””

Lightweight gadgets for life in the great outdoors

Thinking of spending the weekend outdoors? Make the experience more comfortable with these practical and lightweight gadgets and toys. The Straits Times features some of the more innovative products

Decathlon Soft Archery Set


Decathlon Soft Archery Set. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

This no-frills archery set is safe even for children.

The soft archery set by French sporting goods company Decathlon uses arrows with suction tips instead of steel tips found in a real archery set.

Each set comes with two arrows and an ambidextrous bow.

The arrows and bow can be attached to the back of the target board, which comes with a handle for easy carrying.

To practise your archery skills, just place the 62cm-tall target board about 10m away.

You can buy extra arrows at $3.90 each and extra bows at $29.90 each from Decathlon.

Price: $69.90 Where to buy: Decathlon, 750A Chai Chee Technopark, 01-01; City Square Mall, 180 Kitchener Road, 02-03

EQIQ Mat


EQIQ Mat. PHOTO: LITTLE LLAMA

Kids can have impromptu pool parties with this lightweight, foldable vessel from South Korea.

This portable pool is about 1.7m in diameter, has a 20cm high "wall", weighs about 1kg and can hold four to five kids at a time.

It is made from non-toxic waterproof plastic and can be folded up into an A3 size.

Public servant Yang Wen, 31, bought the EQIQ mat last month for her two toddlers (both left), aged two and four, after seeing it at a friend's birthday party.

She says: "The mat was in the living room and four children were inside playing with bowls of water and different toys and very little water spilled outside.

"After the party, my friend just wiped the mat with a piece of cloth."

She has taken the mat to the grass patch at her condominium a couple of times. Her children would scoop up water from the swimming pool nearby with bowls and buckets and splash about in the mat.

"They love it and have invited other children to play with them," she says.

She plans to use it for her son's upcoming second birthday party.

This product is found on online shop Little Llama, opened by Mr David Liew, 30. He brought in the product in June this year. The online store specialises in early childhood books and toys.

He says the mat can also be used outdoors for sand play or as a picnic mat. "When it is raining, it can help bring outdoor play indoors. It provides a quick pop-up play area."

Price: $74.90 Where to buy: Little Llama, littlellama.sg


Mini-collapsible Storm Lantern


Mini-collapsible Storm Lantern. PHOTO: OUTDOOR LIFE

This lantern is a multi-purpose camping tool that can emit light and charge phones - all without using any batteries.

It gets its power from a hand crank attached to it. Pumping it continuously for about 10 minutes can make the light last for almost two hours.

The cylindrical lantern can also be collapsed into a small disc to make a torch.

There is a USB port so you can plug in your cellphones and other digital devices if you need an emergency charger.

The lantern, by United States- based Secur Products, was brought in in January this year by Outdoor Life, a shop selling outdoor gear.

Mr Cyril Besanger, 21, a retail associate at the shop, bought the lantern a month ago and plans to use it for an upcoming trek in Sri Lanka.

"When I go trekking in remote areas, I need equipment that can self-charge as I may not have access to electricity," he says.

Price: $53 Where to buy: Outdoor Life at Novena Square, 02-60/67, and Wheelock Place, 02-18


The Nua


The Nua. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LEONG KAI YUN

This Hong Kong-made inflatable sofa is so lightweight that you can inflate it by running with it and catching the wind like a kite.

Once it is filled with enough air, you roll up the end - voila, you have a sofa-shaped balloon, on which you can do what its name suggests: Nua (to laze in Hokkien.)

Made out of ripstop nylon, a material which resists ripping and tearing, The Nua is about 1.65m long so you can even lie down on it. It can hold up to 150kg.

When deflated, it weighs 900g and can be folded into an A4 size.

Teacher Leong Kai Yun, 35, has two of these sofas and uses them indoors and outdoors.

If she and her financial adviser husband are at the park, he will run a few metres to scoop air into the sofa.

Indoors, he blows a fan at the opening. They have inflated the sofa a couple of times to sit on while watching television.

Be careful while getting off The Nua, though, says Ms Leong. "It's like trying to get off a big balloon. You may lose your balance."

Price: S$79 Where to buy: Limited stocks at the Wave House at Sentosa, or buy online at www.thenualifestyle. com/products/thenua, where the price is US$79 (S$106), including shipping.


Decathlon Easy Net


Decathlon Easy Net. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

This handy all-in-one badminton kit allows you to play badminton in any place that has flat, open ground. Decathlon's Easy Net allows users to set up their own court.

Everything you need for the game - including badminton poles, net and rackets - is kept inside a container that looks a bit like a radio: with two round "speaker" areas to accommodate the racket's stringed heads.

The container, which weighs about 1kg with just the poles and net, also acts as a stand. Insert the poles into the stand and fit the badminton net over them and presto, you are ready to play. The width of the net is 3m, while the width of a standard net is about 5.5m.

Some containers also come with court markers to allow users to mark out the court.

Sales manager Francis Chua, 40, bought the set to play with his two children aged seven and 10 when he saw it at the Decathlon store this year.

Previously, they had played badminton without a net at the open grass patch at their condominium.

With the kit, they can set up a more "proper" court.

Says Mr Chua: "We enjoy the game more. We played badminton practically every weekend in the first few months after I bought the set.

"We play less often now as the novelty has worn off a bit."

Price: $54.90 (net, two rackets and shuttlecocks) and $64.90 (net, four rackets, shuttlecocks and a court marker) Where to buy: Decathlon, 750A Chai Chee Technopark, 01-01; City Square Mall, 180 Kitchener Road, 02-03


Feathercraft Aironaut inflatable kayak


Feathercraft Aironaut inflatable kayak. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

These inflatable kayaks can be packed down to size of a backpack and fit into the boot of a car.

The lightest around, the Feathercraft Aironaut from Canada is made of polyurethane.

The material is "lighter and more durable than other commonly used materials such as rubber and PVC", says Mr Sim Cher Huey (above), 41, founder of Kayakasia, which specialises in kayak-related products and kayak tours in Singapore and the region.

You need deep pockets for this blow-up kayak, though. The Feathercraft Aironaut costs $4,000 and weighs 9kg.

A standard hardshell kayak, which can be bought at a few hundred dollars, weighs 20kg or more.

A manual hand pump is used to inflate the air chambers on the two sides and bottom of the Aironaut.

To inflate the seat and its backing, you have to blow into a valve.

The set-up process takes about five to seven minutes.

Manager Moira Khaw, who owns an Aironaut, has taken it locally and overseas for kayaking expeditions.

"I feel like I am sitting on a sofa in the sea," she says.

Price: $4,000 Where to buy: Kayakasia, 59C Temple Street. By appointment only. Call 9756-2040


Airmocks


Airmocks. PHOTO: COURTESY OF JANE TOR

You do not need two trees to hang up this hammock.

Instead, you can set up this free-standing hammock wherever there is space to relax. It comes with its own stand, on which you can hang a breathable netting. Everything is collapsible and can be packed into a carrying bag.

Mobility-wise, it may be a bit of a challenge to lug these things around.

The polyester net weighs 1kg and the stands come in two models - the basic one weighs 8kg and can carry a person up to 1.8m tall and who weighs 170kg. The deluxe stand weighs 9kg and can carry a person up to 2m tall and who weighs 200kg.

But it is easy to set up.

You just need to snap the self-locking catches at the four corners of the stand in place and then proceed to hang the netting. The height can be adjusted at the legs of the hammock.

The product was launched by Mr Ernest Ng, 26, when he was still a final-year business marketing student at the Nanyang Technological University.

He had seen people using freestanding hammocks at New York's Central Park during his travels and wanted to adapt a version for Singapore.

He says: "Unlike most of the hammocks with stands I saw overseas, which were large and heavy and could be be used only in backyards and patios, Airmocks is portable and can be collapsed without the use of any tools."

Financial consultant Jane Tor (above), 24, bought the hammock with the basic stand two years ago as a birthday present for her father.

She says: "He grew up in a kampung and used to lie in hammocks tied between trees."

During public holidays, her father likes to take it to East Coast Park where the family often picnics.

Ms Tor says: "We would take turns to use it, my younger brother, cousins, uncles and aunts. Whoever lies in it will tend to fall asleep because it's so comfortable."

Price: $158 (basic) and $188 (deluxe) Where to buy: www.airmocks.com and Tangs in Orchard Road


Klymit Static V2 sleeping pad


Klymit Static V2 sleeping pad. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

Trying to find a sleeping pad that is lightweight, comfortable and compact is a challenge for many trekkers.

Klymit Static V2 from the United States tries to combine all three elements.

It weighs 500g, offers enough cushioning and can be packed down to the size of a water bottle.

To sleep on it, you unroll the pack and inflate it by blowing into an air valve.

It puffs up to become a comfortable ridged mattress with a thickness of 7 to 8cm.

Frequent trekker Chua Tien Seng (above), 49, founder of Singapore Adventurous Nature Lovers, finds it as comfortable as sleeping on his own bed at home.

He says: "Most camping grounds are hard and you need all the cushioning you can get. This ensures that your body recovers well before the trek the next day."

Price: $95 Where to buy: Kayakasia, 59C Temple Street. By appointment only, call 9756-2040


Soto G-stove STG-10


Soto G-stove STG-10. PHOTO: SOTO

One of the toughest things about cooking over a stove when you are outdoors is keeping the breeze from blowing out the fire.

Hence, some campers take along portable windshields to block the wind.

The Soto G-stove from Japan solves this problem by incorporating a windshield in its design.

The 400g stove comes with a small burner which is enclosed in a two-sided metal casing, the size of a rectangular wallet.

To set it up, take the burner out of the casing and attach a standard butane canister to it.

The casing acts as a support for the burner while its two sides keep out the breeze.

Technician and outdoor lover Johnny Lee, 43, bought the stove last year and has been using it for all his camping trips.

He says that an advantage of the G-stove is that, unlike American or European stoves, it does not need an adaptor to be attached to a standard butane canister.

He says: "Whatever reduces weight in my backpack is good. I have also recommended it to my friends."

Price: US$67.98 (S$91) Where to buy: eBay

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2016, with the headline 'Unpack and play'. Print Edition | Subscribe