Festival Essentials: 9 gadgets, apps and camping kit for the festival season

TrustedReviews has rounded up the ultimate list of festival essentials for summer 2017. If you’re heading off to Reading, Glasto, or you’ve just got a fun camping trip coming up, you can’t afford to miss out on these must-have items.
 

Festival season is well and truly upon us, so it’s high time you started crossing those Glastonbury essentials off that long-avoided checklist.
 
We’ve tested tonnes of tech – from portable speakers, sleeping bags, ebook readers and more – to make sure you won’t be bringing any untrusted tat with you on your travels.

You can also check out our sister site NME’s Glastonbury coverage below:

UE Wonderboom

1 of 9

Score

Key Features:

  • 10-hour battery life
  • 40mm active drivers
  • two 46 x 65mm passive radiators
  • IPX7 certified
  • Review price: £90

A great speaker that stands up to the elements

The UE Wonderboom is a smashing little pebble-shaped speaker that’s designed to survive the most testing environments – and is certainly tough enough for a festival weekender.
 
The headline spec you’ll want to know about is the IPX7 certification, which means it’s capable of surviving a dunk in one metre of water for 30 minutes. Granted you probably won’t need to test the design to its limits, but you’ll be safe in the knowledge that those inevitable British showers won’t put it out of action.
 
But it’s also good for 10 hours of music playback, which is pretty decent for a speaker of this size. Given that you’ll only really be using this during festival downtime, you can get away with milking a single charge for an entire weekend.
 
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the sound is very impressive. The Wonderboom retains UE’s focus on insane maximum volume and powerful bass, which is handy when you’re in a loud and crowded environment. At an R.R.P of just £89, this is a dream addition to your festival arsenal.
 
Buy Now at Amazon

Alternatives: If you’re not worried about waterproofing then the Bose SoundLink Mini II is definitely our favourite Bluetooth speaker – the audio is brilliant, but it’ll cost you £169. If you’re looking for a cheaper buy however, then check out the Jam Heavy Metal HX-P920, which sounds great in spite of its £59 price tag.

Read the full UE Wonderboom review

Aukey QuickCharge 2.0

2 of 9

Key Features:

  • 16,000mAh capacity
  • Quick Charge 2.0
  • Micro USB cable
  • USB Type-C cable
  • USB ports

The only charging pack you’ll need for a weekend away

Plenty of festivals are now offering mobile charging stations, but why rely on those when you can lug some portable power around in your pocket? Our top pick is the Aukey Quick Charge 2.0 Powerbank.
 
This solid contender was recommended by none other than our Mobile Editor Max Parker, who was most impressed by the power bank’s capacity. That’s because the Aukey Quick Charge stores an incredible 16,000mAh, which is far more than your average mobile charging pack.
 
To put that figure into perspective, 16,000mAh is enough to recharge your iPhone about six times, or an iPad twice.
 
But the pack also boasts Quick Charge Charge 2.0 technology, so you can fill up a compatible Android phone to 75% charge in as little as 30 minutes. The pack comes with Micro USB and USB Type-C cables, but a Lightning USB cable for your iPhone will work too. At £24, this is a steal.
 
Buy Now at Amazon

 
Alternatives: For even more power, consider the Anker PowerCore+, which boasts a hefty 20,100mAh capacity for £45.

Score

Key Features:

  • 5-inch 720p display
  • Quad-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • 8MP/5MP cameras
  • 2540mAh battery
  • Review price: £75

Ditch the iPhone and take Vodafone’s finest as your back-up

If you’re looking for a budget blower to bring for a festival, you’ll need to consider the trade-off between price and utility. The more you spend, the better your phone will be – but you run the risk of losing a more expensive piece of kit.
 
That’s why we recommend a phone that costs between £50 and £100, to make sure you have all the features you need without breaking the bank – like the Vodafone Smart Prime 7.
 
At just £70, the Vodafone Smart Prime 7 is a great addition to your festival luggage. It’s got a large 5-inch HD display, and runs on Google’s relatively new Android Marshmallow software, so you’ll be able to load it with some useful apps.
 
You’ll also get an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 5-megapixel selfie shooter, so you won’t even need to sacrifice social media braggarting. And during our battery tests, we found that the Vodafone Smart Prime 7 could easily make it through a day without issue.
 
Buy Now at Amazon

Alternatives: Here’s where we warn you off a dodgy alternative: the new Nokia 3310. Despite a successful marketing campaign, the Nokia 3310 (2017) left us with a sour taste, with the expensive price and lack of features warranting a lowly 2/5 score. Don’t be tempted by nostalgia – avoid, and bring a proper phone with you.

Read the full Vodafone Smart Prime 7 review

Score

Key Features:

  • 4K/30fps maximum resolution
  • Waterproof to 10m without a case
  • Dual microphones
  • GPS
  • Electronic image stabilisation
  • 2-inch touchscreen display
  • Review price: £359

A tough action camera that will survive in any weather

 
What’s the point of going to a music festival if you’re not going to make a ruddy recording of the whole thing? Fear not, millennials, because there’s a clear choice when it comes to action cameras: the GoPro Hero 5 Black.
 
There are loads of reasons to love the GoPro Hero 5. It can shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second, for a start. And a 2-inch touchscreen on the back makes it easy to control.
 
One of the biggest changes introduced for the Hero 5 was case-free waterproofing though. You don’t need to strap on a hideous plastic shell, because the Hero 5 is safe to use at depths of 10 metres unencumbered.
 
It’s an expensive shooter at £359, but our Wearables and Fitness Editor Richard Easton reckons it’s “the best all-round action camera you can buy today”.
 
Buy Now at Amazon

 
Alternatives: You don’t have to fork out £359, mind. You can now pick up a GoPro Hero 4 Session for as little as £149. We gave the budget snapper a 4/5 score at a review price of £330, so it’s well worth considering. It can shoot Full HD footage at 60fps, and 1440p video at 30fps. It’s also water-resistant to 10 metres and boasts a 170-degree wide-angle lens; great features at this low price.

Read the full GoPro Hero 5 Black review

Dark Sky weather app

5 of 9

Key Features:

  • Rain notifications
  • Weekly weather forecast
  • Weather map tracking
  • Detailed rain information
  • Hyper-local weather forecasting


Master the elements with this rain-dodging weather app

 
There’s no shortage of weather apps on your Apple or Android smartphone, which makes it tough to separate the wheat from the chaff. Firmly in the wheat camp, however, is Dark Sky – available on all good mobile operating systems.
 
Dark Sky’s big feature is its uncanny ability to tell you exactly when it will rain where you’re standing at a given time. That’s useful for anyone who will, say, be spending a weekend in a field.

Related: Best weather apps
 

You can get notifications alerting you when precipitation is due, as well as the sort of shower you can expect. There’s even a Map view that lets you travel backwards and forwards through time to see how a weather event is/was developing.
 
The good news is that Dark Sky also does the usual weekly weather forecasting too, so you’ll have no bother making this your go-to weather app.
 
Buy Now: iTunes and Google Play
 
Alternatives: We’re also quite fond of AccuWeather, which is free on iOS and Android. It offers hourly, daily, and 15-day forecasts, as well as a MinuteCast feature that gives you two-minute hyper-local forecasts based on your GPS data.

Pocket reading app

6 of 9

Key Features:

  • Save articles
  • Save videos
  • Share directly from browser
  • Share from apps like Twitter, Flipboard, Pulse
  • Works on iOS and Android

Never run out of reading material with the Pocket app

With every festival comes the inevitable downtime: the long, congested slogs along Britain’s motorways or on a train carriage, or first thing in the morning before the music kicks off. When there’s nothing to do but wait, try Pocket.
 
Pocket is an app that lets you save online content to read offline later on. It’s great for anyone who has to go without signal for a while i.e. visitors to the countryside with tens of thousands of mobile-using music fans. It’s also useful for saving long articles that you might not have time to read immediately, but want to tuck into later on.
 
Once you get into the habit of sending content you like to Pocket, you’ll eventually end up with a massive roster of must-reads. But Pocket also recommends quality articles for you to save too, so you don’t have to start off with empty coffers. Better still, the app is free to download.
 
Download Now: iTunes and Google Play

Kobo Aura H2O

7 of 9

Score

Key Features:

  • 6.8-inch E Ink display
  • 1440 x 1080-pixel resolution
  • 8GB storage
  • IPX8 waterproof rating
  • ComfortLight tech
  • 210 grams

This Kindle alternative won’t flake out in the rain

Pocket is great, but if you take your reading really seriously then you’ll want to invest in an e-reader. However, we wouldn’t recommend taking a £270 Kindle Oasis on your next festival jaunt, because it’s just too valuable an item to take into the Glasto wilderness.
 
Instead, consider the Kobo Aura H2O, which comes in at a far less wallet-rinsing £140. It’s got a sizable 6.8-inch E Ink display with a generous 1440 x 1080-pixel resolution, and 8GB of storage for all your locally-held book-hoarding needs.
 
The real win here, however, is that the Kobo Aura H2O is IPX8-certified. Specifically, it’s been tested to survive being submerged at a depth of two metres for up to 3 minutes. Our own Mobile Editor Max Parker has duly tested this in his home bathtub, and gave it two soggy thumbs-up.
 
It’s not a smashing all-rounded like the Kindle Paperwhite or Kindle Voyage, but it’s certainly far safer to bring along to your next festival.
 
Buy Now at Amazon
 
Alternatives: If you’d rather have a Kindle – and there are plenty of reasons why you would – then the cheapest option is the basic Amazon Kindle E-reader. It’s not waterproof, but it’s got a 6-inch glare-free touchscreen and will only set you back £59.99, which is less than half the price of our recommended Kobo alternative.

Read the full Kobo Aura H2O review

Apple Watch 2

8 of 9

Score

Key Features:

  • 38mm/42mm case
  • Built-in GPS
  • 50m water-resistance
  • Heart rate sensor
  • 1000 nits OLED screen 

An expensive smartwatch, but tough enough to do the job

It’s easy to dismiss the Apple Watch at first, but it’s arguably an inimitable festival companion.
 
For a start, Apple designed the Apple Watch 2 to be used underwater, so you can take it as deep as 50 metres. If it can handle that level of pressure and moisture, it’ll find your next weekend away a relative breeze.
 
We also found that the Apple Watch 2 comfortable managed two to three days of usage before requiring charge again, which is a major improvement over the first-generation model – and plenty sufficient for a festival.
 
But the biggest perk is its connectivity. Rather than having to get your phone out in the mosh pit or in some other compromising situation, you can send messages, get directions, and receive reminders about which stage you’re supposed to be at next.
 
Plus it has a hear ate sensor, so you can judge for yourself which act has got your heart racing.
 
Buy Now at Amazon

Alternatives: If you want a cheaper way to tell the time, get notifications, and track those calories burned while moshing, check out the Fitbit Charge 2. It’s a rugged device that toes the line between fitness tracker and smartwatch, and costs a far healthier £109.99.

Read the full Apple Watch 2 review

Vango Ultralite Pro 300 sleeping bag

9 of 9

Key Features:

  • 4T synthetic insulation
  • Structured hood design
  • Adjustable
  • Insulated shoulder baffle
  • Two-way auto-lock zip
  • Internal pocket
  • 4-strap compression stuffsack

 Upgrade your sleeping situation with this great value bag

British weather can be unpredictable even in the summer months, so even (read: especially) if you’ve got a rubbish tent, you’ll want a decent sleeping bag to keep you cosy at night.
 
With the Vango Ultralite Pro 300, you’ll be the envy of your mates. Sure it costs £90, but it’s a million miles better than those unbranded bags that your friends spent their last fivers on.
 
For a start, it’s a 3-4 season certified bag, and boasts an impressive suggested-use range of 15 degrees Celcius right down to minus-six degrees Celcius. It’s lightweight at just over a kilogram, and features a mummy design that you can tuck right into, shutting out the noise around you.
 
One of the big perks is the bag’s inner material, which is made of a synthetic rather than cotton. This means that if you’re someone who tosses and turns, you’ll be able to move freely inside the bag, rather than it getting caught up and twisting with you. For the price, this bag is brilliant value for money.
 
Buy Now at Amazon
 
Alternatives:
 
If you’re looking to spend less, consider the Vango Cadair 250, which currently sells for under £30 on Amazon. It’s not as warm or slickly designed as the Ultralite Pro 300, but it’s great value.
 
Another popular choice is the North Face Lynx, which is a quality sleeping bag, but is far less compelling than the Ultralite Pro 300 thanks to its £130 price tag.

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