issues that the traditional round frying pan has...

  • When sat on your cooker, heat is lost from the corners (loss of fuel economy)
  • Reduced cooking area, due to the wasted areas around the frying pan
  • Wasted storage space when storing your pan in a "square" cupboard or crate
So what is the alternative ? Well, if you haven't already guessed, its really obvious and makes you wonder why we haven't changed our frying pan of choice sooner. It is of course, a square (or rectangular) frying pan and the one I recently purchased was the Boaties Square Frying Pan. Now that I have had chance to put it to good use, here are some benefits...
  • Due to the square design, more of the cooker ring is covered improving fuel economy
  • As the whole area above the cooker ring is covered, you get more cooking space in your pan
  • No more curving your bacon to the contours of a round pan, to get more rashers in, just lay them out straight
  • When your finished cooking, the square pan fits neatly into your cupboard or crate, without any wasted storage space
Here are some features of the Boaties Square Frying Pan...

  • Stainless steel, non stick coating
  • 25cm x 20cm x 4.5cm vertical sides, creating a pan with a greater cooking area compared to a 25.5 cm round pan
  • Designed to fit compact recreational stoves which normally have a limited cooking area
  • Rectangular shape gives maximum cooking area for minimum stove area.
And for all you Amdro Camper Conversion owners, this particular frying pan is the perfect accompaniment for the Origo 3000 alcohol stove , allowing 2 Boaties pans to fit perfectly alongside each other (Bacon in one, eggs in the other). The square design of the pan also allows easier storage in the area below the cooker (or just in a crate).

I will probably be purchasing a second pan and may opt for the Boaties Frying Pan Square with Lid version, giving me more cooking options, not to mention keeping the bacon warm once cooked.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Yamba UK, A Family Run Outdoor Pursuits Company With A Passion For What They Do... My Recent Visit & First Impressions

YAMBA UK are a family run company based in Lancashire, with an obvious passion for what they are involved in, paired with a great deal of knowledge and experience in what they have to offer, whether it be outdoor pursuit training programmes or quality kayaking and canoeing equipment.

They are a relatively new company, but have clearly been involved with the activities they offer for some considerable time, highlighted in the advice and knowledge they demonstrate when talking to the staff at Yamba UK.

Having recently purchased a Stearns Outback inflatable canoe, I was on the lookout for a suitable buoyancy aid and preferred to purchase new, rather than second hand (When it comes to safety, you need the reassurance of equipment that is going work when you need it to).
And so I began my research on the internet. I had a good idea as to what I was looking for and completely by chance landed on a site that was very local to me, in Lancashire.
I have always gauged the credibility and professionalism of a company by the quality of their website and Yamba UK ranks very highly in my book, so wasted no time in driving over to their retail outlet in Lostock Hall, near Preston for a visit.

I was greeted by a lovely lady called Diane who turned out to be one of the owners of Yamba UK and we soon started to have a good chat about kayaking, bushcraft and outdoor pursuits in general. They are clearly passionate about their outdoor life and this was also evident by the quality of their retail outlet and the media literature they had on show in the shop, everything oozed quality.

Not only do they sell a good selection of canoeing, kayaking and other outdoor related equipment, they also run specific training courses such as canoeing, sea kayaking, ghyll scrambling, rock climbing and bushcraft, but to name a few.

I already have my eyes set on a one day sea kayaking course that they are running, which includes full coaching, equipment and insurance for just £75.00
They have various courses tailored to whatever standard you may be comfortable with.

They also host regular demo days, where you can spend a couple of hours in the lakes, trying out their sea kayaks, under their experienced supervision. All equipment is provided, along with tuition and all for a tenner. Pretty good I reckon, if you are looking to by a sea kayak, or just want to try something different.
There is so much more I could say about Yamba UK, but everything you need to know is available on their brilliant website, so why not take a look for yourself. You can also find them on Facebook.
Its always nice to find a company that has a clear passion for what they do and the guys at Yamba if not helping others to enjoy the outdoors are enjoying the outdoors themselves. I myself wish them all the success in the world in their new venture and hope to book on a few courses very soon.
Oh and one last thing, Diane found me the perfect buoyancy aid and it is now on order awaiting my collection...thanks guys !

Friday, 25 April 2014

Amdro Boot Jump Camper Conversion For Citroen Berlingo MPV

Imagine you are driving through the open countryside in your little MPV and you come across a beautiful spot, with amazing scenery overlooking a lake. If only you could park up and spend the day there, possibly spend the night, knowing you have everything you need for a comfortable nights sleep and a hearty breakfast in the morning, all tucked away in the boot of your vehicle...

Well, as luck would have it, a company based in Wales, called Amdro Alternative Camper Conversions, have come up with an ingenious solution to allow you to do just that. They will build, supply and ship camper conversion kits for a variety of MPV vehicles, including Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner, Fiat Doblo and Renault Kangoo as well as VW Transporters. They are also currently developing other conversion kits for other vehicles.

The kits are delivered to your door on a wooden pallet, complete with everything you require to convert your vehicle into a versatile camper in a matter of minutes. Simply lift the unit, which requires 2 people, into the boot of your car, clamp in place and that's it, you're ready to go.

However, I did manage to lift our unit into a Citroen Berlingo, with the help of my 7 year old lad and 9 year old daughter.

It really is that simple

The cost of a campervan or small motorhome can be quite expensive, but Amdro have made an affordable solution, that not only is very clever, but very easy to use. The system is so simple to setup, even my young kids can do it and only takes minutes to convert your camper from a "daytime" seating arrangement, complete with table and cooker, to the "nightime" sleeping area, which provides a good sized double bed.

Combine that with acres of storage, provided by 2 good sized crates and voids behind the unit itself and the seats, pumped water carrier and a double burner meths stove, you have everything you need for a comfortable camper van experience, that could be an overnight stop, weekend away or weeks expedition across the South of France.

And it has been done... Check out the Amdro website to watch a video of a couple who have done just that, with two bikes as well !

Myself and my two young children enjoy camping trips away, but as a single parent, the hassle and stress of setting up a large family tent in high winds and rain can test the patience of a saint. But with the Boot Jump, you can park up and setup up a comfortable living area in a matter of minutes. And for some added living space, you can include a tailgate awning, which could be setup once the wind and rain has died down. In the meantime, just sit in your little camper, laughing at all the other people struggling with their tents, whilst enjoying your brew.
There are going to be people who say "Oh, it's not the same as a proper campervan or motorhome" and my answer to that is "Yes, you're right" But the beauty of this type of system, means I have a multipurpose utility vehicle, that can be used for everyday driving, taking the kids to school, taking stuff to the tip etc.

But then in a matter of minutes, I can lift the Amdro Boot Jump into my vehicle and I have a snazzy little campervan perfect for couples or young families. For me and my young family, it suits us perfectly and the kids love their little "Treehouse on wheels". There are many other benefits of the Amdro/MPV combination, such as cheaper fuel economy, reduced pitch fees and cheaper toll fees when traveling abroad.

But my advice would be, if you are looking for an affordable, no hassle campervan setup to enjoy the great outdoors, give Iwan a call at Amdro. The staff there are very friendly and helpfull and will answer any questions you may have about their ingenious, well designed camper conversion kits.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Polish Army Lavvu Poncho Shelter - An Overview

One of the most popular army surplus items of kit, has recently been the Polish army lavvu, which consists of two canvas poncho's, buttoned together. Plus 2 aluminum sectional pole kits to create a tepee style shelter. I was on the lookout myself for a more substantial shelter, to protect me from the elements in the winter months.

And so I drove down to my local army surplus dealer in Lancashire, called MilitaryMart and handed over my £17.99

Very pleased with my purchase I walked out of the shop with my new shelter under my arm and straight away I was aware of the difference in weight, compared to my British army basha and walking pole setup. My current Basha setup, which consisted of the Basha itself, walking pole, pegs etc. came in at about 2.3Kg, whereas the Polish Lavvu was 3.7Kg. I did manage to reduce that a little by swapping the metal pegs for heavy duty plastic ones, but still quite a bit heavier.
So, what are my reasons for chosing this particular shelter and why do I like it so much ?
Obviously this form of protection from the adverse UK weather isn't designed or meant to be used for backpacking purposes or traveling light. I enjoy walking up hills and mountains, setting up a portable CB radio station (Or Activation) and making contact with like minded people up and down the country. And if I'm lucky and the conditions are favorable, overseas. Whilst on these activations I can be sat for hours at a time in high winds, rain, hail stone and even snow. So it is important for my own safety to be protected from these conditions. The basha is great for the warmer, drier months and is without doubt much lighter to carry in your rucksack. But for the added protection the Lavvu gives me, I am prepared to carry that extra weight.
Good Points

1. Strong & durable - Made from canvas, will withstand anything that is thrown at it and will last a lifetime if looked after. Ensure that you thoroughly dry the Lavvu after ever outing and re-proof the poncho's with Fabsil Plus UV Paint on Proofer once a year.

2. Quick and easy to erect - Due to its central pole and shape the shelter requires no guy ropes. Simply peg out on the floor then insert the pole and lift up. A quick re-adjustment of the pegs to make the shelter taught.

3. Excellent protection - Once setup, the shelter will cope with high winds from any direction and if properly waterproofed will keep out even the heaviest rain. Due to the heavy canvas, inside the shelter is also a lot quieter, which is an advantage when trying to sleep at night.

4. Great for cooking in - You can safely cook inside the Polish poncho tent, without the worry of setting fire to highly flamable materials. I have even seen people use a wood burning stove inside a Lavvu like this, using the arm hole to vent the chimney. Plus it even raises the temperature inside the shelter, when using a simple cook set, such as a Trangia or BCB Crusader cooker.

5. Price - At under £20.00 from your local army surplus dealer, you just can't complain.

6. Visibility - Due the the dark canvas, it can get quite dark inside, which is great if you are sleeping in your Lavvu. No worries about being woken early by the rising sun.

Bad Points

1. Weight - There's no getting away from this. It's canvas and weighs a lot more than modern fabrics. Something you should always bare in mind that this will feel heavy in your rucksack, but will feel even heavier if it gets wet. So make sure you account for this when planning your pack weight.

2. Size - Although not too bad (depending on what your used to), it can be on the bulky side. I like to carry mine in a British army arctic sleeping bag compression sac, which allows me to stuff it all in and compress down to a smaller size. Again be aware of the difference in weight and pack size when wet...

3. Visibility - Due the the dark canvas, it can get quite dark inside, even during the daytime. A decent head torch or tea light style lantern, such as a UCO Micro lantern works great.

I have made a couple of additions to my setup, to improve the rigidity and ease of setup. I added paracord loops to each pegging eyelet, which enables me to use heavy duty plastic pegs. Plus I included an old plastic pole support from an old tent. This just stops the pole from sinking into soft ground, which in turn would make the tent sides sag a little. You could quite easily use a jam jar lid or similar to produce the same effect.

In conclusion, this is a very affordable shelter option, that has been tried and tested by the military. If looked after it will no doubt last you a lifetime and will protect you from all forms of weather, especially in the winter months. It is on the heavy side, but for the protection the Polish army lavvu provides, I believe is well worth carrying the extra weight. I have already used this shelter on several occasions in pretty nasty conditions and it has served me well...