Are you prepared for a wet summer holiday in your motorhome?

If you’re thinking of heading away on holiday in your motorhome or campervan any time soon, you need to be prepared for the fact that it may not be bright and sunny all the while. Indeed, based on the last few weeks, you may be lucky to get a day where it doesn’t rain, even if only a short shower!
With our growing family this was becoming a real problem, and while the occasional wet day is perhaps all part of the fun of a camping holiday in the great outdoors, if you’re already pushed for space and don’t fancy all being “cooped up” inside your ‘van even when on the campsite just because it’s raining, you need to do something to be prepared.
One solution is an awning, either with or without a safari residence hanging underneath: it provides you with shelter from wind and rain, and can practically double the living space of your motorhome. (We’ve got one and our german shepherd sleeps happily in it every night while we’re away camping.) But because it relies upon the motorhome to support it, you have to take it down if you want to go out in the morning, and put it up again when you get back at the end of the day, either leaving its contents such as table and chairs out in the rain, or carrying them around in the ‘van with you all day.
Fortunately there is a solution in the form of a driveaway motorhome awning.
Bregenz Driveaway Campervan Annexe

A driveaway motorhome awning shown attached to a VW T5 campervan

As the name suggests, this annexe stands alone so that you can drive away in your campervan at any time you wish, leaving it free-standing with all your chairs and table stored safe and dry inside. When you get back at the end of the day you simply park next to it, attach it to the side of your ‘van by one of more that half-dozen different means for a wind & watertight connection, and unzip the rear door so you can move freely between ‘van and drive-away annexe.
There’s a front door too of course, so you now have extra living space with easy access to the rest of the campsite. And as sizes start at 1.8m x 1.8m and go up to 4.0m x 2.8m it can be quite a lot of extra space. But it gets better because some of our driveaway campervan awnings include useful optional extra features such as a zip-in groundsheet (so you never need worry about wet feet) or a sun canopy (it’s waterproof too…).
My personal favourite optional extra though, and an absolute blessing for those with a small campervan and small children, are the inner tents. These specially-tailored privacy rooms are designed to hang inside the drive-away awning, and provide sleeping space for two. When you have children who aren’t quite big enough to move out into their own pup tents yet, or you simply can’t be bothered to make up beds in the ‘van every day, these inner tents are the obvious answer.
Because motorhomes and campervans come in a range of different shapes and sizes, with doors of different heights and in different places, we sell a range of eight different drive away awnings for motorhomes and campervans so there’s one to suit every need.
With prices starting at under £175 including VAT for a 3.4m x 2.4m driveaway campervan annexe that’s tall enough to stand up in, and to which you can fit an optional inner tent to sleep two people for under £55, there really is no better way to enjoy the great British summer in your campervan.
And if that doesn’t suit you there are seven other models to choose from, right up to something designed to allow the biggest of motorhomes to drive away from its awning in the morning.
But order quick, before the school summer holidays start and we sell out.
If you like this product as much as I do, and you’d like to share it with your friends as I am with you, please either email them a link to this blog post or use the social-media icons below.
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June Camping Newsletter

It’s been a very busy May in the shop, which is why I haven’t written to you for a while.

The first thing to tell you is that, to celebrate my Mum’s birthday, we have an offer running that lets you get up to 6% of your purchase price back on anything you buy through our online store on or before Thursday 7th June 2012. You can read all about it in this blog post:

==> http://blog.campingequipmentshop.co.uk/?p=183

On more topical matters, did you know that the Olympics will be coming to Windsor next month? Perhaps you did. But did you also know that there will be 286 camping pitches in Windsor Great Park to help meet the accomodation needs of the event? I put up a blog post talking about it here:

==> http://blog.campingequipmentshop.co.uk/?p=163

Finally, we’re in the market for a new motorhome for our family. Our needs are perhaps somewhat unusual though so if you have a few minutes to spare over this long bank holiday weekend do please have a read of the blog post explaining our requirements, and leave a comment if you have any ideas:

==> http://blog.campingequipmentshop.co.uk/?p=145

So, that’s it for our June Newsletter from The Camping Equipment Shop. If you were expecting dozens of high-res product images, pages of text about things you’re probably not interested in, and a hundred separate sales messages …I’m sorry to disappoint you. This newsletter is simply my way of keeping in touch with you: no more, no less.

We hope you enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend, despite the less than brilliant weather forecast (did you expect otherwise?).

Happy Camping,

Andrew & Kira
Camping Equipment Shop
http://CampingEquipmentShop.co.uk

PS: Remember you can get up to 6% back on any purchases made through our online shop on or before Thursday 7th June 2012; this blog post tells you how:

==> http://blog.campingequipmentshop.co.uk/?p=183

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Get up to 6% back on purchases made through our website in the next week

Happy Birthday Mum, from all at Camping Equipment Shop

Today’s my Mum’s birthday, and it’s something I want to celebrate. I’ve decided that as well as giving her a birthday present (not that she wants one!) I’m going to give you, our valued customers, a present to celebrate her birthday too…

For every order over £500 placed through our website in the next week (i.e. before Thursday 7th June) we’ll give you a £25 voucher, redeemable against anything in our shop, valid until the end of the year.(*)

AND

For every order over £1,000 placed through our website in the next week (i.e. before Thursday 7th June) we’ll give you a £60 voucher, redeemable against anything in our shop, valid until the end of the year.(*)

And remember that you already get FREE CARRIAGE on every order over £300 placed through our website, and that will continue as well.

There are no strings attached beyond the obvious:

  • You need to make your purchase on or before Thursday 7th June 2012;
  • You must make it online through www.CampingEquipmentShop.co.uk;
  • You must quote HAPPY-BIRTHDAY-MUM when you checkout in order to get your voucher.

That’s it, all you need to do is say HAPPY-BIRTHDAY-MUM at checkout to get up to 6% of your spend back.

Our product range includes great brands such as:

to name but a few.

Within those brands we have products including:

And if you can’t see what you want on our website, but still want a voucher, it’s simple:

  1. Phone us on 01753 41 51 45 and tell us what you want to buy;
  2. Give us a few minutes to get it uploaded to the website;
  3. We’ll call you back to confirm it’s there;
  4. You order online, quoting HAPPY-BIRTHDAY-MUM at checkout; and
  5. We’ll email you your voucher right away.

Don't deal and miss out, order now...

But do it before Thursday 7th June, or you won’t get a voucher!

Get ready for the summer, visit our online Camping Equipment Shop now:

www.CampingEquipmentShop.co.uk

If you think others would like to benefit from this offer, you can share it with them using the social media icons below.

* Terms & Conditions Apply: Only one voucher will be awarded per purchase, and items bought after Thursday 7th June 2012 don’t qualify. You MUST enter the code HAPPY-BIRTHDAY-MUM at checkout to get awarded your voucher; if you don’t do this we cannot give you the voucher afterwards. You must spend your voucher before 31st December 2012.

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2012 Olympics Camping in Windsor

Her Majesty The Queen has agreed that part of her Windsor Crown Estate can be set aside for camping to help support the forthcoming 2012 London Olympics Camping need.

The Crown Estate has signed an agreement with The Camping and Caravanning Club to operate a Windsor Great Park Campsite during the 2012 Olympics. The site, which will run from Friday 20 July to Thursday 16 August, offers 286 pitches at £40 per night (for a minimum 3 night stay), will include on site catering, and is situated within the Windsor Estate.

Having just checked with The Camping and Caravanning Club I can tell you that:

  • Motorhomes, caravans and tents are welcome;
  • All pitches are grass, no hardstanding;
  • There is no electric hook-up, but generators are allowed (subject to normal Club rules);
  • Fresh water take on and grey-water/black-water disposal facilities will be available onsite.

The campsite will be adjacent to the world-famous Long Walk, a 30 minute walk from Windsor Castle, with the rowing and flat water canoeing and kayaking venue at Eton Dorney Lake just two miles away. The Olympic rowing and canoeing events will be taking place at Dorney Lake from Saturday 28 July to Saturday 11August 2012, and easy access to Dorney Lake will be provided by an official Olympic Park And Ride station which will run from the park for Olympic ticket holders.

Roughly 1,000 people are expected to use the campsite. By way of additional entertainment, there is an open air theatre scheduled on The Lawns in The Savill Garden for 9 and 10 August, and The Savill Garden and Savill Building will remain open daily until 8:30pm during the Games. This temporary Windsor Great Park campsite is of course also the idea base from which to explore the rest of this very interesting area, and its many tourist attractions, so book early to secure your pitch and include a few spare days to see something other than the Olympics.

To book your pitch at the campsite, call The Camping and Caravanning Club on 02476 475 426 (we suggest you don’t use their alternative 0845 130 7633 number as in many cases it will cost you more).

There are some superb walks in the local area too, so if you’re camping there keep an eye open for us out walking with our dog. And make sure you stock up on all your camping essentials before you leave home.

If you’re planning to visit please leave a comment below. And if you’ve found this post useful (and it tells you more than any other website, including the official one!) please say thank you by sharing it with others.

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What Motorhome Next?

Self Build Woody Motorhome
OK, maybe we’ve not had our Hymer quite this long…

We’ve had our motorhome for a good few years now and been very happy with it, that’s why we’ve kept it so long. It’s nothing revolutionary though, just a Fiat Ducato chassis-cab with a 2.5 turbo-diesel motor and 5 berth bodywork by Hymer of Germany. Simple, good quality, (mostly) solid and reliable, and a vehicle I have no hesitation recommending to any couple wishing to tour in comfort and convenience anywhere in UK or Europe with a single child (or indeed to anybody looking for a motorsport support & tow vehicle, another role our motorhome has performed brilliantly for very many long and extremely enjoyable weekends).

The problem of course is that as time has passed, so our needs have changed. Where “5 berths” once meant a double bed and a single bed permanently made up with sheets and duvets always fitted, and a fixed dining table for 4, it now means either quite a lot more twice-daily shuffling internally and/or somebody sleeping outside in either our Omnistor safari room or a pup-tent, possibly both. And that’s before factoring in our third child born a week ago, plus 40kg of highly-enthusiastic German Shepherd working dog who joined our family a couple of years back.

The inevitable conclusion is that our faithful Fiat/Hymer motorhome has been stretched about as far as is possible, and the time has come to expand into something bigger. The question is simple: what to get? Torquey though our 2.5 Iveco turbo-diesel motor is, I don’t fancy towing a caravan behind a campervan! This realisation does at least help focus the question a little though: what motorhome to have next?

This addresses a need, although perhaps not ours.

We’re in the fortunate position of being ‘in the trade’ and speaking with numerous motorhome-owning customers every day. Better yet, we’re often speaking with our customers about what needs to be improved, or fixed, on their own motorhomes following an extended period of real-world use (i.e. travelling and living). So we have a very good idea of what works well, and what doesn’t. And of course when we go to the various motorhome and camping shows every year, we get to see more new and customised vehicles than you can shake a stick at. Literally!

So we do at least have a fairly good idea of our ‘must have’ requirements (i.e. anything that doesn’t meet all of these requirements has no chance of being selected):

  • 4 fixed berths (1 double and 2 singles) minimum
  • Fixed dining/lounging area for 6
  • 2 occasional berths (preferably 2 singles)
  • Fixed travel seating for 4 (minimum) in driving cab, with lap & diagonal belts
  • Occasional travel seating for 4 in living area, also with lap & diagonal belts
  • Standard, unmodified diesel engine (definitely not petrol with LPG conversion!)
  • Base vehicle designed for long-haul driving, not local deliveries (I want to be fresh after an 8 hour drive!)

And a fair few ‘should have’ items as well (i.e. our ideal motorhome will have most or all of these features):

  • Rear wheel drive (pref with diff-lock to further reduce risk of getting stuck when towing off-tarmac)
  • Left hand drive
  • Adequate working surface in kitchen that doesn’t interfere with seating/dining space
  • Large cupboard space
  • Dishwasher & washing machine
  • Oven, grill & large fridge-freezer
  • Minimum 5 days & nights independence from mains-electric supply
  • Good size externally accessible garage
  • Cab able to be securely locked-off from living accommodation, both for dealer servicing and somewhere for dog to sleep

And we’ve even defined some ‘nice to have’ requirements too (i.e. in the unlikely event that more than one motorhome meets all the above, these will be the deciders):

  • All wheel drive, either 4×4 or 6×6 (we’ll eventually be heading into Africa, India and beyond)
  • Substantial fuel & water autonomy
  • On-board generator
  • Large garage, 2+ cubic metres
Luxury American RV with car in garage

This is bigger than we need, or can afford

On interior finish, we have no interest in the “ostentatious luxury for the sake of it” style of some motorhome manufacturers, and would prefer something that is simple, easy to clean and above all durable. We really don’t want beautifully polished wood, that will simply add cost at the outset and eventually wind up scratched, scared and looking tatty anyway. Such are the needs of a typical family, travelling and camping with active children of various ages and a big working dog.

The problem then comes because we’re struggling to find a motorhome (at least in the sense that most people use the word!) that meets even the ‘must have’ requirements, let alone anything more, mostly because of our desire to have the whole family in the cab so we can easily talk on long journeys, and because we don’t want to be forever making beds up and breaking them down again.

Small self build motorhome - pedal powered - camperbike

While this isn't anywhere big enough for us.

There are some Ducato-based vehicles that can meet our sleeping/eating needs by virtue of a tag-axle and long body, but their traction is woefully inadequate when trying to move across wet grass with a car-trailer on the back (I’ve got our current motorhome stuck crossing a mate’s field to camp there even without the trailer), they don’t have sufficient in-cab seating, and they’re not really relaxing long-haul vehicles (being built on a base vehicle that was originally designed for comparatively local journeys).

With some of the US imports it’s arguable that everybody sits ‘in the cab’ when travelling, and they’re certainly comfortable on the long-haul, but even if they nominally have sufficient berths too, the American propensity to waste space for the sake of it means that they’re not fixed berths and need to be constantly made up and broken down, which rules them out for us. Many US RVs brought into UK also have petrol engines with LPG conversions, and while I won’t go into the technicalities here that is definitely *NOT* a reliable or durable solution, and will most likely end up costing more in the long-run when it breaks than simply running on petrol would.

Self built 4x4 motorhome

And this isn't quite what we had in mind either...

All of which points towards a European truck base (as opposed to van base) for our ideal motorhome. Many trucks are designed for long-haul rather than local distribution, and unlike the US market the EU ones are designed with an eye on fuel economy too. They’re obviously not front wheel drive and are thus unlikely to suffer traction problems towing across a wet field. And with an extended/crew cab there’s even space for our children to join us up front, and enjoy the scenery as we drive. I’m perfectly happy to take a LGV test to drive the thing if necessary, no problems.

The only problem then is that the biggest truck chassis I can see in use for motorhome construction in Europe is the MAN TGL 8.210, which being plated at 7.5 tons is still small enough to drive on a car license (not that I care) but even then it’s seemingly only built as a motorhome with the basic day cab (meaning there’s only one row of seats – why???), and the very few motorhome manufacturers using that chassis appear to major on the “ostentatious luxury for the sake of it” style of interior that we’re keen to avoid.

The inevitable conclusion then is that it looks like we’re heading towards a self build motorhome here, but if you know otherwise do please share your thoughts either as a comment here or by email. And if you know anybody else that may be able to help us in our search for our dream motorhome, please share this post with them using your preferred social media mechanisms.

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Motorhome Caravan & Camping Show, ExCeL, February 2012

ExCeL Motorhome Caravan Camping Show

ExCeL Motorhome Caravan Camping Show

The Motorhome Caravan & Camping Show will run from Tuesday 14 to Sunday 19 February 2012 inclusive in London at ExCeL, Royal Victoria Dock, London, E16 1XL.

Located in the North and South halls of ExCeL, the opening Times on Tuesday through Saturday are 10.00am to 6.00pm, closing earlier at 5:00pm on Sunday, presumably to give the exhibitors and organisers a chance to pack up and get home.

Tickets start from £7.00 in advance (plus a transaction fee!) and include a show guide. Group tickets are also available. Kids go free although, having been to ExCeL many times before, I’m struggling to imagine mine enjoying a day out there!

Car parking is included in your ticket cost, although only if you buy tickets in advance (which is cheaper too). However, there will not be a temporary campsite facility at the show, presumably because space is at a premium in London. The ExCeL venue was designed with disabled visitors in mind, so if you have limited mobility don’t let that put you off. And if you are in a wheelchair, needing a carer, then another adult can get in with you for free.

To learn all the detail on the ExCeL Docklands venue itself, opening times, ticket prices, car parking, nearby campsites etc go to the organisers’ website:

http://www.motorhomecaravanandcamping.co.uk

According to the organisers, the Motorhome, Caravan & Camping Show will be the only place in the spring where the major motorhome and caravan manufacturers and dealers will be displaying their latest season’s models.

Hundreds of caravans will be on display – from entry-level family tourers through to luxurious 6-berth fifth wheelers. There will also be hundreds of new motorhomes, from compact 2-berth campervans through to luxurious (and expensive) 6-berth American coach-builts, on display across both the North and South halls.

Visitors will be able to compare all the new model layouts, interiors, specifications and innovations. Whatever your requirements, the exhibitors clearly hope that you’ll find the perfect motorhome or caravan for you at the show.

Caravan manufacturers exhibiting include: Adria; Airstream; Bailey (Orion, Olympus, Pegasus, Unicorn); Carlight; Coachman (Amara, Pastiche, Laser and VIP); Elddis (Xplore, Crusader, Avante, Odyssey); Eterniti Caravans; Lunar (Ariva/Quasar, Stellar/Lexon, Clubman/Delta); Stealth; Swift Group (Swift, Sterling, Sprite).

While camper-van and motor home exhibitors, both manufacturers and converters, include: Adria; Auto Campers; Auto Trail; Bailey, Bentley Motorhomes; Bilbo’s, Chausson; CI; Concept Multi-Car; Elddis; G & P Campers; Murvi; Romahome; Swift Group; Timberland; Vantage Motorhomes; Wheelhome; Wildax.

To see the full list, because that really is only a sample, go to the show’s website:

http://www.motorhomecaravanandcamping.co.uk

Close to our hearts there will be thousands of motorhome and caravan accessories, all aimed to make your time in the outdoors more enjoyable, on offer throughout the show. From the latest range of caravan awnings and motorhome porches to satellite systems, caravan movers, covers, cleaning products and security devices.

Of particular interest to caravan owners, all the latest awning and porch ranges will be available from leading brands including Isabella, Bradcott, Hillview and many more. For motorhome owners, while Omnistor doesn’t appear to have an official presence at the show, we’re always happy to sell you an Omnistor awning if you’re in the market for one.

So don’t miss the opportunity to pick up a bargain at the show’s Accessory Megastores where you will find sleeping bags, water carriers, outdoor furniture, tableware, BBQs, toilet chemicals and much more …including many show-special offers.

To learn more about what’s on offer, before committing yourself to a trek into London, just visit the official website:

http://www.motorhomecaravanandcamping.co.uk

And if you can’t face London, buy online at the Camping Equipment Shop instead :)

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2012 Omnistor Price Rise Imminent

The prices for all Omnistor products will soon be increasing for 2012. It’s not as bad as it could be, thanks to the Pound being strong against the Euro, but we know prices from the Omnistor factory in Belgium are still going up, which will of course affect us here in UK too.

Something else to be aware of is that Thule, who owns Omnistor, has decided to stamp its identity more firmly on the brand in 2012. This not only means that such household names as the Omnistor Omni-step may suddenly become the Thule Omnistep, but also that the vast majority of product codes will be changing too.

This is a huge pain for anybody like us who runs a website where the products are identified by their product codes, but it’s also a huge opportunity for you, our customers…

The really good news is that our primary supplier for Omnistor products, the main UK wholesale-only importer, has agreed to continue selling us Omnistor products under the old product codes and at the old prices while their stocks last. So, for a while at least, this means we can sell them to you at the old price too. As long as either we or they have stock of the genuine Omnistor product under the 2011 product code you can still grab it at the 2011 price.

Don’t miss your opportunity, order now before stock runs out and the price goes up.

==> http://www.CampingEquipmentShop.co.uk

If you wish to alert others to this opportunity by sharing this blog post with them, please use the social media sharing icons below…

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From Bedding to Batteries: November 2011 Camping Newsletter

This newsletter is mostly about caravan and motorhome leisure batteries, but first a few words on caravan bedding (and motorhomes too).

Last month I told you that we are proud to now be selling the excellent Raskelf Duvalay and Raskelf Portable Mattress Topper. They’re great products and, if you haven’t already bought one to try in your motorhome (or caravan!) you really should. Our prices are exactly the same as Raskelf’s, and the goods will ship direct from them so you can be assured of a speedy delivery, but from now until Christmas we’re giving a discount voucher for 5% off anything in our shop to everybody who buys a Raskelf product from us. If you use that voucher against a caravan or motorhome bike carrier from either Omnistor (Omnibike) or Fiamma (Carry Bike) it will save you about £10, against an Omnistep it could save you £15, and against a Safari Residence it easily could save you £50 or more.

So, what are you waiting for? Go and take a look at the full range of Raskelf products that we sell right away:

==> http://campingequipmentshop.co.uk/index.php/sleeping-bag-camping-mat/c_64.html

This month’s newsletter is really about leisure batteries however, and we’re pleased to announce that we’re now also selling them.

Batteries may not be as exciting, or glamorous, as some of the accessories that you buy for your motorhome. You may not even think about the battery in your caravan, all the while just taking it for granted. But when it stops working one day and you suddenly find the interior lights dimming, the water pump slowing to a halt, and the heater-fan no longer blowing warm air around you… that’s when your mind is likely to start focussing on the problem! And of course with winter coming, you’ll be spending more time inside your ‘van when out camping, and the battery will need to work harder as a consequence.

Starter batteries, such as you have in your car, are designed to give a high-current burst for a relatively short period of time. This is precisely what you need to start an engine on a cold morning. Leisure batteries in contrast are designed to deliver a much lower current (perhaps just a few LED lights and a low-wattage heater fan) but over a far longer period of time (days rather than seconds). A leisure battery is thus designed very differently from a starter battery, and it’s not a good idea to try and interchange them.

Safety becomes more important with a leisure battery than a starter battery too, because it’s often inside your living accommodation with you (it keeps warm that way and so works better) rather than tucked away in the cold under the bonnet. For the most part, people aren’t generally keen about sharing their living space with a screw-top plastic box full of highly concentrated acid(!), both because of the fumes it can potentially give off during charging and because of the highly unpleasant consequences of a leak.

Enter then, the Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) battery.

In a conventional lead-acid battery the gap between the lead plates in each cell (technically referred to as an accumulator because it accumulates charge, the word battery being correctly used to describe a collection of accumulators) is filled with liquid acid slopping around like tea in a mug. However, in an Absorbed Glass Mat battery, or simply AGM battery as it is most often known, the gap between the lead plates is filled with a specially designed glass-fibre mat which absorbs the acid like a sponge. The acid is free to work chemically exactly as it would do in liquid format, but the battery can’t leak even if you turn it upside down! This is clearly a much better solution for holding acid in your campervan’s habitation area, and as a further bonus because of this it never needs to be topped up with distilled water (and as it’s truly sealed for life, there is no facility to do so even if you wanted to).

So the recommendation from all of us here at the Camping Equipment Shop, for a new leisure battery for a motorhome or caravan, is definitely to buy AGM.

To this end we have teamed up with the experts at Leoch to bring you a selection of AGM leisure batteries that between them will address 99% of all camping requirements. Don’t worry if you’ve not heard of Leoch before: they were founded in 1999 and are now the largest exporter of lead-acid batteries in China; their factories cover nearly 870,000 square meters and they have over 10,000 employees worldwide; they have been audited and awarded certificates for ISO9001 (process), TS16949 (quality management), ISO14001 (environment management), OHSAS18001…; in short, Leoch is a large and reputable company with a top-quality product range that you can buy, fit and use in total confidence.

We’re impressed enough that we have a pair of Leoch batteries in our own motorhome, and they’re working perfectly.

From Leoch’s range of literally hundreds of different batteries we have therefore carefully selected the three (most common sized AGM leisure batteries) that are ideally suited to motor home or caravan use. They are as follows:

And as an introductory offer, we’re selling them at a massive discount from RRP. What’s more, if you have a bigger ‘van (like us) and buy a matching pair of leisure batteries at the same time, you’ll get a further 10% off the total (so you could even buy one for a friend and split the extra saving!). And, even better, from now until Christmas we’re giving a discount voucher for 5% off anything in our shop to everybody who buys a Leoch product from us.

So don’t be caught out this winter, buy a new leisure battery for your motor home before it’s too late:

==> http://campingequipmentshop.co.uk/index.php/leisure-batteries/c_7.html

As usual, please feel free to share this post with your friends using the icons provided, and leave your comments below…

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Sleep Well in your Caravan or Motorhome with the Raskelf Duvalay and Portable Mattress Topper

Do you ever wake up in your caravan, or motorhome, feeling cold or just plain uncomfortable? If you’re cold, perhaps it’s because the duvet slipped off you in the night and is mostly lying on the floor next to your bunk? One solution may be a sleeping bag, but not everybody likes them and while that may keep you warm it will do nothing to help your back. In any case, you wanted “all the comforts of home” on your camping holiday, and climbing into a sleeping bag isn’t quite what you had in mind.

Liz and Alan Colleran of Raskelf, and latterly Dragons Den fame, had just this problem in their caravan but rather than suffer in silence, they decided to solve the problem once and for all. Their nights of poor sleep, and less-than-perfect holidays, were soon to be no more.

They first addressed the problem of waking up with a sore back because, let’s face it, no collection of rearranged foam cushions (the most common type of bed in a caravan or motorhome) is going to be as supportive or comfortable as the mattress you have on your bed at home. The result of their labours was the innovative Raskelf portable mattress topper which, as the name suggests, is both easily portable and designed to lay on top of a mattress. When placed on top of the typical collection of foam cushions, this ingenious memory foam does a remarkable job of supporting the sleeper and evening out all the cracks (indeed, it’s so good that some people even use them at home). The result however was that Liz and husband Alan could finally wake up in their caravan without sore backs.

Follow this link to buy the Raskelf caravan mattress topper.

But Liz is a perfectionist and, while that sorted things for the summer months, they were still getting cold in the winter. As Liz explained to Hilary Devey: “I didn’t enjoy waking up to find that the duvet had moved, and my back was against the cold outside wall of the caravan.” So Liz tackled that problem and solved it too, with the innovate Duvalay. You may have seen memory foam before, but this will be a new one on you. In very simple terms the Raskelf Duvalay is two bags sewn together along the side, with the bottom bag containing the memory foam from the portable mattress topper, and the top bag containing a normal duvet. You simply climb in between, exactly as you would between the duvet and mattress on your bed at home, confident that despite being in your motorhome’s bunk nothing will move during the night and you won’t wake up cold and uncomfortable. The thickness of memory foam, and TOG rating of the duvet, can both be varied to suit your preferences.

Go here to buy the Raskelf Duvalay.

In conclusion then, thanks to Alan and Liz Colleran of Raskelf, you can now enjoy a comfortable and warm night’s sleep in your campervan/motorhome/caravan, and not risk having your holiday ruined by poor sleep.

Raskelf portable mattress topper

Raskelf Duvalay

If you have either of these products, please feel free to share your comments here and/or as reviews to the individual products on our website (by following the links above). If you’d like to recommend these products to others, or refer them to this blog post, please use the social media icons below to do so.

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Omnistep Problems

We sell a lot of Omnisteps: slide-out, single step and double step; 12v and manual. It’s a great product: good quality and with a long service life. The Omnistor Omni-step is a fast-moving product for us, and the good news is that it’s very easy to fit, even the 12v double Omnistep (a favourite on taller motorhomes) and versatile 12v slide-out Omni-step (a favourite on van conversions). It almost always works straight out of the box too, with substantially less than 1 in every 100 we sell getting returned.

The most common cause of problems with the Omnistep is poor installation: it really is as simple as that! As with anything else, if you’re not either qualified or sufficiently experienced enough to do the job yourself, then it’s worth getting somebody who is to do it for you.

But suppose you’ve already fitted an Omnistep to your motorhome and it doesn’t work? What do you do now? How can we help you with basic troubleshooting? I’ll share our most common Q & A with you:

Question: “My Omnistep is extended and it won’t retract.”

Camping Equipment Shop: “The two most likely reasons why the Omnistep won’t retract are:

1) The first most probable reason is a blown fuse. In this case the solution would be replacing the fuse and hopefully it will solve the problem. You can buy replacement fuses from your local motor-factors.

2) If replacing the fuse doesn’t solve the problem (or if it continues to blow) another possible option is to check the switch. Although these don’t often fail, it’s far more common than the Omnistep itself which often lasts 10+ years.

If the switch is faulty and you’ve only recently bought your Omnistep from us we’ll send you another switch immediately so you can replace the faulty one the next day. If you’ve had your Omnistep somewhat longer and the switch fails, then we can sell you a replacement Omnistep interior switch.

It’s worth noting that the vast majority of people who buy a replacement Omnistep from us do so because they drove off with their existing motorhome step extended, not because of a problem retracting it beyond (by their own admission) the simple fact that they forgot to do so. This failure, on the part of the motorhome driver, most definitely isn’t covered under warranty so please don’t post the mangled remains of your old motorhome step back to us!

Typical photo we receive on email from a customer who had bent the Omni-step on their motorhome. If you look closely you'll see that the vehicle is damaged too.

Fortunately there are two easy ways to prevent this problem:

  • Every new Omnistep is supplied with a switch for wiring to a warning light and/or buzzer on your motorhome’s dashboard. Hopefully the combination of a bright light and a loud noise will alert the driver to the imminent damage in time to prevent it;
  • For those who like everything to be automated though, Omnistor also produce an Omni-step Safety Relay which automatically retracts the step if the motorhome’s engine is started with it extended. UPDATE: An ignition-controlled auto-retract step safety relay is also available for Project 2000 Electric Steps as Project 2000 Safety Relay and Mapa Tecno Electric Steps as Techno Steps Safety Relay.

If you’d like to add any advice to help others, or share your experiences with motorhome and/or caravan step, please use the comment link to do so. And if you’d like to share this post with others, please use the social media icons.

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