Want to take the comfort around camp to the next level? On a trip to the Cederberg, I tested gear that is good for lounging about. By Magriet Kruger
When it comes to getting comfortable, there’s an Afrikaans saying that sums it up: Van sit of staan, is lê nog die lekkerste. (If you have to choose between sitting and standing, lying down is the ultimate.) On a trip to the Cederberg I decided to take this advice to heart and try out some new gear. What would it take to turn our campsite into a chill zone?
Chill factor: Pretty laid-back
For a long time I made do without the basic building block of campsite comfort: the camping chair. When others were kicking back in their chairs, I’d be perched on the cooler box, a tree stump or a car bumper. Once we even put our fold-flat kitchen chairs in the boot so at least we didn’t have to sit on the ground. But there’s no substitute for a camping chair, is there? And sitting around the campfire becomes so much more relaxing when you’re actually comfortable.
After getting hooked on the classic collapsible camping chair, I wanted even more. In recent years, chair styles have expanded beyond the standard shape and I was keen to try a scoop-back style. The promisingly named Cape Union Comfy Chair fits luxurious cushioning onto an attractive fold-out butterfly shape. I liked the cushioned comfort and easy-to-clean canvas. If you’re of smaller stature, as I am, you can scoot down in the seat and rest your head against one of the back wings. Now that’s lounging! Downside? No arm rests or cup holder.
Vital stats: 66 x 43 x 56cm, supports up to 130kg, packs away into a bag of approx. 103 x 25 x 15cm, 3.9kg
While supremely comfortable, the Comfy Chair isn’t the most compact. For a chair that you can more readily take anywhere, consider the Naturehike Africa Folding Moon Chair. A scoop mesh seat is supported by lightweight aluminium legs that you slot together. The chair packs away into a bag of 37 x 12 x 8cm and weighs just 1kg.
Chill factor: Practically horizontal
Lazing about in the heat of the day is part of what makes camping so chill. But because I tend to prioritise morning shade (nothing like a lie-in), my tent is usually hot and sweaty when it’s siesta time. That’s where the inflatable lounger comes in – you can put it anywhere to take advantage of the shade in comfort. Also known as an air sofa or lazy bag, the lounger is made up of two pockets that you fill with air – no pump required. The instructions, which sound as if they were put through Google Translate, read: Run fill bag air. In other words, you simply swoosh the pockets through the air to fill them up. A bit of a run-up or a breeze will help. Then you compress the air by folding over the ends of the bag. Once inflated, this lounger lets you recline fully. Depending on how much air you put in, you can either stretch out completely on the lounger or use it more like a lazy-boy. It’s available from wholesalers like Makro and Takealot, but note that it’s not for rough terrain.
Vital stats: 235 x 70 x 50cm, supports up to 200kg, folds away into a bag of approx. 40 x 20 x 10cm, 1.2kg
Chill factor: Full-on laze
The first bit of camping equipment I ever acquired was a portable string hammock. On a trip to Tofo in Mozambique, I strung it up between palm trees for daytime naps and whenever the tent got too hot. It couldn’t have been more idyllic, I felt like a castaway on a tropical island. Of course, the string left crazy imprints on my skin, but that seemed a small price to pay.
More than 20 years have passed since then and I’m happy to report that travel hammocks have raised their game. I couldn’t be more excited about the Ticket To The Moon hammocks. They’re made from a lightweight parachute material that is flexible and breathable – perfect for a balmy day. I tried out the compact version and was impressed by the size. Even though it folds away into a tiny pouch, a grown man could comfortably stretch out in it. TTTM have purpose-made straps for putting the hammock up, but we managed within minutes using nylon rope.
Vital stats: 320 x 155cm, supports up to 200kg, packs away into bag of approx. 40 x 5cm, 480g
This is a high-quality product that comes with a 10-year guarantee.
Chill out in the Cederberg
A visit to the Cederberg is soul food. Turn off onto the gravel road that leads into the mountains and watch your cell reception vanish – and with it all your stress. There are a handful of farms and little hamlets in the Cederberg, but vast areas remain untouched. It’s well worth doing a hike to see more of its otherworldly beauty. But it’s also plenty rewarding to stay put in your campsite and cool off in the river.
Read more: Best places to stay in the Cederberg