Nick News, Spotlight

Nick’s News – Underfloor heating, a dinky camper and wearable sleeping bags

Mink Camper in action

Nick HardingNick’s News – Nick Harding is an expert in all things motorhomes, caravans and camping. Each week, Nick explores products, locations, holiday ideas and essential community information on our behalf – It’s a Hard-ing Life for Nick, but here is what he found this week.

My Week

There’s nothing like kicking off the week doing something a bit different. So, Monday saw me braving the elements – yes, four seasons pretty much captured in one day – to review heating and hot water systems from Whale.

As well as the quiet way the Heat Air system goes about its business, what I really like about it is its underfloor fitting location. It frees up so much interior storage space, especially when you’re in a typical van conversion like I was, in this case an Auto-Sleeper Fairford Plus.

Also, it couldn’t be easier to use. In fact, at 6.36m long, the Fairford Plus is larger than many a coachbuilt, yet nevertheless, the Whale system kept the whole interior cosy. The result? One warm reporter while the weather did its darnedest just outside.

In the news

New to caravans and motorhomes? Have I got news for you

Look, you won’t read this anywhere else, but if you’re new to the world of motorhomes and caravans, let me tell you something. That brand new vehicle you’re about to take delivery of – don’t be surprised if there are a few glitches with it. It’s purely down to the nature of what are essentially still hand-crafted products (clue: I’ve only ever seen one robot in a caravan or motorhome manufacturing plant and that was at Adria in Slovenia).

It’s easy to make comparisons with new-build homes… OK, maybe that’s a bit unfair on our leisure vehicle makers. Instead, I’ll offer this advice: get out in your new vehicle just as soon as you get it. Be prepared to make a list of “snags”, then book it into your supplying dealer for sorting. How you’re dealt with from thereon is a better assessment of how this industry works.

McLouis is a match for Matt

Auto-Sleepers Group is sponsoring Matt Venn, who’s riding for Unique Motorsports in the Ducati Tri Options championship, with the loan of one of its McLouis motorhomes (a sister brand in the Trigano Group, of which they’re all part).

It’s a support vehicle and great publicity for motorhomes generally, Matt took podiums four times within the first two weeks of his McLouis journey. As the saying goes, all publicity is good publicity, but motorhomes – in particular – seem to benefit from any association with racing, be it two wheels or four.

Caravan crush

Mink – a cheeky chappie of a caravan

I have to admit, I haven’t actually seen one of these “in the flesh” yet, but if you’re a fan of dinky caravans that are some stretch from being a typical tourer then you might want to check these out. Mink caravans – sorry, they prefer the term camper – are coming to the UK courtesy of Broad Lane Leisure and its two outlets in Warwickshire.

It’s an Icelandic company, producing tiny tourers that only weight in at 490kg, making them something to consider if you’re planning to have an electric vehicle in the future. The interiors boast a double bed that’s some 2m by 1.40m as well as a canvas bed for the kids. There’s also an outdoor kitchen. I told you it was all a bit different!

OK, the Mink 2.0, to give it its full name, is not going to appeal to traditionalists, but it’s all part of Broad Lane’s initiative to appeal to a younger audience – see also its Staycation campervans, plus it’s even added the Eriba caravan franchise to its portfolio.

Three good: It’s one cool caravan with a quality ABS body and trendy looks
Two bad: It’s small and won’t be cheap
Perfect for… exploring a bit further in a lightweight way
Also consider: Barefoot, Trip Buddy

Gadget envyMan wearing a Selk'bag

Blanket coverage – time to bag up?

Sleeping bags or duvets? Or do you want a bit more than that? With weather proving somewhat inclement so far this year, I thought you might be interested in the following:

Selk’bag claims to be the original wearable sleeping bag brand, with features such as elasticated hand openings, kangaroo pockets, leg vents, removable booties with soles, and a whole host of intriguing elements.

More than just a sleeping bag – you really can move about in them – they also have a slight waterproof coating so they’re great for sitting around in outdoors. There’s quite a range of different models, starting at just under £100 and going up to nearly £250 for the fully recycled, completely sustainable Nomad.

Alternatively, Kelty has recently introduced the Hoodligan Blanket, a kind of cross between an insulated blanket and a poncho, complete with a hoodie. At £45 it looks like a bit of a bargain.

Or, how about going the whole hog with a Festival in a Bag kit? It’s a package of two sleeping bags, a two-person tent, mats and water bottles, all sustainable to get around the fact that so many festival goers simply dump their gear at the end of the gig. Expect to pay around £130 from the company that does what it says on the tin – Festival in a Bag.