CAMPING PRODUCT REVIEWS

WATER HEATERS, PUMPS AND HOSES

 

Camping Product Reviews - Water Heaters, Pumps and Hoses

 

 

 

 

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Water Heaters, Fluid Pumps, Air Pumps and Hoses

 

 

Price: $?? Yet to be released in Australia
From: Watch this space...
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: Pending
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: Pending
Our recommendation: We like it and will report more once we have used it more.
Find out more about the pump at Max Pump 2

 

A new product is being launched on to the Australian market that looks like it will be very useful for hikers and campers.

The Max Pump 2 is a small, lightweight air pump that will inflate and deflate a number of different products that people often use when camping in the bush.

The pump is designed to quickly inflate things like air beds, inflatable boats, inflatable toys and swimming rings. It is not designed to pump up items that require high pressure as it delivers 2kpa and will not over inflate items that are designed for use at low pressure.

The flow rate is 300 litres a minute so inflating large air mattresses will be very efficient and a huge improvement over the old 'huff and puff method'.

Our testing showed that it was significantly faster at inflating a large queen sized air bed than our existing 12 volt pump.

The pump can also deflate these products and has the added bonus of being able to provide suction for vacuum bags.

Using vacuum bags helps save packing space when you go camping by reducing the space occupied by clothes, towels, bedding etc. by up to 50%.

The pump comes packaged in a nicely presented box and included with the pump is a carry bag, 4 nozzles, a USB to micro-USB cable and an instruction leaflet.

At just 145 grams, it will be ideal for anyone wanting to go hiking as it is very light and takes up next to no space. There are more and more people heading out on motorbikes for camping trips and this pump would be ideal for them too.

Operation of the unit is very simple as it has a touch switch. One touch puts the pump into standby mode. A second longer press will turn the pump on and three consecutive presses will turn the unit off. While we have heard that earlier versions had some problems with this type of switching, the unit we tested performed perfectly so it looks as though the bugs have been ironed out.

There are safety guards on the air inlet and outlet ports to ensure small fingers don't find their way in to the rotor area.

There is no need to carry spare batteries as the unit is rechargeable from any source supplying 5 volt power.

An additional bonus is the ability to be used as an emergency power bank for your other rechargeable gear. We always like gear that has more than one use.

To use the pump as a power bank, simply reverse the USB cable so that the standard USB connection attaches to the pump and attach the micro USB to the item to be charged. Charging will start automatically once it is connected.

The internal 3600mah battery is rated at 50 minutes operating time when pumping. We found that the powerbank charged our smart phone from 13% to 98% in two and a half hours and still had power left over.

In standby mode the internal LED light will indicate the current state of charge. A steady red light indicates a charge of 0-20%, flashing red indicates 21-80% and steady green shows 81-100% charge level.

While the unit is charging the LED flashes red. Once it is fully charged the light becomes steady green.

Other uses for the pump are limited only by your imagination. The narrow nozzle can be used to help clean camera lenses and image sensors by directing air into hard to reach areas and blowing out dust. We would suggest not putting the nozzle too close to any sensors and just use a light flow of air to clean them.

The pump can also help with starting a campfire by providing a jet of air and increasing the available oxygen.

It is recommended that the pump not be operated continuously for more than 10 minutes.

Although the pump is water resistant, it is not designed to be submerged for any great length of time. The official rating is IPX7, which means it can be submerged in up to a metre of water for up to 30 minutes and still operate.

Our tests:
Inflation of a Coleman Durasleep queen sized air mattress took just 3 minutes 46 seconds.

Comparison with a cheap camping air pump.

Firstly, the cheap pump relies on an external power source so this means it is not really portable. The Map Pump2's rechargeable battery makes it a truly portable pump that can go with you wherever you go.

If you carry a small solar charger with you, then there is no need to worry about the battery going flat.

The Max Pump 2 was significantly faster at inflating than our 12 volt pump.

Using the pump with a vacuum bag.
The pump can be connected to a standard vacuum bag but we also tried it out with an ordinary zip-lock bag. It worked quite well with the zip lock bag but we would recommend using a heavy duty one with two locking strips.

Other uses.
Dust removal from camera gear and computers. Just be careful around sensors.

Pros.
It is very light and compact. Certainly easy to carry and pack.
The ability to use the pump's battery as an emergency charger is useful.
The product looks and feels nice. The other cheap air pump we have looks and feels cheap and nasty.
The inbuilt rechargeable battery makes the pump truly portable.
The pump was less noisy than our 12 volt air pump.

Cons.
One thing we initially found a bit disconcerting was the pump turning on while it was being handled. It is a little too easy to accidentally activate it during general handling. It isn't a big deal but it can give you a bit of a start if it turns on while holding it.

Disclaimer:
This pump was provided to us for testing purposes. When we are asked to review a product we always make it clear that we will be honest in our opinions and will try to test the unit we receive as thoroughly as possible.

 

Hot Water Heater (Coleman) Hot Water Heater (Coleman) Hot Water Heater (Coleman) Hot Water Heater (Coleman) Hot Water Heater (Coleman)
Hot Water Heater (Coleman)

 

Price: $199 Rays Outdoors
Our recommendation: Ok to buy
Carry bag $69.95 Caravan parts suppliers
Our recommendation: Ok to buy
Pressure reducer $29.95 Caravan parts suppliers
Our recommendation: DO NOT BUY
Shower fitting 19.95 Caravan parts suppliers
Our recommendation: DO NOT BUY
Gas bottle adapter $19.95 Caravan parts suppliers
Our recommendation: Ok to buy
From: Caravan parts suppliers

RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: **** (main unit only) * (accessories)
Ease of use: **** (main unit only) *** (accessories)
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: Main unit **** Clips *

 

Real instant hot water anywhere you want it. This is a very smart little unit with its own ignition and water pump. It should include a decent shower hose attachment and 9kg cylinder adapter as these things are essential; to make the unit complete.

The collapsible 19 litre water container that comes with the unit doesn't last that long but as the pump can be placed in a bucket of water that isn't a huge concern. It would have been nice to be able to attach a hose to the water inlet without having to buy a separate attachment. (another $29.95 for the pressure reducer. See below for more on this.)

The propane canisters that are produced for this unit are less than 500g and are said to be able to heat 150 litres of water. The canisters are expensive BUT you can get a 9kg bottle hose adapter and we think this is an essential item for this heater.

The pump cannot be submerged in a normal 20 or 25 litre water container as it will not fit through the opening so using a bucket is the easiest way to go.

The internal battery can be charged either by the car cigarette lighter socket or by the supplied 240v charger.

This is generally a good basic unit but a few extra fairly minor changes would have increased its usefulness and usability. We bought the main unit at Kmart as they have intermittent 25% off sales of camping gear. At the time of purchase they had none of the accessories which we had to get from Caravan parts suppliers. At the time of writing the price of these units is now about half what we paid.

Having used the pressure reducer we have found that the unit DOES NOT perform well running from mains water. The pressure reducer seems to restrict water flow too much and as a result the water gets over temperature and the gas keeps turning off resulting in chilly episodes during showers. It also comes with the WRONG SIZED rubber washer and you have to get one of the correct size to stop it from leaking at the hose fitting. You also have to buy a separate fitting for clip on hoses - very annoying!

It is a real luxury to have a nice hot shower when you are camping in cold weather. To be honest the heater is rather large and fairly heavy so it is very much an individual choice whether one of these can be justified on a camping trip.

The pressure reducer is badly designed DO NOT BUY ONE they are a waste of money. As you can clearly see from the picture above the connection to a standard hose screws in to a plastic ring that sticks out of one end of the reducer. This one broke, not as you might expect, when it was being used, but when it was stored in the padded storage bag. If the brass hose fitting was screwed into a counter sunk hole, this problem could never happen. The one we have has only been used ONCE - TO TEST IT. The rest of the time we have had it, it has been sitting in the carry bag. It was bad enough that the washer supplied with this unit was the wrong size and that the water hose catch broke before we even used it, but this failure makes the unit completely useless.

The shower attachment has a ridiculously short hose that is all but useless and is not nearly flexible enough. We had to extend the hose to get any use out of it. The STUPID plastic clips that are used to attach water hoses to the main unit are far too fragile. One broke before we had even used it!!! In the end we sorted out our own separate shower set-up and threw this one away.

CONCLUSION: This is a good basic unit that is let down by low quality and bad design of some of the accessories that are available for it. Our advice would be to buy the main unit, the carry bag and the gas bottle adapter and forget all the rest.

We had a problem with the front dial of this unit when something went wrong and it just spins round and round. The unit could then turn itself on while in the bag with the slightest touch from outside. This is where the worth of a product really comes into play. It is not just the product itself that counts, it is the support you get when something goes wrong. To be honest it did take three emails and over a month for Coleman to get back to us regarding this but when they did they had organised a replacement unit. Ok, it could have been a bit quicker but the bottom line is that they are supporting their products and that is what really counts.

 

Instant gas water heater
Instant gas water heater

 

Price: $?
From: Caravan accessory shops / marine shops
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ***
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: ***
How well designed is it: ***
Product quality: ****
Our recommendation: Know the laws in your state.

 

There are all sorts of new regulations regarding hot water heaters on caravans and motorhomes. They can vary from state to state so you need to find out what your local laws are.

This style of instant hot water heater MAY now be illegal in many states. In any case they waste too much water before they get hot and were a complete waste of time and money.

 

Gas Hot Water Heater - Atwood
Gas Hot Water Heater - Atwood

 

Price: $870
From: Caravans Plus
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ***
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: ****
Our recommendation: Highly recommended

 

Over the years we have tried all sorts of ways to heat water for showering and this is by far the easiest and most civilised we have found.

It is intended for installation in a caravan or motorhome but once the hard work has all been done all you do is simply flick a switch, wait 10 minutes and you have 22.6 litres of lovely hot water to shower with.

There is some ongoing maintenance that needs to be done on an annual basis but apart from that this unit is a pure joy to own.

Unfortunately there are some problems that can occur with these units including the thermostat needing to be replaced (which isn't too bad) and the circuit board failing. That is easy enough to change but it is EXPENSIVE at over $300!

 

Shower pump pack
Shower pump pack

 

Price: $29
From: CAMEC and dealers
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: *****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: **** (Turbo shower) * (Primus)
Our recommendation: Do not buy, new models do not last long enough

 

This was a very handy shower pump pack that includes everything you need to have a pressurised shower in the bush. The pump is one of the few submersible ones that will fit into the top of a standard 25l water container. The shower head has an adjuster for flow control and the lead is nice and long. There is a built in on/off switch on the power line (this will corrode and give up after a while) which can be repaired or hard wired when it gives up. We bought two of these units (our first in Alice Springs) and were very happy with them.

It is also possible to attach a longer hose to this unit and use it to pump water from containers into our Coaster and caravan tanks.

The failings of this unit include the fused cigarette lighter plug (which we replaced) and the on/off switch which we removed when the pump stopped working.

The first pump finally seized up (after lots of use over several years) so we have bought another one as backup. We use them not just for showering, but by attaching another segment of hose we pump water from containers in the car to tanks in the caravan. It saves all the back breaking work of moving full water containers about.

The last of the Turbo shower models finally gave up and we bought a Primus version that looked for all the world like the same thing except it was blue and not yellow. We had only used it a couple of times when it stopped working and we found that water had found its way into the motor. The supplier replaced the motor for us but we are less than impressed with the Primus version of this pump and have now bought a better quality pump to use for showering (see below).

 

Water pump - Whale
Water pump - Whale

 

Price: $30-60
From: Caravan accessory shops / marine shops
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: *****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: Highly recommended

 

For a very long time now (over 10 years in fact) we have been using little in line Whale water pumps in the bus and caravans and I just love the things!

Their main drawback is the fact that they are not self priming and therefore need to be mounted where water will move down to them using gravity.

For a simple on/off electrically switched pump they are great. They seem to go on and on forever and they are cheap and easy to install. The only problem we ever had with one was due to a faulty earth lead and that was quickly rectified.

In the photo above the Whale pump is the little white cylinder attached to the blue hose.

 

Water pump Shurflo / Flojet
Water pump Shurflo / Flojet

 

Price: $145-175
From: Caravan and marine accessory stores
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: *****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: ****
Our recommendation: Highly recommended

 

Although we are still using the Whale pump (see above) for the caravan tanks we wanted a good replacement for the shower pump as the Turbo shower and Primus pumps have suddenly become unreliable.

We opted for a self priming pump and to be honest we are probably overdoing things a little by purchasing a Shurflo but we are fed up with the cheapie pumps giving up when we are right in the middle of a shower.

The main difference between the Whale style of pump and the Shurflo or Flojet pumps is that the latter models are on demand self priming pumps. This means that the pump (once connected to power) will suck up water and (if the water outlet is turned off) will fill the hose until a certain pressure is reached and then turn off and wait for the water outlet to be turned on.

This means you have a system that is more like the one you are used to at home. All you have to do to get water is turn on a tap and the pump will start automatically.

This sounds great but imagine what can happen if you are travelling and you get a leak in one of the hoses coming from your water tank. The pump will start up (you probably won't hear it) and your tank will be emptied out in just a few minutes. (the pump will also keep trying to suck up water if your water tanks are empty.)

For this reason it is essential that you install an electric on / off switch so that the pump can be turned off when you travel.

This pump would actually be ideal for use with an automatic washing machine like the Lemair shown below (assuming you have lots of spare water of course.)

The Shurflo can use a surprising 5 amps when running at full capacity.

Shurflo and Flojet are different brands but we have used both and they seem to be equally good. We have also put one of these on-demand pumps in a portable box and this makes it very useful for transferring water between different tanks. The video below will show you more details.

 

 

Water hose - roll-up
Water hose - roll-up

 

Price: $33 - $40
From: Repco or Auto One
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: *****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: ****
Our recommendation: Ok to buy but the one below is better.

 

A CHEAP flat hose on a reasonable roller. We did have a more expensive ($55) hose from New Zealand but the roller was useless and the hose failed under high pressure. This one (like the first model) suffers from that fact that if either of the ends are damaged you can't fit new ones. Otherwise it is strong, flexible and easy to roll up. There is a built in stop valve at one end of the hose that helps to prevent water waste.

So far we have had no problems with 'taste' in areas with high lime or acid levels in the water.

Sooner or later these hoses to rupture and cannot be fixed. They are still good value for money as they last quite a few years.

 

Water hose - roll-up
Water hose - roll-up

 

Price: $60
From: Rays Outdoors
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: ***
How well designed is it: ***
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: Best roll up hose we have had to date.

 

This was our latest roll-up hose and it seems a lot stronger, but also less flexible, than the one above. It is much more difficult to roll up and the water flow seems to be quite restricted.

We have been using it for a long time now and it has lasted very well. It does restrict water flow a bit but that can be a good thing when water pressure is too high.

It does also catch a bit as you start to wind it up so you have to watch carefully as you start to wind it up. After that it rolls up without any further hassles.

Considering the length of time this has lasted, I would reccomend it to anyone who is looking for a hose that is easy to store.

 

ALDI washing machine
ALDI washing machine

 

Price: $99
From: ALDI
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: *****
Ease of use: ***
How well designed is it: ***
Product quality: Pending
Our recommendation: Pending

 

We had sold our Lemair washing machine with the Jayco Swan and thought we would make do without a washing machine from then on but when ALDI brought this model out, we couldn't resist getting one as the price was so low.

So far we have only used it a few times but we are happy enough with it. Being a twin tub there is a bit more work involved in using it but it does do the job.

It takes a 2kg load and if you wash the cleaner clothes first and the dirtier ones last you can get 2-3 loads out of 10 litres of water.

Of course being 220-240v you will need an inverter or generator to use it when you are camping off-grid.

At just over 12kg it is easy to move around and is small enough to fit in some pretty tight spaces. (Dimensions are 650 x 360 x 560mm)

The ALDI machine appears to be identical to teh Companion Easywash but the ALDI version sells at about half the price.

 

Automatic washing machine (Lemair)
Automatic washing machine (Lemair)

 

Price: $340
From: CAMEC and dealers
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: ***
Ease of use: ****
How well designed is it: ***
Product quality: ****
Our recommendation: Ok to buy

 

This is a small 2kg washing machine that is easy to move around and takes only 20 litres of water per load. It is fully automatic and is MUCH better than the manual pressure washers. It runs happily from even small generators (1kva) and can be used in a manual mode so you can pour water in the top rather than have water going in under pressure. There is only one water inlet so usually we do cold water washes. (The machine will also run from an inverter).

The washer performed well, fit into a small spaces and the only real drawback is the lack of decent holder for the power cable and outlet hose.

This machine lasted several years before showing signs of wearing out. It was still working when we upgraded to the new model (see below) but it had started to give trouble if you did more than three washes in a row. It would then need to 'rest' for 10 minutes between washes before it would work properly. Considering the fact that this machine had been carted round in all sorts of conditions it really did last a long time and performed well.

 

Automatic washing machine (Lemair)
Automatic washing machine Lemair XQB22

 

Price: $349
From: Retra-Vision
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: ***
Ease of use: ****
How well designed is it: ***
Product quality: ****
Our recommendation: Ok to buy

 

This is a bit bigger than the earlier model and the controls are now all digital. It certainly looks better than the old model and it has performed well over the years.

Like the old model it is fully automatic and it incorporates some design changes like a base plate to prevent mice etc getting underneath.

This model also operates happily from our 700w sine wave inverter and draws about the same amount of power as the old model.

The main thing we don't like about this is the silly connection for the outlet hose. The hose MUST be kept above a certain level or the water will all drain out but there is no proper provision for a clip to hold the hose up. (There is a clip but it is too short to reach the hole in the side.)

We overcame this with a bit of fencing wire but it should have been sorted out by the manufacturer.

 

 

 

 

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