It’s my favourite time of year… Festival time! Yet as much as I love Glastonbury, Latitude, Bestival and the others, there is always a degree of discomfort. Coping with burning sun, torrential rain, cold nights and smelly toilets is mostly common sense but there are a few pieces of tech out there that make the whole festival experience so much more comfortable.
I’ve chosen my top five tech must-haves for the season – all of these should make a big difference to festival-goers without clearing out your bank balance or taking the place of your beer crate in the car.
I’ve never had too many problems putting up tents but I was still amazed the first time I used one of these. Pop-up tents tend to be pack up small (normally in a disk shape) but once unzipped from the protective cover, transform into tent shape in a matter of seconds. The only human labour required is pegging out the base and guy ropes to secure it. The video below from Quechua shows that it’s not too hard to put away, either.
Granted, these tents aren’t designed for extreme weather but they should certainly stand whatever the British summertime can throw at them. If you’re arriving at a festival late at night or in the rain, pop-up tents can really make the difference between a cosy first night and abject misery. Gelert, Outwell and Quechua all do a decent range.
There are hundreds of gadgets around for charging your phone on the go: solar chargers, battery chargers, in-car chargers. Most of these are good pieces of kit but they share a common drawback – they all require you to carry around something extra. The Hot Stepper Orange Power Wellies (ok, stupid name) are only in prototype at the moment but claim to allow your phone to be charged while you walk around. They do this by converting the heat generated by your feet into electricity – the full explanation of how this works makes them sound very expensive!
Until the Hot Steppers are ready to make their festival debut, people who don’t want to queue for the phone charging tent or carry around a separate charging device might like to consider a solar charging backpack. These vary in price (and quality) from £20–£200 so make sure you check the specs before ordering.
The light that never goes out
However many spare batteries you brought, when you’re desperate for the loo in the middle of the night, your torch is bound to flicker and leave you dodging guy ropes and comatose drunks in the dark. Wind-up torches are an absolute necessity and some, such as the Wind Up LED Camp Light from I Want One of Those, use low-power LEDs to minimise the need to give your arm a workout every few minutes. This one also has two modes – full light and night light, so you needn’t blind your tent-buddies while you search for the toilet roll.
Ok, so some people don’t shower for the duration of a festival but for those of us with a greater interest in personal hygiene, trying to dry out a towel without dropping it in the mud is a total nightmare. The Sea To Summit Pocket Towel is a fantastic invention. It packs up into a fist-sized pouch, absorbs a lot of water and dries very quickly. It’s cheap as chips too: a no-brainer.
The change from hot to freezing cold happens surprisingly quickly when you’re outdoors and holding a cold beer after the sun goes down can be painful. Hand warmers are the obvious solution – snapping the button inside the fluid pouch activates a chemical reaction, keeping the pads warm for around an hour. After this, they cool off but boiling them in water resets the contents for reuse the next day. There are lots of these little gems out there, so search around to find the best. I particularly like the VW Campervan versions.